Welcome to the new season everyone. Be great to get more reports, win, lose or draw: it’s good for the soul! My first test comes today and on relatively unfamiliar ground: Rowley had only lost twice in eleven seasons on the first day! However what sadly hadn’t changed was the pattern of a close game with plenty of promise which we didn’t manage to win (last term we drew 10 such and here we went one step worse!). Monyhull had given us a decent game two years ago with a very young side who today were a couple of years more experienced and all the better for it. Credit must go to their management team who set them up to play to their strengths (as we did): in their case this is about good organisation, competitiveness and the desire to attack quickly and directly: they have pace to burn. They have a good quality big man up front and today perhaps their best player was their centre back who competed for everything.
We though had the best player on the pitch in Clive Haslam, who was superb today, two quality centre backs and good shape and possession. However, with Ben Fowler, one of the league’s top strikers away in New Zealand, we were always going to have to readjust and drawing a blank today suggests that this is not going to be easy. I think we should have won today but this is to take nothing away from our opposition. In a close game they did the necessaries and we failed to do so. We started well with Brad and Tom causing problems wide and Craig causing problems up top but though we had better possession I always felt Monyhull carried a threat. Ben powered a header over and Brad forced the keeper to palm onto the bar but there was no-one to follow up. Then two moments that changed the game for us. Firstly our keeper Lee was involved in a collision (no foul) that left him prone with a sore head. Then Clive skipped into the box and was upended: clear penalty but Craigy stepped up and placed it wide of the goal. New boy Kenv then had a good chance and we were frustrated to go in 0-0.
However our frustrations were compounded when ten minutes into the second half Lee had to retire hurt leaving our diminutive striker between the sticks. Christie came on and looked good forcing a couple of saves but Monyhull looked increasingly dangerous as we became increasingly frustrated. When we failed to clear they scored a fine goal that Craig had no chance to save and although Haydon came on to add energy and invention we failed to create anything much clear-cut. As Mark sent himself on as the final gambit, they scored a second and the game petered out with their pacey forwards giving our defenders plenty to think about.
All the best to Monyhull for the season!