Eventful game today with good quality shown on both sides. St Matthews proved league tables never lie: they are a really capable side who play fluent attacking football and are strong all over the pitch. They certainly had the better of it early doors and down the slope and it took a man of the match performance from Matt Williams to get Rowley going. Our stand-in keeper Craig was kept on his toes as we struggled our way into the game. Then just as we seemed to have weathered the early storm, St Matts took the lead. Yet another dangerous dead ball delivery was brilliantly cleared by Matty Stanton’s header but only to the edge of the box where their lad hooked it back in.
We now came properly to the table: Olly solid, Ben Smith busy, Nathan and Brad attacking wide and Benna and South disrupting up top. The equaliser was a terrific goal. Nathan drove at their defence slipped it to Fowler who took a couple of strides and drove the perfect ball back post for Mark to finish. We now playing the better football but managed to give St Matts something to hold onto when a comedy of errors gifted them a second. It will go down as a goalkeeping error but we had three chances to clear the ball before Craig’s slip (not a technical error, he just lost his footing!)gave their lad a tap in.
We hoped to turn around and make progress down the slope but injuries to Fowler and Hylton left us a little short of attacking options. Meanwhile St Matts continued to look dangerous and managed the game well. What kept us going were two lads carrying more than eighty years between them: the original Rowley talisman Williams and player-manager Southall and its was the latter who had the last laugh and secured our 8th league draw of the season. I had to leave right on full time for family duties so saw the late drama from my car on the drive and finally in Holly Lane. St Matts appeared to have the points, the game was petering out: their game management seeming to have earned them three points. I was waiting for the whistle but the ref seemed to find a bit of injury time. As three became four I drove out into the street and parked alongside the fence to witness the inevitable. In fact I got a great view of sub Dave Burke dragged to the ground, the confusion when the ref appeared to have given a goal kick, the complaints and goalie’s antics and finally South’s cool penalty! All the best to St Matts and thanks to Craig and his assistants.