Eric Epworth Testimonial Match, Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield

Saturday 10 May 2014

Sherwood Football Club   5 – 1   Holy Spirit Celtic Sports Club

With the sky threatening the occasional shower Sherwood FC and Holy Spirit Celtic took to the Hillsborough pitch on the occasion of The Eric Epworth Testimonial Match.

Eric Epworth watched Sheffield Wednesday in the 1930’s and was a referee in the semi-professional leagues in the 1950’s &60’s and a founding member and chairman of the Newark and district league. Now living in a residential home near Rutland water it is in his honour this match took place.

With both teams having to adjust to the environment and size of the Hillsborough pitch it was not surprising that the game got off to a scrappy start with neither team managing to keep possession for any length of time.

This changed with a Sherwood pass to Kellum Stafford-Cooper on the right wing mid-way in the Holy Spirit half. Kel controlled the ball, ran into the penalty area and rifled a shot past the keeper’s bottom right-hand corner to give Sherwood an early goal in the 8th minute.

Straight from the kick off Matthew Hardy for Holy Spirit broke through the Sherwood defence and produced a shot on target but a great save from Patrick Epworth in the Sherwood goal prevented an immediate reply.

Once more the play became congested in midfield until Buba Ceesay broke down the left wing for Sherwood and produced a fine cross to Kellum Stafford-Cooper whose first touch enabled him to increase Sherwood’s lead with a shot to the left hand side of the Holy Spirit goal in the 14th minute.

Play now began to open up for both sides with Stafford-Cooper for Sherwood and Finn McCartney for Holy Spirit both shooting wide within the space of two minutes.

Holy Spirit now began to dominate the midfield and force Sherwood back into their own half but failed to capitalise during this spell of play with chances falling to Finn McCartney who shot wide of the target from the right hand corner of the 18 yard box and then attempted a lobbed shot that was gathered by Patrick Epworth in the Sherwood goal.

Once more the game became a battle in centre-midfield with breaks from both sides. The best chance was a shot by Tyler Taylor for Sherwood which produced a good save from Sebastian Channell in the Holy Spirit goal with  Jordan Boot following up for Sherwood but shooting wide.

Although Holy Spirit were beginning to take control of possession it was Sherwood who were getting the better chances with Jack Staples shooting wide from 10 yards out and Tyler Taylor producing a fine cross tipped away by the Holy Spirit goalie Sebastian Channell.

It was now Holy Spirit’s turn as Conor McGurk had a shot tipped away for a corner and Finn McCartney shot firstly wide of goal and then secondly having a shot once more saved by the busy Patrick Epworth in the Sherwood goal.

Against the run of play Tyler Taylor broke free for Sherwood and lobbed the keeper only to see the ball hit the cross bar and be cleared for a Sherwood throw-in. This action seemed to invigorate the Sherwood team as they began to push Holy Spirit back into their own half with Cameron Delgaudio for Sherwood forcing yet another good save from the Holy Spirit keeper.

The best chance of the half for Holy Spirit came in the 32nd minute.  Churchill Masawi broke from midfield and set up a fine strike save first by Patrick Epworth and then scrambled clear for a corner by Connor Carter-White. Holy Spirit were putting Sherwood under a lot of pressure once more but the pressure was not enough to produce any clear-cut chances. Churchill Masawi and Finn McCartney were pushing hard against the Sherwood defence, enabling their team-mate Owen Waters for Holy Spirit to take a 25 yard shot that went just wide of the right hand post of the Sherwood goal.

With half time looming a good spell of passing in the midfield saw Alfie McDonald have a shot from the edge of the penalty area for Sherwood but once more Sebastian Channell in the Holy Spirit goal made a good save.

2-0 to Sherwood at half time. A scoreline which flattered Sherwood to some extent as both teams had plenty of chances but it was Sherwood who had managed to convert them.   


Holy Spirit kicked off to start the 2nd half.  It was noticeable that Sherwood were now keeping control of the ball and forcing Holy Spirit to play in their own half, thereby limiting them to the occasional break. One such break found Churchill Masawi for Holy Spirit receiving a good pass from James Moore only to be flagged for offside.

Ten minutes into the 2nd half the game began to open up with Conor McGurk shooting wide from 20 yards for Holy Spirit. Soon after this Sherwood were awarded a free kick in the centre circle.  Tyler Taylor positioned the ball in the right-hand side of the Holy Spirit penalty area and with a shot come lob put the ball in the net inside the keeper’s right hand post making it 3-0 to Sherwood.

Holy Spirit were still pushing forward and a long ball put Finn McCartney through on the right wing but good defending forced a throw-in right by the corner flag. The resulting throw in was adjudged to be a fowl throw, which gave possession back to Sherwood.

The game was once more becoming a scrappy midfield clash with the occasional break providing the main chances for both sides. Players on both sides were looking weary. Kellum Stafford–Cooper for Sherwood came closest to another goal with a shot from 20 yards driven over the bar.

In the 65th minute Alfie McDonald showed some close control, dribbling past four Holy Spirit defenders and into the penalty area only to see his shot well saved by the Holy Spirit keeper.

Again it was Sherwood who were making the most of their chances when they came with good wing play by Alfie McDonald down the right hand side - his cross was caught by the keeper who, minutes later, saved another attempt from Kellum Stafford-Cooper.

The next action saw Holy Spirit’s Mathew Hardy drive through the centre of the Sherwood mid-field to break clear. His shot was saved and the rebound fell to James McArthur who saw his shot fly over the cross bar.

With both sides really beginning to tire it was Alfie McDonald for Sherwood who once more broke down the right wing. His cross was saved but the ball fell to Kellum Stafford-Cooper who put the ball into the back of the net for his hat-trick. 4-0 to Sherwood with 17 minutes to play.

Although 4 goals down Holy Spirit were showing great determination to get back into the game and kept pressing the Sherwood goal by forcing corners and throw in’s deep into the Sherwood half. Liam McKenzie came closest but once more his shot was driven over the bar.

Moving into the last 15 minutes it was Holy Spirit once again pressing with Liam McKenzie putting Mathew Hardy through on the left hand side of the Sherwood half - his shot went just wide of the Sherwood right-hand post. Finn McCartney had the next Holy Spirit chance. Through on goal with only the keeper to beat, Sherwood’s Patrick Epworth came off his line to force McCartney to shoot wide.

With less than 5 minutes to play, Holy Spirit were still piling on the pressure with Mathew Hardy and Finn McCartney keeping the Sherwood defence busy. Unfortunately, as the Holy Spirit attacks broke down it was Sherwood who made the break from a Holy Spirit corner. The corner was cleared, the ball passed to Kellum Stafford-Cooper who drove it forward to Tyler Taylor. Tyler passed the ball to defender Lewis Meldrum, now well into the Holy Spirit half. The ball came back to Tyler who lobbed the Holy Spirit keeper from the edge of the penalty area to put Sherwood 5-0 up in possibly the best build up and goal of the game.

Showing they were not going home empty-handed, Holy Spirit seized the moment. Straight from the kick off they passed the ball forward to Liam McKenzie who ran through the middle of the Sherwood defence and produced a powerhouse of a shot from 20 yards which flew under the diving Sherwood keeper. Holy Spirit were at last deservedly on the scoreboard with 2 minutes to play.

Full time Sherwood FC  5 – 1  Holy Spirit Celtic.

A result which would indicate a resounding win for Sherwood but the game was a lot closer than the final score would suggest. The amount of chances for both sides were somewhat similar but it was a tale of Holy Spirit not being able to convert their chances whilst Sherwood were far more clinical. 

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