GMWFL Spring 2023 – Solid start for the over 60’s Stripes secures second spot

Bury Relics Over 60’s Stripes started their Greater Manchester Division 5 Walking Football league campaign on a bright but breezy day in Heywood.
The squad was Eddy (GK), Mark’s Thomas & Buckingham, Nev, Keith H, Ken Bond, Mike B and 2 late call ups, Tex and John Wardle, filling in for Pete Shev and John Howson. Ken Bug was Team Manager, with Keith S and Sir Pat also in attendance along with a handful of supporters.
A solid first day resulted in a win, draw and loss which was a good return all things considered.

First up were Wakefield Wanderers Whites whose skilful Number 3 was immediately identified as the danger man and so it proved as his shoot on sight policy paid off halfway through the first half, after an even opening period, when he fired a goal into the bottom right corner from 8 metres out. Eddy got a hand onto it but the power behind the shot took it in. Relics then pushed forward for the rest of the half with Ken and Keith both having good shots just past the post.
The second half was one way traffic as Mark B sprayed the ball around from the back and Relics battered their goal with 8 good shots from John, Nev, Mark T and Mike but all were blocked, saved or just off target. The opposition tactic of kicking for touch was frustrating but ultimately effective as the time they managed to waste certainly slowed down our siege of their goal and they held out for a 1 – 0 victory.

Our second match against Roach Dynamos started off at a frenetic pace of both foot and mouth. Shots and fouls aplenty from both teams followed until just before half time when our 4th foul resulted in a penalty being awarded against The Relics. Roach’s combative number 7 booted it ferociously high down the middle but Eddy stood tall and palmed it over the bar with 2 hands.
The halftime break brought some respite from the madness with Ken doing a brilliant job of resetting and settling us down. In the second half the pace slowed as Roach were on 3 fouls but we came out strong right from the off with 4 good shots making their goalie work hard. However, Roach came back equally strongly with Eddy making 3 cracking saves. Eventually, the Dynamos discipline cracked and a fast run off the ball handed us a penalty. Again, Ken had planned for this at half time and Keith had his orders which he executed perfectly with a well stroked shot to the keeper’s left. 1 – 0 up with 2 minutes to go was a good position but the kitchen sink was then thrown at us by a team with nothing to lose. Some desperate defending eventually led to Mark T being blue carded for a last ditch tackle on the edge of the D. We suffered the double punishment of a spot kick award which was blasted by a different taker above Eddy’s head into the top of the net. We then had a squeaky bum last minute to hold out for a 1 – 1 draw with a man down which was safely navigated when the ball sailed over our bar with the last kick of the match.

Ribble Valley was our final game; they are a skilful team with great movement and provided a tough test. Both teams exchanged a couple of shots at the beginning of the half which the keepers dealt with well. The Valley then started to dominate possession which left us chasing shadows and we quickly accumulated 4 fouls resulting in yet another penalty which to Relic relief was missed.
The second half saw some great walking football from both teams but class always tells and accomplished international, Tex, scored the only goal of the game with a magnificent powerful, low, angled drive through the goalkeeper’s legs which went in off the inside of the back post after been sent free by a lovely pass from Mike. Attacks continued in the final minutes as the game see sawed but eventually Eddy cemented the 1 – 0 win with a great diving save low to his left after a last second Valley breakaway.

Congratulations to Ian McK on his first report. Well done Ian.

For all the 2023 fixture and results see the Match Centre page here …