And so this strange season continues with our seventh draw in the last ten games and I think a new wmcfl record of nine all told! Neither team was full strength today but it was a really competitive game with both teams intent on playing positively. We were massively boosted by having Lee our keeper back (he’s missed 8 games in all) which allowed Craig a run up top and also to have Ben Fowler, whose season seemed over, returning for a final time before embarking for New Zealand. The presentation of a pair of boots stitched with his ‘handle’ BENA preceded the game and he then proceeded to give St Marys 90 minutes of questions to answer. However, one person who often has the answers is Phil, the St Marys keeper, whom our custodian rates as best in the league and so it proved again today: his all round game is excellent.
We started up the hill and put in another solid half of football. With Williams absent we had a remodelled centre of defence and Clive and Chris were brilliant with Chris taking the lead and winning pretty much everything. Dave sat in front and had a considerable influence while Matt and Joe our full backs were both solid and productive. We had a threat from the start mostly channelled through our man of the match Brad Rogers. Playing wide Bradley terrorised St Marys all morning. Of course St Marys were always in it, they’re a very good side but we were probably the better team and a couple of good saves from Phil kept the score at 0-0. We also had a couple of penalty shouts. Our only frustration was not creating clear cut chances and Mark set the lads back out and down the hill with only praise and a call for patience.
The game continued in the same vein with St Mary’s establishing bridgeheads for set piece opportunities while we broke at pace like marauders. Josh played Bena in but he wanted one too many touches, Sean flashed a couple of decent dead ball kicks for them and it continued to be a fascinating battle. We sent on Tom Cartin who flew into action down the right reinforcing the progress he’s made this season, then Haydon who was a driving force against a tiring St Mary’s back line and finally Barber who was first to everything. Craig had gone off after an excellent shift up front, belying his years. We’d had possession and shots but nothing to trouble Phil until Haydon clipped a beauty counterintuitively to the near rather than far post and Phil dived full length to somehow tip it around the post. This was then matched by Lee who somehow turned a point blank back post volley around the post. Could it perhaps finish 0-0 (offering only our seventh such result in 623 games) that rarest of Amateur football results? It got more tense and then they got a penalty with five minutes to go and one we thought a little harsh. Game over? No such thing. We went again, Brad as ever down the left. Soft free kick edge of the area. Brad provides the delivery, Haydon competes in the area and Bena (who else?), Kiwi-bound, nods it home (18 in 18 this season). Well deserved I think but also well played to John and his lads who, as ever, competed bodily but always with the best spirit and attitude. Good luck Bena!