Perfect Response – Furnell Praises Side After Cup Exit

At this early stage of the season, Notts’ United Counties Premier North outfit, Kimberley Miners Welfare, currently find themselves entrenched in mid-table, but having played just five, league matches, to date.

Boasting a minimum of two games in hand on those around them, they are six adrift of leading pair, Melton Town, and Sleaford Town, and just five behind third place, Heanor Town; the reason for this being, Ant Ward and Graham Furnell, joint-managers at The Stag, have enjoyed some early, cup success.

Unfortunately, the club-best run in the FA Cup, came to an end recently, losing 3-1 away to Atherstone Town on Saturday, 3 September, Kimbo finding themselves three goals down at the interval, James Shaw with his ninth of the season (he added his tenth in the midweek, UCL KO Cup success).

Looking back on the past week of mixed fortune and feeling at The Stag, Kimbo boss, Graham Furnell, said: “In all honesty we were beaten by the better side on the day (FA Cup away to Atherstone), as much as that hurts me to say!

“After a cagey, opening fifteen, Atherstone took control of the game, with our marking, and will to compete, for both first and second balls, were way short of the standard we demand, and that was evident in Atherstone’s first two goals.

“We simply wasn’t competitive enough before being further undone with some great link up play with the third being coolly tucked away from six yards; the woodwork saving us from going in more than three down at the break.”

That first half, one that is unlike the Kimberley MW side of recent times, was no doubt a shock to Ward and Furnell’s system, they, maybe being forced, into making some changes.

“We tweaked a couple of things around at half-time, and made a fist of things,” continued Furnell.

“In reflection however, they had already took the foot of the gas and were cruising into the next round; (James) Shaw pulled a goal back, but it was too little, too late for us.

“It’s been a great FA Cup Run for us though, but, despite making history for the club, we feel this was a winnable game.

“Sadly, we weren’t at the races in the first half and were punished by the ruthless attack that Atherstone possessed.”

Kimberley’s 2022 FA Cup has seen them defeat Lutterworth Town (H, 5-1), and Leicester Nirvana (H, 2-0), before losing to Atherstone.

Midweek (6 September), the changes were rung as Kimberley entertained Blidworth Welfare, in the Preliminary Round of the League Knockout Cup, Shaw again on target, this time in a 3-1, home win.

“We were still wrestling with the disappointing result from the weekend and made seven changes to the starting eleven, some were rested, some niggles and some, performance related” explained Furnell.

“We said to the group, very early in pre-season, that everyone in the squad needed to be good enough to start when called upon, so we thought no better time to put them to the test.

“We started very brightly and quickly got the ball down, playing on the front foot, and creating some good chances for (James) Shaw, (Louis) Nicholson and (Tom) Jones.

“We also asked for more energy and desire, both in, and out of possession, and, to be honest, they gave us that, and that was how the deadlock was broken.”

It would be Shaw who’d open the scoring, just past the half hour mark, and, with a handful of minutes left on the clock in the first, Jones add the second with a near-post header.

It was the perfect response from Kimberley, following the FA Cup exit.

The visiting Blidworth however, would be seen to take the game to their hosts, upon the restart, and, with Ward and Furnell making a couple of changes, found themselves pegged back early in the second period, Tom Batterham netting, having forced a defensive error.

“This gave them a boost and they continued to push, but it left space in behind which, in truth, we should have capitalised on more than we did,” added Furnell.

“On four, separate occasions, the Blidworth ‘keeper stood firm, keeping it at 2-1; then, five minutes from time, (Nathan) Banton put the game to bed from just inside the box.”

Fortunately for Kimberley there were no injury scares, something which has blighted their progress in the early stages of the season.

In fact, to help combat those injury worries at The Stag, and with a local derby fixture next in the Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup, away to Clifton All Whites (Tuesday 13 September), Kimberley have also welcomed a new club physio, Dominic Wheatley.

“We do have a welcome addition to the club this week, and in an area where we have tried to fill for the three years in which we’ve been here.

“Dominic Wheatley arrives as our new, club physio; he is no stranger to the club as he also plays cricket for our friends, and neighbours, Kimberley Cricket Institute (Owzat Cricket Nottinghamshire Premier League).

“Dom has previous experience at both Rotherham United, and at Notts County Academy; he’s certainly came in at the right time and went straight to work when treating at least three of the squad prior to the (Blidworth) last game.”

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @KimberleyMWFC Graham Furnell was pleased how his side responded in midweek.

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