Cup glory, but a campaign of near misses for the Tigers - Worksop Town 2021/22 season review

It was a season of near misses for Worksop Town, who finished eighth after flirting with the play-offs for most of the campaign, writes Devon Cash.

Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 1:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 1:53 pm

After a positive pre-season, where the Tigers won 12 of their 14 friendlies, drawing the other two, they opened the season with a disappointing 3-0 defeat against Yorkshire Amateur at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium.

That opening day result seemed to have knocked a lot out of the side and, despite bouncing back straight away, some of the negatives from that fixture carried throughout the year.

Worksop won their second game of the campaign, as goals from Aleks Starcenko, Liam Bateman, and Zayn Hakeem gave them a fantastic victory on the road.

Worksop Town celebrate winning the Sheffield Senior Cup. Pictures by Lewis Pickersgill

Next up for the Tigers was the Emirates FA Cup against Eastwood Community, but their passage to the next round was not as smooth as they would have liked, with the Step Five side equalising four times to force a replay, and Worksop coming away with a 5-2 victory on the following Wednesday.

August finished with a Bank Holiday double header. Firstly, the Tigers travelled to the North East to battle against Stockton Town where a Lewis Gibbens header settled a cagey affair. However, the Tigers were below par on the following Monday as they were beaten 2-1 by rivals Frickley Athletic, with former Tigers fans’ favourite Leon Mettam scoring a 90th-minute winner to sink Worksop.

September began with a 3-0 victory over Newport Pagnell Town in the next round of the FA Cup.

Tigers then picked up back-to-back draws against Tadcaster Albion and Hebburn Town, games in which Worksop poorly dropped vital points where they ought to have collected all three.

Top scorer Steven McDonnell celebrates his winner against Bridlington Town.

Pontefract Collieries were the Tigers’ next opponents, and the game had a particular point of interest as it was the first time Worksop boss Craig Parry had faced his former employers – and he got the better of them with a 1-0 win thanks to Steven McDonnell’s scrappy finish.

The Tigers also crashed out of both the FA Cup and FA Trophy in successive weekends, as they were humbled 6-0 by Bromsgrove Sporting and beaten 3-2 by Dunston UTS respectively.

The month ended with more dropped points as the Tigers drew 1-1 with Ossett United – again, a game where they should have seen out a win.

October saw a slight improvement in performance as they opened the month with a 4-1 victory over Pickering Town, but their inconsistencies continued as they were beaten 3-0 by Dunston at home the following week.

Liam Hardy hold the Sheffield Senior Cup aloft.

Worksop then beat Stocksbridge Park Steels 3-2 and began their Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup journey with a 3-0 success against Ecclesfield Red Rose before they ended the month with a draw against Brighouse Town.

November saw the Tigers win three of their five fixtures, with victories coming against Bridlington Town, Shildon, and Handsworth FC – where the Tigers came back from 2-0 down to win 4-2 in the Senior Cup – but they lost their other two against eventual play-off winners Marske United and struggling Lincoln United.

The Handsworth win instigated a six-game winning streak for Parry’s side, with them winning their only game in December against then-fourth-placed Cleethorpes Town – a come-from-behind 3-1 win on Boxing Day.

The New Year began with a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Frickley, a fixture that saw striker Ben Tomlinson finish the game in goal due to an injury to Seb Malkowski.

Ben Tomlinson bags an 89th minute winner against Pontefract Collieries.

Back-to-back wins followed against Pickering and Yorkshire Amateur before a third defeat of the season to Dunston happened, losing 4-0 back in the North East.

The Tigers also progressed into the final of the Sheffield Senior Cup as goals from Liam Hardy and McDonnell saw Worksop win 2-1 away at Rossington Main. A 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield FC was sandwiched between losses against Stocksbridge and Brighouse ending the opening month of 2022.

Worksop’s February started with a 1-0 victory over Bridlington and a 6-2 success over Lincoln; however, it ended with a 5-3 defeat against Marske.

March was a damaging month to Worksop’s play-off hopes as after Tomlinson’s 89th-minute winner against Pontefract Collieries, Worksop went winless for the rest of the month, with losses against Hebburn and league winners Liversedge and a poor, goalless draw against Tadcaster Albion.

However, Worksop were somehow still in the play-off hunt and their first game of April saw pitched up against Shildon, who occupied that final top five spot.

A win would have put the Tigers a point behind the Railwaymen, but they were beaten 3-0 in a game which all but confirmed that their hopes had died, ending a 16-week stay in sixth place.

A defeat against Ossett United followed before the Tigers completed a double over Stockton at Sandy Lane. A goalless draw against Cleethorpes would follow before the league season ended with a loss to Liversedge, who lifted the Northern Premier League East Division title at the Tigers’ home ground.

However, the season ended on a positive, as the Tigers won their first piece of silverware of the Parry era, as goals from Hardy, McDonnell and Tomlinson saw Worksop beat Maltby Main at Doncaster Rovers’ Eco-Power Stadium to lift the Sheffield Senior Cup.

McDonnell ended as the club’s top scorer with 18 goals.