Woodchurch Rovers was our opponent tonight for our third game in 6 days, and a much needed 3 points needed as this was one of our game in hand.
The game started a bit scrappy as we attempted to settle down into our play (something that never truly happened until second half) Woodchurch showing they were well and truly up for the fight.
Some early chances arrived in the shape of Liam Rose who after working hard to get the ball fired just wide of the keeper, then moments later Coullsy spotting Machin making a run down the left channel headed into the space where Machin fired unfortunately straight at the keeper when well placed.
Too many of us in the first half looked tired and sluggish, maybe effects of the run of games we have had but what doesn’t help is not letting the ball do the work as too many times we would build up play wisely only to then punt hopeful long balls up to to Jimbob and Liam Rose who had 6 foot centre half’s gobbling up every ball.
Woodchurch were snapping into every challenge and causing us problems by firing balls straight back at us, but with Jason never rarely troubled and the back line of Smith, Easterbrook and O’Donnell standing firm chances were still coming our way. Machin after Lee O’Donnell had intercepted wisely went on a great run down the left and showing good strength made his way into the box only to shoot weakly at the keeper.
Matthew Easterbrook who has a past with the opposition, was keen to exert his authority on proceedings and went in for a tackle but fell last minute and it looked like a wild lunge which completely missed the player but still earned him a warning from the ref, seconds later a neat turn of the shoulder and a shout of “see ya later” left the Woodchurch player fuming and our supporters cheering.
Moments after that Lee O’Donnell maybe a bit over exuberant went in for a tackle with his foot raised in order to block an attempted ball but caught the player it looked nastier than it was in truth but hearts were in our mouths for the few moments while the ref decided what to do.
Dave Leslie wasn’t sluggish at all tonight wearing the Captains armband he snapped and harried at every player in the middle of the park, barking encouragement to his team mates including firing Curran up as like a majority of the team in the first half he wasn’t up to his usual standards.
A Philly Lennon Corner was met with ease by Rose but the keeper easily saved then moments later Lennon found his way into the box and hit hopelessly wide and high of the goal, it seemed like the Shafts game all them weeks ago, chances coming thick and fast but taking none of them.
This trend continued until half time as Coullsy found Jimbob in space and he fired a cross to Rose and with the goal open Rose fired over when it looked like in all certainty it would be the breakthrough goal, then with seconds remaining Jimbob had a great chance which there keeper in truth saved well.
A stern talking to at half time as apart from one or two no one was playing to their usual standards, true the pitch didn’t help our style but this is when you have to dig in and fight and for the majority of the second half it was a much improved performance still not our high standards but much better than the first.
There was bad news before it got better thou as Jimbob racing thru to a ball pulled up it looked like a challenge had hurt him at first until I went over and he said the dreaded word Hamstring, Jimbob had to be helped from the pitch and fingers crossed it’s not badly damaged as that is 2 now Briggs and Jimbob who could potentially be out of action for a while.
Michael Neish entered the fray and I could sense from his demeanour that he was up for the challenge, and moments after coming on a Curran ball found its way into the box and he hit one first time just wide.
We started to play a bit more football Coullsy, Curran and Leslie pivotal, Curran after a quiet first half was more like it in the second half, affecting play more and going into big tackles more and more it was his well hit corner which was met by a great header from Adam Coulls who watched as it agonizingly went just wide of the upright.
Ryan Smith and co at the back had to be on their toes as with the score at 0-0 one mistake could have cost us and Ryan made a great tackle when they looked like they might get through after another long ball was punted up field.
Chances where still going begging as Rose missed another chance and Coullsy shot straight at keeper with a placed effort when well positioned to score, Rose was replaced by Sean Phillips with 25 on the clock and he was straight in the mix with a powerful run which ended with Neishy hitting an effort just wide.
Then it finally came, Coullsy Cleverley and not unnoticed took a quick throw down the line to Sean Phillips who took it past one and passed inside to Neish who took a touch settled himself and hit a terrific finish which arrowed in the bottom corner to spark wild scenes on the pitch and on the touchline 0-1.
What you want then is for us to settle down and not have a nervy moments for the next few minutes but Lee O’Donnell decided to cause a heart attack in myself and Jason McLaughlin by playing a back pass behind Jason which had him scampering to clear for a throw.
What else you want is another goal and it soon came good work again by Neishy earnt us a corner and Curran like his previous one put it right in the mix…and it flew straight in without a touch for a stunning goal;), truth the ball was put in right where you want it and as their defender rose it flicked off him and sadly for him but great for us nestled in the corner for an O.G 0-2.
Still chances came as Neish hit another great curling effort after once again good work from Sean Phillips and Dave Leslie hit unlike him a scorching effort from 30 yards which had the keeper palming away to safety.
Matthew Easterbrook then to make sure those last few moments of the game would go our way threw himself into a great tackle just on the edge of the area which had the supporters cheering the passion on his face said how much this result and game meant for him.
With the clock ticking down Edge came on in place of Machin and Croker for Philly Lennon to kill the game off.
That’s how it ended maybe not a stella performance but a massive 3 points and one we are all happy to have.
Like in the last few week the trend continued with the subs making a big impact on the game and the attitude of all the subs tonight made me proud, Michael Neish came on and not only fired a stunning opener but caused panic in the Woodchurch backline as did Phillips. M.O.M was given to Lee O’Donnell.