Rowley 0 Halesowen 6

29th November

Firstly my reply to Neil’s good goalscorer /goalkeeper conundrum last week:

My reply to your conundrum is based on both gut instinct and experience: I’d go for the goalscorer every time. Truth is that having a really good goalkeeper is an enhancement (I remember you had Micheal Caine at Chawn who was one of the best) but having a goalscorer is a necessity. You can get away with a merely competent keeper since there are things you can do defensively to compensate but without a threat your long term prospects are bleak. Our championship win in 2001-02 is a case in point: we had the Widdecombe boys who each averaged a goal a game (in fact over the three or so seasons they were with us they did this) but actually had no regular keeper (no fewer than SIX different keepers across 18 league games yet only 19 goals conceded). After the Widdecombes moved on we went through a really barren period where we had the majority of the same side and a couple of really good goalkeepers but top scorers who got 5 in a season then 9: this was the road to relegation ultimately!

And now the proof positive that I was right: my description of our 6-0 defeat today at the hands of Halesowen Zion. We had a good goalkeeper (one of the best) and they had a stand-in. We had at least as many chances as they did (maybe the better chances). Our keeper had no saves to make: their lad made one from Ben pushed around the post. Their finishing was clinical and ours ‘rusty’ to say the least. No-one came off the pitch thinking they’d been in a 6-0 game.

I take nothing away from Halesowen. Both sides were effectively down to a bare eleven and I’m sure both thought there were three points for the taking. Most crucially we were missing Leon and Hunter and Sammy and Craigy just didn’t do it today though both worked hard. The first twenty minutes was all theirs and we would have had no complaints to have conceded then. In fact we then had an outstanding chance to provide the sucker punch when in our first attack a strong run from Ben slipped Sammy in one on one only for his shot to hit the keeper straight on. Suddenly we were in the game and Craig’s lofted drive hit the bar. By half time the game was very much even and I heard their guys saying they needed to raise their game. However they also by then had a two goal lead from two excellent goals both from left wing crosses: the first flashed in off the bar by an alert striker (I’d guess young Tom) and the second a beautiful finish from Shane back post. Ben charged down a keeper clearance in their six yard box just before half time but it squirted wide.

You accept the quality goal and get on with it. Starting down the hill we had everything to play for and so it looked as we put them under plenty of pressure so much that within ten minutes they were timewasting. I got a bit angry at the time, as I’d spent the first half (when they had the advantage downhill) personally fielding the ball, but I now see it as a kind of compliment (and Jon and I did shake on it after the game with apologies both sides). Clearly we needed to score and we had our chances. Then centre half Dave slipped and they were in for 3-0 but even then there was plenty of action for us in their box though had we still been playing I doubt if we’d have scored. And sadly this wasn’t bad luck it was poor choices and even poorer finishing. They, on the other hand, broke with pace and finished with aplomb. O for a goal scorer!

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