Cracking game today, that had everything including, for us, a good win against a good side. With four missing we were calling on the strength of our squad, including two debutants and it was pleasing that this week’s shuffle did not change the dynamic of the side: Matt Stanton was strong at right back, Clivey dropped back to left back (his natural position) and Joe had a man-of-the-match performance alongside the excellent Matt Williams. Meanwhile Nathan Hylton’s recovery continued with his first start and he was terrific in a midfield that really clicked.
Reflecting on the final 4-2 score line, I think it was probably a fair result but the progress of the game was not straightforward. Martin’s side as ever were committed to playing football and with Dan up top and plenty of energy and ability around the park, City were always going to be a challenge. However what they didn’t have today was pace at the back and in the first half our pacey and fluid football might have seen us four-up. In fact we went in at 1-0 only from a slick move that involved Clive, Ben Smith, neat skill from Brad, a pass from Ben Fowler and a smashing finish from young Tom Cartin, who was everywhere. Then we missed three clear cuts, Brad, Benna and Tom and had a couple of dangerous corners which flashed across the goal. When Dan got free in the box late on in the half only to see his shot blocked, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
Nathan had come off just before half time to be replaced by Christie who is also returning from a lay off and was soon to prove his worth, firstly by scoring the elusive second within five minutes, turning in Benna’s cross. City had started the half well and continued this form for much of the half making it a very even game yet within twenty five minutes we had delivered what the first half had promised and extended the lead to 4-0. Firstly Ben Fowler’s 50 minute goal drought came to an end when we cleared our lines to the half way line where Christie first time delivered a delicious flick to leave Ben with a run in on the goalie and 3-0. Then South volleyed a beauty and we were coasting (it seemed) though City’s constant endeavour threatened otherwise.
We had used all of our subs by then with Haydon Richards making a promising start on the left and David Burke, a veteran of the wmcfl filling in for Clive’s injury. Lee had already made two quality saves (one a literal finger tip) but misjudged a drive with ten or so minutes to go. We continued to press for more but were a littler shaken by City’s second and the fear of a grandstand finish! All the best to Martin and his excellent side and to three very good officials who were always up with play.