The UNITS took one old foes Royal Exchange this morning it what was always going to be one of our hardest games of the season After their no show last week v Dudley Sports as expected Exchange had every man and his dog available this morning, they also played on their normal pitch which 3 weeks ago was submerged under water, needless to say it was extremely heavy even before we kicked off. The UNITS lined up: Tom, DJ, Millette, Taylor, Gilo, Coco, Baker, Ashton, Azza, Pountney and Seeks. Subs were Ryan, Ben, Jim, Newt and Trigger.
The game was committed very early as you would expect with both sides starting like a steam train. The UNITS settled better and on 5 minutes Seeks got away but could only shank his 18 yard shot high and wide when away from the Exchange defenders .UNITS were competing well despite some physical challenges coming in from Exchange and you felt Pountney & Seeks had the beating of their two centre halves if we could get quality ball to them. On 10 minutes a slick UNITS move down their right involving Ashton, Seeks and DJ resulted in DJ playing a 1-2 and bursting into the box only to be thwarted by an excellent low save by the keeper from 12 yards in the game’s best chance. The UNITS back line was dealing with the Exchange forwards well but Tom was called upon to make a fine save with 20 gone when DJ took a heavy touch in the box resulting in the Exchange forward having a clear shot on goal only for Tom to spread himself well and divert the ball away.
5 minutes later and with the UNITS backline screaming for offside Dave kept the flag down as the Exchange forward got away, again Tom making a fine save in a one on one situation before we scrambled away. On 25 minutes and not to be outdone the Exchange keeper made a worldie of a save when Pountney picked out Seeks superbly at the back post, with the defender losing his footing Seeks had acres to bring the ball down and smash the ball goal wards with his left foot only for the Exchange keeper to somehow parry the ball over from 6 yards out. The game was now end to end and it was the home side who edged ahead, the UNITS cleared a free kick but the ball quickly came back in and with players out of position they found themselves in a two on one situation and the reverse ball took out Taylor and allowed their striker to stroke past Tom from 12 yards 1-0.
The game was then held up for a shocking challenge on Baker, a real leg breaker which somehow was only punished with a yellow card. The UNITS shuffled shape and we managed to get back on level terms on 40 minutes when Pountney did well on the right to slide a ball through to Seeks who beat the centre half for pace and the on-rushing keeper to prod the ball into the empty net as the UNITS came in 1-1.
Half Time Exchange 1 v 1 TS UNITS
Cuzer stayed with the 4-2-3-1 shape going into the 2nd half. Again the game was competitive with tackles flying in from both sides but clear chances were at a minimum. However, that all changed on 55 minutes when a raking ball from DJ to Seeks resulted in the UNITS top scorer beating the centre half before accelerating on goal, with Coco screaming for a square pass Seeks cut inside the last defender before rifling into the bottom corner to score a fine goal and give the visitors the lead 1-2. Coco was struggling with his knee and was replaced by Newts on the hour mark.
Disappointingly the UNITS seemed to stop playing when we went ahead and seemed happy to invite Exchange on and deal with the threat. The flow of football was now towards the visitor’s goal yet we were defending well and Tom had a couple of long range efforts to deal with as it remained 1-2 with 20 to go. On 70 minutes the referee who had a bit of a shocking morning all round had a major impact on the game when he chose to overrule Dave on the line 3 times in 2 minutes, the 3rd time with the Exchange midfielder clearly in an offside position resulted in the offside player putting a low ball into the box which was side footed home to level up the scores. The UNITS surrounded the referee as it was a clear offside yet for some reason despite his honesty in the first half when the Exchange player was through and the flag stayed down when it could have easily gone up the referee now deemed Dave to be cheating and gave the goal, comical call.
At this point Chunk took the flag off Dave and with his first flag for an offside decision he over ruled him again! Madness! Jim then replaced the injured Ashton with 20 left as all of a sudden it was anyone's game. The UNITS continued to look a threat on the break but the fluidity wasn't there and if anybody looked like nicking it it was the home side as they called for two penalty shouts which were waved away. With 10 left Trigger replaced Pountney. On 88 minutes disaster struck for the UNITS when from an Exchange corner which somehow made its way across the 6 yard box Tayl's on the back stick tried to head away for a corner but could only head into his own net as we gifted Exchange the winner. There was still time for DJ and Azza to have free kicks in dangerous positions which ultimately came to nothing as the UNITS suffered their first defeat of the season.
Credit to Exchange they were, as always, physical and were happy to try and rough us up, you felt a draw would have been a fair result on chances created but they nicked it late on to keep their promotion ambitions alive.
Big disappointment for us was the influence of the referee on the game as a whole but ultimately the crucial 2nd goal but we must dust ourselves down as we travel to Wordsley next week back in league action.
Man of the match went to Tom who made some great saves in a rare busy morning for him