Chequers welcomed high-flying Swan Northall Reserves to Stockwood Park on Sunday, in an encounter that turned out to be a much closer affair than the previous meeting this season when Swan ran out 5-2 winners.
John Roullier returned from injury in goal, with Rob Mardell, Tom Tracy, Chris Fagan and Barry Wilson making up the back four. Tim Warne, Alex Dell, Tom Smith and Wayne Mardel took to the centre of the field, behind a front two of Dean Hinton and Michael Ryan.
The Purples were quick out of the blocks and had a strong shout for a penalty waved away inside the first minute, as Smith was tripped in the box only to see his protests waved away. Dell took aim from outside the area but saw his low effort saved, before Warne hit a dipping effort from 30 yards that narrowly missed the target. The winger had better luck shortly after and was on the scoresheet after 25 minutes, turning home a loose ball after Smith’s mishit effort found him unmarked to make the score 1-0. Chequers had dominated the opening half an hour but Swan finished the first half strongly, and almost levelled on 30 minutes. A cross caused havoc in the Chequers area and Roullier stopped a point-blank effort before Mardel threw himself in front of a second shot to stop a certain goal, with the rebound again being fired against Roullier who diverted the ball to safety. It was an incredible escape but Swan were not to be denied for long, as a through ball caused Mardell to slip over at the vital moment allowing a striker to take a touch and fire past the onrushing ‘keeper for 1-1. Chequers forced a number of corners late in the half but couldn’t take advantage, and despite their dominance they found themselves level at the break.
Swan started the second half in positive fashion and registered another shot on target as a half-cleared corner was volleyed back towards goal, but Roullier got a hand to it to keep the scores level. Fagan and Tracy provided excellent defence against a good team, and Chequers regained the lead on 55 minutes following a quick counter attack. Ryan burst down the right wing and beat his man before cutting the ball back to the overlapping Wilson, who tucked home to register his first goal for the club and make the score 2-1. Swan continued to press hard and Warne and Mardel in particular were forced further back into more defensive roles, but unfortunately for the home side the lead only lasted 5 minutes. A ball down the Swan left saw a striker beat Wilson to the ball, and rather than bring the player down for an instant penalty and red card, the Glaswegian defender had to watch as the player struck low into the corner for 2-2. The Purples then made three quick substitutions as Michael Towler replaced the injured Mardell, Mickey Francois came on for Ryan in attack, and Neil Bishop returned after 7 months out from a serious injury to replace Hinton. The changes saw the momentum swing back in favour of the home side, who had all the play for the final 20 minutes. Smith tried his luck from 25 yards but saw his low shot saved, and again Chequers forced corner after corner but couldn’t find a third goal.
A decent draw against a good side, but perhaps a slight disappointment that Chequers were unable to collect all 3 points in a game they controlled for long periods.
Man of the Match went to Barry Wilson, who notched his first goal in a Purple shirt and put in a solid performance at Right Back.