Newark Flowserve fall short against South Normanton Athletic in 1-0 home defeat
A superb goalkeeping performance from Joe Searson wasn’t enough as Newark Flowserve slipped to their first defeat of the season in the Midland Football League Premier Division at Lowfields on Bank Holiday Monday.
South Normanton Athletic had clearly done their homework on their hosts and their well-organised approach to the game was deserving of the points as they snatched victory with the only goal of the game in front of a crowd of 402 on a sweltering afternoon.
The 20-year-old former Notts County keeper didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, with Searson producing his best performance for the club since his arrival from Radford as he pulled off a number of key saves and brave clearances to thwart the Alfreton side’s advances.
But in the 71st minute of the game Searson was cruelly undone as he rushed from his line to bravely punch clear from Normanton’s Richard Hanslow only for Martin Smyth to steer a shot from distance into the unguarded net.
For the last two seasons Flowserve defeats have been rarer then hens’ teeth, but South Normanton, fourth before the game, were the best outfit that third-placed Flowserve have come up against in their first foray into step five football.
If the hot sunny weather was unusual for your average Bank Holiday weather, then Flowserve were unusually below-par, with some of their players having off-key performances, with exasperated cries emanating from the home bench.
But the men in orange were denied by the woodwork on two occasions, and on a day when Lady Luck was in their favour, there might have been a different outcome.
Jack Beckett, the hero of the hour against Gresley the previous Tuesday, was back in the starting line-up in the place of the benched Elliot King, filling in on the left with Sam Agar moved to the centre of the attack.
There was also a place on the bench for Daryl Price, making a welcome appearance in the squad for the first time since his double leg break in the last campaign.
Danny Meadows, playing in a more central role, was the first to threaten on eight minutes when he composed himself on the edge of the box before firing in a right-footed effort that went narrowly wide but roused the biggest crowd of the season to full voice as “Danny went to mow” echoed round the stadium.
Two minutes later Matt Cotton broke down the right and whipped in a cross that was cleared from the forehead of Beckett as he surged in from the left flank.
The was a remarkable moment after a quarter of an hour when Hanslow broke through the middle and lobbed the advancing Searson but, with Lawrence Gorman rushing back to try and clear, the ball bounced off the hard surface and grazed the crossbar on its way over the top. On winter’s softer surfaces, it would have been a goal.
On the half hour Meadows set up Cotton in a shooting position on the right of the box, but his goal-bound effort was thwarted by the diving keeper’s left hand.
Them Agar miscued in front of goal from the edge of the six-yard box before Kyle Dixon thundered in a shot that bounced down off the crossbar but was cleared to safety as the first half ended goal-less.
Drinks breaks were introduced on 21 minutes in both halves of the game, with the two sets of players showing remarkable levels of fitness on an afternoon that was uncomfortable for the shirt-sleeved audience.
Daryl Price entered the fray nine minutes after the interval, and showed some neat footwork to mark his return but, like his colleagues, he found that the well-drilled South Normanton defence was difficult to break down.
Just after the hour mark Searson dived to his right to deny Dylan Garnett and turn the ball round the post and, from the resulting corner, he then flung himself spectacularly to his left to deny Smyth.
On 69 minutes Meadows fired in a powerful shot from the right that appeared to strike the hand of a South Normanton defender but the appeals fell on deaf ears, and two minutes later that man Smyth struck to claim all three points for the visitors.
Flowserve were denied by the woodwork once more when Meadows crossed and substitute King’s diving header clipped the bar on the way over the top.
With nine minutes remaining Flowserve thought that they had got the equaliser when Agar converted another Meadows cross, but the referee noted that he had put the ball in the net with his hand and booked him for it.
The game was in stoppage time when Gorman was knocked to the ground by a powerful shot that he bravely got his head in the way of, but the referee then blew the final whistle to confirm that South Normanton will up there come the end of the season and that Flowserve will have many tough challenges ahead of them at this standard.
Newark Flowserve: 1 Joe Searson; 2 Ryan Ebanks; 3 Jack Edwards; Tom Potts (captain); 5 Lawrence Gorman; 6 Paulo Piliero (Elliot King 74mins); 7 Danny Meadows; 8 Kyle Dixon; 9 Sam Agar; 10 Matt Cotton (Daryl Price 54mins); 11 Jack Beckett (Jammy Lloyd 66mins).