We were up against it this morning with Mark ‘sick and bad’ and our small squad stretched to its limits. Luckily we were able to prise Olly Staien from the bosom of his family and bring in Tess Rowe to give us something from the bench. It also meant we more significantly put our faith in that most precious (and increasingly scarce) commodity in Amateur football ‘youth’ with all of our five most attacking players in their early to mid- twenties: it proved a valuable cargo. However it was a veteran who provided leadership this morning: Matty Williams won almost everything against their excellent centre forward and kept urging us on even when things went against us.
Monyhull provided a significant challenge: I thought they were better today than when they beat us three weeks ago. In Oli Smith they have a very good player who can genuinely influence a game and their organisation and desire to play decent football will hold them in good stead: they also always look like they can score a goal. We started well passing the ball and playing a fluid formation with recent acquisitions Connor and ‘Shola’ (a Geordie lad with genuine promise) provided the forward threat and skipper Ben Smith benefitting from Olly’s stability to get forward and support. ‘Shola’ might in fact have had a hat trick in the first half with their keeper putting in a great performance.
This is not to suggest it was one way traffic: Monyhull play on the front foot tirelessly and with fantastic pace wide we were forced to drop Clive back to full back for this one: Joe was also great today. On one such break they took the lead when Oli Smith struck a ‘worldie’ from outside the box (I was right behind it and it was a cracker). We continued to press but went in at 0-1. It was important to keep positive: we were playing well: we needed to persevere. We found our second wind up the hill.
Brad on the left had experienced a frustrating first half, full of endeavour but little progress but he started the second like a house on fire and was central to us turning the game around. His rampaging runs turned the momentum of the game but the equaliser came via his threaded pass which Shola strode onto and smartly finished. Suddenly we were everywhere and an excellent team move saw Connor play in Brad for him to cross firmly for Ben Smith to head home. We had further chances but Monyhull held firm and we started to think about keeping rather than extending what we had. This was not helped when the ever reliable Chris Staien limped off and we had to reshape the back four.
The last ten were pretty hairy as they had a ‘right go’ and almost snatched an equaliser. Lee was terrific organising our rearguard action and with a minute left we broke out and Connor ran the length of the pitch to round the keeper and score.
All the best to Monyhull: great bunch of lads and special mention to three youthful and entirely proficient officials: Jack, Katie and Dhaine.