Match Report – 16th March

I have updated the Divisional Results Pages today. I was all set with my cup of tea yesterday ready to bash away at the keyboard but unfortunately I was and still am having trouble getting on the web site. So whilst I have varied how I have got on here I think it’s best to get Pete Bennett’s Match Report on whilst I have the chance. Thanks to Pete for his continued match reports that gives us something else to read rather than just statistics.

Rowley College 3 vs 3 Saint Michael

Thanks first of all today to Tony Skinner. Having lost the referee and one assistant this morning, Tony, who is not refereeing this season due to an injury agreed to step off the line into the middle: he had a really good game. For the second time this season we played against and then with a raging wind but this time, due to the effort and endeavour of both teams, the game was not ruined: it was entertaining and enterprising.  I think in the end the 3-3 draw was a fair reflection on the game.

We had a number of absentees today but managed a strong eleven plus one sub.  We played against the wind and slope first half and set up accordingly with a 4-5-1 and every player put in a shift but also much more. From Pidd in goal to Josh ploughing a lonely furrow up front, I was properly impressed today with every player.  The point is that St Michael are an increasingly effective side, adding a little edge to the technical quality they’ve always had and they really put us under pressure with the wind at their backs: going close even in the first minute.  They now have more attacking potential and our back four and keeper had forty five minutes of concentration and courage.

Ten minutes in I found myself, as stand-in lino, at the centre of things when I flagged their centre forward offside as he (brilliantly) headed in from a perfect cross.  All I can say is I was perfectly in line and he was (if not by much) ‘off’!  Their mood was not improved when we then scored against both the wind and the balance of play. We were making the best of our disadvantage whenever we could. Hayden was having his best game in a Rowley shirt, Fin gets better every week and Ben Smith gave an all energy performance and Brad worked up and down all half. About 15 minutes in Fin and Josh combined to put the ball at Brad’s feet and he cut inside and hit a looping drive into the top corner.

St Michael came back at us with renewed energy and Mark offered sterling work as defensive cover and started to have more influence on the game. They bombarded our goal and we harried and blocked and fought.  They equalised with a good goal: good cross and firm finish and continued to press.  Finally and frustratingly just before the break they then went ahead from the first corner we failed to clear.  Turning around at 1-2 was an achievement: particularly managing to score against the wind!

We switched to a 442 with Mark joining Josh up front and made immediate progress. Within five minutes we were level as a cross into the box was met firmly by Mark who stepped across Ben to crash it home.  What we were discovering was that playing with the wind was more difficult than it seemed: too much of the second half for us was over-hit and out of control. We tried to force things by making a change and going for it: switching to a 3-5-2 formation. Sadly our sub’s first touch was a back header that split our defence allowing them like us to score against the wind and a terrific finish it was. The final twenty minutes was largely about us with Ben Smith delivering a man of the match performance driving us on. Appropriately it was Ben’s free kick that allowed Josh to rise like the proverbial salmon to head us level but we could do no more (and they broke with menace too). Because of our pressure (wind-assisted) we went off feeling a little deflated but in the context of the whole game we deserved no more. All the  best to Robert and his lads.

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