I’d like to pay tribute today to that veteran of the WMCFL, Mark Southall, who debuted for Rowley in the 1992-93 season and is now our player-manager. He and I have shared many a pained conversation over the last five weeks in an attempt to shuffle an often incomplete pack but with a terrible September over we started October in style against a City Church team that also are struggling to field their best team. Mark had a plan today which was perfectly executed and he himself in a defensive midfield role was fulcrum as well as architect.
We’re still waiting for players to be fit but after half an hour last week, Leon returned for forty-five today and promptly scored a hat trick and a good one. However this was a team effort and against a City Church team who despite their troubles continue to play good football and have good players. In the first half we set up solid with two holding midfielders and Hunter on his own up top. This allowed us to get into a competitive game and a good game of football. Lee was once again a reliable foundation, Dave looked back to his best, Matt and Joe were excellent and Chris was as ever indispensable. Alongside mark, Maca had his best game for Rowley and Christie produced another gutsy and enterprising performance in the middle: Ben and Rich gave Hunter terrific support.
The first half was even but in the last fifteen minutes we started to exert some pressure and went close a couple of times before breaking the deadlock when Richard ran on to Chris’ long ball and cooly opened his body and beat their excellent keeper with his left foot. This was a big moment for us (only our second goal!) but the game was by no means over. Mark decision at half time to set up more attacking down a slight slope (on an almost immaculate pitch) with Leon coming on was brave and decisive. Within five minutes we were three up.
The star of the second half, once he’d found his feet, was Ben Fowler who for part of the game was just unplayable. It was he who danced through an uncertain City defence to put us two up but the best was yet to come. Straight from the kick off Ben robbed Dan Haynes and moved at speed towards the City goal avoiding a couple of ‘boisterous’ challenges before delivering a Premier League cross which Leon powerfully headed into the roof of the net. It was a great goal and one that understandably knocked the stuffing out of City (though they never gave up). Ben then created another chance for himself which the keeper parried out to Leon for 4-0. Then Leon galloped onto a long ball to complete his hat trick and we kept a clean sheet to make for a perfect day in the rain. All the best to City. Referee Dave Knowles was also excellent.