The freezing conditions meant just one Wensleydale Creamery team had a fixture at the weekend.
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Colburn’s third round Saturday Challenge Cup tie, which was being replayed after last week’s game was abandoned, had to be switched from Colburn’s frozen pitch at the last minute.
This meant a drive over to Thirsk with most drivers armed with an incorrect postcode.
The team eventually met up, quickly changed and tried to warm up in the cold
Things were not improved by the team’s holidaying manager sending pictures of sunny Tenerife.
There were stand-ins on the sidelines, where a committee of Lewis Hamilton, Phil Sweeney and JJ Elliott made all the crucial decisions, though their hands were tied due to a few late withdrawals, and also in goal, where Josh Crisp was taking over from last week’s casualty Karl Latcham.
The pitch was hard but much more level than the Jaffa. Initial exchanges were fairly even, though Thirsk’s defenders had clearly learned from last week, and were giving Tom Sweeney and Joe Woodall no room at all.
Added to that, their fullbacks were pushing very tightly onto Colburn’s wide men. The result was that Colburn were largely toothless in attack.
Thirsk were playing balls over Colburn’s defence, and Colburn had a warning when from a corner, Thirsk’s Josh Boynton sent in a header which skimmed the bar.
There were vital blocks from Nige Cole and Rory Wallace, and Crisp made a fine save when Thirsk broke through.
But on 23 minutes Thirsk went ahead, again from a corner, where an unmarked Boynton thumped a header home.
Colburn were forced into two changes in quick succession when Adam Taylor had to come off, so full of cold he was struggling to breathe.
Craig Nisbet also had to retire from the fray with a crocked ankle. So that was both fullbacks off.
Shane Parkinson came on, meaning that Connor Weatherbed dropped back to an unfamiliar defensive role, and Tom Bentley went to right back in Nisbet’s place.
There may have been rolling subs, but Colburn’s depleted squad was unable to take advantage of this, although Taylor did return to the pitch in the second half.
Colburn were conceding the midfield too easily to Thirsk, and again the pressure was building.
On 40 minutes Thirsk doubled their lead when their number ten, Mark Cobb, was given far too much space on the edge of the box, and was able to shoot home.
Clear-the-air talks were the order of the day for Colburn at half time.
It was clear that much more fight was needed. And with this message ringing in their ears, the team took the field for the second half.
All good intentions were thwarted almost straightaway though when Thirsk won a free kick over on the right wing.
The resulting cross was headed away, but only to find Thirsk’s Dan McCalmont, who rifled the ball into the back of the net, leaving Colburn’s man of the match Crisp, absolutely helpless.
At this point Colburn actually began to play football. Thirsk understandably sat back a bit, and Colburn were allowed to build up a head of steam.
On the hour, Ashley McInerney produced Colburn’s first shot on target when his fierce free kick was pushed out to Cole, whose header was somehow blocked by Matthew Hogg in Thirsk’s goal.
Colburn continued to press. Sweeney had a shot which flew over, and McInerney blasted another effort at goal from a distance.
By this time Taylor had come back on to replace Craig Teasdale, and Colburn’s front-line was much more flexible, with Sweeney, Woodall and Parkinson swapping positions at will.
Young Charlie Piechniczek was given another run-out for the last 15 mins, replacing Weatherbed on the right wing.
Colburn did get one back, when McInerney’s corner was met with a thumping header from Cole. On the sidelines, management were praying for a second, which might well have caused Thirsk to teeter, but it was not to be, and Sweeney’s late free kick, which rose over the bar, brought proceedings to an end, with the differential between the sides the same as in the first game.
The better team won, and Colburn must now pick themselves up for a Medal Shield game next week v Unicorn.
Fixtures – 16/12/17
Colburn Town v Unicorn
Catterick Garrison Football Centre v West Pier
Lingdale Village v Leyburn Town
Reeth & District Athletic Club v Carperby Rovers
Richmond Mavericks v Edgehill
Richmond Town Academy v Richmond Buck Inn
Sleights FC v Hawes United