Clarendon 2 Rowley College 2

21st March

I have no doubt that our goalkeeper Lee Roberts was the man-of-the-match today: his was a brilliant series of brilliant saves which denied Clarendon when they were searching for a winner. However, this was not the one-sided game that some might have predicted and both referee and opponents agreed that we deserved the vital point we got today. Sadly, our usual blight of absences meant three changes from our excellent performance last week but we kept the more offensive formation with Mark free in midfield and lacking a centre forward we gave Ben Fowler the freedom to rove up front. This proved a really good move and he kept the Clarendon centre backs occupied all morning: Roger is one of wmcfl’s all-time best players but I’ve rarely seen him so discomforted.

Clarendon can be slow starters so we were soon at our work with Lee, ‘little’ Ben, Matt and Tom busy in midfield and Mark getting up to support Ben. This got an early reward when Ben was played in and drove it across the keeper to give us the lead. Clarendon began to stir, they are a terrific side, athletic and positive, but we still looked more dangerous and midway through the half Ben created an even better chance for himself but pushed it wide and Tom went close. Despite their quality Clarendon had created very little so it was doubly disappointing when five minutes before half time a decisive cross-field ball put in their striker for 1-1. This was a poor return for a terrific half’s work but we’ve got used to setbacks this season and the team talk was positive: we’d done enough to think we might get something.

I thought it important that we kept offering a threat: I was sure we’d need to score again. The first twenty minutes of the second half was very open and end to end but Clarendon were gradually turning the screw and Joe, Chris, Dave and the excellent Clive were beginning to earn their corn. However, cometh the hour cometh the man and up stepped Lee for a match-saving performance. In a twenty minute period I counted eight or nine great saves including at least two double stops that defied belief. Then as hope was rising with 12 minutes to go we gave away a cheap free kick 25 yards out and their lad hit a worldie into the top corner (Lee got a hand to it, mind, and was disappointed he didn’t keep it out).

The key to the final ten minutes was determination. Then, Ben won a free kick by his persistence. There were two minutes on the clock. I’d sent Tes Rowe (Ex Clarendon ) on for Matt (who’d run though the flu for the cause) with twenty to go and he moved into the box to add his physical presence . Chris chipped it in and Mark and Ben Smith moved in back post forcing their defender to attack the ball but only succeed in deflecting it into Tes’s path. He gloriously ‘walloped’ it into the roof of the net. I think we were worth it: we’d given a very good team a significant test. This point does not on its own keep us up but it gives us a chance, putting us clear of Chawn’s determined effort and setting City a challenge at least. All the best to Clarendon.

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