WORKSOP Town were ‘average’ in defence and attack on Tuesday night at Sheffield FC, but boss Simon Clark says pre-season is going to plan.
Tigers were held 2-2 by the world’s oldest football club at their Dronfield base on a balmy summer evening.
It was an open game with plenty of mistakes from both sides, but it was entertaining – with some full blooded challenges going in all over the pitch.
The hosts took a first half lead through former Tiger Steve Woolley and Worksop hit back through Bruno Holden.
After the break Adie Hawes put Tigers in front and then it was Sheffield’s turn to level, Aaron Martin making it 2-2.
Clark was unimpressed with some of the performances from his men, but insists he has no concerns about how his side is shaping up for the season.
“I think we started brightly, but overall we look average defensively, and bang average up top,” he said. “Our movement was poor and we didn’t create enough chances because we made the wrong runs.”
“But my pre-season is going exactly to plan – we’ve had a run of five games, done loads of fitness work and we know everything I need to do on the training ground to get us right.”
“We used the games to look at different players and make decisions and now is when our work starts, our football work – all phases, all functions, sharp stuff.”
“This is when I earn my dough.”
Luke Shiels was withdrawn early after picking up a knock and Chris Wood was brought into the centre of defence to replace him.
The manager said: “Shielsy has a bit of inflammation on his knee and we have to be careful with him.”
A poor give away in the middle of the park by Matt Telling allowed Sheffield to break with menance and Woolley teased the Tigers back four, went wide of Paul Bastock and slotted home the opener.
The former Worksop winger very nearly pulled off the same trick a minute later as Tigers struggled to contain their Evo-Stik Division One hosts.
But Clark’s men were back on level terms when Lee Beeson clipped a free-kick into the box and Holden rose to flick home with his head.
After the break they went ahead as giant centre-half Hawes, who was still upfield following a corner, received the ball inside the box, touched it round his marker and collected on the far side before slotting home beautifully.
As impressive a finish as it was from the big man, there was more than a hint of a foul in the build-up, but the referee allowed the goal.
Justice, perhaps, was done for Sheffield when right-back Ben Turner stormed forward unopposed and sent the ball in for Aaron Martin to tap in at the back post.
Matt Young, Massiah McDonald and Craig King were all sent on in the latter stages of the friendly, but it was right-back Ryan Clarke who impressed most.
As others tired around him, Clarke made a number of lung-bursting runs down the right, all the way to the byline, and on one occasion was blatantly pushed as he shaped to shoot – but no penalty was forthcoming.
The defender then raced across the pitch to make a crunching slide tackle and halt a promising Sheffield break, cementing his Man of the Match performance.
Late on the hosts were in danger of being overwhelmed, clearing off the line more than once, but they held on for a 2-2 draw.
Clark will be putting the squad through more football specific training on Thursday night, ahead of Saturday’s open day at Sandy Lane when they’ll take part in an inter-squad fixture.
He told the Guardian: “Thursday night will be all football, it will be all about both boxes, working 30 out at both ends.”
“On Saturday I want the fans to come along and meet the players.”
“Our gans are great, and that was last year when we were mid and lower table. We want to get the players involved with them.”