The Over 70’s went into their final game of the season knowing that a win by two clear goals over Rochdale Strollers would secure the title. However, things didn’t go the Relics way not helped by some controversial refereeing decisions.
Thanks to Doctor John for the match report below.
For all the Manchester League details, fixtures and results see the Match Centre page here…
Relics 1 – Rochdale Strollers 2
Conditions were overcast, and plenty of fans from both teams turned up and watched from the side lines. Even the fence maintenance men paused work to watch the mighty Relics play!
Kick-off and Rochdale started brightly with a move involving several passes around the halfway line, while the Relics did a good job of marking each of their attackers. However, a small opening was seen and a pass threaded through to their #8, who turned and shot well wide.
Relics started passing the ball better and won a free kick in a good position; John W and Tex combined for John to shoot which was closed down/blocked. The game then started it’s familiar pattern where both teams would string several good passes together but when they approached the opponents penalty areas, the ball was either lost or the pass was not quite right. During these exchanges, the referee was awarding fee-kicks for running and the odd foul, and the counts were accumulating for both teams. For instance Jerry was completely cleared out by a miss timed tackle, and a free kick to Relics. I think that put the foul count to 3 each to both teams. With that, following a good move by Relics, a slightly short pass made Jerry challenge 50-50 with a Rochdale player, who made an impressive jump and dive that any Dolphin would be proud of. However, the referee did not see that way, and it was a penalty to Rochdale. Rochdale’s penalty taker had obviously seen Grahams Kung Fu Praying Mantis style penalty from last week and performed a similar technique himself to score. It was a good penalty, hit hard, giving Gaz little chance; 1 – 0 Rochdale.
Rochdale then conceded a penalty to the Relics. Come on! Dave Morris was the man to step forward to take the penalty. As cool as a refrigerated cucumber, Dave stood with hands on his hips waiting for the referee’s whistle, whilst sizing up the goalkeepers plans for a save. Realizing the keeper was going to gamble by diving early, Dave hit a superb shot down the middle, which the keeper, in despair, tried to claw it away, but no chance, Relics 1 – Rochdale 1 now the score.
In the second half the Relics that started brightly, with a good move that ended up with Tony nearly having a clear shot on goal, but the ball just got away from him. From the resulting keeper throw-out by Rochdale, Tex made perfect anticipation of their next pass and intercepted and put a hard shot that arrowed towards the top of the net, but the keeper was equal to it and tipped it over (Good Chance). On Rochdale’s next move tragedy struck; one of Rochdale players gambled and bamboozled the Relics marking at the halfway line with Rochdale in possession, this was seen and a quick pass put their striker clear. Tragedy struck when the player took a decently powerful shot that was almost equalled by a sensational dive from Gaz in goal, but the momentum of the ball plus the velocity of the dive, meant Gaz could not hold onto the ball and it bounced into the net; 2 – 1 Rochdale.
The problem now for the Relics was that they had to push forward to find an equalizer, and that presented Rochdale with further chances, but to be fair, the Relics defence were alive to it and got back to make any shots difficult, with Gaz making a memorable high dive to save one of them heading for the top corner. Then another chance for the Relics was created; the build-up was patient, with passes between Dave, John W, Tex and Gary the goalkeeper. Eventually, John W received a pass from Dave in a decent goal scoring position but a great save kept it out. Passing moves then proceeded from both teams but none resulting with clear any cut chances. The whistle blew for a Relics free kick with 20 seconds remaining. Dave played to Jerry who promptly returned the ball and Dave took a last chance shot that was blocked by Rochdale. Sadly that was the last action of the game, with the final score Rochdale 2 – Relics 1.