Couple of Match Reports from yesterday games with Pete Bennett getting his report in just before St Andrews’ report flew in. So, here are both reports.
Rowley College 2 vs 1 Charlemont Star
A more decent start to the re-booted 2020-21 season (our 30th) against a club founded before I was born (their badge has 1957!). Thanks to Becky at Dudley MBC for sorting out pitches for our home games while Holly Lodge remains unavailable. Dudley Wood was bigger than I remember it and many of the lads on both sides would not have relished the extra running (though they probably needed it!) The game was played a little slower perhaps than normal and grass is more exacting on the first touch and this was also sometimes evident, but this was a decent enough game. There is rarely much between these teams!
I think the most important thing today was the gesture of resilience as part of a gradual return to a certain kind of normal. The social element was much more important than the football today or winning or losing (though I was soon gripped by these things as well!) This was to some extent a reversal of the match at their place in the autumn. Then we had plenty of the game without managing to create much and they had the little bit extra. Today they started with plenty of intent and were competitive for ninety minutes but I always thought that the flair players were ours and we also had pace. Truth was everybody needed a game and everybody made the most of it.
The basis of all success is a solid defence and we had it today with Jamie in goal and Matt, Joe, Brad and later Kev all at it and Chrisy Staien our man of the match: his athleticism made sure they had few real chances. They were ably screened by Shola and captain Haden with Billy and Ben also putting in great shifts. This allowed our attacking players to thrive and all three were a handful for most of the game. Jay gets better every time I see him play with his constant movement and menace. One exquisite piece of skill in the first half saw him tee himself up with a flick over his head only to volley narrowly wide. Jack was his usual box of tricks winning a penalty and then outrageously chipping it straight down the middle for 1-0.
I felt we deserved that and that we were coping well but fair play to Star who kept at us and went level with a well struck free kick. I was sure we’d more goals in us but what was the winner just before half time came from an unlikely scorer with veteran defender Matt Stanton forcing it over the line (Ben Fowler followed up to make sure but accepted it was already in!). Fowler had been excellent all morning and might have had a hat trick (to be fair it was not an easy surface for finishing). The second half followed much the same pattern and because we failed to score the third to finish things I was on tenterhooks until the final whistle!
All the best to Andy and his boys and to ref Nathan and his team for allowing us to get back to the beautiful game in a sensible way!
St Andrews’ Netherton 4 vs 0 Chawn Hill Church
Match Report from Gez Mullholland
Title-chasing St Andrew’s Netherton marked their return to league action after a six-month break with a resounding 4-0 victory over Chawn Hill. (League Sec edit: Dave Chall told me 4-0 flattered slightly, 2-1 or 3-1 maybe but nonetheless, a great game for the League).
Four separate players notched as Dave Chall’s side maintained their perfect start to the season, with Shawn Devonport, former Albion forward Lee Hughes, Jordan Mitchell and Tom Adams all finding the net on Saturday morning.
Both teams had early chances. Hughes went close twice after neat link-up with the ever-impressive Richard Thomas-Robinson. At the other end, a combination of wayward finishing and the assured hands of Jack Keegan kept Chawn Hill at bay.
But the deadlock was finally broken towards the end of the first half. Robinson’s shot from inside the box was parried to Devonport who had intelligently followed in to slot home the rebound.
Chawn Hill, who fielded several technically-gifted players in wide and forward areas, were then denied an equaliser just moments later thanks to a spectacular Keegan save. The St Andrew’s Netherton stopper threw himself at the feet of the Chawn Hill striker who looked certain to tap in from point-blank range to keep his side ahead.
It would turn out to be a game-changing save. 30 seconds later, it was 2-0. A swift counter-attacking move, which started with a quick Keegan throw out, ended up with Hughes bending one into the top corner from outside the area on his debut.
Jordan Mitchell, the man bang-in form in front of goal of late, scored the third after the break. A poor clearance from the Chawn Hill keeper eventually fell to the substitute who hit a tremendous first-time strike into the net via the post to all-but seal another three points.
And the icing on the cake was supplied by another sub, Tom Adams, highlighting the strength in depth at Dave Chall’s disposal. The striker danced around three defenders before finishing powerfully from a tight angle on the left side of the box.