Rowley College 3 Wolverhampton and Perton 2

It’s a strange league this year with, St Marys aside, little consistency of results. Luckily we were not distracted by W&P’s sometimes indifferent recent results, preferring to prepare for the powerful and effective side we faced last year and we were right to do so: W&P were excellent today. On a heavy pitch they participated wholly in a full-blooded game of football that was good to watch, if painful because so close. My guess is that both sides would have agreed that a score draw would have been the fairest reflection of the action but equally that my gut feeling was that there would be a winner. These are, as we all know, satisfying games to win.

We welcomed Chrissy Staien back to replace the absent Joe, otherwise we fielded the team that beat Connect. We were prepared for a hard game and got a little more than we bargained for as W&P started brightly down the hill. They breached our usually steadfast defence within the opening five minutes when their centre half, who looked to have plenty of pedigree, brought the ball out of defence, waltzed around a couple of challenges and drilled past Lee from the edge of our penalty box. This heralded a very shakey period for us that they bossed and they were most unlucky not to get a penalty when a scramble in the box saw a desperate challenge from Olly appear to down their lad.

These are the frustrations of all football and the ref, Lee Small, was very much up with play and unwilling to accept whinging from either side. I don’t think he had a bad game. In fact I think the frustration of the penalty appeal was much more about W&P’s failure to go further ahead when they had us on the ropes.

This was compounded by the fact that even in this period we were creating chances and Ben Fowler in particular giving them problems. Also these chances were fashioned by confident passing football which in the end got us very much into the game. First young Tom pushed wide back post, then from a flowing move which left him free on the penalty spot he forced their excellent goalkeeper into a fine fingertip save. Christy also scooped one over following a fine flowing passing move. By now the game was an excellent advert for WMCFL with both sides at it hammer and nails. Approaching half time we got a clear penalty when Ben was tripped and Christy despatched it. Then we managed to get our noses in front when Ben breached their back line and finished clinically.

For many teams that might have been the killer blow. W&P might have done enough to go in ahead, in fact they ended up 2-1 down! We started the second half with the advantage of the slope and early doors Ben went around the keeper only to hit the post but this was not the end and W&P came back at us. It was a great test for Matt, Matty, Chris and Barber (who had his best game for us) at the back and Ben Smith, South (vital in the second half) and Olly(our best player on the day) in the middle. We were also dangerous but couldn’t get the third goal. The warning signs were there as Lee tipped a goal shot over before they equalised with an incredible twenty five yard chip which dropped perfectly over Lee’s head. That gave them a second wind and put everything back into the balance.

However there was to be a final twist connected to one advantage we had today: we had two subs and W&P a bare eleven. We deployed Nuni early in the second half and he gave them further problems but at 2-2 we sent on midfielder Lee Inett for Christy and pushed Nuni forward. Lee it turned out provided the crucial pass that sent in full back Chrissy Staien to cooly take the winner. All the best to W&P: a really good side.

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