Gibson Fires Falcons To Crucial Win
Boldmere S&S Falcons 3-1 Alcester Town
These two teams, lying second and third in the Midland League Division 3 table behind champions GNP Sports, battled out a decent affair in Sutton Coldfield during which the fortunes of two forwards on show could not have been more different. Falcon Reece Gibson scored three goals, forced a fine save from Town goalie Kenny Sanders and went close twice more too but Alcester’s Jamie Bailey, so quick and incisive on occasions simply could not find the net. He was off target with two headers, plus two one-on-ones with home ‘keeper Matt Gough and although one attack during the second period was actually ruled dead by a lineman’s flag, he fired two successive efforts against the goal-frame, both from 3 yards. On another day, he might have won the game on his own…
|CAPTAIN FALCON FROWNS AT THE REFEREE.|
HE MUST HAVE KNOWN SOMETHING...
However, the Falcons managed to take the spoils and only a fine leaping save by Sanders prevented a pile-driver by Falcon midfielder Mike Williams from adding a late fourth goal as darkness fell on Boldmere. Gough too excelled himself, after his error had conceded the corner from which Town had equalised earlier in the match, by saving superbly from Ryan Watson and also Ellis Kalach. The striker for the Alcester Romans, Louis Bridges bobbled a shot against the foot of a Falcon upright too and in truth both teams created enough chances to have created a Rugby League scoreline. The Romans had played a tough game on the previous evening and it was probably unsurprising that tiredness appeared to creep into their game, late on.
|BRIDGES PREPARES TO KICK OFF FOR ALCESTER...|
|HAY & GIBSON...|
Watson rapped an early low shot from 27 yards past the right upright for the visitors but the first real offensive threat by the hosts actually resulted in a goal. The impressive central defender Alex O’Connor exchanged passes a couple of times with the elegant and comfortable left-back Sam Fitzgerald before clipping a pass forward towards Gibson inside the 18 yard box, centrally. The lean, awkward, tall, forward turned marker Max Crisp and shoved a low right-footer from 15 yards which bobbled just inside the left post, with Sanders unable to prevent a goal.
|GIBSON: 1-0, ASSISTED BY O'CONNOR...|
The referee had made it blatantly clear that he was not going to caution players early on, for a wild challenge by Bailey was excused, then when Matty Lewis broke forward, the official would not allow an advantage (for the second time, in fact) and awarded a free-kick to the Falcons. Lewis threw the ball down in disgust and really ought to have received a nice yellow, if late, Easter card too. He didn’t. Things got worse for the referee later in the game…
|NO CAUTION FOR BAILEY (11)...|
A long pass by Lewis Fathers for the Romans (hope he doesn’t call any child of his Pilgrim) then sent Bailey running past the startled Boldmere defenders at inside-left in a clear case of a lack of concentration after taking the lead. Bailey saw Gough advancing and lobbed a left-booter from the inside-left channel but perhaps the wind caused his effort to drift past the left upright, to his dismay and to Boldmere’s relief. Alcester threatened from a corner, after which Boldmere broke clear three on three but Lewis was unable to get in a telling final pass. The deep-lying Roman Sean Rhodes then cleverly passed for James Clarke in the inside-right channel but the winger was denied a shot by a fine challenge from Town’s solid and quick left-back Courtney Sowe, at the expense of a corner. Rhodes made further inroads for Falcons with a pass at inside-left for Clarke but the forward drove this effort into the side-netting…
|BAILEY MOVED LIKE A TRAIN...|
Alcester retaliated and caused some mayhem of their own when a possible foot-up on Yousef Semlali by Bridges allowed Kalach to nudge the ball left towards the byeline, where the insistent Sowe won a corner off Gough. This corner by Bridges swerved towards the far stick where Bailey raised a hand, possibly needing the facilities but the referee spotted the ball striking it and awarded Boldmere a free-kick. Gough seemed hurt and took to the grass for a few moments, before his team responded with two efforts at goal, both involving Rhodes. First the midfielder slipped a fine pass to Gibson, left-side of the penalty-box but Sanders dived to his left to push aside the striker’s low drive and then grabbed the rebound. Soon, Rhodes did well to control a lob from 18 yards but Sanders, wearing a costume of cruel pink and high-vis green, caught that effort beneath his cross-beam.
|NO, RICH, IT'S NOT THE 1936 OLYMPIC GAMES...|
Bailey did produce a goal-attempt from Bridges’ next left-flank corner, pitching forwards at the right corner of the 6 yard box like he was about to dig out a volleyball but this time the ball struck his head between three watching Falcons, only for his effort to fly past the left upright. And then the visitors equalised from a corner on the right when Crisp nodded Bridges’ delivery on towards the far upright, where Kalach reacted very quickly to turn and lash the ball into the net conclusively.
|1-1: KALACH THE SCORER, ASSISTED BY CRISP...|
It was clear that Alcester’s return to parity was settling for them and yet, within minutes, they were behind again. Clarke appeared to dispossess Sowe on the offensive right flank, before slipping a smart pass through inside-right for the alert Gibson to latch onto and with Sanders advancing, the striker’s angled clip over the sliding body of the goalie rolled into the empty net, although Lewis was sensibly following up just in case the shot wasn’t actually going into goal.
|2-1: GIBSON, ASSISTED BY CLARKE...|
Incredibly, from a position of leading again, the hosts seemed to switch off again and this time Bailey surged clear at inside-right with only Gough to beat but he appeared to scuff his angled shot across the goalmouth and wide of the left stick. Another costly miss… At which point, with clouds darkening the May sky and a few drops of rain troubling my camera’s lens, the referee withdrew the players for 15 minutes, instead of maybe keeping them on the touchlines and restarting after 10 minutes… This seemed odd, for as it turned out, the final 8 minutes or so of the match would be played in very dim conditions, whereby all spectators should really have switched on their mobile phone lights to help the players spot the ball. In the dying moments, we could only see Kenny Sanders…
And what of Captain Falcon, Danny Fleming? Well, disappointingly, the howl of the wind mostly drowned his bellows, his bawls and his barks, although on occasions his barging, his baulking and his battering were evident… It’s what he does. We liked that…
After the break, Town blocked a Gibson drive at 18 yards but soon, Boldmere were put under some real pressure and Alcester might have netted three times but yet, typically, the Falcons would survive and then immediately rub salt into Roman wounds, scoring a third goal. The hard-working Lewis Marston and speedster Bailey set up a 20 yard drive for the regularly involved Watson to strike and his effort was low, hard and true but Gough reacted so well, diving to tip the ball aside for a corner on the attacking right. Bridges’ flag-kick was won at the far stick by the leaping Bailey but he got under the ball and lifted it over the angle of bar and upright. Then a fine rush to the left byeline by Kalach led to a pass inside for Bridges, who got the better of O’Connor and as he fell, he poked a low shot against the foot of the left post.
The Falcons regrouped, moved forward and Williams measured his best pass of the day for Gibson to run onto at inside-left, a dangerous position for a right-footer and he didn’t disappoint, cutting inside Crisp crisply and firing a low shot into the left corner of the net past the helpless Sanders and a couple of retiring defenders.
|3-1: GIBSON AGAIN, ASSISTED BY WILLIAMS...|
Dean Hay’s back-pass to Sanders caused some trouble for the brightly clad goalie and Gibson so nearly cashed in. Gough was then cautioned for, er, time-wasting. Finally, the referee had decided that he might as well do a little paperwork after all and book someone, yet balls had been kicked away, one had been thrown down in anger and a bad foul by Bailey had all been excused beforehand. Hmm… A spectacular few moments then followed when Watson clipped the ball in from the right side and Bridges attempted to head it goalwards, only to get it slightly wrong, so that he appeared to lift his left arm slightly, although the ball seemed to strike his ear then his shoulder. This untidy effort was latched onto by Bailey just 3 yards out but he blasted the loose ball against the top of the right post, before smashing the rebound against the middle of the crossbar from the same distance. All the time though the adjacent linesman was flagging for, er, hand-ball and despite Bridges’ protests, a free-kick went Boldmere’s way.
|PLEASE DON'T RAIN...|
A long Williams shot took a deflection wide, Sanders for some reason elected to volley a right-side free-kick away from his goal, before Williams then Gibson set up a chance for Clarke, right side of the penalty-area but his shot from 12 yards bounced across the face of goal. Dougie Wallace replaced Town’s Fathers (not Fathers’ day, then…) then Pete Bannister replaced Falcon Fitzgerald, who had been so efficient and calm in possession throughout the game. Then the referee awarded a free-kick to Alcester, for, as his linesman had assured him with a decent impression of a goose-stepping German World War II soldier, a stamp had been administered. One Falcon was cautioned but that booking had to be rescinded when it was pointed out that the misdemeanour had actually been committed by a Roman… I still have no idea whether an Alcester player was booked instead, for during the arguments and discussions which followed, little was clear.
|DUSK & DESPERATE FOR ALCESTER...|
A fine run to the left byeline by Bailey set up Kalach from close range at the near post but it appeared that Gough had got down quickly to save with his boots and then the referee apparently cautioned Semlali for meandering too slowly from the field with cramp when being replaced by Haddan Deeming. Incredible… A Wallace drive from 25 yards flew way too high, neat Alcester play on the left saw Kalach lift a shot wastefully high too but from then on, it seemed that only Boldmere would add to their score and in truth it was when Clarke moved out to the left flank that things became tricky for visiting skipper and right-back Keiran Downey.
A ricochet found Clarke but his cross was just in front of the hovering Gibson, Lewis fed Clarke on the left again and his trick to beat Downey was as audacious as it was clever but again his delivery was just too far ahead of Gibson. Clarke then fed Gibson at the edge of the penalty-box, inside-left but the forward’s subsequent curling right-foot shot drifted just beyond the far post. Ash Bunn replaced Watson for the guests, Mark Roe replaced Gibson for the hosts, a clever run by Clarke ended with a delivery too far and Marston careered into Clarke, a replica of Bailey’s first-half challenge but this time, a yellow card was thrust at the Town midfielder’s gaze. Ah, inconsistency… If there was a university degree in Inconsistency, referees would never have to work hard for a First Class Honours scroll…
The final action involved Williams, Sanders, a tall tree and the referee… Williams moved onto a short pass to strike a splendid first-time rising drive from 25 yards and Sanders did well to palm the effort aside which had flown out of the gloom. Suddenly, he then punted the ball behind the byeline and into the top branches of a very tall tree, way beyond the corner-flag. A booking, surely, for kicking the ball away, or wasting time, or maybe petulance? No, just a word… Remarkable…
The match ended in worsening dusk but Boldmere, spearheaded by the strike-power of Gibson, the trickery of Clarke and Lewis, the inventiveness of Rhodes, the leadership of Fleming, the smoothness of Fitzgerald and the fine defending of O’Connor and Mick Fleming, as well as their other team-mates, had achieved their goal of beating a main rival…
Sowe and Downey had worked the flanks quite successfully for the guests, mainly before the break and in the early stages of the second period, Watson and Marston were busy enough, as was Fathers but really, with Kalach and Bridges involved more deeply, it was Bailey who was the main threat for the Romans but on the day, his finishing wasn’t clinical…
Me? Drove home wondering at the changes to Boldmere’s facilities since my son had played there some years ago…
BOLDMERE S&S FALCONS:
MATT GOUGH, YOUSEF SEMLALI, SAM FITZGERALD, MICK FLEMING, ALEX O’CONNOR, DANNY FLEMING (CAPT), JAMES CLARKE, MIKE WILLIAMS, REECE GIBSON, SEAN RHODES, MATTY LEWIS.
PETE BANNISTER, HADDAN DEEMING, OLI TIMMIS, MARK ROE, CHRIS BRATT-ROSE.
KENNY SANDERS, KEIRAN DOWNEY (CAPT), COURTNEY SOWE, LEWIS FATHERS, DEAN HAY, MAX CRISP, RYAN WATSON, LEWIS MARSTON, LOUIS BRIDGES, ELLIS KALACH, JAMIE BAILEY.
LEE HEATON, DANNY JANES, ASH BUNN, DOUGIE WALLACE.