Thanks to our ever reliable Pete from Rowley for this match report
Chawn Hill Church 0 vs 1 Rowley College
Chawn are a good team and they have made progress in exactly the right way by seeing their redevelopment as a long term project and having the patience to invest in youth and see them flourish. You can now see a group of lads who are improving together and coming to their prime together. Our development has been a little more haphazard but we too have a core of good players of about the right age (and some older ones still doing a decent job). This made for a fascinating and good quality game of football, the sort of game that it is particularly satisfying to win because you know you have had to work so hard for it. And that base line of complete commitment was demonstrated by both teams today and I have to give particular praise to our lads as there were only eleven of them so everybody had to put in a full shift (including Romeo playing his first game of the season and Lancey who’d been looking for 25 minutes!).
We had quite a few missing today, including all of our goalkeepers and half of the defence but what we did have was plenty of individual quality, a commitment to work as a team and a decent bit of tactical nous from Mark. It also needs people to play out of position. Billy did that by switching centre mid for left back and had a storming game. Jack, who is our most naturally gifted player swapped this for a pair of gloves and a different coloured shirt and he was different class. In front of him our regular two defenders, Chris and Joe, competed, blocked, cleared and intercepted from first whistle to last. The games was played on ‘the bogs’, a farmer’s field with lines and a slope and our first important win was the toss which allowed us to soak it up first half and conserve our energy.
They came at us while we played on the break. Josh and Ben up top were brilliant today: their link up work was excellent and they were always a handful for Chawn’s also excellent centre backs. Add to this the energy of Hayden and the trickery and tenacity of Jake (getting better all the time) and I was confident we would carry a threat. First half though was much more about defensive capability and Romeo and Shola (man-of-the match on a day with many candidates) were magnificent. The work that Shola got through today was astonishing. Last year we battered Chawn down the hill to no reward and first half Chawn had a portion of that feeling, hitting bar and post and calling on Jack and the back lads to put their bodies on the line. If we could just keep it level at half time…
The plan seemed to be working as with more attacking intent down the slope we began to impose ourselves on the game. With Shola, Jake and Hayden driving and right back Lance also delivering quality ball forward we had the ball where we wanted it: up with Josh and Ben. Three moves stand out which show the quality of both sides and the margins in this ‘classic one-nil’. Firstly Jake fizzed it into Josh who played a delicate reverse ball to play in Ben but the centre half made a brilliant block. Later Shola played the ball of the game cross-field and into the box to put Josh in and his thunderous shot was brilliantly saved. And in between, the vital moment: lance to Jake wide who advanced and knocked a ball into the box on to Josh’s head for Josh to cushion a header back to Ben who flicked it beyond the defender and crashed it home. A goal fit to win the game.
Unless, of course, Chawn could get it back and they came at us gain with everything. The last ten minutes were particularly hairy with Jack making a brilliant save at their attackers’ feet. The whistle brought relief and satisfaction in equal measure. All the best to Steve and his boys!