We had an unexpected but very welcome visit from a Rowley legend this morning: Dale (Goal man) Smith shepherded us through the early years as Rowley’s first player-manager and then as a stalwart of our early years in the wmcfl before retiring finally (for the 4th time) in 2002 at the ripe old age of 45. Dale scored 82 in 160 starts across 10 years with a good third of those in centre midfield. When Mike arrived that meant three of the original 1991 side had assembled to watch the proverbial game of two halves in the howling wind at Hydes Road.
Both sides engaged thoroughly though in a physical game without so much as a yellow card.
We struggled up hill against the wind first half though early doors it seemed to matter little as a good move sent Olly in to give us an early lead. Matt also had a chance as did Tom and Haydon in the course of the half but in the meantime Wednesbury had been stirred into action and we were for a period very much second best. They breached our defence with an equaliser and gave our stand-in keeper Craigy plenty to do. His was another good performance and he deserved better when Wednesbury scored their second since he had made two brilliant reaction saves. By the end of the game we were frustrated not to win but in truth we might have been four or five behind since, despite our decent football Wednesbury put us under considerable pressure and hit the woodwork on a number of occasions! Thankfully only one more went in (from a spanking drive) before we went in to take stock at 1-3. Olly playing only his second full ninety of the season was our best player by a distance.
Mark had some stern words but also encouragement and in the second half we were better and more in control, appreciating the slope and wind (I think our keeper had only one touch in the whole second half). It was always going to be attack v defence with Mark, Brad, Matty Stanton and Nathan Hylton supplementing our assaults as the half developed. The difficulty was judging the weight of passes and crosses and many went astray. By now though everyone was playing well and it increasingly looked like a matter of time before we’d get back into. The first came via a Wednesbury head and the equaliser when Clive’s through ball found Ben Fowler (looking a little off-side it must be said) who stroked it home.
That left 15 minutes to win it but although we attacked with vigour with Brad having a field day on the left, they also defended stoutly and our seventh draw was assured. Mark had our best effort just too high. All the best to Jase and his lads.