Rhosllanerchrugog 1-0 New Brighton Villa
The Wasps sting the Yellers on the opening day
We travelled to newly promoted Rhosllanerchrugog in our opening game of the WNL Division One season. They’re a unpredictable, hard-working side who will take points off teams this year without a question. We welcomed back 7 players to the squad who missed our NEWFA Challenge Cup tie with Brickfield Rangers.
On a firm, bobbly pitch it was difficult to get the ball down and play like we would hope to do. Throughout the first half we continued to play to the hosts’ strengths and pick out the head of their tall back four. On the rare occasion we did get the ball down the left hand side, Paul Rambaldi crossed the ball for right back Max Quinn who had time to bring the ball under control but rushed his effort and fired wide unmarked at the back post. Rhos looked threatening from set pieces due to their height advantage and they headed wide from a corner unmarked.
Rambo went close minutes later as Sam Wainwright played him through but his effort was saved by the goalkeeper before Matthew Robinson saw his follow-up blocked by the defender. The hosts were physical and seemed to want it more, fighting for every first and second ball whilst we seemed five yards off the pace to every battle. A long ball over the top almost resulted in a goal had the striker got contact before Rhys Peers came to claim it. As we looked to play out our keeper’s roll out slipped out of his hands allowing the home striker to chip the ball from the edge of the area to put them in to a 1-0 lead. Rambo was desperately unlucky as his free kick rattled the base of the post with the keeper well beaten and then he headed wide at the near post from a well-executed corner.
In to the second half we still looked as lathargic and slow to the ball as we did in the opening 45 minutes. Losing the ball in poor areas and playing in to their hands with bad decision making. We applied some pressure but only in the last 20 minutes of the game as Quinn saw his speculative effort crash against the crossbar. The hosts began to sit back on the counter but we didn’t seem to have the patience or quality to break them down. A long Peers kick found Kallum Pierce on the right hand side but his half-volley was well saved by the keeper at his near post. The Wasps almost doubled their lead on the break but were denied by Peers. In to stoppage time, we could have snatched an undeserved point but Peers up from the back just couldn’t direct his header on target as he stretched to meet the delivery. The referee sounded his whistle as we fell to an opening day defeat to a team who wanted it more, outworking us for the entire game through their effort and determination.
They showed the bottle and character that we couldn’t. We conceded a poor goal from a mistake but with the attacking quality we had at our disposal it summed our game up when our right back and keeper had our closest efforts on goal. We have to be better starting on Tuesday after a disappointing afternoon. The season is a marathon not a sprint, but if we perform like that in the coming weeks we won’t get off the starting line.
MOTM: Max Quinn - one of a few who won his personal battles and gave 100% for the team. Put the early miss behind him and continued to do what was asked of him. Desperately unlucky to hit the bar late on.