Ramblers 5 – Hill Farm Casuals 3

23rd Novemberber 2003


Team:  Turner, A Sheehan, Nichols, Stiddard, Babbington, House (sub: Allan), Snook, Wilcox, Canning, Sykes, Howard.

Following the lead set by the England rugby team, the Ramblers ground out a win in the mud.  For most of the time it wasn’t pretty and some of the time downright ugly, but we got the result in the end.  The ugly face of Redland was the first one shown as Hill Farm took the lead.  Pete failed to clear a forward ball played directly at him, leaving the ball at the feet of one of their strikers, who needed no further invitation to fire into the net (0 –1).


It got better for us briefly as Dave was hacked from behind while running into the opposition box and although there was no extravagant dive, eagle-eyed ref Nowland did not miss it and awarded a penalty, which Dave swiftly converted himself (1 – 1), but almost immediately it turned rather hideous again as Brian spilled a fairly tame shot at the feet of an opposition striker for an easy tap-in (1 – 2).


Getting better again, Jim made an excellent run forward, right to the by-line where he pulled the ball back to find Rob at the near post.  Rob went to ground as usual and looked like he had fluffed the chance, but managed to hook the ball in from a sitting position (2 – 2).  The goal was typical of the many he has scored over the years and he followed it up by upsetting the goalkeeper and committing a couple of completely unnecessary fouls, so could this be the return of the old Sykes?  Perhaps we will be seeing the Stats again soon.  Maybe not: a great run by Paul ended with him passing to Rob for what seemed a certain goal, but he somehow managed to miss.


There was still more ugliness to come.  We went behind for the third time when a cross from the right ran right through our defence untouched, setting up another easy tap-in at the far post (2 – 3).  Hill Farm were causing us a lot of problems down their right hand side, feeding their dangerous striker, but Pete, standing in at left-back, stuck to the task well and this was the last time that they broke us down.


In the second half Paul showed that football can be “the beautiful game”.  He ran through the middle of the defence, beating at least two defenders and calmly curled the ball into the corner of the net (3 – 3).  Tony came on for when Dave pulled up with a possible hamstring strain and almost immediately had a chance to score when he connected with a header from a well-flighted corner by Paul, but put it wide.


There was more good stuff to come. We finally took the lead thanks to quick thinking by Marcus.  The goalkeeper came a long way off his line chasing a loose ball and his clearance ran to Marcus on the right wing, who cleverly shot into the unguarded net from long range (4 – 3).  Ken had been running non-stop for the whole game and his persistent chasing down earned us a corner, once again well delivered by Paul.  The defence did not clear it well and the ball looped out to Tony on the edge of the box, where he spun and volleyed it into the goal (5 – 3).


The ugliness was not entirely over, but in this it half was in the forward area where there were some dreadful misses. Tony ran into the box unchallenged at the far post and Paul picked him out perfectly, but Tony blasted the volley over the bar.  Rob was also set up with an easy chance 5 yards from goal, but managed to fall over the ball rather than score.