Rowley College 4 St Thomas’ Aldridge 3

This was our 550th competitive game today, (526 of these in the WMCFL), across 23 seasons and it was fitting that on the occasion of both his 38th birthday and his 350th start, Mark Southall was as good as anyone today. He held things together for us when all of our pre-match predictions came true and St Thomas’ once again proved what a good side they are and the game proved as difficult as any we’ve had on what is now an eight match unbeaten run. Rowley-St Thomas has always been a competitive match and though we managed our 8th win in our 16th game against them over a good many years the overall Goal tally of 30-25 shows how close it’s always been. No difference today. Steve had them well organised and hungry and we had a very uncomfortable first half.

It says much about the quality of this league that St Thomas find themselves in relegation problems, (as we did last season). Surely one factor has been the partial absence of Tommy Wright, a proper centre forward and a good lad. Before we’d got started, he’s given them the lead with a perfectly placed side foot from 25 yards. Though we defended well, (with tomorrow’s ‘groom’ Chris Staien and his ‘best man’, brother Olly on great form), we were a little loose in the middle for much of the half and though we equalised when Leon was both fouled for a penalty and converted it, it was only a prelude to a further onslaught and a terrific shot put them 2-1 up. ‘Bad’ became ‘worse’ when Lee flapped at a corner, (a rare mistake), and it was 3-1. However we scored a vital goal on the stroke of half time which I think proved crucial: Leon raced clear and finished expertly.

Second half and more of the same with both sides keen for a win. No-one better epitomised their spirit than veteran keeper Rob Wood or ours than South. Ben Fowler came on and added to his excellent season and goal haul with pretty much his first touch. Leon might have had a hat trick but in the end contributed with an assist. His free kick was turned onto the bar and Dave Scott was on hand to put St Thomas in further trouble, though they had a chance late on to draw level. All the best to St Thomas: a good bunch of lads who will, I’m sure be back.

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