Amblecote Nomads 1 Living Hope Church 3

It was only recently LHC registered a 4-2 home victory over Amblecote Nomads, having conceded two goals before coming clinical in their finishing. This Saturday, LHC started quickly out the blocks and probably should have taken the lead on a number of occasions. Returning Luke Picken and left-winger Josh Steventon working well down the flanks, but Amblecote defended as a pack. The hosts were rewarded with a first-half goal, as the ball wasn’t cleared properly and pinballed around the LHC area, before hitting the back of the net.

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus. If LHC were the dragon, that goal was the tickle. LHC hit back before too long. Great attacking play fed Lewis Beardmore, who brilliantly cut the ball back across the Nomads’ keeper to find the bottom corner.

With the game tied, Nomads looked to shut up shop – their defence squeezing closer together and doing a fine job in restricting LHC’s advances. Even with throwing full-backs Shaun Smith and Owen Sprigg forward LHC came into the break without a second.

The half-time talk was pretty simple: much of the same and get the next goal.

Defensive duo Jordan Mitchell and Darren Riley held strong, with the experience of Lee Ralph just in front, which allowed LHC more power down the flanks. One attack granted the visitors a corner. A Steventon delivery was brought down and fired by Smith, only to hit a Nomads’ defender. Was it his arm? Was it his chest? Who knew. The ref blew and pointed to the spot. The defender pointed to the ball mark on his shirt, and Mitchell waved his arms around, stating it connected with his chest. Second, minutes even, passed, before the referee reversed his decision and handed the ball to the Amblecote keeper. In the true spirit of the league, the hosts returned the ball to Tom Lane, standing in for the injured Lewis Riley, and play resumed.

Another LHC chance went begging, as skipper Nathan Wiley collected the ball from Beardmore, danced his way past two defenders and found himself one-on-one with the keeper. Lee McGahan had already started celebrating on the sideline, but was brought crashing down to earth as Wiley fired his shot straight at the keeper. Cue the McGahan chuckles, resonating across the pitch.

LHC advanced once more, with Picken pulling the ball back on the left-hand side and delivering a beautiful cross, with Steventon and Beardmore ghosting in. The latter got there first, but could not get his header on target.

The clock was ticking down. With less than ten minutes remaining, player/manager Callum Oakshott brought himself on, having been out injured, for the brilliantly composed Owen Chambers. Two minutes later and LHC finally broke through and took the lead for the first time. Smith played to Beardmore, who knocked it back to Ralph, who found Oakshott, who turned and threaded the ball to match Beardmore’s run, who then fired low and hard across the onrushing keeper. Cue elation.

With Amblecote needing to start committing players forward – though they were thwarted by the LHC defence, especially Mitchell’s full-blooded performance – LHC were granted more room to attack. And they duly took advantage. Wiley played to Picken, who switched play to Steventon, bringing the ball in-field and eased the ball through two Amblecote defenders to Oakshott, whose initial effort was less than stellar; yet, the keeper fumbled and Oakshott ensured his second attempt ruffled the net.

Another solid performance by LHC, who will rue the conceding of a goal, but who will take the character and football displayed over the course of ninety minutes with great delight. Congratulations to the team for picking up their first away win of the season, too.

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