St Marys 2 v 1 Halesowen Zion
We went into the game knowing that we had to at least match Clarendon’s result to give us a chance to win the league away at City on Wednesday. However as it turned out Sheldon had a fantastic last game in the league (thanks Lyndon!) and helped us seal the title a week early!
Even in amateur football nerves can play a part when you know you have to win, and in the first half today we showed bags of them. It was not that we were not creating chances, we just couldn’t put them away, I had two clear headers off corners and was not the worst culprit by far. Then came the sucker punch from the 10 men of Halesowen (soon to be 11 through a late arrival)… after 20 minutes Doran timed his run onto a drilled ball over the top perfectly and showed us how it’s done with a fantastic first time header into the corner leaving Phil stranded. The first half continued along the same lines with us missing chances and Halesowen having a couple of half chances on the break. HT 0 v 1
A few harsh words were exchanged at half time borne from the frustration that we should be well clear but found ourselves losing when the title was so close! However we have come from behind a number of times over the past 2 years and knew we could recover the situation. It took 15 minutes but increased work rate put pressure on the Halesowen back line and the ball fell to Sheward who placed the ball past the keeper at the 2nd attempt. We continued to push but could not create the same number of chances we spurned first half and it took a great Wiedeman shot to be spilled out to Beeson 5 yards out for us to go ahead. This was Halesowen’s last ever game and they were in no mood to go out without a fight, pushing us to the end with one goal mouth scramble following a long throw particularly stressful! The Final whistle brought relief, but we knew we would have to play better vs City Church on Wednesday evening… that was until the news came through that Sheldon had beaten Clarendon and we had won the league to add to our Cup win! On to City Church to make it an unbeaten double winning season…
City Church 1 v 2 St Marys
We have had 17 regular players this season making getting on the bench a competitive process let alone in the starting 11, so I changed the starting 11 around from the last few weeks for this match to give others a deserved start and try to up the tempo from last week’s game vs Halesowen. We were going for the unbeaten season and I think that nerves showed again in what was a virtually identical game to the Halesowen match the previous Saturday. We could not get going first half, albeit this time we were playing into a very strong wind, up a slope and into the setting sun! This was not helped by the rock solid and bobbly pitch, or more pertinently our poor execution. City also showed their form of the previous month was no fluke and were playing some great football indicating that they will be back challenging next season after a year of change (we had a few similar years not so long ago). City took the lead early when their lively winger was allowed free passage down the wing to drill the ball across where a slip left the ball for their striker to calmly place home. The revised formation was not working and after a mid-pitch ‘discussion’ we reverted back to our normal 433. This made us more solid and led to us gaining a better foothold in the game, but City were still in the ascendancy and had a number of chances before we managed to play some better football and force 2 or 3 dangerous set pieces looking for an equaliser. HT 1 v 0
The half time chat was short this week as we all knew we needed to up our level from a poor first half, so we were back out on the pitch early. We did this from the off and were soon level when Weideman beat the offside trap and lobbed past the keeper from a great Jones pass. We were keeping the ball much better and took the lead from a counter attack, again down the right through Jones who latched onto a ball from Harris to pass on to Locke who calmly squared for Wiedeman to slot in his 2nd of the night and 21st of another fantastic season. City tried to press but as in the Halesowen game we rarely concede a lead and held out in relative comfort knowing that we only needed a draw to secure Arsenal’s ‘invincible’s’ tag.
Thanks to the 17 regulars and to others that have helped us out over the season and made it a pleasure to player/manage (most of the time!), also thanks to Alan, Andy, Emma, Kevin, Dennis and Derek plus a few others who turn up week in week out to support us. And finally thanks to the league committee for making it all possible. See you all next season!
St Marys 2 v 1 Halesowen Zion