It was a beautiful day to start the season for the Romans. The sun was shining at the glorious venue of Rottingdean rec and we had our brand new white away kit on. A huge thank you to Adam Khan and his company Brighton Brickwork for kindly sponsoring us this season. Adam even made a guest appearance. Who knows, we might even get him to play a game sometime soon.. watch this space!
Unfortunately for us and everyone in the nearby area, Cobden seagulls were not the nicest bunch to say the least. Our captain America himself Fred was greeted in a very unfriendly manor upon his arrival..’are you the other team mate? You’re in trouble today’ or something along those lines. Fair to say Fred did not seem scared in any way so I’m not sure their greeting worked in the way they wanted. But it definitely set the tone for how they would be acting throughout the game.
More mind games were in play before a ball had even been kicked with their manager telling us they had 8 pull out this morning. Now if you have 8 pull out on a game day and still manage to pull together a team, it’s screams RINGERS to me. So il be interested to see their team sheet, especially as our Italian Stallion (That’s Fabio for any of you that were wondering) knows a few of their players. Some detective homework for you there Fab.
Anyway.. to the game! We started like we had finished our last 2 pre season games. Very comfortable on the ball, creating chances and looking like we wanted to put a statement out to the league. It didn’t take long for us to take the lead with Will keeping up with his pre season goal scoring form. I played a ball to Will on the edge of the box, making a run in behind ready for the 1-2. Will however had other ideas, rightfully ignoring my run and shooting (something I have been telling him to do for a while now) and smashing the ball in to the top corner. The keeper (who was wearing no gloves by the way) didn’t move.
Looking at their team compared to ours and the way we had started, I was thinking one thing and one thing only.. GOALS! Now I’m not sure if others in the team were thinking the same as me, but it felt like the game almost felt too easy. Like a pre season game that we would dominate from start to finish and score a lot of goals! With 13 goals in our last 2 games.. who can blame anyone for thinking that! But for whatever reason, the chances would just not go in and we struggled to pull away.
We eventually managed to add to wills early goal and he played a major role again. A brilliant corner swung in towards the goal which keeper/defender clawed away from the line. Unfortunately you don’t get goals like this on a Sunday morning so luckily for us, luis was there to drive the ball in to the net. If goal line technology was around, I think the goal is given but without it, it goes down as a goal for luis. I’ll let you two debate that one! The main thing that mattered, is that we had taken a deserved 2 goal lead and looked very comfortable. Other chances throughout the half fell to me, Lee and luis mainly from what I can remember.
It was quite clear to see early on in the game that Cobden had one tactic and one tactic only, be as physical as possible and take advantage of the young ref that unfortunately gave us no protection throughout the game. Our team talk before the game covered this subject, reminding everyone that we will out football all teams this season, but teams are often not there to play football and we have to be able to battle with those sorts of teams. Something we would have learnt from yesterday’s game.
I was caught with a naughty tackle on my ankle mid way through the half (currently sat in A&E now writing a match report), so that set the tone for this game, with the ref not even giving a foul and then apologising that he had made a mistake.
We carried on the half just as we started, very composed on the ball with Aiden having no saves to make and Cobden not really entering our final third. In the last 5 minutes of the half, Cobden started to come in to the game a little more and on the stroke of half time, disaster happened. Cobden whipped in a cross and their striker finished well past Aiden, right on half time. This was literally the only chance they had all game so it was gutting to concede at this time, but we still all Felt that this would be a game we would comfortably win. Apologies for going down just before they scored their first goal boys, I tried playing on but couldn’t move so didn’t help us in any way!
We promised changes at half time and changes we made. As we discussed before the game, we feel we have a very strong squad so we want to utilise that as much as possible throughout the season. George, Barnes and Ali all performed really well during pre season so were very unlucky to not start the game. Along with Tom, Mac and Jason that missed out on the squad this week.
So me, Craig S and Adam had a rest. We kept the 3-5-2 formation that had been working so well for us lately and were looking to go out there and finish the game off with a couple of quick goals. Unfortunately for us, the complete opposite happened! We didn’t really get out of our half for the first 5 minutes of the half. It was only a matter of time before Cobden had a goal Scoring chance and they equalised with a great strike on goal from outside the box. As soon as that goal went in we made changes, allowing Craig S and Adam (two of our more attacking players) to get back on. My game was unfortunately over, as much as I wanted to get back on that pitch! Craig P and Lee came off for a rest to freshen things up.
Our attacking play looked a lot better at this stage following the changes but then we were hit with a major blow. Cobden took the lead out of the blue, I think from a header. I can’t remember if this was from a cross or a corner but it’s the kind of goal that we need to stop conceding if we want to finish high up this league. More changes were made with Will coming off for a rest and Lee going back up top.
Suddenly we looked like we did in the first half, dominating the ball again and looking dangerous in behind their defence. We deservedly got back in the game, a brilliant header from luis to make it 3-3. I have no idea who got the assist so il need a bit of help with that one. All I remember is it being a great cross! I think by this stage in the game I had found myself coming down to their level and shouting abuse back and throw across the pitch to some topless idiot pacing up and down swearing in front of all the kids in the park. Clearly a nice guy!
The ref was again not helping us out, a clear yellow card offence for a pull back on Ali was not given and it took a scream towards the ref from us on the side for him to book a player for swiping wills legs as he had jumped past him. This with will coming back on for Fred. I decided to go all out attack saying I would rather risk losing 4-3 by going for it. And we so nearly won it! Lee, luis and will all had chances to win it for us, but it just wasn’t meant to be on the day.
A lot of positives to take from the game today but the main thing that we know is that we need to take our chances and finish games off when we can.
All in all, we take it as a hard fought point against a team that are going to frustrate many teams this season. This point could prove to be very helpful come the end of the season!
MOM is a very difficult one this week but I would have to go with a player that at the ripe old age of 40 on a sweltering hot day, still managed to complete 90 minutes and boss the midfield for the majority of the game. He was even put back in to defence for the final part of the game, replacing Fred after he had performed the best touch of his life (sorry Fred), but at least it got a mention in the match report!
I have to give a mention to George who I thought played exceptionally well after coming on at half time, looking composed and in control throughout the entire second half and Craig P for a brilliant performance in CM, playing some lovely forward passes in the first half.
The rest of us, myself included, I feel weren’t on the top of our game and have more to give for the coming games.
So we move on boys.. to a huge game next week and the battle of the AFC’s. AFC MANOR VS AFC ROMANS THIRDS. I’m very confident of getting our first win of the season and climbing to the top end of that table, exactly where we belong!
Written by Johnny Buggy Worthing A&E Very bored 6th September 2021