Spring conditions made a welcome return to Moor Lane for a reprise of the much missed Pinewoods game. The Ramblers line up saw a number of changes, with various regulars unavailable. Fortunately, the strength in depth across the club ensured that there was no drop in quality for a fixture against a strong footballing outfit. Nelson came in for the AWOL Bagpuss, with his former partner in crime Mornington also making himself available. Howat Jnr got a well deserved call up from the 2s and the team lined up in an adventurous looking 3-5-2 formation.
The Ramblers started well, having much of the early possession and fashioning half chances for Shields, Mornington and Holt. Neither side was able to create anything clear cut, with the game mainly being fought in the middle of the park. Pinewoods much-vaunted central midfield was restricted by the terrier-like Gendall and Whittingham, who had a point to prove against his old side.
As the half developed, Pinewoods came into the game more. A couple of dangerous set-pieces aside, however, Nelson enjoyed a fairly comfortable return- showing safe hands on a couple of occasions and one of his patented “diags” to Ed White.
As the match approached half-time the probing Jonny Shields, deployed in behind the front two once again, despatched a wicked cross which was turned in by the unfortunate Pinewoods centre half. Ramblers were one up and, on the balance of play, probably deserved their lead.
Half Time saw a change in goalkeeper. Duffy, in his absence, had (unbeknown to anyone else) sent a contingency having regard to Nelson’s penchant for forgetting his contact lenses/ turning up half-cut/ pulling his hamstring. Tom therefore came on at half time with the rest of the team remaining unchanged.
5 minutes into the second half, Shields curled a left footer of the post from the corner of the 18 yard box that initially raised some questions as to his intentions. His honesty 2 weeks ago, when admitting his goal was intended as a cross, bought him the benefit of the doubt on this occasion. A top finish on his weaker foot.
At 2-0 the Ramblers appeared to be fairly comfortable in a game where goalscoring opportunities were few and far between. Pinewoods were restricted to balls down the channels that the back three of Ramblers dealt with without too many issues. One of those attempted long balls caught Gendall square on the chops, busting his nose and requiring Nelson to reluctantly put down his coffee and return to the fold. Tom stepped into midfield for 10 minutes and equipped himself well, getting stuck in and retaining possession.
With 9 minutes to go, Pinewoods found a way back into the game. Ramblers could only clear a corner to the edge of the box, and after a slick bit of interplay between their two midfielders, a curling shot off the far post gave Tom (now back in goal) no chance.
A moment of controversy followed. With Pinewoods now firmly back in the game, and pressing for an equaliser with 5 minutes to go, the ball broke to a Pinewoods midfielder who knocked it beyond the defence and clean through on goal. What can be fairly described as a professional foul from the on-field skipper halted him in his tracks, leaving a disgruntled Pinewoods with a 30 yard free kick. Their mood soured further as the freekick was defended, and a counter attack from Ed White (beating 3 men in the process) lead to the Ramblers going right up the other end to take a 3-1 lead through another own goal. Ever the Rambler, Mornington stood with his head in his hands at his devastation that the Pinewoods defender had scored an own goal (in the process sliding right in front of him and taking the ball off his feet for a certain tap in). His pain at seeing another’s misfortune showed his true character. A credit to the football club.
Such goodwill was rewarded pretty much straight from kick off as the Ramblers won the ball, and White dug out a cross that left Mornington to head home at the back post to great fanfare (from Mornington). 9 goals in 3 games for the big fella- you can’t argue with that return, as head scratching as it is.
Pinewoods managed to pull one back with almost the last kick of the game after a questionable free kick was awarded. A 25 yard effort capped off an eventful last 5 minutes, producing a scoreline that masked what had been an extremely tight game.
All in all, a great win for a Ramblers side playing against one of the better teams we will play all year. Holt lead the line well, against a well drilled defensive unit. Whittingham and Gendall neutralised a talented midfield. And against an opposition that looked to play balls into the channels, Egan and Wise contained pretty much all of Pinewoods’ attacking threat.
After a deserving loss at the hands of the twos at the beginning of the year, the Ramblers first eleven had some soul searching to do and questions were asked of how we could avoid it happening again. The answer, nicking their best two players, has paid dividends. Howat Jnr, in an unfamiliar wing back role, was a constant outlet for us and showed defensive discipline in tracking his runner. However, in a day where chances were few and far between, Ed White created most, if not all, of the Ramblers attacking opportunities. He was the obvious choice for MoM and a quality addition to the first team squad.
|February 17, 2018||11:00 am||1st XI Fixtures||2017-18|
|14 Moor Ln, Thornton, Liverpool L23 4TW, UK|