Our ever reliable Pete from Rowley College sends in his contribution for everyone to read this weekend. It’s a shame that his is normally the only report but we do have 2 reports in this week, so Pete does have something else to cast his eyes over. I hope this trend continues as I understand Pete’s feeling knowing that you put a lot of effort in but then you have little to read yourself.
Rowley College 2 vs 3 Monyhull Church
I guess I write these reports to record the ups and downs of amateur football (and Rowley are a club of ups and downs!). I write them chiefly for our players and obviously from our point of view (sadly I very rarely these days have the pleasure of reading any other perspective). I try to make these accounts as honest as I can and try not to make excuses when we, like today, get beaten: a bitter blow in the cup.
This was not a giant-killing: we knew very well that Monyhull are a good team: they beat us 4-0 last season and might have done something similar this morning. We were on a good run and had a strong 15 available, though sadly not the injured Mark Southall who has brought us such stability at the back recently: this proved costly today. Unfortunately nothing much went right, starting with me forgetting that I had the nets and having to go home and get them. This transferred into the game where too many of our better players were not quite at it. The frustration was that despite the fact that Monyhull were the better team and overall deserved to win, we were offered a chance to win this game and fluffed our lines.
With Jamie at work we brought Fabian, a capable keeper, in for his debut and I’ll be surprised if Monyhull don’t make him man-of-the-match. For 35 minutes Monyhull played us off the park and should have been out of sight. I counted at least five goal-preventing saves including a worldie when their lad hit a dipping drive and he tipped it over one-handed. Mark was going crazy on the touchline yet we conceded only once, from a header at a corner. When Squaddie arrived to watch after 25 minutes I admitted we should have been already out of the cup! However we found our feet in the last 10 minutes and were suddenly dominant and Fowler had a couple of chances. Though we’d been average, Shola and Hayden were both impressive and Hayden forced a good save from their keeper.
We had stern words at half time, threw top-scorer Josh into the fray and lost Chris to exhaustion (he’d spent 36 hours getting back from Poland via the Czech Republic). Within 5 minutes we were two down and looking down the barrel. The game got a little scrappy and then almost inexplicably we were back in it. First Hayden hit a firm daisy-cutter which squirmed under the keeper and then within five minutes the Monyhull defence went missing and Josh scored an equaliser. From then on there should have been only one winner and we had 15 minutes looking like we could do it with lots of action in their box. However they found a second wind and a second header from a corner proved decisive, leaving us very flat. All the best to Monyhull and thanks to Cal and his team.
City Church 1 vs 1 Saint Michael (City Church won 8 vs 7 on penalties after extra time)
It was a really exciting and quality Cup tie today between St Michaels and City Church. Both teams gave 100% whilst fighting through 120 minutes of fluctuating fortunes. In the end it was like two boxers who had punched each other to a standstill, although we were only separated by penalties rather than by the judges scorecards.
The game started in lovely sunny conditions on a perfect 4G surface (thanks to St Michaels who had use of their home pitch). St Michaels started very well with passing and attacking play, and scored one good goal, but could have had others after striking both posts with slick passing. City rode their luck during the first half with a mixture of last ditch challenges, saves or profligate finishing keeping the score line down. However, City came into the game as the half drew on and were able to create some good openings of their own, including a disallowed goal for offside and another post struck after a decent move. The final shot or pass was lacking. It was a very open half of football and we were happy to get to half time without anymore damage. (HT 0-1)
At the half time interval, City made some adjustments for the second half and started with greater intensity and possession. It was certainly a game of two very different ‘halves’ as City had the majority of the play and goal threat in the second period. There were further disallowed goals (at both ends), the goalkeeper palmed a shot onto the bar, and headers went over the bar, as well as other missed chances inside and outside the box for City. St Michaels stood strong and defended well and were still dangerous on the counter-attack, as they dropped deeper and deeper. Just as it seemed, it wouldn’t go in, Nick Graham rose to head home for City with only about 5 minutes to go and take the tie into extra time.
During extra time it remained fairly open, but both defences stood strong and prevented any changes to the scoreline. Understandably, cramp, fatigue and injuries seemed to slow things down. Overall I felt that City had the greater possession and threat during extra time, but St Michaels continued to carry a threat. The pattern of the second half transferred to extra time.
The game went to penalties as the deadlock couldn’t be broken after the additional 30 minutes. Nerves didn’t seem to affect any of the players as there were 18 penalties by both sides and the quality on show was very high. Only one player missed the target and each keeper made one save each, but apart from that the standard on show was excellent under pressure. Watkins and Richardson were particularly notable for two calmly taken penalties. It’s a shame it came down to a missed penalty by the 18th player to decide the match after 120 keenly contested minutes as City finally won 8-7 after the shootout.
Overall, City were relieved to get through to the quarter finals for the 12th time. Both teams deserved a lot of credit for their commitment and desire, as well as the quality of the football on show. My man-of-the match was Dan Haynes, closely followed by Andy Thomas, but all 16 players for City played their full part today. Thanks to St Michaels for hosting the match and contributing to such a great match. Also thanks to the ref, Phil who did well without any assistants. We all needed a lie down after an eventful morning!