Ramblers 3 – Barely Athletic 1

7th March 2004


Team:  Turner, A Sheehan, P Sheehan, Stiddard, Tufton, House (1), Wilcox, King, Shearman (sub: Canning), Sykes (1), (sub: Allan), Howard (1)


After a pre-match warning from Geoff that we needed to improve substantially on recent performances the whole team responded and came out fighting, passing and moving well and took charge of this game from the start.  This early pressure was soon rewarded with the first goal.  Geoff spotted Paul’s run into the channel and dropped a pass in front of him.  Paul took it in his stride and crossed into the goalmouth, where Rob was there to bundle the ball into the net, just like he used to (1–0).


It seemed the old Rob was back again, battling, fighting, fouling, arguing and, above all, scoring goals.  Shortly after he was also involved in the second goal, scrapping for a hopeful ball into the box, winning possession and laying it back for Ken to hit a great shot low into the corner of the net from outside the penalty area (2-0).  Typically Rob took his robust approach a little too far and was lucky to avoid a caution after he chopped down a player who’s turn had beaten him on the touchline, then argued with the referee about the way the player responded.  He should have had another goal when he got his head to a shot from Paul, deflecting it past the keeper and into the goal.  Despite the lack of any appeals from the Barely players or a flag from the linesman, who was well placed to see, the referee disallowed the goal for offside.


The whole team was still playing well, with Ken also putting in a lot of hard work besides Rob in attack and causing Barely all sorts of problems. Geoff was tackling anything that moved in midfield, with Paul also winning a lot of the ball, so Barely were keeping very little possession.  Dave was using the space on the right well, always making himself available and building moves intelligently from there.  Paul again picked up the ball on the right of the box and this time cut inside to blast a great left foot shot, which crashed off the top of the bar. 


Despite all this possession and pressure from Ramblers, Barely still looked as if they could be dangerous, but the Ramblers defence were also all playing at their best, well marshalled by Gavin, and Barely did not manage to make any meaningful raids on the Ramblers goalmouth area.  They did manage a few decent long-range shots, but Brian also was in top form and dealt with all the shots without any problem, tipping one onto the bar and gathering all the other comfortably.  “Just a routine save”, he modestly said of one after the game.


All this good work was rewarded with another goal.  Dave, on the left for once, received the ball on the edge of the box and was given all the time he needed to calmly pick his spot and place a shot beyond the keeper (3-0).


The second half was against the wind, so we went out to play it safely and keep a grip on the lead built up the first period.  We continued to play well, but were not in control as much as in the first half and Barely pulled one goal back.  A surging run from midfield was not checked and the Barely player unleashed a fine shot from the edge of the box, that this time Brian had no chance of stopping (3-1).


Rob was chopped from behind while running into the box and executed a superb double somersault with pike, which Gavin awarded 5.8 out 6.  The referee was also impressed and awarded a penalty.  Dave took the spot-kick and, possible embarrassed by Rob’s performance, did a Nobby and shot limply, giving the keeper an easy save.  We seemed lucky to avoid a penalty against, as an equally theatrical dive by a Barely player in the other penalty area was not rewarded.


Marcus came on to replace Nick mid way through the second half and Tony replaced Rob for the last 10 minutes as the game was played out with Ramblers holding out for a well deserved win, as despite Paul hitting the bar again, but there was to be no further score.