Rowley 0 Sheldon 2

We met an excellent and extremely confident Sheldon side at a breezy Lion Farm today and managed to give them a fairly rigorous test in the end: they were certainly happy to hear the final whistle. This was a far cry from a first half that they dominated and in which they showed that they really are the real deal as title contenders this season. What Sheldon have is a real team ethic and this operates both offensively and defensively. When you have the ball they close you down and when they have it they pass and move with pace. Sag Singh was particularly effective for them today, he never stopped running and joining things up and snuffing things out. They also had two pacy wide lads who caused us plenty of trouble.
However, with the promised drenching not materialising, we went into this challenging game with a strong side and in good heart. Though they were unbeaten in over twenty games, we know we have the players to give anyone a game. In the first half though, we were a little sluggish, though much of this was down to Sheldon’s energy and teamwork. We were certainly second best and even a couple of free headers didn’t wake us up. Then Ben lost the ball in midfield and we were consummately punished: their midfielder cut in their left winger who delivered the perfect ball in for their striker to finish. Now they had the bit between their teeth and were eager for more (and expecting more).
Actually the second when it came was unlucky from our point of view. With Leon and Christie up front we always carried a threat but were caught on the break and their right winger was left one on one . Lee made a great save but in the ensuing collision between forward, keeper and Dave Scott, our centre back, the referee adjudged that Dave had handled. The ref, Lyndon Rollason was excellent today so it is without complaint that I say that both sides thought this penalty ‘a little harsh’. It is the fourth we’ve conceded this season. At the time it hardly seemed important and we had to dig in before half time to stay in the game. However in the long run it gave Sheldon the cushion to protect their lead when we got going second half.
The change was partly tactical. Mark switched to 4-4-2 and introduced this season’s find, Clive Haslam and then a new signing, the impressive Micheal Clark. Gradually we got into the game and Sheldon had to defend well to keep us at bay. Top scorer Sammy Nelson came on and was brilliant, putting himself about and forcing their keeper into a good save from a rasping drive. The last fifteen minutes was largely spent in the Sheldon half though we couldn’t quite force it home. Lots of good performances for us in this period: Clive, Nathan and Leon were driving things. I think if we’d got one we might have got something but all credit to Lyndon and his lads!

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