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.

Meredith V Christ The King Cup Final

At the 3rd time of asking, Meredith Road won this seasons Coventry Church League Cup Final and erased the bad memories of the previous 2 years.  The runners up this time were Christ the King who, against all odds, beat Hope in the quarters then CLM in the semi final.
Played at Coventrians ground, the basis for Merediths victory lay in the fast start they made in the game.  After 10 mins a long throw was hurled into the CTK box and the ball flicked off Ashley Bulpitt at the near post, evaded the keeper and rolled in at the far post.
5 mins later the lead was doubled. A weak kick out from the keeper was intercepted and put straight back to Bulpitt who had his back to goal.  Instinctively he hooked the ball towards goal, with the keeper still out of position, and it bounced into an empty net.
After this bad start it would have been easy for CTK to crumble, but to their credit they dug in and attempted to make sure the deficit did not increase. Bulpitt though, missed a great chance for a hat trick when, after a team mates knockdown, he lifted the ball over the bar from 6 yards.  Half time came with no further addition to the scoring.
The 2nd half became a cagey affair with scoring chances being at a premium. CTK clearly had to give it a go but, in the process, risked leaving themselves open to the counter attack.  They also came up against a robust Meredith defence who gave their keeper plenty of protection and limited CTK to half chances.  The best chance to add to the scoring fell to Meredith when an unmarked player blazed the ball over the bar with only for the keeper to beat.
Time ran out and Meredith became cup winners for the first time since 2008 and were understandably delighted.  CTK played their part in making it a competitive final and will overall be pleased with their first season in the league.
Thanks to Ken Foster who refereed and to Rob Eaton and Andy Aston who assisted him.
Thanks also to John and Jane at Coventrians for kindly hosting the game and for providing lunch and bar facilities for the players and match officials.

End Of Season Tournament and Recognition.

Played at the Powerleague, 11 teams took part in this years 7 a side event.  Prior to it beginning, awards were given to the various teams and individuals for their particular achievements.  They were as follows.
Division 1 Champions AFC Hope
Division 2 Champions CLM
Division 1 Golden Boot Martin Gormley AFC Hope and Jack Kovacs Athletico Mosaic 
Division 2 Golden Boot Kirk Richens Coventrians
Fairplay Queens Road Wanderers
The winner of Leicester Cup, AFC Hope and Coventry Cup, Meredith Road had received their trophies and medals on the day of their respective finals.
Thanks and recognition was also given to Mark Sephton, the League Chairman, who has decided to step down after 3 seasons in charge.  He was presented with a card signed by the managers plus a gift card.
The tournament began, with 1 group of 6 and another of 5, with the top 2 from each going into the semi final.  Qualifying from Group A were BEC and St John Fisher and from Group B were Coventrians and AFC Hope.  
The winners of these 2 games were SJF and Hope.  A very competitive final ended with having to have a penalty shoot out.  Each side missed 1 of their first 5 penalties which led to sudden death.  Hope scored, but SJF missed which meant a hat trick of trophies for them.

AFC Hope 4 Coventrians Holy Family 3 Cov/Leicester Cup Final by Les Wright

In an exciting final, AFC Hope beat Coventrians 4-3. Hosted by Coventrians, the final started badly with the early loss of a player, replaced by Josh Pointon. This turned out to have a silver lining, as Pointon was at the far post from a right wing cross and placed a shot into the top of the net with his first touch of the game.
Hope did not let up and after 15 minutes they doubled their lead when Coventrians failed to clear their lines from a corner and Alex Thompson volleyed in.
Things went from bad to worse for Coventrians when they went 3 down after 25 minutes.  Andy Wilson-King received the ball  on the left hand side and was not closed down. He decided to unleash a bullet shot from about 25 yards that flew past the keeper.
For the rest of the half, Coventrians attempted to get a foothold in the game and went in at half time with no further damage.  John and the rest of his staff had the hard task of  lifting his players for the 2nd half.
Whatever was said had a positive effect.  A long kick from the keeper was nodded down by a Coventrians forward.  Lewis Chester was advanced enough to pick up the 2nd ball, played a neat 1-2 with his forward and put it past the keepers left hand into the corner of the net.
The game ebbed and flowed, with both sides having chances.  With about 15 minutes remaining, Coventrians lost possession on the halfway line.  A quick through ball evaded the defence and Gary Yates produced a composed finish to play the ball over the keeper and into an empty net.
Despite the setback, Coventrians did not lie down.  A few minutes later it was pulled back to 4-2  when a long throw towards the Hope area was pounced on by Robbie Wilden to put it past the keeper and gave renewed hope.
With 5 minutes remaining, a patient passage of play saw a through all played to Lewis Chester who unleashed a 1st time shot that flew in at the keepers near post and reduced the margin to 4-3.
Hope then had to play out a nervy last few minutes, but managed to frustrate Coventrians efforts at getting an equaliser and were much relieved to hear the final whistle.
Much credit to both sides for giving great entertainment. Thanks goes to James and Jack Strumildo and Kyle Green for officiating. Appreciation also to John and Jane Connolly for allowing use of the facilities at Coventrians and provided players and officials with lunch.

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??

Herc Saints 1-3 Holy Trinity. Match report

Trinity were looking to do the double over Herc saints after winning the home fixture 3-2, with the game taking place at the war memorial park. With some notable absentees Trinity used their squad depth to produce a brilliant defense of Shins, Ben, Tom and Aman that held a clean sheet for the first half.

The first half was in the favour of Herc saints who held the ball well and played some good passes, however with little shots on goal of note and Trinity finding it hard to get a rhythm of play going. The Herc saints players were ‘giving it the big one’ and thought we wouldn’t have much to offer in the second half.

Not the case as 5 a side Steve picks up the ball and plays it to West on the left hand side who offers up a high flying brilliant looping longshot over the keeper to open the scoring, slipping mid shot maybe took some of the gloss off the finish, but a great goal none the less to open the scoring.

Herc Saints then level the scoring with the striker finding the top corner after the ball broke to him and a nice finish with the pressure of the players around him. The ‘tinkerman’ Ben Foster was tinkering with the formation well throughout the game to change the dynamic once more to keep them guessing.

Trinity then go 2-1 as Nathan gets subbed onto the right hand side who plays it to Mayne and he sends a longshot spinning away from the keeper into the corner, “anything you can do..” he says to west as the game resumes.

5 a side Steve then completes the hatrick of longshots drilling it low into the corner first time, “anything you can do..” he says to myself and west. Which makes it 1-3 with 3 goals outside the 18 yard box, maybe Aman wearing his brazilian flip flops on the day did something to inspire the longshots, who knows?

What I do know though is Holy Trinity continue their push for promotion and have a cup semi final soon. Not a bad season I’d say.

St John Fisher 1 – 1 QRBC (Wanderers)

Let’s be honest, this season has not been a great one for QRBC. The use of (brackets) in match results is usually a sign of a bad beating for someone, and this year those beatings have been dished mainly against them. And when we say mainly…

However, despite this gulf in scorelines (and often the number of players on the pitch) the team spirit has been admirable, perhaps in the knowledge that if we could consistently get 11 players on the pitch, then things could only get better. This finally came to pass on Saturday 9th February. Could they stop the rot?

The game had been postponed the previous weekend due to a frozen pitch, which had been replaced by a stiff breeze. Was this an omen? Would the winds of change sweep across Whitley Common and whip up a much needed result? Or would they once again be blown away?

After his colossal game against Hope (despite the scoreline), Mike Clougher nonchalantly wondered onto the park at 10.29am, laced up his gloves and was ready to repel yet again. The early signs were promising with the opening 20 minutes very even, as both sides fought against the elements. Gradually though the home side were starting to threaten and after a couple of missed opportunities, took the lead after about 1/2 an hour. A corner blew around the box and was forced in from close range. Both sides defences were not for breaching for the rest of the half, although Fisher were denied by the post late on, as they seeked to press home the advantage.

The second half continued in a similar vein with neither team really creating too much, until a frantic last 25 minutes, when after solid defensive work, a couple of quick passes through midfield sent Fuji through on goal; a calm finish and we were all square.

Both sides will consider themselves unlucky not to have gone on to win the game with Fisher twice having goals ruled out, whilst at the other end, Wanderers somehow manged to contrive to miss a couple of excellent chances to sneak the points.

As the final whistle blew, the Wanderers players were actually slightly disappointed not to have won the game. However, given the context of the season, a point could have been celebrated like a cup final victory.

I believe it was Evel Knievel who once said “I love the feeling of fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair”: Whitley Common had felt like jumping the Grand Canyon. And we’d made it.
(Although actually “Evel” never even attempted it, and his real name was Craig).