Following a weekend away from football, City Church were looking to build on the positives from the opening day narrow defeat to Zion Athletic and hoping to get their first points of the new season. Rowley College on the other hand have opened the season well, coming to this game off the back of two strong results, having beaten Monyhull on the opening day and just missing out against Connect Sports (who now have three wins from three!). The game was played at Rowheath, where the sun was out and the pitch was in great condition.
Rowley started the match off on the front foot, putting City under some early pressure, and were unlucky not to capitalise on some of the initial defensive disorganisation from City. Rowley would have taken the lead in the first half too were it not for a fine reflex save from stand in goalkeeper, Steve Richardson, and the linesman ruling out a goal for offside. Clear cut chances were few and far between in the first half, with City coming in to the game a bit more. After a few wayward efforts from both sides, the game went in to half time as a stalemate.
City made a couple or organisational changes for the second half, with Obi taking over goalkeeping duties, allowing Steve to use his energy and determination on the left hand side to give greater width to the play.
The breakthrough came shortly after the break when Campbell Thomas, the City centre back, went unmarked at a corner to head in the opener with what was his first goal for the club. Like waiting for a bus, you wait all first half for a goal and then two arrive in quick succession. City doubled their lead from another corner a couple minutes later, this time Nick Graham making the most of the ball bouncing around the box with an overhead kick which squirmed its way past the goalkeeper. 2-0 to City and it seemed a long way back for the away team who had done little wrong up to this point in the game.
Rowley stepped up a gear though, and put City under some real pressure. For the next 20 minutes of the second half, it seemed that City could not control possession and were it not for some good goalkeeping from Obi, collecting corners and sweeping up any wayward through balls, the momentum may have been enough for Rowley. They managed to get a goal back eventually, a cool finish from the Rowley player after breaking through the defensive line, making the last 15 minutes very nervey.
As Rowley pushed further up, hoping to grab a dramatic equaliser, this allowed City greater time going forward to hold the ball and keep possession. A strong defensive midfield display from Dan Green, making his first league start for City, and a late sending off for Rowley took any remaining wind out of their sails, allowing City to see out the rest of the game to get their first 3 points of the season.
A great effort from the City players, and an important first win. Well done to Rowley who played very well, unfortunate not to make the most of their chances, and a couple of mistakes from set pieces meant they lost on the day but they have much to be proud of and will prove a difficult fixture no doubt for all teams this season!