5th March 2018 - Winsford Utd 2 v 2 City of Liverpool - Well the Beast from the East had buggered off and I had duly been out for my first bike ride in a week. Fieldfare, Sparrowhawk; Goldcrest; Little Grebe and Ring Necked Parakeet were amongst some of the birds I saw and I came back blacker than the arse of Sammy Davies Junior...but a little less sweaty. I checked the night's fixtures, it seemed all systems were go so I cracked on, tidied up, exercised, had a read of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Book 3 and waited for my good lady to get home from work. I am a mere 4 day a week man, Monday is my day off, I am hardly still though and tonight's match was a welcome break and a chance to get back into the Non-League groove before the season end is upon us. The drive down was fine, the chips and tea slipped down easier than an eel in a U-bend and we chose our seats and awaited the action. This had all the makings of a keen contest, I expected some frisky action not experienced since the local Vicar received his back-order of Razzle mags and a tub of Love Lurpak - he is a very excitable man, hence the troubled look on the choir boys faces and the teeth marks on many a pew. The teams entered the night air, the local church should have rung out the time as 7.45pm - alas it seemed another man of the cloth was otherwise engaged.
The globe rolled, the feet flung, the perspiration started to flow. The Blues brought about the first promise of goal glory with 2 delectable balls sharply followed by a cross that put a visiting defender in the mesmeric Land of Indecision. He made contact, the ball pinged off the post and the danger somehow passed - the Purple Pirates had had a warning shot put across their bows - come on me hearties. In return the guests immediately pounced, the blade of the attack however was blunted before a killing cut was made, Winsford seemed to be aware of their individual roles - this was an intriguing factor to note. The home lads were impressing early on with their passing and pace which was keeping the COL pack flustered and unable to settle. Out of the mither the Purps won a free kick which No 8 (Francis Smith) duly took. In the ball went, No 6 (Craig Robinson) managed to get his bonse involved with the loose globe eventually falling to the feet of No 5 (Anthony Brown) who cracked one first time and just missed the top corner. From here the game fell to pieces, in fact Humpty Dumpty's nob after his great fall was in better condition but thankfully this fractured period didn't last long and all the King's horses and all the King's men soon got the match back on a watchable footing. Whatever the King was up to with all those equine creatures and all those rugged men is anyone's guess - I am opting for something underhand and involving Bob Martin Tablets - shocking!
The next action saw the COL crew win a free-kick after No 9 (John Connolly) had been nobbled. The punt was decent enough, the header that came was not even close - cripes. The match struggled onwards, from the underpants of misery COL's No 3 (Francis Foy) tried to produce a todger of triumph with a speculative chip. The ball floated and if the mittman had been perhaps a few more feet off his line we may have seen the scorecard penetrated and the first strike gained, alas it was not to be and the gloved one grabbed with ease. Suddenly Winsford reactivated themselves, a dazzling cross-field pass was executed and found the ever busy No 11 (Callum Gardner) who picked his moment to thread forth to No 9 (Michael Koral) who slid home with seasoned aplomb. It was a brilliant goal, a decisive cutting move, it was certainly needed. The City of Liverpool beast was now stung but surprisingly it was the hosts who advanced on some more. A shot from their No 8 (Ryan Hopper) was blocked at the last before the visitor's dug in and started to up the ante. A COL corner was had, all heads were missed and a repeat kick was taken. No joy came, the pressure rose with No 11 (Jack Hazelhurst) having a crack but only finding night air. Frustrations spilled, sequinned handbags were swung after a moment that seemed blatantly tepid. Towards the arse end of the half the Purps pushed on but all the while Winsford seemed to have that extra man on the pitch and were dealing with any potential threat. Winsford dealt with the hazardous situation well and finished the first half with the upper hand. They were using their width well (ooh me bottom) and moving the ball across all areas of the pitch. One such moment saw Connolly sneak in and just miss, he was ruled offside anyway so it was all academic - the referee blew soon after.
Tea and a chat and a play on a Word Game on my wife's phone. I am 52 and still don't own a mobile, I am proud of that - punk and awkward forever - bugger the techno twattery.
The teams came back out, the Blue pack were making the early play and keeping things tighter than Nookie Bear's arsehole after Roger De-Corsey had been on the razzle. Their No 2 had an unexpected effort with a low heatseeker that just missed the far post before the Liverpool lads raced away, led by the ever-willing and persistent No 10 (Thomas Peterson) who chased a seemingly lost ball, played a simple but effective pass that saw a shot eventually come. The effort was blocked, a follow up crack was had, No 11 (Jack Hazelhurst) had equalised - the litmus paper had been re-dipped, we were back at state 'neutral'. Soon after this strike the travelling team had a penalty shout. Several punters seemed convinced, the referee gave a corner, the correct decision I thought. From the angled kick sweet FA came, perhaps proving justice had been done! Winsford were trying to resist the increasing tide, Hopper came and leathered one, only a corner was given. From here the COL tribe broke, a free-kick was swiftly taken after a clumsy collision. The defending was stout, a counter-attack took in both sides of the playing surface, two crosses followed before Gardner got the ball, jinked in and fizzed one forth. The outside of the post was left glowing, unlucky squire!
We now went into the back stretch, Winsford were hassling and had a few tame efforts dealt with whilst City of Liverpool were calling upon battling reserves and looking to pinch the lead. The home lads had the next effort, Koral crossed one, a defensive boot made contact, the ball found the head of the Blue No 3 (Lee Duckworth) and rebounded only inches over. From a COL attack Winsford broke, Koral had a chance to bury it, he was highly reckless and was in danger of killing a roosting owl rather than rupturing the net. Soon after the Blue Bods were marauding with menace, a striker was clobbered, it looked like something and nothing, the referee had a sniff of ill-will and awarded the penalty. Was this the right decision or a crazed Christian gesture from a man doused in guilt - I know not but up stepped Callum Gardener and twanged the ball home with chilled authority. There was now only 10 minutes left, a Purple heave ho came, Winsford were adopting the role of a sponge, attempting to soak all activity up and release in one all-conquering splash. A late COL free-kick was given, was hoofed forth and met by the outstretched noggin of Thomas Peterson. A bulge appeared in the net (and no doubt in the trouser department of a few COL supporters - deviant buggers), a goal had been bagged, we were like the head of Herman Munster - all square! It looked as though matters were settled as both teams doused each others efforts, that is until a COL ball saw Peterson charge through and have the match at his mercy. He fired, was met with a solid save by the home No 1 (Matthew Green) and then a follow up shot came via No 14 (Thomas Spearitt). Arses left seats, celebrations looked to be underway - until a stunning defensive block was had and the 2 - 2 scoreline stayed in tact. The man in the middle halted proceedings soon after, I think the result was fair, a few seemed to disagree, hey ho, football and opinions hey! Man of the Match was a tricky affair tonight but I thought No 5 (Logan Jeffs) of Winsford Town was quite convincing at the back and is one of those back pack players who oozes discipline, is always aware of his position and who gives any onrushing attacker a real headachetrying to achieve the smallest of spaces. The stint is best describe as 'solid' - tis always a good thing.
FINAL THOUGHT - After a week of postponements this was a welcome tonic although the first half was far from fluent the second was a frisky affair and exposed many facets of two teams who are always value for money. For me Winsford have a great pass and play game that uses the full pitch, has much variety and is always destined to keep opponents thinking. This is a half-decent squad, a test for anyone in the league and, if given a kiss on the arse by Ms Fanny Fortune, they could go on a real damaging run and cause many a team severe trouble. City of Liverpool are eternal value and have a thirst and desire not to be underestimated. In fact the last time I witnessed anything like this was when I was stranded on a desert island with Barbara Cartland - frightening to say the least and I never knew the sun could have such a detrimental effect on an old lady's bristols. A prime example of the COL ethos is Thomas Peterson, a player who runs himself ragged, always appears to be the muckiest man on the pitch and who puts his conkers on the line come what may - a spirit that flows throughout the team - good bloody stuff indeed. So a grand visit to The Barton Stadium, 4 goals, some stupendous chips and a drive home in the rain listening to The Chrysalids by John Wyndham - beltin' stuff all round!