In my absence (returning my lad to Manchester post Christmas and taking in Man Utd’s 4-0 demolition of Reading) my old mate Mike Ibrahim posted this report. We have now played 15 games in this frustrating season winning 4 of the first 5, losing 4 of the second 5 and drawing 4 of the last 5!
Rowley came into this game with plenty of players, although several were still carrying injuries and we were without strikers Sammy, Craig, Tom and top scorer Ben Fowler so Christie had to play as a lone striker supported by Mark.
I arrived about 10 minutes late to see the ball being picked out of the Rowley net. A cross from the right wing was met superbly by the Charlemont striker to give our keeper Lee no chance. 1 – 0 Charlemont. Ten minutes later we had to replace Lee due to a recurrence of a longstanding injury. Barber went in goal and didn’t put a foot wrong for the remainder of the game. Charlemont’s goal spurred Rowley into action. Christie had a couple of good opportunities to score, but unfortunately was injured while attempting to convert one chance. After a period of pressure, Ben Smith forced the ball into the net and Rowley were back on level terms, 1-1 at half-time.
Just after the break, Christie had to be taken off through injury leaving Rowley to play the remainder of the game without a recognised striker. Charlemont then went down to 10 men and, as is often the case, the team with 11 players failed to take advantage of this. Charlemont were well organised, solid in midfield and playing well on the break. One excellent, flowing move saw them get the ball in the Rowley net. Starting with a cross-field ball from right to left, their winger picked up the ball just inside the Rowley half, ran half the length of the pitch before cutting the ball back for his team mate to slot the ball into the net. Rowley were relieved to see the linesmen flagging for offside a yard into their half, but it was a warning of what Charlemont were capable of.
Rowley kept trying to break down the Charlemont defence but despite periods of pressure, didn’t really trouble the Charlemont keeper who had an excellent game and dealt with everything that came his way. Charlemont continued to soak up pressure and played on the break. They took the lead with a repeat of their earlier move, Rowley had obviously not heeded the warning: a diagonal cross-field ball was met by the Charlemont winger who took it to the byline and cut back for his team mate to score with less than ten minutes remaining, 2-1 to Charlemont.
Rowley kept applying pressure without really having a meaningful attempt on goal, Charlemont were content to see the game out and keep playing on the break. Then with two minutes left, a cross from Clive on the right wing was horribly sliced by a Charlemont defender and fell perfectly for Ben Smith on the six yard line to tap in, 2-2. Rowley probably just about deserved a point for their effort but Charlemont will be disappointed not to have seen out the game for a win.
The game was played in a good spirit throughout. Good luck to Charlemont for the rest of the season and thanks to ref Ashley Devonport and his team for an excellent performance – clear decisions and some good advantages played for both sides.