OLD STOCS 4 MELLOR 4ths 3
Always a close match in this local derby, normally tighter though - the first half was quite open, with end-to-end football played at a fast pace.
The long wet grass caused problems for both defences.
The game kicked off early at 2.25 and we were 1-0 up after just 5 mins when a well delivered free kick was whipped in right-footed from the left wing by Chrissy Millward.
I told him to aim for the back post, which he did to perfection and the ball bundled in off a couple of players at the back post. Probably an own goal but Jimmy Archer was in the mix so we awarded him the final touch!
The lead didn't last long however as they equalised on 10 mins with a ball over the top, which we were guilty of standing still at the back instead of playing to the whistle.
The keeper no chance with the 1-on-1 that followed.
One of their players was offside when the ball was played but the scorer was on.
Another 5 mins, another goal. The ref gave them a pen for shirt-pulling in the box from a corner, I think it was Si Moores.
Bit of a joke as you never see them given at this level but I guess by the rule book, it was. The pen was tucked into the corner.
Our heads were down after this but a few battle cries later and we were back on it.
A great passing interchange down the left involving Danny Roberts, allowed man of the match Rob Jordan a clear shot at goal, which he dispatched with some aplomb! 2-2.
You guessed it, only 5 minutes later and another goal.
Both goalkeepers kicking struggled due to the long grass but it was a poor kick from his hands that led to Stocs re-taking the lead.
One of their midfielders chested it down and swiftly lobbing it over Mellor's keeper. A nice finish but another gift for them! So 2-3.
Both teams were now starting to tire after the fast pace of the first half hour.
Our heads were dropping again but once more some cries of 'let's get this equaliser before half time' seemed to spark us back into life!
On 40 mins, a long ball put in Chrissy Millward down the right channel but he fell victim to the long grass as he tripped and fell before what would've been a clear 1-on-1.
Minutes later, he was put through again but chipped just wide of the left hand post.
Finally our persistence and pressure paid off. Chrissy was getting lots of space now down that right channel with the midfield picking out his runs very well, and it was third time lucky for him when he calmly chipped into the far corner to make it 3-3 minutes before half time.
I came on for Billy at half time - I wanted to stay off a bit longer in order to make the appropriate substitutions in the second half but Billy said he was pretty knackered, mainly due to it being his first game of the season, the long grass on a big pitch, and he'd just come back off a 3-week holiday in America!
The second half was a much tighter affair but we got into our flow quicker with some decent possession and passing moves.
We were in the ascendancy for the majority of the half, creating lots of half decent chances, mostly from wide areas.
Jimmy and Sie were winning the midfield battle comfortably and their counter attacks were being snuffed out quickly.
Podge replaced Jimmy Archer after 60 mins, even though my instructions were to bring him on for Chrissy who was carrying a knock from the first half.
I never got to ask Billy why he did this? Until Podge got into his stride, they had a decent 10 mins which gave them a bit of a lift in confidence.
Chris Noxon then replaced the injured Chris Millward on 70 mins, pushing Nathan up front and Chris playing on the right.
Shots from distance and tight angles followed from Nathan, Danny and Rob, with their keeper doing well as he had done all game to keep us out.
I knew at this stage the next goal would win the game, I even shouted so to everyone, to try to give us that extra push in the last 10 mins.
Despite being the much superior team in the 2nd half, with 5 mins to go, a comedy of errors ensued!
The ball went out of play after a 50/50 challenge.
The ref awarded a throw-in to them but their players thought it was a free kick, and so did Adam so he stood in front of the ball to prevent it being taken quickly.
The ref then cleared it up, and they took a quick throw down the line to a free man as I was filling in for Adam.
His cross bounced to Sie Moores who'd dashed back to help, but a mis-control by him gifted them the ball - the shot that followed then deflected in past a helpless keeper (I think off Ant Brown?)
All 11 heads immediately dropped noticeably when I looked around so I tried to rally the teamfor the last few mins.
But it was to no avail as they saw it out.
Top performers were Rob, Jimmy, Danny, Chrissy and Sie (probably in that order) - our defence was solid in the second half that we mostly dominated after Stocs had slightly edged the first.
Also just to mention that Podge and Chris both did well after a nervy first few mins after coming on, and Billy gave everything he had, especially vocally, against a young and pacy front line of theirs.
Sorry I know I said this report would be brief! I guess I just needed to get the disappointment I feel out of me!