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Story posted: Friday, 21st February 1992

Battle of the bosses rages
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Not for the first time, rival soccer bosses Frank Northwood and Alan Beaman could not see eye-to-eye this week after their West Midlands League Cup clash.
Gresley boss Northwood went onto the offensive within minutes of the final whistle of his sides 3-1 quarter-final replay win, attacking Beaman’s after-match diagnosis of the previous Saturday’s draw at the Riversfield.

Beaman, quite justifiably, it might be argued, claimed his side had missed the chance to oust Rovers from the competiton, pointing to two first half near misses in what ended up a goalless stalemate.

He also pointed to a second half effort by Mark Sale that would have given his side the lead had it not been for a save by goalkeeper Simon Harrison that Peter Shilton would have been proud of.

Northwood could not agree. In fact, he disagreed – totally – saying his side had had just as many chances and “should have had a penalty.”

However, what Beaman said later will have angered the veteran Moat chief even more.

The Romans boss dubbed Gresley “a team in decline” and “as dead a Gresley side as I have seen,” claiming previous Rocester sides would have disposed of the South Derbyshire challenge with no problem at all.

Beaman went on to admit that his own side, too, was declined in potency, lamenting the absence of “three or four quality players” that the Riversfield coffers can no longer stretch to.

One suspects he was thinking of the likes of Tony Hemmings, Mick Collins and Savvi Anastasi, all of whom have left for greener pastures and have not been replaced.

Gresley, meanwhile, are going through a sticky patch. For the visit of Halesowen Harriers’ young side – and in the after-match of a thrashing at Chasetown, their main title rivals – Northwood and coach Steve Dolby opted for a “continental” sweeper system employing Stuart Evans, Steve Astley and Gil Land as central defenders with Neil Lovell and John Barry as wide men, pushing forward to augment the attack.

The system did not work well when Harriers attacked in numbers and it did not function all that impressively in the 1-0 friendly defeat by Armitage. There was a lack of attacking potency at Rocester and the Romans were only defeated when Gresley reverted to a conventional “flat” back four in Tuesday’s second half.

The system seems to leave Rovers’ forwards outnumbered by sides determined to defend in depth – as many do against Gresley – and a heavy reliance on a two-man midfield.

Clearly, the players need time to adapt for the new line-up to work, but with only 11 league games to go before the end of the season, it remains to be seen whether Northwood persists with the plan – or scraps it.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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