April 5th – Match Reports, Catch Up

Apologies to everyone that the Match Reports that have been sent in have not appeared on here recently. Other things have taken priority. Just to keep you informed, there will be some members of the Management Committee stepping down for next season and focus has been on this. I will add that I will be one of the people stepping down so not many more Kovacs’ Kolumns to come from myself. Anyway, we have the little matter of the Cup Final this Saturday and I am really hopeful that this should be a cracking game between Clarendon and St Mary’s. It’s £3 entry for adults and £1 for under 16’s. Personally, I am hopeful of a good attendance because in my eyes, if we had scheduled fixtures for the day people would be turning up for them so why not the League’s showpiece Cup Final ?

Anyway, my main apology would be to Pete Bennett who never fails to submit a report, bloke is top class in my eyes. There is also a report off Living Hope Church United when they played Sandwell and a couple off St Mary’s, including their report of the win over St Matthew’s Walsall in the Cup Semi-Final. I will start with the most recent and work back.

ROWLEY COLLEGE 1 ZION ATHLETIC 4
05/04/2016
By Rowley College

2nd April

This is the first time I have delayed my report this season, leaving a little more recovery time from the first game this season that we ended up well beaten in. We were faced by a strong Zion side crammed full of attacking players and intent but we are also a good side and once again played well. However with a strong, but bare eleven which had Craigy needing to play ninety minutes out for the first time since October, we were ultimately out run by a Zion side that brought on three strong subs (the third was Shaun Devenport!). Thus we had to take our medicine as Zion took us apart in the last twenty minutes with fluent football.

This was no bad reflection on our defending, Matty Stanton deputised effectively for Chrissy Staien, Williams was excellent, as was Joe (pitting his wits against the mercurial Naylor) and Clivey was man-of-the –match). Lee was also on top form, making two great saves one in each half. Zion started extremely well and put us under considerable pressure but we maintained a threat and took the lead half way through the half when Ben Smith knocked a good ball forward and Craigy’s persistence (he had a terrific first half) created a simple chance for Ben Fowler. Across the middle of the match this looked likely to be enough but we couldn’t kick on and in the second half they kicked back.

Leon is a player who would enhance any team and it was he who hauled Zion back into the game. First an angled volley, then earning a penalty (perhaps just outside the box) which he slotted home and finally a great delivery from a corner to provide the killer goal. Despite our shape and endeavour we were not coming back and when Leon was moved into the centre of things (surely his natural position) things became even harder. Shaun came on and might have had a hat trick: one well saved, one just wide and a brilliant finish from hardly a chance. The last twenty were torture but sometimes you need these moments to also indicate the progress you’ve made.

All the best to Zion.

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CLARENDON 3 ROWLEY 1
05/04/2016
By Rowley College

26th March

Cracking game with Clarendon today and much closer than the final score suggests. We lost a bench full overnight and found an emergency sub in Joshua Moseley who came on and did well: they had a strong bench (in anticipation of a Cup Final) but both teams had strong starting elevens. A squally wind and bumpy pitch made everything difficult so it was a testimony to both teams that this was a high quality game played at pace. We lost it in the first half when they had the slope and wind but matched them across the ninety minutes, which underlines how small the margins are against the best teams. None of our players deserved to lose today but Matty Williams, in particular, had scant reward for a magnificent performance against his former team-mates alongside the also excellent Chris Staien.

We started well and the returning Tom Cartin was only just thwarted by an alert Bigga, who also made saves from Christy and Ben. Clarendon though, as ever, were pressing all over the pitch and Sav was mercurial in midfield against Lee and Ben (a classy all action performance). They took the lead when a smart exchange between their two strikers resulted in a sharp finish which just eluded Lee in our goal. Given their ‘environmental’ advantage this was not a disaster and our plan to be solid up the slope was working (and we were making progress). However we were undone in five mad minutes which reminded us what a cruel game football can be.

First Ben Fowler hit a firm back pass that bobbled over Lee’s foot then shortly after, somewhat shellshocked by that misfortune we defended sloppily (the only time in 90 minutes) and found ourselves three down in a game that was otherwise completely even. Mark had nothing but praise at half time and pushed Benna up alongside the outstanding Christy second half and we went for it putting Clarendon under pressure for much of the second half. Benna had an early header wide and later beat three players and angled a shot that hit the underside of the bar. Clarendon defended heroically, particularly Junior at centre back and we just couldn’t get the goal to get us back in the game. The game became stretched with both sides going at it hammer and tongs. Then Christy got it wide, bamboozled Roger and pulled back for Ben Smith to drive home but that was it.

All the best to Clarendon in the final!

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ST MARYS VS ST MATTS (AND ROWLEY)
05/04/2016
By St Mary’s

12th March + 19th March

Rowley College vs St Marys

Firstly I will give a report on the game vs Rowley. As you will know this was the 1st game we did not win in WMCFL competitions this season and Pete as has always given a comprehensive account. Rowley were in this game throughout as we did not finish our chances. From our point of view (always going to be different) Andy Harris goal was a fantastic run and how he slotted it in from a tight angle I do not know (can I apologise for omitting praise for his hatrick from centre mid vs Solihull, all of which were bullets!). Before and most certainly after this we missed a host of very presentable chances, whilst Rowley always threatened on the break and had at least 2 very good clare through chances. Until 70 mins we had numerous chances to kill the game off at 1 v 0 however Rowley were always ‘in’ there and they gave us a great game for the final 20 minutes particularly once they equalised from a contested header (I think their striker would rather have it than me!). Green then struck a great free kick to let us think we would win with 5 mins left. However Rowley had been pushing for a while and grabbed the equaliser with a great header with virtually the last kick of the game. Rowley 2 vs St Marys 2

St Marys vs St Matthews – Cup Semi Final

Having never played the current St Matts we did not know what to expect and they came out of blocks quickly bossing the game with good football whilst never stretching our defence too far.

This lasted until the 70th minute when following an enforced change we finally made the break through with a pinpoint Green free kick. As we do, a 2nd goal followed quickly with good interchange between the Beesons leading to a cracking finish from Andrew ‘Tink’ Beeson.

Following us making another change at 2 – 0 there was then a very unfortunate incident as a free kick was swung in and their keeper and the other ‘Matt’ Beeson badly clashed heads.

This led to a 30 minute delay but due to excellent management from the officials, help from all sides and the venue, and great sportsmanship from St Matts we finished the final 4 minutes on the adjacent pitch. We really hope their keeper is ok as it looked very bad! (Matt is luckily ok)

When the game did restart ‘Tink’ scored an amazing goal flicking over the defenders and firing into the top corner to make it 3 – 0

It will be great to meet Clarendon in the cup final when we are sure we will meet their very best team!

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ROWLEY COLLEGE 4 RENEWAL SOLIHULL 1
05/04/2016
By Rowley College

19th March

Good result for us today. Solihull, as ever are a decent side who try to play football the right way, but we always had a bit too much fluency for them. Having not won for five games (three draws) it was important to get three points, but perhaps more important to continue playing the kind of football that has made for a much more successful season this term. Matt Williams was again an effective leader, getting us going early on a very cold morning. Defensively we were very good (Chrissy Staien very calm and collected again) against the real threat which Hadden and Chambers continued to offer but the drive was provided in the centre of midfield. Ben Smith was perpetual motion, Mackenzie class and guile and Olly Staien offered a man of the match performance of quality and purpose.

Starting up the slope we shook off a little early lethargy and got to our task. Christy put us ahead when he chased down their centre back, drew the keeper and slotted home. Fowler also had a couple of half chances while Solihull also offered their own threat. Half time 1-0. A second goal was always going to be important, particularly after Lee was forced to make a very good full length save. Again Christy was instrumental, exchanging passes before rifling in a shot that a Solihull defender could only help into the net.

We gave Sam Varney a much awaited first appearance second half and he didn’t disappoint. His movement was excellent, linking up well with Sammy and later Christy. He announced himself with a sharp finish into the roof of the net which seemed to put the game to bed. However james Chambers had other ideas and went on a run from half way that left half our team in his wake and Joe bringing him down for a penalty that Hadden converted (obviously). They then had a good ten minutes and threatened to get back in it. This was curtailed by a sumptuous chip from Olly which let Ben Fowler in to round the keeper and settle it. All the best to Solihull, it’s always a pleasure to see Phil and Brian.

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LIVING HOPE CHURCH UNITED 5 SANDWELL UNITED 2
05/04/2016
By Living Hope Church

19th March

LIVING HOPE 5-2 SANDWELL.

Today was a game neither team wanted to lose, with us having 3 ex Sandwell players and with the previous away draw it was always going to be a must win for both teams.

The 1st half didn’t really have any excitement, just a lot of end to end football with both keepers saving well and LHC hitting the bar, but both defences keeping the door shut. Then a good move from Sandwell found the forward who made it 1-0.
Both teams battled the remainder of the half but no more goals.

HT 1-0.

Football is a game of 2 half’s and today was a good example. Both teams again playing some really nice football with both keepers kept busy. Living Hope got a goal back when some good play down the wing helped Ralphy find a yard to whip in a cross that was met by the head of Bob. 1-1 game on.
Within minutes of getting level, we found ourselves 2-1 down.
We settled down and kept going and it paid off. A corner from Josh found Ralphy at the back post and he managed to hold off the defender and head the ball past a line of defenders on the line. 2-2.
Living Hope now had the belief that we could win this game, a good run from Lewis and he was brought down in the box, no complaints. Penalty. Callum was given the task and made it 3-2 although Myles in the Sandwell goal got a hand to it but it nestled in the net. With the lead at last in our favour we didn’t want to sit back so with some great defending and continuous attacks we forced a throw in, a flick on at the front post saw some indecision between the keeper and one of his defenders that allowed Callum unmarked at the back post to put the ball firmly in the net to make it 4-2 and grab his 2nd of the game. Sandwell continued to test our defence but LHC stood strong. Another attack found Callum running through on goal with the choice of a pass or getting the hat-trick, a pass was the choice to find Lewis who made no mistake and finally got his well deserved goal and ended any comeback from Sandwell.

Another 3 points and three wins from three after that horrendous mid season slump. The lads are beginning to believe in themselves again! Thank you to Sandwell for giving us a good game and thank you also to the officials who refereed the game really well.

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