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Match report: Beverley Town 0 - 3 Shirebrook Town



Beverley’s long unbeaten league record came to an abrupt end against a Shirebrook side who thoroughly deserved their victory, and leapfrogged the Beavers to take top spot in the standings. The visitors were well-drilled, disciplined and precise in everything they did, and thoroughly professional in how they managed the game. The final scoreline certainly flattered them, with two late goals adding gloss, but they were at their best, while Beverley were well below the standards they’ve set this season.


After two frustrating postponements that halted Beverley’s momentum, James Piercy, Alex Knaggs and Joe McFadyen came into the starting line-up from the last fixture against Glasshoughton Welfare, replacing Matt Plummer, Lawrence Heward and North Ferriby dual-registered signing McAuley Snelgrove. Any neutral watching the first half wouldn’t have recognised it as a match between the sides sitting first and second in the league, but while there was a distinct lack of fireworks and end-to-end action, Shirebrook dominated, looking sharper, more confident and allowing Beverley no time or space to build their attacks. The Beavers struggled to get chief goal threats Ben Hinchliffe and McFadyen into the game, while Nathan Watson dictated proceedings for Shirebrook, proving the sort of utter pain that any supporter would love to have on their team.


Josh Batty had a double shot blocked in the area after six minutes, Hinchliffe saw his shot saved by the keeper and McFadyen’s corner clipped the top of the crossbar, but this was as good as it got in the first half for Beverley, with their disjointed performance in stark contrast to their opponents. The award of a free-kick 25 yards out was all the invitation Watson needed to open the scoring, lifting the ball over the wall and into the bottom corner for a deserved lead that failed to rouse Beverley into action, with Shirebrook dominating the rest of the half, demonstrating greater assurance and a fine understanding of the dark arts sometimes required to win football matches.


The second half saw Shirebrook take a different tack, more along the lines of making sure they held their lead, rather than pushing for a second, and this allowed Beverley to come more into the game and at least look a little more threatening. Nathan Ofori’s shot was deflected wide and McFadyen seemed through on goal, only to be unable to get the ball out of his feet in time, while Knaggs made a clearance at the other end to keep the deficit down to one. The energy coming from substitutes Luka Suluburic and Kai Larkin had a positive impact, allowing the Beavers to build up some sort of momentum, and had Piercy’s spectacular shot from 15 yards gone a couple of yards either side of the keeper instead of straight at him, then it could have been a different story.


As it was, Shirebrook’s tactics worked perfectly, as they exploited the space in the last five minutes to add some shine to the scoreline, with centre-half Travis Munn allowed a free header inside the six-yard box from a corner to double the lead, and Bradley Kerr wrapped it up in injury-time after Watson had got away with twice pulling back Will Taylor to dispossess.


Ofori picked up the only booking of the match, which pleased those Shirebrook players who had been trying to get Beverley carded all match, and the visitors move onto matches against Wakefield and Parkgate on a high, while Beverley need to regroup against Glasshoughton before facing Parkgate themselves. The title favourites are likely to offer more of the same as Shirebrook, with experienced players pulling the strings, showing tactical nous and doing whatever it takes to win. All lessons that Beverley need to quickly learn if they’re to maintain their promotion push during a tough run of fixtures.


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