Apologies for the lateness of providing the following, various reasons but here we go anyway.
With 3 teams still in with a chance of becoming Division 1 Champions before a ball was kicked last week, St Andrews’ Netherton, Clarendon and City Church we start off with the first match report received off Pete Bennett from Rowley College.
Clarendon 0 vs 1 Rowley College
Clarendon remain the benchmark in this league, the team who consistently season after season compete at the top of the league. The fact that in perhaps nearly twenty seasons this is the only second time we have beaten them is news in itself. I always relish the challenge and in years gone by for long periods when they were genuinely the dominant force we fared against them as well as anyone. There are lots of draws and close encounters in the Rowley versus Clarendon record. Sadly in recent years we have been much less successful, having earned but one point in the last seven games in a run that has seen us concede 6 three times. Even last season when we were going pretty well with this young and hopefully developing side they beat us 6-2 and showed us how far we still had to go.
This morning we once again set ourselves up against the standard and the most satisfying thing beyond even the result was that we were able to properly compete with this fluent, agile, skilful competitive Clarendon team. We fielded three largely attacking, skilful flair players in JJ Jack and Jake and all showed they were up for the physical challenge. The young referee turned out to be old school allowing the game( 70s style) to be physical (causing some squealing for easy fouls on both sides!)which might theoretically have suited Clarendon’s all action style. In fact this was the aspect of the game in which we most obviously matched them and it happened from minute one to minute 90 and meant the for once I can genuinely say that every one of our players put in a very significant shift, the prerequisite for being able to play football against this excellent team. With a couple of defenders missing we asked Ben Smith to play right back which he did for 70 minutes magnificently one of a number of leaders on our side.
Clarendon had early sorties but we were defensively robust: Chris was always in the right place and Kev competed for everything. Brad, at left back continued to make his case for being our player of the season both defensively and offensively: the quality of his delivery is now becoming a real weapon. In midfield Hayden was inspired and inspiring and Shola tackled everything that moved with Ben Fowler dropping in and offering 90 minutes tireless effort we were able to get our flair players often into the game. In the first half we had significantly more of the constructive football and their keeper was significantly busier than ours though once again Jamie Mitchell distinguished himself with a tidy unflappable display in goal for us.
Clarendon have good quality players everywhere and in Roger and Matt have a couple of wmcfl Hall of Fame nominees but in JJ, our man of the match we have an intelligent skilful and fleet footed forward. Our game plan was to get him running in the channel against our former centre half and leader: whatever your quality as a player there is a point where pace just wins out. It came halfway through the first half and once JJ was in there was no catching him: he finished with expertise. This game wasn’t over: Clarendon always have a goal in them (or 6)
When we started the second half a little tentatively they started to exert some pressure on us. However every one of our lads including the subs Jamal and Billy were committed to the cause today and although Clarendon had plenty of possession and efforts they didn’t manage to make our goalkeeper make a serious save and again we had the better chances. Looking for a second win in 20 years the last 15 minutes passed awfully slowly on the Rowley bench. It was a properly competitive game played in good spirit the Clarendon lads were incredibly gracious at the final (while promising to do us next week). I was proud of every Rowley player today and the work that Mark did on the side keeping them at it. Of course side beating the` best sides is always satisfying particularly when you deserve it and I think we deserved it today. Look forward to next week’s return at Stanley Rd .
So, with Clarendon ruled out of the chase we had City Church vs St Andrews’ Netherton with a match report received from both teams. The first is off Martin Wright for St Andrews’ Netherton followed by one received off Martin Ogbourn for City Church.
City Church 3 vs 4 St Andrews’ Netherton
An overcast April morning saw the champions elect (as dubbed by Neil Kovacs) arrive at Rowheath Pavilion for a game that could see them clinch the league title for the first time.
City Church are always an organised and proficient team and we have never had anything but tough games on their compact Selly Oak pitch. Today was no different. And before the action unfolds it’s fair to say that this game was our biggest test of the season.
Both teams started brightly and had chances, however, it was City Church who fired themselves into the lead with a well taken goal with the lead soon being double from an in swinging corner. Much like the pitch, we faced an uphill battle to get ourselves back into the game.
St Andrew’s got a foothold in the game with a goal from a well worked corner with with Matt Waterhouse flicking on a Chris Hunter corner for Warren Grant to head home. This was followed in our very next attack after the game restarted with Lee Hughes being bought down just inside the box for a penalty. This resulting spot kick was Cooley dispatched by skipper Chris Hunter to make it 2-2.
Half Time 2-2
The next goal in the game was crucial and it went to City Church with a great run to the back post and finish from a well crafted move and cross down their left flank. This is the first time this season that we had been under this much pressure.
A change of shape and personnel once again freshened the team and with a renewed verve an vigour we once more set about chasing the game. The equaliser came from another Chris Hunter corner, not long after he had hit the cross bar himself with an audacious shot from just under the right edge of the penalty box, as Warren Grant rose to power home his second headed goal of the game.
In sport to win you can’t be scared to lose and St Andrew’s looked for the winner while our opponents ran down the clock, so today, the fortune did favour the brave. A courageous tackle in our own defensive third from
Steve Hyde, a short pass to Richard Thomas-Robinson who released, with pin points accuracy, Shawn Devonport down the left, cutting inside on his right foot found the bottom corner of the City nets in the last minute of the game. The Christian League veteran showed class and composure in the most pressured of moments to win the game and what would turn out to be the league after Clarendon dropped points against Rowley.
Full Time 3-4
City Church made us earn today’s result. All of the team although maybe not mentioned in the report played a massive part in today’s results and the whole 20 man squad in what’s been a difficult year with the tribulations of Covid it has been a great release to be back at football and something so positive for all of us.
Dave Challoner who has masterminded this season’s success with his trusted coaching team took the communication from Mr Kovacs confirming the title and we proudly sign off….
St Andrews Netherton Baggies
WMCFL 2020/21 Champions
First of all congratulations to St Andrews for their well-deserved title after an unbelievable season.
It was an amazing hard-fought game this morning at Row Heath which ended with an 89th minute winner for St Andrews when they took the lead for the first, but most important time in the match.
City started well in the first half and took a 2-0 lead through a good move and finish by Ivan, and a perfectly placed corner by Graham which beat everyone, including the St Andrews keeper. St Andrews were edging possession and passing well without troubling the City keeper, Chattaway, but they found a way back in through a foul on the edge of the area. A penalty was awarded and taken well (1-2). St Andrews then scored a header from a corner to equalise and at half time it was 2-2 at the end of a finely balanced half.
St Andrews came out strongly at the start of the second period and pinned City back for 15 minutes or so. However, City regained a foothold in the match and had chances of their own with Atkins scoring a good far post header after a quality run and cross from Janny.
The lead didn’t last long though as another corner was headed in to leave it 3-3 and a frantic ending.
The problem was as we pressed for the winner (the draw was no good to us), it meant we left gaps and although we had some pressure we also had a few warnings with close offside calls, before a ball over the top went to Shawn Devenport who ran through and finished well on his right foot. 3-4 and not enough time to respond, leaving St Andrews celebrating wildly and City players on their knees. This snapshot encapsulated the raw emotions of football even during a Covid-truncated season.
The celebrations from St Andrews were a back-handed compliment, but it was immensely disappointing to have led 2-0 and 3-2 and compete so well without getting anything from the match. St Andrews found a way to win with a large quality squad and that is why they are league winners.
City Church still have second place to play for, but we need to keep the level of performance high. Janny was my man-of-the-match, but Atkins linked the play well and every player played their heart out so I can’t fault the attitude or commitment. We go again next week v Chawn Hill in another tough game.
So, congratulations to Dave Challoner and his merry men from St Andrews’ Netherton. No doubt they will now aim to go unbeaten all season, we will see if they can achieve that. With only 2 games left, I think they will.
The last game in Division 1 saw Chawn Hill Church run out easy winners against a struggling Charlemont Star who lost 7-0 and who also move bottom due to Rowley’s win over Clarendon. Chawn move into 2nd place with 3 teams on 12 points, but City Church and Clarendon both have a game in hand.
Unlike Division 1 which is nearing completion, Division 2 still has some way to go yet but Monyhull Church do look like ‘Champions Elect’ for this Division. Like Chawn Hill they also found the back of the net 7 times in their win over bottom placed Brierley Hill A.O.G.
Second placed Selly Oak Methodist continue to chase them should they slip up with a steady 3-0 win over Living Hope Church United.
I’m not sure if Selly Oak will be looking upwards or over their shoulder as Dudley Lions also continue their fine form with a 5-2 win away to St Thomas’ Aldridge. I cannot see any other team challenging for 2nd place.
Christ Church Coseley look the best of the rest and sit comfortably in mid table following their 3-1 win away to Delph Athletic.
A shortened review much to my displeasure but unfortunately my time needs to be spent elsewhere on football stuff.
Preview of tomorrow’s games to follow later, or more than likely in the early hours of tomorrow.
Just a quick preview as it’s late and I do not anticipate being up early in the morning.
City Church vs Chawn Hill Church is probably the match of the day tomorrow with both teams looking to strengthen their claim for 2nd place. Although City lost last week I have been swayed by their impressive performance against St Andrews’ Netherton and gone against Chawn.
Clarendon also have a chance of 2nd and it’s a reverse of last weeks fixture as they travel to face Rowley College who beat them 1-0 last week. I went rather foolishly in the end for a Clarendon win then, guess what? I’m going for a Clarendon win this week as well.
The last game sees St Andrews’ Netherton who will be confirmed as Champions come seasons end, (mathematically confirmed at present), come up against rock bottom Charlemont Star. I have absolutely no doubt about this match, just on how big the margin of the win will be.
Division Two table toppers Monyhull Church come up against Living Hope Church United in a match where again I don’t see a problem with picking a winner, just about the margin of victory.
2nd place Selly Oak Methodist travel to St Thoams’ Aldridge and originally I had the Selly Oak lads to win 3-1. But a quick look at the table and it’s another mind change for me based on the fact that they do not score loads of goals or let in many for that fact. I think this will be a tighter game than I first thought.
Can bottom placed Brierley Hill A.O.G get their first win of the season? Well, they come up against a side who definately (Ian Buckells, Line Of Duty, if you know, you know), know where the back of the net is. Dudley Lions should wrap this match up. (As an extra Line Of Duty piece of information, the actor who played Ian Buckells is an avid Aston Villa fan. Did you clock the comment on where his money was being held in his interview? Holte End Holdings. Hahaha, best part of the night for me that was).
The last match sees another fixture reversal from last week as Christ Church Coseley host Delph Athletic. I was unsure on this one last week, (see last weeks preview), but I did get it correct. So, I will stick with another Christ Church win this week.
Thanks to Steve Knight from Chawn Hill Church for being this weeks Prediction Challenger
|8th May, 2021|
|City Church||3||Chawn Hill Church||2|
|St Andrews’ Netherton||8||Charlemont Star||0|
|Christ Church Coseley||3||Delph Athletic||1|
|Dudley Lions||4||Brierley Hill A.O.G||1|
|Living Hope Church Utd||0||Monyhull Church||4|
|St Thomas’ Aldridge||1||Selly Oak Methodist||1|
|Club Secretary (Steve Knight from Chawn Hill Church)|
|City Church||1||Chawn Hill Church||2|
|St Andrews’ Netherton||6||Charlemont Star||0|
|Christ Church Coseley||2||Delph Athletic||2|
|Dudley Lions||4||Brierley Hill A.O.G||0|
|Living Hope Church Utd||0||Monyhull Church||5|
|St Thomas’ Aldridge||2||Selly Oak Methodist||3|