St John Fishers 6 – 4 Elim PFC (4th January 2020)

2020 brought a tasty fixture pitting the top two in division 2 against one another. Michael’s Fishers come into this fixture without losing in the league or cup this season, whilst Hughes Elim had won three league games on the bounce. Before kick-off these sides had scored 35 goals between them which there was no doubt which fixture would be shown first on match of the day later that night. St John’s fixtures ran out 4-0 winners on September 7th but the game was tainted at the end with a nasty injury to a Fishers player.

Elim not playing in 4 weeks, since the 8-2 loss to Hope lined up with the usual 4-4-2 formation. Betancourt maintained his position as Elim’s number 1, with the back four from left to right Kirugi, Reid, Watts and Matewe. The midfield J .Smith, Hughes, Jones and Baldwin and up top Dirna and C .Smith. St John’s Fishers kicked the game off at the Dunlop Sports Ground with the man in the middle Mariusz.

After a bad November and December with rain, dry January had started (sorry bad pun). St John Fishers pressed high up on the pitch and looked the fresher of the two teams early on. The reds had only conceded 3 goals all season and the lads at the back looked comfortable and confident on the ball. It would be the wingers that would combine for Elim to create the first chance, Baldwin whipped a high ball to just inside the box for Elim’s top scorer J .Smith to connect first time with a volley straight down the keepers throat. Dirna shortly after would be brought down 25 yards from goal on the left wing. Baldwin stepped over the ball, whipped it back post for the bearded captain Jones to have too much time to think and headed over.

Elim would rue these chances when St John Fishers received their first corner, ball whipped in from the right, a bullet header for an unmarked man to connect and head the home side ahead. Elim must of felt they were watching Groundhog day as they went 2-0 in the exact same situation, corner back post, unmarked man goal. Tension in the box, brought back bad memories of set pieces in previous years. Lessons have not been learnt and all men were commanded back for the next set piece. St John would score the first goal from open play when the left winger would get the better of Kirugi controlling the ball and slotting to the edge of the box for the ball to be rifled into the right of the goal.

On the 30 minute mark Elim would finally wake up and started battling higher up the pitch, tackles flying in and Reid would rattle the bar with a header which led the ball to bounce around finally finding Dirna to shoot low and hard into the bottom corner to get Elim back into the game. The captain Jones had a spirited run through the middle hitting a fierce shot to again rattle the bar and the full back clearing Fisher’s lines. From the resulting throwing a long throw from C .Smith found Reid to header onto Matewe for the left back to head home his first Elim goal (in the right net) you will never live your first real goal down Welly!! Game on 3-2 and now Elim had Fishers insight.
Despite dragging themselves from the dead, on a number of occasions the ball was giving away too easy. Watts brought down the attacker on the edge of the box for Betancourt to pull off a fantastic save in the top corner and knock the ball out for a corner from the resulting free kick. The ball was moved from one box to the next very quickly and Betancourt got a fine touch on the ball to keep Elim in the game and knock a shot onto the post. Dirna pushed on using trickery foot work to get into the box and find Hughes for the manager to hit over. There was one last goal and it would go to Fishers to lead 4-2 at the break, free kick whipped in despite a smart low save from the keeper the ball was tapped in on the rebound.

Half time came and this was a tale of one team that had utilised set pieces and another that had failed too. Both sides made no changes, but coming out Elim had a lot of fight second half. The First 10 minutes, Jones and J .Smith worked well together to get down the right. Baldwin was keeping busy on the left selling the full back a dummy cutting in to find Hughes, the gaffer hitting a low shot just wide of the post. Elim were piling on the pressure when a sickening counter would result to Fisher’s 5th. Elim made a double change with Hassan and Mangan coming on for Watts and C .Smith. There was a little shuffle to the team but Elim responded well getting a life line and Dirna and Hassan linking up well with a quick one two, which was slotted home by Dirna. Home was the final sub coming on for Kirugi with Elim again shuffling the pack.

Elim were made to pay when a throwing was lost in their own half for Fishers to clinically twist the knife and seal Elim’s fate. Betancourt had played outstanding and was let down by the players in front of him, with the keeper making 5 or 6 brilliant saves in this game. Great work from Mangan set up a nervy finish in this fixture, with the winger stealing possession, and setting Hassan off. The striker used his pace to set up team mate and buddy Dirna for the striker’s second hat trick of the season.

85 minutes on the clock and we had seen 10 goals, the on-looking team mates Sam, Paul, Benni and Jackson the dog didn’t see any more of a comeback with the ref stopping the game at 6-4. St John Fishers now have an 8 point lead at the top and 4 wins should see them crowned worthy champions. Dirna was voted the Elim man of the match but praise must also be given to Elim’s shot stopper today. Elim can be proud of scoring more goals past Fishers in one game than they have conceded all season in the league but a loss still hurts and defensively the team will put this right against HERC on 18th January. Sadly not the result we came for but an excellent game with two teams playing the game in the right spirit.

Happy new year all!!

Kings FC 4 v Elim 2 (9th November 2019)

Elim entered the Leicester / Coventry cup for only the second time in the history and drew FC Kings in the preliminary round of the tournament away. The 38 mile trip north was a historic day for Elim as this would be the first game Elim would have played in their history in the city of Leicester (I know world mark this historic day). Elim’s only ever appearance previously was a 2-0 loss at home in War Memorial Park. Elim came into this game in really good form, winning 3 games on the bounce in the league. The Leicester cup had the rule of rotational subs throughout the game, which meant more game time for all Elim players on the bench than usual.

Hughes and Baldwin had a frantic chase around for a keeper 12 hours before kick-off with all three Elim keepers not available. Tai a historic legend of Elim would answer the call and would be wearing the number one top for the first in 6 years. Elim made two other changes to the 10-1 win against Wanderers. Paul Watkins and Matthew Moroney both not around for this fixture would be replaced with Corey Smith and Kevin Kirugi. Kirugi slotted in at right back with Watts, Reid and Matewe keeping their places in defence. The midfield four of J Smith, Manager Hughes, Captain Jones and Assistant Manager Baldwin. Up top, Dirna would be joined alongside C Smith. Hassan, was joined on the bench by Benni and Home.

The players gathered on the half way line prior to the game to have a group prayer before the action started and Elim would be getting this game under way in 2 degree temperatures. The game kicked off with both teams having great passing succession in the middle, which would lead to a buggy middle section as the game would get on. J Smith was lively as ever on the wing and kept the left back warm and on his toes. It was Baldwin that would create the first real chance whipping a long ball in back post to find fwllow winger J Smith to bullet header the ball against the post. The ball had beating the keeper all ends up but not enough accuracy to break the deadlock. Dirna and Smith would have some shots from range that despite accuracy the keeper would deal with comfortably.

Watts and Reid would keep the long balls at bay cleaning up all attacks and breaking them down quickly. Sadly Watts would pull up with a pulled muscle on the 20th minute. Hassan would come in for the centre back, leading to a reshuffle of the team. Matewe joined Reid at centre back, Baldwin went to left back and Hassan played ahead of the full back. Kirugi was enjoying a rare start winning a number of headers in the middle and Hughes and Jones partnership was blossoming in the middle keeping to defensive duties. On the 30th minute C Smith and Kirugu would be replaced by Benni and Home to keep the team fresh.

The controversial point on 37th minute would come from a cross on the left hand side. The ball was whipped in from a couple of yards to strike Baldwin’s elbow which was tucked in. One player called for the penalty which was enough for the referee to assert his authority and point to the spot. A number of the away players protested but the ref stated ‘there was no intent but the ball hit the hand and I have made my decision’. The ball on the spot for the second game in a row, whilst Elim players scratching heads on this matter. The kick was taking and FC Kings in ruthless fashion made it count with the first shot on target in the back of the net. The keeper guessed right but the accuracy was deadly.

The ref found himself shortly after in another talking point that went against Elim, the ball played into Hassan to slot away to run off celebrating. The flag would come up late and the equaliser ruled off, without even a VAR check. Elim feeling sorry for themselves would find themselves 2-0 on the stroke of half time with Reid blocking a shot to fool Tai and send the ball in to the Elim net. Reid on the scoresheet put not how he would of wanted.

Half time approached and the Elim talk was about the next 45 minutes digging deep and fighting for the pride of Coventry. It would be the captain Jones that would next come close. Baldwin swung in the ball for the keeper to clip it on Jones head to find the bar. The bar wasn’t finished saving shots all over. A Baldwin cross would next evade the keeper and smash off the bar and then Reid would header a Dirna cross against the bar too. The bar at this point had saved more shots than both keepers combined. Despite the pressure Elim applied to get the next goal FC Kings would beat the offside trap and tap in the third and decisive goal to kill Elim dreams of making it to the 1st round.

C Smith and Kirugi came back into the game for Dirna and Hughes. The problem with Elim this season is they don’t know when there beat and C Smith was about to put the game back in the balance using tricky to turn his man and slot home for the second game on the bounce. Home and Jones rolled up the sleeves and grafted chasing every ball and kept the smooth passing going.

Finally the ref would give Elim a break and only book their keeper with a last man challenge. Tai left alone brought down the striker on the edge of the box for the keeper to be shown a generous yellow card. Matewe was covering but for Elim Christmas had come early and just like the Grinch at Christmas the refs heart grew. The cross came in and Reid cleared the dead piece shot off the line. The Elim consolation had added a bit of spice to the game and Matewe was ready to play, putting in some fantastic tackles to break up play. Matewe can tackle beautifully but when this Liverpool fan tries to strike a ball on edge of the box look away. Matewe used all his power to miskick the ball, searching for his first goal in an Elim shirt.

Elim would get the score to 4-2 with another man scoring two in two, Hassan deep into stoppage time, the striker would hit a solid shot on target to bring the shoreline more respectful. A little too late from the Pentecostal church as the final whistle was blown. On behalf of all of Elim a really enjoyable game which had cards, drama, talking points, goals and played with a great spirit from Elim and Kings. It’s not many times you walk away from a game thinking I could not be proud of the lads for giving this club and church everything. Well done too all involved.

The usual special mentions, firstly thank you for FC Kings for hosting us. The game was played in a spirit of respect and integrity and we wish you all the best in this tournament. Next Corey Smith I would like to congratulate the striker on his man of the match, he was closely followed by FC Kings bar for those 4 great saves  Thank you Tai for helping Elim out last minute, even though your joint Elim dirtiest player this season. Final thank you to our gaffer for organising this fixture let’s roll on to Lowfor’s this weekend and bounce back quickly.

Wanderers 1 v Elim 10 (2nd November 2019)

After Wanderers were relegated from division 1 last season, they uncounted a tricky start to life in division 2 but came into this game on the back of two wins. Elim, frustrated after falling shy of promotion last season had a similar start to the season coming into this game also on the back of two wins. Elim came into this game just a single point ahead of Wanderers with the winners of this being St John Fisher’s main early threat to the title. The weather caused havoc across Coventry with games called off throughout the week, however War Memorial held strong and the man in the middle Andy Ashton deemed the pitch fit to play and this to be the only game in the league to go ahead.

James Hughes and Gary Baldwin were forced into two changes from the team that beat ARYPT 6-2. Sam Titman suffered an ankle injury through the week and Corey Smith instead of being in the attack, was attacking crime on the streets of the Midlands. James Reid was welcomed back into the starting line-up and was joined in a new centre back partnership with Jon Watts making he’s Elim debut as a starter. The starting eleven in full Betancourt Elim’s number one, back 4 of Watkins, Reid Watts and Matwe moving to left back. Josh Smith on the right wing, with Baldwin moved to an advanced location of left wing. In the middle Captain Jones was joined by manager Hughes and Moroney. Dirna led the attack in a 4-5-1 formation. Kirugi and Hassan were welcomed back into the Elim fold on the bench, with Mangan dropping out the 11 and onto the bench for Hughes.

With the rain getting heavier just before kick-off Elim stripped into their green kit, ready for the battle ahead. Wanderers won the toss and decided to swap ends, playing up hill first half with Elim kicking off. The game kicked off with Wanderers having only 10 men to start and the oranges held on for 10 minutes without too much danger. Moroney, Matwe and Baldwin exploited the left side getting into a number of 3 on two making the extra man count. Wanderers 11th man got onto the pitch, just as Elim scored the opening goal. Moroney whipping in a ball for Dirna to smartly leave for Smith to hit a low shot past the Wanderers keeper into the left hand side of the goal. This was Josh Smith’s 6th goal of the season scoring when he wants on that right wing.

Having been rocked by the goal, Elim were on the attack again Moroney played through a fantastic weighted through ball to Dirna to beat the offside trap and slot home he’s second of the season putting Elim 2-0 up. Wanderers were handed a lifeline at a crucial point in the game when the ref pointed to the spot. Hughes a little too physical for Ashton’s liking pointed to the spot for a push in the back right on the edge of the box. Elim’s protests were ignored and Betancourt guessed correctly but there was too much speed to stop this ball going in and getting Wanderers going.

Elim this season have learnt quickly from last season, you need to dig deep when the going gets tough and that they did. First ball played over by Matwe for Moroney offside, Moroney stopped, Wanderers defence stopped by Baldwin latched onto the ball missing the target. Matewe then having so much freedom on the left found Hughes to header straight at the keeper. Elim wave after wave of attack made it count when Dirna accelerated onto another through ball to find himself one on one with the keeper and had a cheeky chip shot to make it 3-1.

Dirna turned provider for the 4th Matewe brought down for a free kick on the left. Dirna whipped the free kick in to find Elim’s giant Reid at the back post to extend the away teams lead. Player, manager Hughes found himself on the scoresheet for the 5th in controversial fashion. Hughes driving in a low shoot which Wanderers believed hit a Elim player in an offside position. Ref looked to the linesman, no flag and Hughes celebrated his second goal for the club. Dirna followed Smith’s lead last game and secored Elim’s sixth and final goal of the half celebrating a first half hat-trick. The ball played from the keeper found Jones playing a zippy ball to Moroney to break Dirna through and score to make it 6-1.

Elim at half time were reminded you get no points for winning a half and to expect a fight back second half. Wanderers came out and for 20 minutes kept it solid and arguably accepted their fate and with less pressure played some great football. For all the great football it didn’t lead to any goals. Dirna being a lively throne in Wanderers side forced a mistake by the full back stealing the ball and slotting in his 4th of the day and 5th of the season. Josh Smith should of made it 7 but missed the target following a corner, which found him unmarked to slot in from 6 yards. Smith was taking off after starting the goal scoring and rested with one eye on the cup next week. Mangan was brought on in a like for like switch. Moroney was the man to get the 8th and well deserved after his battling in the middle. A solid shot sent the keeper the wrong way and ball the right way from an Elim perspective.

Mangan making an immediate impact on the wing was played down the channel by Watkins to beat the full back but dragged his shot off target. Elim swapped Watkins and Baldwin with 20 minutes to go for Kirugi and Hassan. Moroney set up Hassan for the substitute to record his first goal for Elim, hopefully of many more. Jones was battling winning every header in the middle pulling all the strings and leaving nothing to chance, sadly for the captain he couldn’t carry the stat of scoring in every league game today. Reid and Watts having a quieter game found themselves scrapping for the ball after being spectators for much of the second half but when needed did their jobs and won the ball back. Elim scored their 10th and it was birthday boy and assist king Moroney scoring his first goal of being 32.

The full time whistle was blown and Elim had recorded 3 wins in a row for the first time in years. Great momentum have propelled the team in second and 2 points off top. It’s Elim’s turn to sit out the next round of league fixtures but the team will be very interested in events elsewhere. Dirna was Elim’s man of the match, but a few special mentions. Thank you Moroney for spending your birthday weekend with Elim and missing the world cup final. Jon Watts congratulations on your first of hopefully many starts for Elim, Hassan well done on your first goal for Elim and finally thank you all lads in Elim for the spirit and fight these last few months.
Remember competition starts this Monday for the Leicester cup …… let’s make sure we are in round 1 and representing Coventry proudly next weekend on our first road trip.

Elim 6 v ARYPT 2 (12th October)

ARYPT after two games this season had already doubled their point’s total from the whole of last season, with back to back wins in the 19/20 season. Joey’s red army were sitting pretty second in the league beating St John’s fishers 2 and Wanderers to have max points in these early stages of league 2. Elim playing a game more than today’s visitors were 2 points behind in the league with 4 points from 3 games but achieving their first win of the league the week prior against Christ the King. Elim last season did the treble of wins v ARYPT with home, away and cup wins.

Hughes back from holiday took charge of the squad and 9 of the squad remained the same. Elim’s Mulligan lost a very competitive number 1 spot to Betancourt for the goalkeeper spot. Mack was pulled from midfield into defence joining the existing Baldwin, Watkins and Matewe in the back line. Titman and J.Smith remained on the wings with Jones partnered with Mangan in the middle and Elim kept C Smith and Moroney up top. Reid was the only change to the outfield for Elim. Hughes, Watts and Zaheer were Elim subs for this game. With the game suffering from a ref shortage, Hughes took charge of the game at the Foxford Stadium.

Elim kicked the game off on a mild October, with the pitch looking a little more worn than the previous month but probably to get worse in the winter games. With the reward for the winners to finish the weekend 2nd both teams were not shy in showing their attacks throughout this fixture. ARYPT were having a lot of joy on the left with three on two’s against Titman and Baldwin. The red’s winger dummied a shot to have the full back to commit to the slide to turn inside for Betancourt make a smart save low down. Moroney was hungry to add to his previous goal from CTK to run through, there was a coming together in the box but the ref not interested in awarding the home side a penalty and played on.

ARYPT would race into a 2-0 lead, firstly Elim’s Matewe felt from a corner he cleared the danger, only for the ball to find a ARYPT player to tee off his team make to a hit a powerful 25 yard screamer. Betancourt got a hand to it but not enough to stop the ball going in. ARYPT’s second goal would start from their own box calving the Elim midfield and defence open. Jones and Mangan were outnumbered in the middle and this slick passing attack from the away side showed with men over. ARYPT were able to pass the ball 6 times from one box to another to leave an opposed Betancourt one on one conceding 2 goals in 10 minutes. Baldwin pushed Moroney into the middle for Elim to control the game in the middle, with a long 70 minutes to go.

On the half an hour mark Elim were given a free kick on the left, Mononey would pick the ball up and whip it back post. He would find strike partner C Smith to head the ball onto the line for J Smith to tap into an unguarded net and salvaged a consolation. Elim celebrations were quickly put on hold as the flag was up, but after talks with the official the Elim played adjudged to be offside wasn’t interfering with play. Joshua Smith got a taste for goal and quickly the winger was at it again scoring shortly after to level the scores and have it all tied up at Desmond.

With momentum on Elim’s side now, the Josh Smith double was almost over if it wasn’t for the experience of Matwe throwing his body where it hurts to block a shot in the box. 15 minutes can be a long time in football and ARYPT went from 2-0 up to 4-2 down in this time period. It was Elim’s captain Mark Jones that would put the home side ahead. The midfielder burst into the box, to fire from an acute angle into the back of the net with power and accuracy to find his spot.

Jones midfield partner Moroney was giving the opportunity from range and boy did he take it. A failed clearance from the ARYPT left back found Moroney from 30 yards, for the player to take a look up with his great vision, spot the keeper off his line and fire over the shot stopper. Baldwin and Moroney on the defence made sure between them to get enough body parts on an ARYPT attack for the ball to sail over not troubling the Elim number 1.

With the half time whistle coming, Elim were forced into a change at the break. Leon made way for gaffer Hughes after taking a knock to the head. With the next goal crucial Elim were told to not chase for goals and keep it processional second half, which this objective was met not conceding second half. Instead Elim would get the next goal and would be a hat trick for the tricky winger Joshua Smith. The new signing would put the game beyond all doubt scoring his fifth goal this season making him after 4 games top scorer in division 2. As the game reached the final 20 minutes, Elim made a double swap with Watts and Zaheer coming on for Titman and Mack. Jones went into the back line for Watts to play between the two banks of 4. Zaheer was a direct swap for Titman on the left. With ARYPT tiring it was Jones and Watkins combination that allowed Watkins to whip in a great ball for ARYPT’s defence to just about deal with but the full back started to expose the right side growing in attacking confidence.

Elim in this last quarter would find enough grit to force a 6th goal and was from a player who hadn’t scored in a number of years. ARYPT were probably sick of Smith being on the scoresheet but this time it was Corey who would rocket a shot in. The attacker hit a free kick, which was dealt with only to be given a second bite at the cherry and with his head over the ball smashed Elim further ahead to mild celebrations in this player older years.

ARYPT would have one last attempt back post, but Jones hip blocked the ball to spin wide of the Elim post and for a corner. With the ref seeing enough the full-time whistle went along with ARYPT’s undefeated streak. Elim had back to back wins, picking up 7 points from 9 and setting early pace towards the top. St John Fisher’s first 4 games have given them an immaculate record of 12 points leaving Elim 5 and ARYPT 6 points off the top. Joshua Smith was Elim’s man of the match, achieving this award second time and being a great addition to the Pentecostal Football club.

Next up for Elim a tricky away side to Xcel to play Wanderers with both teams in form going for a third win in a row. Elim also are fighting on three fronts with the week after Lowfors are the visitors to the Foxford stadium and then Elim will appear in the Leicester cup v Kings for the first ever trip away in this tournament.

Elim 4 v Christ the King 1 (5th October)

Both teams returned to league action after disappointing results against division 1 teams in the dometic cup. Elim went 2-0 down to CLM away and Christ the King lost 3-0 to Mosaic. Tsking to the form guide this was only the third fixture ever with Christ the king only entering the league last season. Both teams won the away fixtures last year, with Christ the King winning 3-1 at War Memorial and Elim winning 4-2 at Foxford

Baldwin stepped in as Manager for the weekend, as Hughes had taking a well-earned holiday. Mulligan was offered he’s full debut in goal, with the team opting for a 4-4-2 formation. From right to left the defence was packed with experience in Watkins, Reid, Matewe and Baldwin. The midfield four was J Smith, Jones, Mack and Titman and the front line was C Smith and Moroney. Watts and Cook were today’s subs.

Elim kicked the game off wearing their yellow home top whilst Christ the King worse their tradition red tops. Christ the King registered the first real shot on goal, with a shot coming from 25 yards for Mulligan to get two smart hands on it to tip it round the right post. The Elim back line limited the home side to shots from range, with many failing to hit the target. Elim were making the most of corners with Titman finding Moroney for a low header down and on target forMatewe’s head to intercept and the centre back tipped the shot over. Last ditched tackles from Baldwin and Matewe took the sting out of the next Christ the King attack with both defenders gettings toes on the ball for Mulligan to make himself big and sweep up the loose ball.

The opening goal came for the away side with the attackers linking up well, C Smith found Moroney for the striker to chip the keeper and make it 1-0. This was Moroney’s first goal of the campaign. C Smith tried to get on the score line next with a free-kick, the keeper had to tip the ball over for a corner. With the game a little more open, the second goal came out of the blue. The keeper seemed to have scooped up a tame shot, but the ball adjudged to not be in full control of the keepers possession, was tapped in by the midfielder Mack for he’s first Elim goal. All eyes on the ref and the ref allowed the goal to stand despite protests from the keeper. The referee shortly after blew for half time with 2-0 to Elim.

No changes made at half-time for the away side with the same line up going back out and Moroney requested to support the midfield in a 4-4-1-1. The game in the balance and the next goal crucial the Elim defence stepped it up, with the back four winning everything in the air and ground. Watkins made several smart interceptions second half to break down attacks on the right whilst Reid towered in the air to win all aireal threats. J Smith starting to grow in confidence on the wing and more of a licence to attack took full advantage, dancing through tackles on the right wing and whipping in a number of crosses. The third goal would come to the away side, with captain Mark Jones to hit a hard and low shot into the back of the net for Elim to go 3-0 up.

Shortly after Titman made way for Watts, the substitute went in at centre back Matewe moved to the full back role and Baldwin into the midfield on the left. Elim now with a 5 man midfield tried to exploit the wings offering the back line a bit more protection. Despite the sub to the left, it was the right side that made it 4-0. J Smith picking up the pull to tuck in on the right releasing a fierce shot into the far bottom corner the winger to make it 4-0 with Elim having 4 different scorers. Christ the King didn’t give up and a shot from range beating Mulligan but not beating thr post allowed Watkins to clear Elim lines.

Elim had a couple of opportunities to make it 5-0, first Baldwin losing his man left wing, to find Moroney’s head but the header straight down the keepers throat and safely into the keepers hands and then Watkins from range had the power but not the accuracy to add to the Elim tally. Elim’s second sub was up top with C Smith making way for Cook on 79th minute. Moroney turned provider finding Cook for the striker to beat the keeper but the ball didn’t best the last defender to clear the ball off the line but the offside flag was also raised.

Christ the King would break Elim defenders hearts in 92nd minute with a free kick from 20 years beating the wall. Mulligan got hands to it but not enough this time to get that first clean sheet in 13 months. However this was a valuable 3 points for Elim in the league who moved up to 3rd in the league, whilst Christ the King hit bottom still looking for the first win of the season.

Elim’s man of the match today was Matthew Moroney, congratulations to the striker for the award and goal. Congratulations to Mulligan and Mack on debuts. Elim look to play ARYPT next in an interesting early battle at the top.

HERC Saints 3 v Elim 3 (14th September)

Elim’s first away game of the season was also ironically at their new home pitch Foxford Leisure park, against Herc Saints. The teams met three times last season resulting in both teams winning their respective away games and a draw in the cup. The last time these teams met was at War Memorial at the very start of January 2019, with the New Year opening with a crushing 4-1 defeat for Elim.

Between then and now, Elim have said farewell to long serving players such as Dean Smith and Ryan Ireland who have both retired from the sport after serving the club for over a decade each. I want to wish both good luck in the future and thank them for their service. Elim also lost top scorer Lee Bennett over the summer to today’s opposition and would like to wish Lee a speedy recovery from a knee injury.

The opening games seen very different fortunes with HERC scoring 5 on their travels against Christ the King and Elim going down 4-0 to relegated St Fisher’s. Elim made 5 changes to the starting line-up with Watts, Baldwin, Hassan, Reid and Clark starting for the club, with a completely new goalkeeper and backline. Watts was handed the number 1 top and guarded the goal for Elim, whilst Clark, Reid and Baldwin were the experienced backline of 3. Elim as usual packed the midfield from left to right was Titman, Hughes, new appointed captain Jones, J Smith and Kyreke. Watkins and Hassan were up top in the classic 3-5-2 formation.

Herc kicked the game off, with Les Wright the man in the middle after 35 refs turned down this fixture. (I’m sure they were all busy). The game was also the early kick off in Christian football and there was a very quiet start to the game, probably as everyone was very sleepy. HERC tested Watts on the 15 minute mark with the first opportunity to note. The strike coming hard from 20 yards into the bottom right hand corner for Watts to pull a smart save to his left and tip the ball for a corner. Elim sat deep and nearly cost them when the ball ricocheted off the bar from range 5 minutes later, Watts was stretched but wouldn’t have kept this out if slightly lower.

Hassan was played down the left wing shortly after and the keeper came a long way not getting the ball and in the ref’s opinion the man, the ball went out and the ref pointed for a goal kick with Elim expecting a foul. Elim made their first corner count with Hassan crossing a high ball in for Reid to score a header passed the keeper and make it 1-0 to the away side. That is now 4 goals in 2 games for the centre back and all goals past the same keeper. 33 minutes on the clock and Elim were in dreamland with Jones doubling the Elim’s lead. The captain stroke a hard half volley low and hard into the bottom corner from the edge of the box with Elim’s stat showing 2 shots on target 2 goals.

HERC needed a response but Elim kept the ball well spraying the ball from left to right in a 15 pass sequence. Elim again rode their luck with a ball coming in and a man unmarked to not connect with the ball from 5 yards and then shortly after Saints hit the post. Despite the pressure HERC found that goal just before the half with the ball landing to the feet of the midfielder to hit a curling shot from range round the keeper to set up an intense second half. Les blew for half time with Elim frustrated to concede so late and HERC optimistic of a comeback.

Kyreke and Titman were praised for their work on the wings and Baldwin and Hughes told the wingers to exploit those channels more in the second half as Saints were dominating the middle. Sadly in the second half a coming together left Reid struggling to carry on. Elim were forced into the first change with Home replacing the centre back. Hughes moved into the backline with Home in the middle. Elim’s big man was missed with two corners in the second half given Saints the lead. Firstly Deano powered a header low with Titman and Smith both getting touches to stop it crossing the line. After Les had a long discussion with the linesman the goal was given and it was 2-2. Elim didn’t learn and another header from another corner went in to give the home side the lead and complete the comeback. 3-2 HERC.

Elim had 15 minutes left and made a double switch with Hassan and Watkins coming off for Benni and Mangan. This allowed Smith and Kyreke to lead the line with Mangan in the middle and Benni on the right wing. The change had a quick effect as Smith slotted home his first goal in an Elim shirt to level the scores at 3-3. Both teams didn’t rest and Smith almost found a winner chipping the keeper but also the goal too with the ball about 4 yards to high. Baldwin was caught on the knee and ankle and with all three subs used played the last 8 minutes injured. Both teams ran out of energy to find a winner, but the whistle stopped the game and marked the first Elim point of the campaign and kept HERC undefeated.

Few mentions, firstly thank you for Les for refereeing the game. Congratulation to Mark Jones on man of the match and this game marked Josh’s first Elim goal and Andy Home’s debut for the club. To the long list of injured defenders we had, get those ice packs on we go again next weekend against last season’s division 2 champions CLM.

Holy Trinity 5 v 5 Elim PFC

Elim made the trip to Trinity, in a game that historically fails to provide clean sheets. With both teams having nothing to play for, history became reality in this 10 goal thriller were the points were shared. In the previous encounter, Elim held out for a 3-1 victory with Jones, Kirugi and Bennett the scorers. Both teams suffered a number of notable absences for this fixture, which led to this classic encounter. Please get the popcorn football fans as I take you through this rollercoaster event.

Betancourt picked up the number one jersey to start for Elim in goal for the second time this season. With Elim having issues with midfield, the team was shuffled to suit the 3-5-3 formation. Matewe and Reid were joined at the back by Hurry back in the starting line-up. Kirgui was a late call up to the squad to play right wing, Baldwin was pushed from the back onto the left. Hughes, Clark and Jones were unchanged in the middle and Bennett was joined by Watkins up top. Corey Smith was available from the bench for this fixture and Cook was to make his debut for Elim.

Holy Trinity in their red tops and white shorts kicked off, against the visitors Elim in Green tops and their black shorts. The game was an open affair, just like the previous affair with both teams taking turns to attack and defend. Kirugi was to be the first player to break through and have a real attempt. Breaking into the box, released a shot to smash off the inside of the post and be cleared by the Trinity defence. Trinity on the same side, hit Elim on a counter. The Ball whipped in from their left, floating over the defence for the attacker to fail to hit the target.

Elim trying to stop Trinity Momentum, give a series of free kicks away in their defensive half. Elim made a mess defensively of their set play work which would ultimately lose them their clean sheet. The ball floated in by Trinity from the free-kick connected with a Trinity head, leaving Bentancourt helpless in goal to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. Elim failed to learn lessons on how to defend and again the left winger for Trinity floated a ball back post. Matewe was beating for pace with the attacker getting a running start and another header to found the net and double the hosts lead.

Trinity with the aerial dominance whipped a number of crosses in to see out the game. Elim got the ball down and tried playing to their strengths. Captain Clark showed why he had the armband, throwing himself into every tackle.

Kirugi played a short pass forward to Bennett for the striker to play in Jones. Jones hit a fierce low shot passed the Trinity keeper to keep the second half very interesting. That was Jones 5th goal of the season. Elim could not force the equaliser before the break which meant Trinity led 2-1 at half time. The message for the Elim camp was players had to be brave and compete in the air, next goal in the second half was crucial. However, no one was prepared for the goal fest in the next 45 minutes.

Elim kicked the game off and as you would expect took the game to Trinity. In the absence of Dean Smith, Baldwin was on free kick duties. Elim picked up a free kick 5 yards into the Trinity half. The ball travelled into the box to find a connection with Kirgui. Kirugi put the Elim danger man Bennett through for the striker to slot in goal number 12 for him this season. 2-2 on the score line and with Elim getting the next goal momentum had changed to the visitors looking for the 3 points.

With 35 minutes on clock, Watkins was taking off for Corey Smith for a like for like swap. Trinity heads could of went down, but the reds won another cheap free kick on the left. The delivery exceptional for Trinity the marking poor by Elim. Baldwin was out jumped in the middle leaving another red to head Trinity 3-2 up. With Elim shell-shocked, Trinity punished the away team…yes you guessed another cross another head meaning Elim had conceded 4 headers out of 4 in this game. The ball was crossed into the 6-yard box and not dealt with, leaving a simple connection to find the bottom corner.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Elim had to pick themselves up and for the second time found the focus to come from two goals down. Elim tried to unlock Trinity with a cross, for the defence to hold strong and head out. Danger was not over, the big man Reid picked up the ball hitting a half volley to travel through a sea of players and beyond the keeper. 4-3 and Reid had not finished the scoring by a long shot (excuse the pun if you watched the game).

Corey Smith on corner duty, whipped a ball in to find Reid to header the equaliser to make the score 4-4 with 10 minutes left. Elim made their last change with Kirugi making way for Cook on the right hand side. Both teams fighting for the winner, knew this game was going to the wire. Trinity won a free kick in their own box, which was quickly taking and possession lost. The referee was not sure if the Elim players were far enough away which led to a re-take of the kick. The controversy led to a severe lack of concentration from Elim’s 11 men and Trinity cut through the Elim team to release a high and powerful shot to give Trinity a 5-4 lead with 1 minute on the clock. Guess the positives for Elim at least it wasn’t a 5th header but a painful blow at the time.

Was the scoring over …. The answer not Corey kicking off, found Reid Elim piled green shirts forward for the centre back to kick the ball long. Once the ball was released, the keeper was too far beyond his line to stop Reid scoring a 92nd minute equaliser and the defenders first Elim hat-trick. Trinity kicked the game off for 12th and last time, both teams having respect for each other knowing no faults attacking but serious defensive work needs to be carried out next year to challenge for the title. Elim and Trinity on this display both showed fight, spirit and determination and I would advise any neutral looking for a game to attend next season, this one never fails to entertain. The final score here 5-5!!!

Following Elim’s man of the match vote hat-trick hero in the second half, James Reid picked up the award. Elim conclude their season with an away trip to Coventrians. Congratulations on Lee and Jones adding to your respective tallies, James with the hat trick and Cook on the debut for Elim.

Elim 2 v 1 ARYPT

After Elim crashed out of the quarter finals 4-1 to CLM, the Pentecostal Church faced ARYPT in there last home game of the season. Elim had won this away fixture 3-1 and beat AYRPT 2-0 in the cup and were looking for the trilogy of wins. ARYPT have had a tough season, with their only points in cup and league coming from HERC Saints.

Hughes and Baldwin named Ireland in goalfor the game, with a back three of Matewe, Reid and Baldwin. Kyreke was welcomed back into the squad taking on the wing back role, with Rhodes on the opposite side. Hughes, Clark and Jones sat in the middle with Smith pushed up top with Bennett. Kousoulas, Kirugi and Watkins made up the bench.

ARYPT got the game underway with much milder conditions than the quarter final week. It was the away team that started the brighter of the two sides and stretched Elim’s back three on a number of occasions. Elim tried to keep an organised line at the back, but sadly it would be another dirty sheet for the home side within the first ten minutes. The ball was played over Baldwin; the centre back looked for a flag that never came. Baldwin and Reid scampered back to block the shot but the striker turned and shot a rocket into the top corner. Ireland got finger tips to the ball, but not enough to tip over the bar. AYRPT scored the first goal against Elim last outing, but sadly for them conceded the next three. The away side knew next goal was crucial and almost had it 15 minutes in. A ball knocked on through the middle had the Elim backline at 6’s and 7’s but Ireland in a 4 on 1 situation showed heroics to keep the score line at 1-0 amd knock the ball out for a corner.

From the resulting corner, Reid cleared a number of crosses and Elim finally showed some fight from the 20th minute. Smith and Bennett, showed great chemistry unlocking the back line to equalise with Elim’s first real attack. Assist king Smith, played through Bennett for the striker to maintain a cool, calm shot in a trade mark Bennett goal for the strikers 11th of the season.The Striker had scored 4 of his 11 goals agaisnt ARYPT this season.

The score line didn’t stay level for long with Rhodes crossing in for Smith to sneak in between the defenders and hit a shot on target. Smith has an incredible record v ARYPT too scoringhis 5th goal against this opposition in four games. The striker doubled his tally for the season with both goals against.. yes you guessed it ARYPT.

With the dying moments of first half, Kyreke picked himself up from a knock to the face to be released on the right hand side. The young winger used his pace to burst into the box and hit a shot to sting the keepers palms and keep the score 2-1 until the break. Baldwin made a change on the half , taking himself off for Watkins. The formation remained the same, but Jones joined the back three and Watkins slotted into the midfield. The game was full of chances second half and both teams wanted that next crucial goal.

Watkins started to pull strings in the middle and released Bennett to be one on one with the defender for the ref to have adjudged a foul on the defender. The midfield kept looking to release Rhodes and the winger, got round his man for the Elim man to have been barged into for the ref again to give the free kick to the away side when on another day a penalty could have been awarded. Watkins was the next man to try and get on the score sheet but when he tried to chip the keeper failed to keep composure and ball drifted over. The sub mentioned it had been 2 years for his last goal and he would have to wait at least another three weeks for it now.

Elim pressure piled on and Smith would find Reid from a corner for the defender to connect a little to well with the ball, with the ball finding its way safely into the keeper’s hands. Bennett made way on 65th minute in a like for like swap with Kousoulas. Kousoulas having an odd statistic of scoring more goals against league 1 teams than 2 this season. The striker came off the bench full of energy. Kousoulas on a number of occasions broke through but couldn’t get that goal. The striker hit a fierce shot, which the keeper blocked, Smith went for the tap in but the keeper blocked again. The keeper was working hard for his team to pick up a point and almost got his rewards when a wicked ARYPT cross managed to connect with the bar a nd sail over. Baldwin and Hughes worrying the third goal wasn’t going to come took Hughes off for Kirugi and put the sub at right back. The home side changing things to a 4-5-1 for the last 12 minutes. The last attack was a bit of magic from Rhodes in the box to lose his man with neat foot work, stunning all around him and himself as the teenager failed to find the target.

The full time whistle blew and a 2-1 win for the home side. After the Elim’s players player vote congratulations to Aidan Rhodes on back to back awards. Elim’s next game is away to Holy Trinity on 13th April. One last thought.. Please all keep Beatrice in your prayers, who does a lot for Christian football and we all hope everything goes well at the hospital tomorrow.

Christ the King 2 v 4 Elim PFC

After a damaging defeat by HERC Saints 5 weeks ago, Elim had their first away trip of 2019 to Bablake Playing Fields to play Christ the King. With Christ the King a new addition to the league, the only history of this fixture was a 3-1 win to Christ the king earlier this campaign. Christ the King went into this fixture optimistic being the only team in division 2 to take points from CLM (at the point of this fixture).

Hughes and Baldwin made 4 changes to the team that lost 4-1 at Memorial park. The Elim team went back to their favoured 3-5-2 formation. Ireland was back in nets hoping for a quieter fixture this time. Baldwin, Reid and Matewe were today’s back line. The 5 in the middle from left to right where Smith, Jones, Hughes, Clark and Elim were proud to announce the return of Aidan Rhodes. The top two remained the same with Bennett and Kousoulas the attacking options. Elim could only name two subs on the bench with Zaheer and Kyreke.

After a bit of drama with the Elim team finding the location and finding each other, the game kicked off on time. Elim started the brighter of the two sides, keeping the ball well with short controlled passes. The possession dominance, was not taking advantage off within the early stages of the game. Elim were getting into excellent areas, but failing to connect where it matters in the final third. Clark kept cool heads in the middle, with the Captain, Hughes and Jones looking for killer balls to get that vital assist. Kousoulas had a couple of chances mid-way through the first half, but failed to connect with the ball as well as he would have wanted.

It was on the 30 minute mark, Elim were awarded a corner and they would finally make their dominance count. Smith crossed the ball into the 6 yard zone for the keeper to claw at it to enter into a melee in the box. Before Christ the King could react, the gaffer Hughes hit a fierce unstoppable shot beyond the keeper. Elim led 1-0 and Hughes had recorded his first ever Elim goal. The goal rattled the Christ the King back line and within minutes Kousoulas and Bennett had forced an error with a back pass. Bennett doesn’t need an invite to attend the goal scoring party and the experienced attacker slotted in he’s 9th goal of the season. 2-0 Elim!!

35 minutes on the clock and Elim wanted blood, Smith crossed in for another corner for Reid to lose his man back post to fail to find the target. Smith stopped being provider to have a dig from 30 yards for the keeper to pull off a world class save and knock the ball onto the post and wide for a corner. After wave and wave of pressure, Elim had not kept a clean sheet in 8 games. Sadly Elim couldn’t keep the ball out the net this game either, making it 9 games without that clean sheet. The ball played over the Elim back line, the back line seen a flag which was over ruled by the referee. Instead of the back three playing to the whistle, they switched off and were punished in a cruel way. Even an Ireland save could not prevent the ball eventually ending in the back net. The half time whistle came and Elim took a 2-1 lead into the break.

Both teams went into the second half with a spring in their steps, knowing the 4th goal was crucial. Kousoulas had further chances to add to he’s Mosaic goal but despite finding space could not and would not find the net today. The game started to get a bit scrappy and broken up with both teams making silly fouls to stop momentum. Rhodes and Smith swapped wings alternatively, but after not playing for Elim since the semi-final summer competition. Rhodes was the first Elim player to be applauded off, the young teenager made an inspirational return running himself into the ground. Kyreke was the man to replace him and add some pace onto the right wing. Sadly the Elim sub was quickly overshadowed with a Christ the King equaliser. Desmond scoreline. The ball was crossed in beyond the backline and the winger lost Kyreke to slot beyond Ireland. Game on!!

18 minutes on the clock, both teams knew a loss would see their promotion dreams over. Hughes sacrificed himself for another teenager Zaheer keeping faith in the formation. Zaheer slotted in well and battled to break up play in the middle. Despite momentum being with the home side it was Jones who would put Elim back in front. Jones, being a massive Jordan Henderson fan decided to shoot like the Liverpool midfielder. The ball was not hit pretty but somehow found a space through the keeper and into the net. Jones ran off celebrating with the Christ the King keeper looking to the sky knowing this was not a goal of the season contender but could be a vital goal for promotion.

If that wasn’t enough torture for the keeper, Elim exploited their big man at the back tactic. Smith swung in another corner for Reid to calmly head the ball into the top corner and bring the points back home with the Pentecostal Church. Matewe, Baldwin and Reid locked down the back line for the remaining minutes with Smith, Kyreke and Zaheer all protecting Ireland.

Elim got a pretty win under their belts scoring 4 goals on their travels and a very close to perfect performance and win a vital 6 points to give a glimmer of hope for promotion. Jones was today’s player player and won the man of the match award for a 4th consecutive row the same amount of times Bennett has won the award in a row. Elim next turn their attention to CLM in back to back games in the league and cup throughout March. The next two games make or break the team’s season, but Elim don’t like doing things easy do they??

Elim PFC 1 v 4 Herc Saints

2019 did not start the way Elim fans would have wanted, suffering a damaging defeat to their promotion hopes. Elim hosted the first game of the year against the Saints, ending the trilogy of fixtures for the season. Opening day seen Elim run out 2-0 winners, the cup game ended in a stalemate but Saints were the winners on this occasion sending a message to the league and hoping they could climb away from bottom club ARYPT.

Hughes and Baldwin had a nightmare with selection, only having enough players for an 11. Elim’s number 1 Ryan Ireland was back in goal for the Pentecostal church after McCann had suffered a broken ankle in the Coventrians game. Titman made his first start of the season at left back, whilst Reid and Jones occupied the middle and Baldwin was swapped from left to right back. Elim kept the 5 man midfield, Smith maintaining his place on the left wing, with Zaheer making his second start of the season was thrown into the middle with Captain Moroney and Manger Hughes. Kirugi was positioned on the right wing with Elim’s leading scorer Bennett left up top in a 4-5-1 formation.

The visitors kicked off the game, showing growing confidence they wanted to add to their last win against ARYPT on September 8th. The passing play for both teams showed there was a little rust and a few too many mince pies over Christmas. Saints knocked the ball round well, trying to exploit the wings whilst Elim still seemed on their Christmas break for the first ten minutes. Despite the Saints pressure Elim almost opened the scoring when, Moroney picked out Smith on the wing. Elim’s top scorer last season, beat the full back and had a choice to shoot or square to Bennett. Smith confidently took the shot on, missing the target by inches, Elim hands were on heads. Saints punished Elim on the 25th minute for missing this chance. Bennett passed the ball back to Ireland at the back, the ball took a bobble through making it hard to control leading to a corner. Elim their own worst enemy failed to win first or second headers leading to the ball being headed into their nets and out the reach of Ireland and beyond Titman on the post. Saints searched for a second and Tom was given a late Christmas gift to head into an empty net, but somehow handled the cross with his hand wide.

Despite the setback, Ireland was the busier keeper for the remaining 20 minutes of the half making several great saves to keep the score respectful. Elim struggled for the half and the ball was often punted forward long for Bennett to pick up scraps. Elim were handed another blow, with no subs to call on, Smith took a knock in the back and had to soldier on from the 40th minute until the end. The half time whistle came and the Elim team went in knowing the ball was not held well and possession often gifted back to the opponents for wave after wave of attacks.

Teams switched ends for the second half and Saints broke Elim hearts on 60th minute. The back line stepped up, for a Saints player to have adjudged to be onside. Elim players confidently looked for the flag were as Saints looked for a second goal to secure their second away win of the season.

Elim battered and brusised were given a life line when Smith crossed in for the ball to be headed out. The ball only fell to Jones, for the Centre back to hit a fierce shot, taking a nick through to nestle into the bottom corner making it three in three for the centre back. The Centre back is known for scoring some quality goals over the years and this is definitely a contender for goal of the season. Elim heads picked up and finally started to through the kitchen sink at Saints. Baldwin picked up the ball, playing a one two with Hughes. Baldwin losing his man whipped a ball in for the centre back to take the full back out in the box after the ball went. All Elim eyes were on the ref, but the ref wasn’t convinced there was contact.

Nerves started to sink in at the back for Saints and Baldwin again nicked the ball at the back to rush towards the goal and be brought down by the defender. This time the ref was convinced there was contact and blew for a free kick 20 yards out. Frustration from both teams started to kick in and heated words exchanged. Smith was the man to take this opportunity on. Smith stepped up, striking the ball over the keepers net and gutted he couldn’t get the leveller. Saints ended the game with 10 minutes to go scoring two goals in as many minutes. Kirugi got caught flat footed for the winger to pick his pocket and pick the top right corner. Then from kick off a heavy touch from Jones led to Saints driving forward and putting the 4th and final goal in the game. Ireland did well saving well with his legs, to stop a 5th going in but Saints proved they are not in the league to make up numbers. The full time whistle was blown to end a miserable day for the greens.

Today’s result was a massive dent in the promotion hopes for Elim with Trinity and Coventrians picking up wins, leaving Elim 4th in the league. Mark Jones picked up Elim’s man of the match, congratulations Jonesy for the third game on the bounce. Bennett currently holds this record for man of the match 4 games in a row so he will be sweating on this stat. Elim are back on the training ground tomorrow, with full focus on CLM and trying to do what no one else has does beat the leaders in division 2.

Prayers are also with George from Mosaic after his accident before their game on the weekend. We pray for a speedy recovery and hopefully see you playing fit and well very soon.