Clarendon 3 Rowley 1

26th March

Cracking game with Clarendon today and much closer than the final score suggests. We lost a bench full overnight and found an emergency sub in Joshua Moseley who came on and did well: they had a strong bench (in anticipation of a Cup Final) but both teams had strong starting elevens. A squally wind and bumpy pitch made everything difficult so it was a testimony to both teams that this was a high quality game played at pace. We lost it in the first half when they had the slope and wind but matched them across the ninety minutes, which underlines how small the margins are against the best teams. None of our players deserved to lose today but Matty Williams, in particular, had scant reward for a magnificent performance against his former team-mates alongside the also excellent Chris Staien.

We started well and the returning Tom Cartin was only just thwarted by an alert Bigga, who also made saves from Christy and Ben. Clarendon though, as ever, were pressing all over the pitch and Sav was mercurial in midfield against Lee and Ben (a classy all action performance). They took the lead when a smart exchange between their two strikers resulted in a sharp finish which just eluded Lee in our goal. Given their ‘environmental’ advantage this was not a disaster and our plan to be solid up the slope was working (and we were making progress). However we were undone in five mad minutes which reminded us what a cruel game football can be.

First Ben Fowler hit a firm back pass that bobbled over Lee’s foot then shortly after, somewhat shellshocked by that misfortune we defended sloppily (the only time in 90 minutes) and found ourselves three down in a game that was otherwise completely even. Mark had nothing but praise at half time and pushed Benna up alongside the outstanding Christy second half and we went for it putting Clarendon under pressure for much of the second half. Benna had an early header wide and later beat three players and angled a shot that hit the underside of the bar. Clarendon defended heroically, particularly Junior at centre back and we just couldn’t get the goal to get us back in the game. The game became stretched with both sides going at it hammer and tongs. Then Christy got it wide, bamboozled Roger and pulled back for Ben Smith to drive home but that was it.

All the best to Clarendon in the final!

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