Apologies to the lads from Christ Church Coseley, (match report from 23rd November), and Rowley College, (7th December and this weeks match report) for the delay in getting these on our site. But,as the old adage goes, better late than never.
Brierley Hill A.O.G 1 vs 3 Christ Church Coseley
With what seemed like an eternity of a break due to games postponed and rescheduled and then having the charity game last week, we finally got back to the pitch for a league game this week with an away trip over to Stanley Road, Stourbridge, with weather only ducks like, (even they decided not to sit out in it today). With only one suitable pitch it was agreed by both teams and match officials to source another venue. Fortunately, another pitch was found which was only a couple of minutes away.
With both sides finally ready and a quick warm up the game was underway, Coseley quickly set the pace and dominated possession early on. After some good defending from the Hill and a few half chances we managed to dig out our 1st real sight on goal with Clive finding space 10 yards out, he put his shot inches the wrong side of the post and Hill breathed a sigh of relief. After a few more half chances we seemed to be, somehow going in at ht 0-0 until Brierley Hill broke through and with Deano tracking back he caught the attacker and the ref gave a free kick just on the edge which was placed into the bottom right to give a score at ht of 1-0.
2nd half we could see the energy in our lads was going to be a big thing as the game wore on, and again a few chances came and went before we won a corner, Nas floated the ball to the back post and Bob nodded past the keeper to make it 1-1. It wasn’t long after that with some good work down the wing from Chambers who put a ball into the box, with the keeper just beating Bob to it the ball dropped to Josh who hit a half volley down the middle of the goal to make it 2-1. Hard work had paid off. A few subs were made, including the return of Tom, who spent all last season and this season to date out injured. (Good to see the lad back)
The game was sealed 2 minutes later when a ball in the box found it’s way to Chambers who heard the screams (along with everyone in a 5 mile radius of south road) of Jordy shouting to lay him off. He did and Jordy produced a fine finish from about 25 yards that the keeper had no chance of stopping.. the game continued but apart from 1 more chance Brierley Hill didn’t really threaten our goal, but the 1 chance did mean Lewis had to be alert. A fine header into the top corner saw a few players celebrate only to then see Lewis somehow pull off a top corner (camera) save. Keepers don’t ever get the mention they deserve but today a few times Lewis pulled off some wonderful stops. People only ever remember the goals conceded not the saves that can win points.
With 1 more chance left to mention falling to Chambers who went for power in the bottom right only to see the ball hitting the top of a tree in the top left of another postcode in another country !
Huge thanks to the lads at Brierley Hill for agreeing to pitch swap and for the enjoyable morning. I don’t think anyone on either side came off without a smile. Just how football should end.
Saint Michael 2 vs 4 Rowley College
A really good quality game today, helped inevitably by the full 4G pitch: it really is like watching a different (and higher quality) game. Though I prefer the thrills and spills of muddy pitches, you can only say that a decent surface does encourage a game with more control and finesse and both sides had this today. To be honest we were delighted even to be there as illness and seasonal unavailability left me as close as I’ve ever been to forfeiting the fixture (we were struggling by Thursday even to have the minimum of 7). As it turned out only one emergency signing was needed: Billy (who debuted today) and Jake (who debuted as a sub last time out) have been training with us so were not the ‘mates of mates’ who often make up the numbers on these occasions. I say this because both sadly learnt the hard way about the zero tolerance on swearing today and I want to make clear that both were matters of carelessness rather than indications of bad character (both are good lads).
Billy was one of eleven today who might have been our man-of-the-match: he was class alongside Ben Smith, who got out of work to put in a magnificent performance all over the pitch. Magnificent also was Clive hurrying forward his return from long term injury to form a formidable central defensive partnership with Mark: they were sorely tested by St Michael’s skilful forwards but never mastered. All of this in front of our stand-in goalie Jamie who looked anything but in the opening minutes with a fine one-handed save to set him up for an outstanding morning. He was ably supported by Joe, who’d climbed out of his sick-bed to play and a rejuvenated Matty Stanton. The veteran Stanton has not been at his best this season (the stretching routine he practices just to play is agony to watch) but today, pound for pound he was the best of us on a day everybody was terrific: two goal-saving tackles particularly stand out. And I haven’t yet mentioned our front four for whom the surface was a godsend: Jack full of guile and strength, Jake who grew into the game, Fowler who was always a danger and Josh who continued a fantastic run of goals and performances. Also sub Lancey who came from a night of celebrations (!) to offer us a decisive option late in the game.
I say all of this to emphasise how good we needed to be to beat a St Michael’s team who have really kicked on this year and who are always a test football-wise. They look after the ball and have quality and touch everywhere. We needed to be at our best and thankfully started early when Josh scored a genuine worldie: outside the box, right hand side: top corner: no goalkeeper in the world would have saved it. However, before we had much time to enjoy it they’d scored a cracker of their own from 30 yards. It was terrific to watch with both sides full of attacking intent. Josh hit a post with a header he might have buried and then skilfully flicked on Jack’s deft free kick to produce a great save from their keeper. St Michael’s also had pressure which paid off when their lad fired home from close range after a couple of blocks. Cue Josh again, driving in from an acute angle: 2-2.
Both sides had goals chalked off for offside either side of half time but I felt as the second period progressed we were getting on top. Josh was then brought down for an obvious penalty that Jack coolly dispatched and we had a couple of fairly comfortable chances that we failed to put away. This became more vital when Billy was dismissed and we had to re-organize with Fowler very effective alongside Ben in centre mid. St Michael’s came at us with gusto but we stood firm and still managed a threat. Josh literally ran himself into the ground and was replaced by Lance who used all his experience and nous to keep three defenders always busy. It was a tough and tense last 15 alleviated only when Lance broke away three minutes from time rounded the keeper and sealed the deal. All the best to Robert and his lads who played a full part in a good game and to Joe Glendon who reffed it very well.
Rowley College 3 vs 1 Charlemont Star
It was a surprisingly playable pitch today, despite the heavy rain but still at the ‘Farmer’s Field’ end of the paradigm after last week’s sumptuous 4G. Luckily, though battered by every kind of weather, we kept our momentum and 11 of the 12 from last week (and the incoming was the brilliant Chrissy Staien) and managed to get and stay ahead of a Charlemont team lacking matches and their most dangerous striker. Andy’s lads always give you a game and that was certainly the case today.
I was pleased to see Alun Inett at the game this morning: Al played for both sides (at the same time as Charlemont were previously a Sunday team) with great distinction scoring goals for them and stopping them for us (centre back and then keeper). Pleasingly he was able to see our improvement from last season and all three departments played well today in front of Jamie, our stand-in keeper. Down the hill with effectively four full time attackers we were a constant threat and really should have been out of sight be half time.
The two Josh scored (for 12 in 8 starts) were particularly pleasing for how they were worked with first Ben Smith (our man of the match for me) and then Shola unselfishly playing the final pass. In between we’d managed to miss a couple of sitters, a penalty and their keeper had made a couple of fine saves. This looked to have been costly when they equalised ten minutes before the break: their forwards always looked lively but the goal was a scramble and against the pattern of play. Defensively we’d been great with Matt Stanton again on form and a flued up South, Clive and Chris very much at it.
Up the hill and bad weather swirling we knew we’d need another and played counter attacking football against Charlemonts’ determined offense. Again we had chances and their keeper made a couple od saves. Billy and Ben provided terrific support from which we broke with pace and skill. Finally Josh and Ben Fowler combined to send Fowler in for a measured finish. Both then missed easier chances to remove further tension from my aging heart! All the best to Andy and his lads and to three friendly and effective officials. Merry Christmas to all in the WMCFL!