“Gutted not to be able to play - it’s much harder to influence the outcome from the sidelines.”
John Myatt Team Manager
Fixtures are now coming thick and fast and the Wanderers’ third outing during the last seven days saw the 60+ team in action in the SY League at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium, playing the games originally scheduled for 17th January and cancelled due to adverse weather conditions at that time. No weather problems today during a relatively mild and sunny February afternoon.
Team Manager John Myatt was sidelined to a non-playing role due to calf strain, leaving the on field organisation to Chris Lund who captained the side throughout.
There were a number of changes to the previous squad - with Stephen Stoker recovering from a nasty hand injury he was replaced in goal by the ever reliable Mick Wilde. Taking a leaf out of Martin Burrell’s book (our 65+ keeper) Mick also managed to maintain clean sheets throughout the matches played. Ray Blackburn was back in action following his extended visit to Austria and Mike Roberts played his first competitive games for some time and quickly found his old form.
The squad was: Mick Wilde (GK), Chris Lund (Captain) , Ray Blackburn, David Holbrow, Mike Roberts and Mike Thompson.
John undertook his team briefing from the comfort of the dressing room, reminding the squad that we entered the matches as top of the league but only 3 points ahead of Retro Rovers who had a game in hand. Playing Retro twice today the objective was to take at least 4 points from those fixtures and extend our lead. The baton was then passed to Chris who put the squad through what is rapidly becoming our mandatory warm up programme.
The first game should have given us the opportunity to watch Retro play Barnsley but the late arrival of the Barnsley guys meant we were first up against Retro. The game was somewhat disjointed and it took a little while to adjust to the rigid stand that today’s referee took to any hint of running with David being blown up several times in the opening exchanges. Fortunately no totting up or sin bin in place. Whilst we had the better possession, shots on goal were hurried and neither side looked like scoring. Honours even but more pressure on the remaining games.
Retro remained on the pitch to play the delayed Barnsley team and were comfortable winners by a 2-1 margin - more pressure on the Wanderers. Our next match saw us take on Penistone with David Holbrow finding the net with a fierce shot from the right wing that secured a 1-0 victory and relieved a little of the building pressure.
Game three saw us take on Barnsley and we really wanted to replicate Retro and secure a win from this fixture but it was not to be.
Despite John hobbling along the perimeter in a pale imitation of Antonio Conte, he failed to have any impact and the result ended 0-0. With by far the lion’s share of possession we should have comfortably won this game but fell into the old trap of playing the difficult ball and firing off long range shots rather than playing the composed and measured game we are capable of. To cap it all Ray had a goal disallowed for running whilst putting the ball past the despairing Barnsley keeper.
We then had a 2 game break before returning to action and watched as Retro secured another victory by disposing of Penistone by a 2 goal margin , following which Penistone lost again by 1-0 to the improving Barnsley side.
Our final match was clearly the ‘crunch game’ of the afternoon with Retro having secured 7 points from their previous 3 games whilst we had only managed to clock up 5 points - a must win game if ever there was one.
At long last we found top form with David having 2 near misses followed by Mike R being denied by a good save. David set up a great opportunity for Mike R who managed to find the net with the benefit of a slight deflection from a Retro leg. Pressure subsiding but one goal lead can spell danger.
Mike T then had a good effort saved but further pressing saw the 2 Mikes combine with Mike R feeding a simple ball to Mike T who shimmied the Retro keeper before calmly slotting the ball home
So, despite the ups and downs we came away with 8 points against the 7 points acquired by Retro and we look forward to extending our lead when the March fixtures come round.
The league table on the Home page will be updated once we have confirmation of the other results on the day.
John Myatt, Team Manager
Updated 08:45 - 23 Feb 2018 by David Holbrow