Fresh off a disappointing afternoon against mid-table Retford FC that saw the club succumb to defeat, FC Humber continued their league campaign on the road with a Saturday kick off at the Station View. With the announcement of Dave Haley prior to the fixture, Humber were ultimately left to rue in defeat against table topping opposition that further added to the undesirable list of defeats. On an emotional occasion that saw the footballing collective unite in remembrance of the fallen, a hosting Harrogate Rail had begun the day inside the top five of the Northern Counties East Division One and were in search of a further haul after a good start to the campaign. 

Returning from an early kick off in their previous Saturday fixture, a renewed sense of new beginnings had perhaps returned for Humber after a decent spell of thorough training under the club’s new management; be it a slow start, the club had every intention of transitioning forward in an attempt to save the season. In search of getting the proverbial ball rolling, the game had begun as perhaps many a game would; an intense opening few minutes that was borderline physical as the twenty-two combatants of Harrogate and Humber vied for early supremacy.

Despite what appeared an even opening salvo between the two, an early incident in the fifth minute saw Ben Clowes undeservingly receive his marching orders after seemingly hand balling in the box from close range. Subsequently, The Rail soon presented their credentials and opened the scoring; Dan Thirkell tucked away the resulting spot kick with only six minutes on the clock. The Rail then put the visiting Humber under the cosh and ultimately doubled their lead in the eleventh minute through a second Dan Thirkell goal. 

The game resumed with Harrogate in full swing and Humber seemingly struggling to establish a foothold, and with sporadic opportunity falling, The Rail thought they had tripled their lead prior to the half hour mark; the match officials have other ideas, with the attacking manoeuvre deemed offside in the build up. Subsequently, Harrogate did get their third on the flipside of the half hour mark; Adam Shaw pounced on an unfortunate defensive mistake and slotted home taking The Rail into a commanding lead. The Rail had a second goal chalked off late in the half; again, the match officials deemed the attacking presence offside in the process. 

HT: The Rail 3-0 FCHU

With perhaps a stern half-time team talk at the break, Humber came out in search of a little redemption and created an opportunity in the opening minutes of the second forty-five. The Rail however, had other ideas and soon reignited their attacking form witnessed in the opening half, and extended their lead to four nine minutes into the restart; Marcus Day with the goal despite Dave Howard making multiple saves in the build up. The half then quietened a little as Harrogate perhaps leaned toward game management over further goals on the board; this gave Humber an opportunity to make their first change of the day as Cam Hall paved the way for Jack Gascoigne. 

Humber then began to play some half decent football and created opportunity in the process, but as previously witnessed, Harrogate reasserted their dominance on the fixture; with their thorough approach, Harrogate were awarded a second penalty of the afternoon that saw Dan Thirkell slot home, securing his hat-trick for the afternoon. There was no real let up for the visiting Humber as Marcus Day and Elliott Holmes scored The Rail’s sixth and seventh goals respectively. Ewan Hallows did shine some light on the game for Humber toward the end; after a great drive forward, a fierce strike from the young winger was firmly planted into the roof of the net. Harrogate, perhaps kicking themselves for not securing a clean sheet, had thought they’d scored an eighth at the death but Dave Howard denied them with another decent save. 

FT: The Rail 7-1 FCHU

As It Happened

Master’s of our own downfall 

There’s no doubting the improvements required from Humber after another heavy defeat in the Northern Counties East Division One, defensively the club had not been solid enough and lacked the pressure to fend of any attacking presence, yes, we are under no illusion that every game is winnable or a walk in the park but a little solidarity and communication goes a long way. However, full faith is with new manager Dave Haley in using his wealth of experience in turning things around. 

Restart, rebuild and rework

With the arrival of Dave Haley at the club, hope lay on a reversal of fortune and a move up the Division One table, though Dave will now be under no illusions as to what needs to be done after his first game in charge. The work really does begin now in what will no doubt appear a mammoth task for Dave Haley moving forward, however his wealth of knowledge and experience will prove key in the coming weeks and perhaps what was once done at Ossett Albion can be done again with Humber. Scoring form and ability to get into games will no doubt be on the increase moving forward 

Post-Match Thoughts

Speaking after the game in a post-match interview, Dave Haley offered an all but brief and honest assessment of the squad’s performance: “It was a tough encounter made tougher by, in my opinion, a very poor refereeing decision that took us down to ten men within the first five minutes of the game. Looking at that incident early on, in all honesty I am frustrated and bewildered; How a player can be sent off for having a ball blasted at him from 6 yards I will never know. The player clearly had his arm beside his body when it struck him. And he had no intention of using his arm.”

Dave added: “We need to improve defensively as individuals, in our units and as a team. Players didn’t win their one v one battles today and as a team we need to be more compact when defending otherwise we will keep conceding goals. Looking ahead, a midweek fixture against the Hull City Development Squad will prove a great experience for our players in playing against professional and potential professional players. Our opponent’s fitness and technical ability will be on a different level to ours so we will need to win the physical battle, be compact and disciplined defensively and take our chances to get a positive result. On Saturday, we have a great chance to pick up some points against Swallownest and again, we will need to be defensively stronger and more clinical up front to get the result we need.”

Tom Devereux | Media Executive | FC Humber United

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November 15, 2021