2 match reports from the same game and both seem to indicate that it was a match that had everything and played in the right spirit that this league expects. Thanks to Martin Ogbourn from City Church for the first report which is followed by Pete Bennetts from Rowley College.
Rowley College 3 vs 4 City Church
This was the third tight game in a row for City Church which has been decided by the odd goal against very different opponents. This demonstrates the quality and competitiveness of the league. Today’s match was a strange affair which could have gone either way. It was played in tricky cold conditions.
The match started fairly evenly without many opportunities from open play, before Rowley scored from a good run and finish as they started to get on top down the slope, midway through the half. This was orchestrated by their clever number 7 who caused a lot of problems in midfield. However, City were able to equalise before half time with a quality curled finish into the top corner from McCarthy from outside the box (HT 1-1).
The game seemed to have been sown up after three quick goals from City at the start of the second half. Hunter produced an exquisite chip, McCarthy scored his second after tireless closing down of the keeper, and the third was a Hisgett back heel from about a yard out after an accurate free kick from Atkins had been parried.
Both teams had further chances as Atkins had a goal disallowed and Chattaway saved twice on to the woodwork to deny Rowley strikes. It seemed the game would meander out, but a penalty to Rowley given with about 15 minutes left and duly dispatched, led to a barnstorming finish. A third Rowley goal soon followed, but although there was the odd scare, City were able to hold out for the 4-3 win, which is only our second league away win of the season.
It was a credit to both sides for a really good competitive, hard-fought game. Some of the finishing and build up play from both sides was notable, and it was played in a decent spirit.
City’s man-of-the-match was McCarthy, but there were lots of notable performances throughout the squad such as Thomas, Cashmore and Chattaway. City move on to Monyhull next week as we seek to find some consistency in our up and down season. Good luck to Rowley for the rest of the year.
I’ve been spending some time recently transferring the Rowley archive (my hand-written record of all our results and line-ups since 1991 collected in old mark books) onto spreadsheets. I’m about halfway through with line-ups but already have a spreadsheet of results which allows me easily to look at how we’ve done against opponents over the years. Our rivalry with City Church goes back to 2006-07 when we hotly contested the second division title with a team inspired by Louis Quaintance and the McKennas and including Martin Ogbourne and Joe Melia. Ever since we have always had competitive games (one season we lost 7-5 and won 6-4 in the two fixtures) and went in today with the following ‘history’:
The gap is now closer as they won today with the odd goal in seven in a slightly strange game which had many of the distinctive features of Rowley-City games (some decent football in muddy conditions, great competition and sportsmanship) but also a kind of sporadic ‘one side then the other’ being dominant quality.
The first half was from a more conventional game between good sides. They played good football up the slope with Dan showing his usual class and we matched them in a half of few chances. We were short of a specialist striker but delighted to welcome Dave Banner our new goalkeeper and thus to see Matty Williams back at centre half. This meant a rare outing at left back for Chris Staien, a position he made his own in our most successful period as a club early this century (now there’s a phrase): he was terrific today. In fact we had a good number of impressive performances in a game that looked for all the world to likely be a 1-0/1-1/2-1. Thus when we got the first goal I was delighted. It came on the counter with Nick driving half the length of the pitch and then playing in our most improved player Fin to finish beating the keeper into the corner.
They were straight back at us but I was confident that we could hold out and build on the vital advantage. Sadly a slip by Matt (I mean he slipped over) gave them a chance and the lad finished beautifully. Frustration was further heightened when Ken came a post’s width from restoring our lead late on.
Jack came on second half and was brilliant again but before he could have much impact we’d thrown the game too far away to recover it. I don’t want to misrepresent what was a chaotic half in many ways but the truth is that we finished thinking we’d deserved a point and City, having been 4-1 must have wondered how it ended up so close. This is because in a crazy ten minutes at the start of the half we made three ‘proper’ mistakes and City took full advantage. First Kev failed to cut out a through ball which put Robbie Hunter in on goal: his chip was excellent though! Then poor Dave in his first game let a free kick slip out of his hands for a City tap in. Finally a series of uncertain actions culminated in Matt playing a short back pass and Dave’s attempted clearance ballooning in off their forward. They also had one disallowed for a slightly soft foul. Their pressing was excellent in this period but we also had much to do with our own difficulties.
After their keeper had made a great save to tip over Hayden’s free-kick, Mark and Joe came on as we moved to a more attacking formation with Jack playing up and started to get on top. There were a number of decisions which provoked discussion on the side (and I mean honest and good natured between the two coaching staffs) including the penalty which got us back into the game which I thought was more than soft (though Jack said after the game that there was contact). This is absolutely not a criticism of the ref (Jack scored and we sensed a point was on) but rather an indication of the spirit of the game. Thereafter we threw Shola on and went for it with immediate impact as his shot was blocked out to the tireless Matty Suffield to fire home. Though we did hit the inside of the post, we couldn’t recover the ground we’d recklessly lost.
All the best to City and special mention to one of their substituted players who recovered the ball and threw it promptly back to us even when we were threatening to get back into it: these are the standards Neil was talking about at the last League Meeting, methinks!