Monday, April 23, 2012

A Close Shave (Part 2)

Coming off the back of a three game winning streak (St. JohnsMalvern Town and Worcester Raiders) and a very close run thing against Warndon the boys are realising that they are now a formidable force in league two. Guess what? we won again! and this time it really was against the odds...Leigh and Bransford Badgers take on St. Johns Athletic...

Smashing game Gromit
Smashing game Gromit
St, Johns Athletic had very sportingly allowed us to play 10 a-side rather than the usual 11 as we had a number of players out with injury, fighting Bruce Lee or simply not available. The feeling was, as the storm clouds gathered on the horizon, that the game should be played as soon as possible. In the event the first few minutes of the game were played in a deluge.

Rain over Worcester
Just before it p...ersistently rained
To the game...

The first thing we noticed from the touchline was just how strict the referee was. The comments that passed amongst all the supporters (St. Johns included) fell into three categories...

The Ref

Either way he made his feelings known about the hand-ball law and how it applied to the modern game of Association Football. This left the boys and the supporters in no doubt how he intended to run the match...more later...

From the off Dan 'The Beast' Watson was on blistering form taking on three midfielders on his own down the left wing. What have you had for lunch Dan?? Long penetrating runs down the wing seem to be the order of the day today. Saints try one of their own only to be stopped in their tracks by Liam 'Mr Reliable' Wood who makes a great tackle followed by a clearance. Now it's Jacob 'The Malvern Express' Gillibrand who powers down the right wing and crosses just out of the reach of Ben 'In the thick of it today' James.

The next piece of Rovers brilliance comes from Connor 'The Confident' Porter-Brown who steals the ball neatly off a dumbstruck Saints forward and through-balls to James 'The defender magnet' Henry. James is surrounded before he can reach warp speed and denied a shot.

Meanwhile a classic Rovers move is in the offing. Arron 'The Monster' Manton clears out of defense to Josh 'Faster than a speeding bullet' Hall who sends a pin-point accurate pass to Ben. Ben dribbles past a midfielder and sends it back to Josh now out on the right wing supported by Dan 'Tuned in today' Thomson. Josh plays a neat one-two with Dan and drops the ball into Jacobs path to have a crack at goal. Just gathered by the Saints keeper. That would have been worthy of Barcelona...but it's not long until all the effort pays off... Ali 'All in control back here' Ching hoofs the ball into midfield where it's picked up by Connor. Connor passes through the middle to Dan T and Dan puts a perfectly weighted ball straight onto the toes of James who slots it under the keeper...This is becoming a habit... 1 - 0 to The Rovers.

Crouch Dance
James...you need to practice this...
Somehow Saints get past our thin black and white line at the back and have a shot at Ali. It's a pretty good shot and it keeps our man-between-the-sticks on his toes. Saints are applying a little pressure now but it's nothing Dan W and Connor can't handle and between them they sort out the difficulties.

Back at the Saints goal things are not quite as calm...Jacob puts in a killer pass to Ben who hammers a terrific shot just wide...that took a coat of paint off the outside of the post! The referee is being strict again...

Ref! Pwwweeeepppp! We'll have a free kick to Saints there...

Jacob looks stunned...and so do we. Jacob fouling someone? you must be blind ref!

Nothing comes of the free kick as Liam calmly runs the ball to through to the midfield who begin the duck-shoot again. Jacob, Dan T and James all have a punt at goal. Jacob puts in another beautifully accurate pass to James but the Saints keeper is staying sharp. Now it's Josh's turn. He has a near miss after more Barcelona-like passing from Rovers. The last play in this concerted application of pressure to Saints comes from Dan T who hammers a shot just over the bar from a long way outside the box.

Ref!Pwwweeeepppp! We'll have a free kick to Saints there...

Jacob is stunned again...and so are we...there was no foul there...even the Saint's supporters are scratching their heads.

Ali and Liam have a little wobble as they forget they can speak the same language but their usual calmness is soon back in evidence with a rye smile from Ali...We're doing a bit of defending now, first from a corner that is knocked out for a goal kick. Then from The Beast, doing what he does best and finally from Arron with a fantastic goal saving tackle...but wait...

Ref!Pwwweeeepppp! We'll have a free kick to Saints there...

What is going on? Jacob would be well within his rights to be furious...but instead he keeps calm, mature and professional (as always) and goes back to his position with no comment.

Ali gathers the rather weak kick and all is well. We have some more top quality defending from who else but Liam, Josh, Dan W, Connor and Arron. It really is not easy for opponents to get past these guys...

Rovers are hungry for goals now and shots from Ben, Dan T and Jacob are all capped off with a second goal from James. That's 2 - 0 to The Rovers.

Yippee
That's 2

but James is not happy, he's limping like Frankensteins Monster.

Meanwhile, Saints have another go at Ali but he knows exactly where his posts are and watches the ball go out. With James struggling in the middle of the park Josh steps into the breach and we are treated to a display that would make Messi pack up his boots and take the next flight back to Argentina...Josh picks up the ball just outside Rovers box, passes three stunned Saints midfielders and lays a through-ball to Jacob that makes Rovers supporters weep with pride. Jacob bangs it home to complete the move. 3 - 0 to the Rovers

Ron Boys - with skill like that you could beat the European Champions...That was pure class!

What a way to end the first half...

But, this is a game in two halves...

The second half has a slightly different story line...

Right from the off Saints are making the most of Rovers being down to nine men as James is immobile on the centre spot. They get one back within minutes...mind you, that's still only 3 - 1 to Rovers.

Josh is showing his class once again down the right wing. This boy is like lightning today. Arron leading from the front and winning a corner for Rovers. It's gathered by the keeper. Nice dribbling and pass from Dan T to Jacob, Jacob to Ben but he's not able to shoot as the Saints defence close him down. James is still struggling near the centre spot and no amount of encouragement, cajoling or bribery can get him to overcome his injury. Connor's strong down the left wing, as he has been all game, but the resulting pass leaves Jacob outnumbered in the box and bundled over. What! No penalty...this ref has it in for Jacob and we fully expect him to give a free kick the other way. The lack of James is beginning to show as Josh has to make another goal saving tackle. The resultant corner is gathered in by Ali. Conner is off again like a scolded hen down the left ably supported by Ben and between them they win a corner. The corner kick is cleared straight into the line of sight of Liam...not wise...Liam has the Saints goaly in a real panic as the shot just goes over the bar. The ground staff will have to get the paint out again.

The next attack see Jacob hacked in the box.

Ref!Pwwweeeepppp! We'll have a penalty kick to Rovers there...

That's more like it. He must feel guilty about treating Jacob so badly. Justice dictates that Jacob takes the kick. Is there any doubt...no chance. The spot kick nearly burns a hole in the back of the net and poor Champion (The four legged Saints supporter in the next field plays safe and sprints for the far end of his patch just in case)

That's 4 - 1 to Rovers

Pearce
That's how to celebrate a successful penalty...
The extra man is beginning to tell and Saints have a couple of speculative punts at Ali. One is an absolute belter that demands a good save from our genius between the sticks. The Rovers are still demonstrating their new improved skills. Great passing is the order of the day with Dan W, Connor, Dan T, Josh and Arron all on target but once again Saints extra man shows and they sneak another goal. 4 - 2 Things might get a bit ropey if they score again...

Whoops...

OMG
Saints score again...4 - 3...keep your fur on!
Things are getting twitchy. Liam clears up a promising Saints attack with his usual calmness under fire attitude. Ben takes down the giant of the Saints attack and Dan W wonders why he wasn't allowed to mark that man. Ali has a moment in the Rovers goal and has to make two attempts at gathering a shot. Ali is proving that his reputation as the best goalie in the league is no empty claim as he has to make a couple more crucial saves. We're into injury time and Liam knows that possession is the key. He takes a sprint down the wing with Ben by his side. Saints are desperate but they can't get the ball.

Ref!Pwwweeeepppp! 

It's all over. That's another win chalked up to the Rovers (and that's with a man down) Imagine what the score would have been if we had been up to strength...

Man of the match was Josh and give his contribution today that is no surprise...

Today's mention in dispatches could have gone to the whole team. Liam and Jacob were their usual solid, reliable and skillful selves. James banged home two great goals. Dan T played his best game of the season. Ali showed his usual brilliance between the sticks. Connor and Ben have really taken off on the left and middle but I think two of our number deserve the accolade today.

Mention


Arron worked hard all game, tackled like a demon, passed and cleared like a true pro. Dan W's courage never fails to amaze me...he will take on anyone and normally win but today he was passing and dribbling like a Premiership superstar.

Russ and Mandy deliver today's lesson...on being humble in victory!



Well done lads


Ron



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