20 June 2024

Smalley predicts more ‘peaks and troughs’ in 2023

By Richard Lusmore

Easington United ended 2022 in disappointing manner, courtesy of a 3-0 loss at Hedon Rangers Reserves, a result that leaves them level on points with their local rivals at the bottom end of Humber Premier League Division 1.

If the result was disappointing, the accompanying performance was even more so as the locals appeared to simply freeze on a bitterly cold day.

For the second time this season, the Eastenders followed one of their best displays of the season with one in marked contrast. And according to the manager, realistically this is something we can expect to see more of in the New Year.

Telling his players that this will be “a season of peaks and troughs”, Smalley explained how the ongoing lack of consistency in selection and availability is currently being reflected in results.

Ironically, the Hedon game had seen the senior squad in comparative rude health beforehand, with skipper Liam Murrey and the hitherto impressive Billy Fincham being joined on the bench by Mark Hutchinson, making his customary Christmas return.

Despite this, the locals never really got to grips with the task in hand on Saturday and they finished the day a well-beaten side.

Although extremely disappointed by the manner of defeat, Smalley remained pragmatic afterwards, urging his players to come back refreshed in the New Year when there is still plenty for them to play for.

January sees winnable away games at Holme Rovers and Chaos United either side of the chance to atone for their derby disappointment, when Hedon visit Low Farm on the second Saturday of the month, before February brings a trip to Leeds City in the Yorkshire Old Boys Shield semi-final. The incentives are there.

One bright spot amid Saturday’s debacle was that of Andy Graham finally getting to make his milestone 700th Easington appearance. In doing so he joins an exclusive list of names that includes the McNaught brothers (Iain and Andrew) and Craig Foster.

Next week’s Gazette will carry a special piece on Andy’s achievement but suffice to say here it is a magnificent one – as evidenced by the reaction to it on social media.

Making his debut for the Reserves against Ringside in an East Riding County League Division 3 fixture back in September 1996, 615 of Andy’s subsequent appearances have come at first team level, along with 72 of his 79 goals scored.

His playing career now spans a quarter of a century and has included stints as skipper and player/manager. During this time he has tasted the highs and lows both on and off the field – some of which will be discussed in detail next week when the magnitude of his achievement will be brought into focus.

Elsewhere, the reserves and third team were inactive last Saturday, with the latter seeing their home game against Goole United Academy postponed due to a frozen Low Farm pitch. Both teams will begin the New Year with home fixtures on January 7, against Sutton United and Robin respectively.

The following day, Sunday, January 8, the Awd Ezzies will hope to return to Hull Vets League Division 5 action when they visit Preston United.

Away from the action, our thanks go to Positive Access Solutions for kindly sponsoring the club’s match balls again this season. Belated thanks also go to D & SL Fuels, Goodwin Fox and Eastenders chairman Doug Clubley for their recent match sponsorship, as well as Kam Cheng who has just made a similar pledge. Any other business/individual wishing to support the club in such a way can do so by emailing us at [email protected].

For up-to-date news, check out our website at easington-united.co.uk, along with our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@EasingtonUtd).

Finally, on behalf of everyone involved with Easington United AFC, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!