How the tables have (quote literally) turned. An away trip usually feared, especially by our B’s, the Whites walked away from Rostrevor College with NINE points, scoring 12 goals and conceding 6: by far our best aggregate result against Rostrevor. Our next best returns against Rossies were both at home. The first was back in 2004 when the A’s drew and the B’s got a late winner described by Graeme as “Truly the best goal I have seen in the B’s in my ten years at the club (other than my two on handicap).” The second was during the halcyon days of early 2010, with the French dreamteam scoring two each in the A’s 6-3 win and a brace from a youthful Rob Yeomans helping the C’s get up 4-2.
Prematch the A’s learned that Rostrevor had moved ahead of us on the table by goal difference. Regency’s misdemenours meant their win over Rostrevor had been ruled out, and Rostrevor was handed a forfeit win. So a genuine top of the table clash.
But after watching the B’s demolish their opposition 2-0, the A’s entered the field with confidence. I was also personally confident, finally managing to tape my knee without the damn thing falling off within the first two minutes of the match.
We played well from the start, passing the ball around nicely and defending well. Scott then decided it was a touch too nice, and headbutted his opponent. The Rossie was off the field for a minute, but Scott’s was off for about five, while he tried to stem the flow of blood with one of the coach’s “wipe-down” hand towels.
Rob slotted into CB, and Jose into the middle, and there were a few tense moments where we were not quite structured. Luckily a now disfigured Scott was able to continue, and Steve Borz sat down again.
Shortly after, some good team play was topped off by a superb solo opener. Say what you want about the big man (seriously, say whatever), but Alex’s turn and shot into the top right corner from outside the box was true class. Even better was that it came at the end of 10+ passes out of defense.
More good play followed, with Rostrevor’s only outlet being a diagonal ball to their right winger. Courtney had his hands fall with probably their best player, and the winger managed to get inside him. No one else managed to get a proper tackle in, and a shot from a tight angle on the left beat Dan at his far post. 1-1.
As usual Rostrevor perked up after a goal, but unlike the Whites of many a previous season, we continued to play well. Another good move from the left ended with Alex toe poking the ball to Conan, who, without any other option, smacked the ball off one leg towards goal. Fortunately for us, the Rostrevor keeper is not a tall bloke, and the swerving shot easily went past him into the goal.
Crab’s call for keeping it to 2-1 at half time went out. Alex, however, impetuously decided not to listen to the coach. While the keeper was still organising his wall for a free kick, Alex blasted it into the same poor corner of the net that had received a thrashing for the first goal. From about the same spot on the pitch too. That net will need some ice on it in the morning.
3-1 at half time, and although we didn’t keep it at 2-1, I’m sure Crab was ok with it. More of the same were the instructions, with a resolute disclaimer of: Rostrevor will not go down easily. We’ll have to work hard all day to get the result.
And we did. for about 15mins we kept the ball, making chances. But Rostrevor, as they do, took their only chance, coming back to 3-2 This time they cut inside from the left, few a couple of players and a low shot bounced over Dan’s outstretched arm into the net. But again we didn’t drop our heads, and continued to press for more.
From the second phase of a set piece, the ball was crossed in from the left. On the bounce, Gabe managed to invert his giraffe like frame, bicycling the ball off his shin from about 10yards, into the ground and then the top of the net. A magic moment to regain the two goal lead, while the Rostrevor defense just watched, stunned.
And that was game over. Rostrevor didn’t get back into it, and we had more guilt edged chances. Anoop hit the left post after jinking just inside the box with his left foot, while Conan managed to put the ball over an empty net from a yard.
Apart from two slips, and a couple of poor attempts at playing out, the defence had been solid all day. Cain, Rob and Jose worked their arses off as well. Well in lads.
The only other incident of note: Jose’s attempt to shield the ball ended up with the Rostrevor winger groggy on the ground, and the opposition bench abusing the referee for 5mins for not stopping the match. It was so innocuous no one realised it was a head injury – the winger probably getting a taste of Jose’s famous backed-in arse… hope he has recovered.
4-2. We’ll take that. A’s and B’s clear at the top. Haven’t been able to get the smile off my face all weekend.