Drama seems to follow the team around at the moment. This already crucial game of the season away at Catterick AWS was no exception, with an array of emotions on display throughout the 90 minutes, and that was just the Management Team.
With a number of the lads dashing off to university and freshers week, Rammer had been busy in the transfer market by all accounts, and new signing Adam Lee-Shields due to start for this game. It was a late change in line-up however, when Adam had declared himself unavailable.
With a lack of a recognised centre-forward, the Gaffer pushed Jamie in a more advanced role and tried to keep the formidable backline tight as it had been in previous games.
With a game plan, instructions and letting everyone know that we have some great squad depth we started the first half, generally OK. After the first 5 minutes though, we kept giving the ball away, didn’t pass to feet, didn’t move it quickly and were basically shit! Everything that was said before the game, was not generally carried out. We were really poor and when a through ball from the right found Jez going passed our defence, Mark ran out to close him down only to decide he was also going nail the oncoming attacker. As the ball was played past Walker, he could do nothing but wipe out Jez which resulted in a penalty, which AWS scored. We simply didn’t get into the game at all first half, and while we half-threatened, AWS broke quickly down the left, with a good cross to an unmarked Tim Holland at the back post for a tap in. 2-0 down against a very good side and our unbeaten run was coming to an end.
We rarely troubled the back line of AWS. Eddie and Nathan couldn’t seem to get the ball down and play and we made an enforced change to push Jamie back into left back and put Tyler up top to be a nuisance and perhaps help with holding the ball upfront. It was a shame for the versatile player who came off just before half time with an injury and young Jack Lav came on, and the pack was shuffled again. It was a drab game and there were a few naughty challenges, which resulted in Gav Rudd getting a yellow just before half time for a late challenge on Simpson.
Cue the half time bollocking for not playing as instructed, for not putting in the effort and not playing as a team; and reminding them that the AWS players were just laughing at us.
The second half was totally different from the first. WE actually turned up! It was a total flip. We pressed, we kept shape, we moved the ball quickly and with Nathan in the hole now, a short pass from Matty T allowed Nathan to take a few touches and rifled the ball into the net from 30 yards. An early contender for goal of the season, giving the importance of the goal as we were 2-0 down. We were back in it. AWS getting more and more frustrated as we just played around them, a few more feisty challenges were coming in and we gave it back too. Eddie, who had grown into the game and lead by example by getting the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half, went on a mazey run into the box. The keeper chasing him down seemed to simply obstruct the clubs current top scorer, illegally according to the ref who blew for a penner and booked the protesting keeper. Eddie, coolly slotted home the PK and we deserved to be back in the game.
We continued to press, and AWS were limited to some hopeful chances which Mark dealt with expertly.
Jamie, who seemed out of sorts with a knock, was subbed on for another young player, Joe Jordan who was on hand to make his debut. The young left back looked composed at the back and was rarely troubled. Our play now was good and space was being created with Jack Lav moving the ball well, rarely losing possession and some short passes around the box was allowing Rob and Nathan to run at defenders.
It was then when we scored the third. A hopeful, punted clearance from Joe (not De Bruyne esq Joe) landed at Eddie’s feet. With some great touches, the influential Lewington ghosted past a couple of the AWS team before hitting a low drive from 20 yards past the keeper. From 2-0 down to 3-2 with only 20 mins to play, it was a great display of character from the team.
There were some resolute defending from the back too, with Kyle continually cool in his play and on the ball, and both Davo and Sean making some top interceptions and blocks. Harry and Matty continued to battle well and won their fair share in the centre of the park.
The last 20 minutes brought on more drama. An umbrella was needed as it began raining cards. After being booked in the first half, Gav Rudd put a number of generally OK challenges throughout the second half, but with a number of them resulting in free-kicks, he made one too many and received his second yellow and marching orders. 3-2 up and against 10 men, this was surely going to be Town’s afternoon now. We still played our game and Rob ran his heart out against their backline. He twisted and turned and kept them from playing out from the back (here is a nod to you mate!).
With only 10 minutes to go, a lunging challenge from Jez in the middle of the park on MOM Simpson, resulted in a yellow for the AWS player. With more frustrations building, a long ball forward from AWS had the superb Mark Walker charging out and clearing his lines. With the GK having already cleared the ball, it seemed Jez ran, jumping in late at the keeper, and whilst was late, deserved a yellow. However the ref thought otherwise and gave a straight red for the challenge with 5 minutes to go. Concern was growing for the Reserves as Mark seemed injured from the heavy challenge and sub Mudd might have to come on in his place. Thankfully though, Mark , who also liked to make his own drama by the look of it (reckon a part on Emmerdale is around the corner), showed his warrior spirit and went on to finish the game.
It was a display which showed our fantastic character and team spirit. Testament to all you players, you showed really quality in that second half. It was a display which may well upset Mavs’ Tangerine Dream of another unbeaten season. This would have sent some more messages to the rest of the league. We are unbeaten in 4. We are scoring goals and rarely conceding. This is the time to dream. Even for Harry whose performances throughout September have been bloody brilliant. Wouldn’t it be great to have our own dream (not Blue Dream Rammer you pervert). A dream where my report finishes ” and Needham fired home from 25 yards to win the league” is part of my last report of the season. Together we can make that dream come true boys.
What did we learn lads?
1. The Management Team actually know what we are talking about sometimes
2. We win games with effort and character, not just ability.
3. Eddie has never done a football card before (do we pick who we think might win the league? FFS mate)
4. Jordan clearly fancies Rammer given his licking of his lips staring into the Gaffers eyes in the pub
5. Our team and togetherness is class, best squad I have ever been involved in.