There’s nothing like watching the Tigers start pre-season at a sun-drenched Church Road on a glorious July evening and this was nothing like it. The sky, threateningly grey prior to kick off, soon opened up to ensure the first half played out in heavy rain and turned the amber on our shiny new kit a dark orange.
We wondered if City would field two different teams at Ferriby and Winterton and, as we passed Corry Evans, James Chester, Aaron McLean and Liam Rosenior in street clothes on the way past the dressing room, that looked to be the case.
City lined up: Basso; East, Dudgeon, McShane, Hobbs ©, Devitt, Kilbane, McKenna, Cairney, Fryatt, Adebola.
Ferriby fielded a number of ex-tigers including Steve Wilson, Mark Greaves, Gary Bradshaw, Ben Morley and Nathan Peat. City settled quickly and dominated an entertaining opening half hour, knocking the ball about neatly on the slick pitch and building attacks from the back. If you’re unsure how to judge the opposition, consider the fact that Paul McShane looked as comfortable as Franco Baresi in possession and it should give you some guide.
Thirty seconds into his Tigers career, Dele Adebola won his first header. Three minutes into it and he had his first goal. He received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, two Ferriby defenders bounced off him; he turned and lashed a terrific shot into the roof of Steve Wilson’s net with his left foot. Nice. It was a solid start from the big man who produced some neat touches, looked athletic enough and worked hard. The other new boys also settled quickly. Paul McKenna sat in front of the back four and while there was little to do defensively, he dropped in every time to collect the ball from Hobbs and McShane and played neat balls wide to start attacks. He looks to be everything Ashbee was before his last injury. Joe Dudgeon looks about the same size as Andy Dawson if not a little smaller. He’s equally one-footed but has good pace and looked adventurous. He likes a tackle too. It is way too early to judge but it was a nice first impression of all three.
Matty Fryatt hit two shots over early on, the first is still in orbit, and the second was closer. On thirteen minutes, Cairney found Devitt wide, he slid the ball into the box and Fryatt turned and shot under Wilson to make it two-nil. Whatever the game and whoever the opposition, it’s always nice to see your strikers score. Before City could enjoy the two goal cushion, Ferriby hit back with their first meaningful attack. A superb pass from the centre of midfield released Brooksby, he side stepped the statuesque Kevin Kilbane and whipped a superb shot beyond Basso. City weren’t perturbed by the goal and continued to dominate. Tom Cairney, obviously enjoying strolling around in midfield spraying passes about, stepped up after Adebola was bundled over on the edge of the box and delivered a thumping free-kick into the left hand corner.
Half time came and went. In truth the second half, heavily disrupted by substitutions, was a non-event. Exciting happenings in the second half included the thrilling announcement of a Ferriby substitute with no number on his shirt, the brand new PA system at Ferriby working as well as the old one, wondering whether Liam Rosenior would fall off the ladder he was using to get down off the roof, wondering whether the guy on the roof was Robbie Brady or Eminem and willing the Ferriby #16 to do something other than swear and fall over.
At various points in the half Adebola, Kilbane, McKenna, Devitt, East and Cairney were withdrawn and youth team members Conor Townsend, Francis McCaffrey, Gavin Holohan, Tom Bennett, Mark Cullen and er, Nick Barmby, came on. Matty Fryatt had a goal disallowed for a push and a terrible kick by Basso led to a terrific chance for Ferriby but they lashed it wide. That was the summary of the football from the 46th to 80th minutes. Things livened up slightly in the last 10 minutes, mainly due to Mark Cullen’s industry. He finally forced the first save of the half from Willo with a deflected shot and then he rounded off the scoring, latching onto Gavin Holohan’s terrific through ball to hammer a shot over Wilson.
It was worth the trip out in the rain to see the new boys, see the new kit (which looked nicer on the players than on the pictures) and sample a bit of football again. There’s only so much cricket and golf one can stand to watch. Fortunately, the rain stopped at half time. Unfortunately, so did the entertainment. Here’s to Winterton where it’s always sunny. Don’t let us down.