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.