11th June Update

Been a hectic week for all sorts of various reasons so here are all things WMCFL over the last 7 days and for Div 1 over the last season.

Firstly, I finally found some time to collate statistics regarding Division One and I can now confirm the following:

Division One Player Of The Season – Remmel Johnson from Clarendon

Division One Leading Goal Scorer – Shawn Devonport from St Andrews’ Netherton with 16 League Goals

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St Andrews’ host Clarendon in each teams 3rd match in the Division One Cup with St Andrews needing a win to stay in it. Clarendon had a convincing 5-0 win over Chawn Hill Church last week, albeit Chawn only had 10 players and hit the woodwork in the first minute. One minute later Clarendon had scored and were 3-0 to the good at half time. I was present for the first half and it was great to see some football and meet some people from the League who were present. I had to leave early doors in the second half due to other pressing issues. This result means Clarendon have it in their own hands but I know after meeting up with Roger Moore the other night that they will be taking nothing for granted. It’s an interesting group that’s for sure.

Group B is also wide open following Rowley College’s 2-1 win over City Church. Each team has won 1 game each after that result and it just shows that there are no bankers to win in this League. Here is a delayed Match Report regarding Rowley’s win over City Church, received from the ever reliable Pete Bennett.

Rowley College 2 – 1 City Church

This always looked likely to be a tight group and with three games played and three different winners this is clearly the case.  When Mark phoned me first thing this morning we had a bare 11, including himself and without a goalkeeper, knowing we needed at least a point today to keep any hopes of progress alive.  Things looked pretty bleak.  However, by the time I reached Dudley Wood, things had improved with the news that Hayden was after all going to be able to play some part (he arrived just after kick off) and that Jake was able to give us a half as long as he took it easy.

Jake has been great for us as a free running attacking option, always looking to take people on and score goals but as recently has had to tone it down because on Saturday afternoons he plays at a substantially higher level as a goalkeeper.  Today he immediately offered to go in goal and our prospects considerably improved.  It is no criticism either of Jamie or any other Rowley goalkeeper to say that the difference Jay made in this respect was formidable and this was not about shot stopping (he had no shots to save that Jamie wouldn’t have saved) it was about control, talking and distribution.  Our two veteran centre backs, Kev and Chris (who were excellent) both separately said to me after the game how much easier it was with the reassurance Jay provided.  Distribution both from the hand and off the deck was a real weapon today and that was the basis for our success.  In fact he stayed for 75 minutes and laid the foundation on which we built very well today.  This was needed in what was a really good game between two good teams.

With Brad suspended and Matt unavailable we brought in Clive in front of the back four and Ben Smith slotted in for another excellent excursion at right back.  Again this was a luxury having a centre midfield player who was competitive but more importantly capable when he has the ball, prompting our constructive football  predicated on Shola’s continuing excellence in centre mid alongside Tom Cartin, who had a really good game today in the position that he says is his best.  We  then worked offensively through the tireless Ben Fowler and two top quality performances from the wide players Billy (he gave every single scrap he had today)and Jack (he just seems to get better and better:  his subtlety and deceptive weight of p0ass was a highlight for me of the game.

Against this City brought their usual commitments,  both to one another and playing the game with control and  polish.  I think we were better team but there wasn’t much in it.  What we did was create the better chances,  genuinely we had enough of these to have clear daylight.  Our goals when they came were good ones but they probably didn’t come from our best chances! The first was a centre forward’s header from Shola from a great cross I think from Billy straight onto his head: penalty spot, keeper no chance.  This is also what City needed against our goalkeeper and that’s what they also delivered because just when I thought we were exerting some control their lad produced a proper moment of magic.  Joe was hesitant on the edge of the box and the lad hit an unstoppable volley into the top corner which no keeper would stop.

This was frustrating because it did come two minutes after Fowler rounded their keeper and had his shot cleared of the line.  Before half time Ben was there again this time hitting the foot of the post so we went in half time feeling positive but frustrated.  There was certainly nothing wrong and with Hayden ready to enter the fray in the second half I felt we could get something.  This proved a significant factor having Hayden’s power, determination and drive.  He gave us an extra wind and he set up the winning goal for Billy who slotted home where a few minutes earlier he had hit his shot just wide. Fowler also had chances but his work rate in the game more than justified his selection.

This was the best kind of performance when you get both the hard work and commitment and good quality football produced.  City of course weren’t finished.  Because we hadn’t finished it off we had an uncomfortable 15 minutes after Jake left, though luckily Mark was able to go on and see the thing through.  Luckily, I guess City imagined that our replacement keeper Jack was in common parlance ‘not a keeper’: in fact he’s pretty capable (he has filled in on a number of occasions and not conceded) and were perhaps a little over-eager to test him out.

We knew that winning the game kept things theoretically in our hands so it was important to hang on and we did though City made a monumental effort forcing a couple of corners.  From one of these Jack palmed out to the edge of the area where their load hit a great shot that flew horizontally from his foot (aka Cantona V Liverpool in the cup final) but Chrissy Staien was there to head away so we got the three points.  All the best to Martin and his lads and to Steve Cartwright, an excellent referee and his assistants.  Midweek next versus Charlemont.

So with the Division One Cup bubbling along nicely how are things in Division Two.

Well, Monyhull Church failed to keep their 100 per cent record intact as Selly Oak Methodist inflicted their first defeat of the season on the, and it was an impressive one at that with Selly Oak running out 5-1 winners. This result keeps Selly Oak Methodist in the hunt but I would still be backing Monyhull Church for the title especially as there last 2 matches pit them against the current 2 bottom sides and I am expecting them to win both of those. After saying above there are no bankers, here is me saying just such a thing. Hahaha.

Selly Oak wrap their season up with 2 matches against Dudley Lions who also have these matches as their final fixtures. For me, this is all about who ends up as Runners Up but Dudley will need to win both matches to do this. They are more prolific up front than Selly Oak have been so far this season so don’t discount this from happening.

Even if Living Hope Church United do win their last 2 matches they cannot improve on their current position of last but one. But their opponents tomorrow, Delph Athletic could move into 5th place from 6th in their last match of the season but need a win to do so.

Brierley Hill A.O.G finish their season off with a daunting task ahead of them. The lads from the Hill who sit bottom with 1 win all season, albeit recently, travel to face Monyhull Church the current leaders. Can Brierley Hill A.O.G finish with a win to really make things exciting at the top?

St Thomas’ Aldridge and Christ Church Coseley finished off their seasons last week with St Thomas just edging it with a 2-1 win. It’s been a strange old season and I am sure both teams would have been hoping for better. But, unlike last season where we had to cancel completely, at least we have had some clubs complete their season and others almost at the same stage. It may not have been great having to have a break but at least we came back and were able to carry on. I’m mindful that the positivity of being able to get out again and play the game helps with the mental health for some people and for the likes of the lads from Brierley Hill who achieved their first win, well, just imagine how great they felt. So, it’s not all about where you end up. For this season at least, it’s all about being able to participate. This is applicable not only to the players but everyone else involved within the League, Match Officials, Club Officials and spectators. As Euro 2020 kicks off in a bit, it’s just been great to have our own football back.

Thanks to Joshua Briley from Delph Athletic who is this weeks Prediction Challenger.

12th June, 2021
Neil Kovacs
Division Two
Dudley Lions 2 Selly Oak Methodist 2
Living Hope Church Utd 1 Delph Athletic 3
Monyhull Church 8 Brierley Hill A.O.G 0
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Division One Cup Group ‘A’
St Andrews’ Netherton 3 Clarendon 3
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Division One Group ‘B’
Charlemont Star 1 City Church 2
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Club Secretary (Joshua Briley from Delph Athletic)
Division Two
Dudley Lions 1 Selly Oak Methodist 3
Living Hope Church Utd 1 Delph Athletic 3
Monyhull Church 6 Brierley Hill A.O.G 0
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Division One Cup Group ‘A’
St Andrews’ Netherton 4 Clarendon 2
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Division One Group ‘B’
Charlemont Star 2 City Church 2
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