CROSBY COLTS 2 SWINEFLEET FC 1
The Swinefleet players will be kicking themselves over the dropping of three valuable League points; particularly when the two other title contenders; Epworth Town and College Wanderers could only draw in their respective matches, and so dropped two points each. And with Swinefleet still to play both of these teams, the Title race would have been blown wide open again.
The Crosby side were a vastly depleted side from the one that beat Swinefleet 1-0 earlier on in the season, and right from the kick off never really offered any real threat to Swinefleet. On the possession side, Swinefleet probably enjoyed close on to 70%, but were just not clinical enough in the last third of the field, particularly in front of goal.
Right from the off, Swinefleet were in control of the match. The back four of Liam Cooper, Will Sparkes, Archie Stephens and Gareth Welsh, easily had control of the Crosby strikers and both Cooper and Welsh were able to get forward with ease from their full-back positions. Central midfielders, Danny Nicholson and Scot Jackson were quickly onto their midfield counterparts, and were able to switch the ball to the flanks for wide-men Ryan Whitlam and Regan Allen. The two Swinefleet strikers of Cohen Vause and Niall Barker, with Barker dropping into the hole, looked to have the beating of the Crosby defence, although there was always the final giant obstacle of the Crosby keeper, measuring at least 6 foot 6inches, clearly the tallest keeper in the League.
An early move from Swinefleet on 11 minutes nearly paid dividends as Vause and Barker combined to find Welsh on the left. Welsh played the ball forward for Whitlam to hit a deep cross across the face of the goal, with the incoming Cooper from the right flank just inches away from connecting. On 16 minutes, a run from Barker saw him hit shot that the Crosby keeper palmed away for a corner. With 21 minutes played, Swinefleet took the lead with a strong far post header from Regan Allen, heading in a deep cross from Welsh. Six minutes later Barker wriggled past three Crosby defenders, and played the ball across the face of the goal, but the ball went just beyond the reach of the toe of Vause. With Swinefleet keeper Jamie Ward rarely touching the ball in the first half except for gathering up the long overhit balls from Crosby, Swinefleet went in at half-time holding a slender 1-0 advantage, despite completely bossing the game.
Second half became a slightly different affair, in the fact that Crosby won a corner on 48 minutes and equalised, with their centre-half heading in a powerful header into the roof of the net. Six minutes later, it got worse for Swinefleet when a 25 yard shot out on the left, dipped and looped over Ward giving him no chance, to nestle in the far top corner of the net. With 54 minutes gone, Swinefleet now found themselves with a 2-1 deficit to clawback, after being in total control of the match. Keir Vause was brought into the game on 60 minutes replacing elder brother, Cohen, and Sim Sharpehouse was introduced on 67 minutes coming in at right-back with Cooper moving to wide right.
Another good run from Barker on 71 minutes nearly gave Swinefleet an equaliser, but his 20 yard shot rattled against the post. On 74 minutes, Jackson played Whitlam through, but the energetic youngster chose the wrong option of trying to chip the giant keeper. Dale Noon came on in the 75th minute, and forced a save from the Crosby keeper on 79 minutes. A Swinefleet corner on 81 minutes resulted in a Will Sparkes attempt blocked on the line, and Keir Vause’s follow-up again blocked on the line. With the number of half chances being created but not put away, you sensed it was not going to be Swinefleet’s day. In reality, the game should have been won by half-time, and Swinefleet should have had a cushion of at least a couple of goals by the interval. It would then have been a completely different second half.
A disappointing result for ‘The Fleet’, but this Title race is still far from over. The Stefan Holliwell Sponsored Man of the Match Award went to Niall Barker. Next week Swinefleet are away to local rivals Crowle Colts. All players to meet at Marshlands at 1.45pm.