Essemay v Nomads 6ths
The 6ths were back on the road on Saturday for a relatively short excursion to Walton, a small village on the edge of Warrington, to play Essemay (‘SMA’).
However as the convoy of vehicles, carrying players, officials and camp followers wound slowly through the narrow country roads approaching the ground, it was noticeable that the manager’s early morning optimistic countenance was now being replaced by a look of increasing concern, as news filtered through of late withdrawals from his playing squad. Upon arrival it became clear that he was down to a bare eleven fully fit players and was faced with playing on a pitch the size of a small airfield. To add to his woes the kit manager was knotted up in traffic and so the kick off was likely to be delayed. Oh for the trials and tribulations of being a football manager at grassroots level. A special breed indeed.
The game kicked off (just a few minutes late) and the home side took an early initiative forcing Nomads onto the back foot and into defensive mode. Fortunately Clive Davies was excelling in an unfamiliar deep lying defensive midfield screening role, by disrupting and breaking up attacking movements before they could gain any real momentum. Watching his performance could likened to witnessing an air missile intercepting and breaking up a large meteorite before it could crash to earth and cause real damage. And with two sure footed, solid defenders ( Neil and Damo) sweeping up directly behind him, the Nomad’s rear guard appeared to be impregnable, early doors.
Inevitably though SMA finally made a breakthrough with a short range powerful shot following a slick three part passing move which pierced the defensive line.
As the first half progressed, Nomads started to grow into the game and were now matching their opponents in most areas of the pitch. Gary Price making a welcomed return from long term injury, was dominating the left hand side. Fleet of foot and inventive of mind, he was attacking and defending in equal measure and was always in the right position to receive the ball and then make incisive and meaningful passes. A very intelligent player. Joe Davies was performing like a snapping turtle in midfield. All snarls and growls, and incurring the wrath of his opponents because of his biting tackles. He was at his belligerent best.
Shortly before half time, an SMA player received his marching orders for suggesting to the referee in a somewhat impolite manner that perhaps he should “ go forth and multiply “ or words to the effect, following a disputed decision.
Half time SMA 1 Nomads 0
The second half was evenly contested as Nomads continued to play in an attractive enterprising style. Sadly though they could not capitalise on the many chances created. In contrast their opponents did capitalise on their chances and did manage to score a further two goals.
Highlights of the second half for Nomads included the performance of Richy Hale who handed over his keeper gloves to Clive, after about fifteen minutes and then went on to give a virtuoso outfield display. With probing runs, and rounding his opponents with ease, he was everywhere, delivering pinpoint passes from all over the pitch. Also for a man of his vintage, he has an astonishing turn of pace. Kenny was as inspirational as ever, and left no blade of grass untouched in support of the cause. Marek was left to plough a a lonely furrow up front, but battled gamely and worked like a Trojan at times, if fruitlessly, throughout.
Final score SMA 3 Nomads 0
In truth the scoreline was not really reflective of the true nature of the game. Nomads had more than matched their opponents in open play, the only real difference being that there opponents were more clinical in front of goal.
And so the players and management retired to the clubhouse bar, and whilst Dennis made short work of the club’s supply of pies - how does he keep those snake hips? - the rest of the squad took time to reflect upon the team‘s fortunes in 2021 and all agreed that the current squad was united, strong and competitive, and primed for success in the coming new year.
A very difficult decision for the panel this week and mixed opinions as a robust case could be made for virtually every Nomads player. After much pondering and head scratching, the panel eventually plumped for Neil Gill. An old school uncompromising defender of the highest order, he battles for every fifty fifty ball, and more often than not times his tackles to perfection. What you see is what you get with him. A true warrior.
Finally, a mention in dispatches for young Callum who seems to improve and grow in stature and confidence with every game. If he continues to listen and learn from the older heads around him ( and special mention to Hibb for encouraging and guiding him throughout), then this young man can go on to enjoy a fine career in the game.