Saints v VMFC1
Sunday 14 September 2014
Village Manchester let a two goal lead slip as they drew with Saints at the Manchester University Playing Fields in Wythenshawe.
Following last week’s impressive 4-3 victory against South Manchester, manager Sam Connell only made one enforced change to the starting line-up as Reece came in for Wilson who was away on holiday. Debutants Kidd, Graeme and Wain took their place on the bench.
The game, like many games in the country, was dedicated to the Rainbow Laces campaign and both teams got involved by donning their boots with rainbow laces for the game.
And it was the laces that were the most colourful thing about the game in the opening period as Village started sluggishly allowing Saints to gain an early foothold in the game. Numerous times Village misplaced passes or opted for the wrong ball and they were repeatedly out-jumped in the air. Luckily Ure and Curtis were to have inspired games and were on hand to snuff out any real Saints chances. Rodriquez, who was again deputising between the sticks for Baker, looked at home in the keeper’s jersey and his handling and command of the area belied his relative inexperience in goal.
It took Village until the half hour mark to find their game and after some neat possession play and creative runs, they started to look dangerous. Johnson and Fairbrother’s relentless running and wide play started to pull the Saints apart and made the game a bit more open as the game got a bit bogged down in the middle. The two strikers up front offered different things for Village with Mooney’s strength and eye for goal and Bolgar’s tenacity and skill keeping the Saints defence on their toes.
The half time whistle possibly came at a bad time for Village as they started to look the more likely to open the scoring.
Half time: Saints 0-0 Village Manchester
Connell used his half time team talk to ask for more communication and eagerness from the players and his mantra of wanting more “passion and bollocks” certainly struck a cord as Village came out all guns blazing in the second period.
The second half was barely five minutes old when Village opened the scoring. Mullender's well placed pass found Mooney and the Irish forward powered his way towards goal before drilling a shot home at the keeper's near post. 0-1
Ten minutes later Village doubled their lead and it was simplicity personified. Rodriquez showed his ability with his feet by floating a ball onto Reece's head in the centre circle. The midfielder carefully headed the ball on to the on-rushing Bolgar and the Slovakian had the presence of mind to lob the keeper. 0-2
With Village now having a foothold in the game, Connell brought on his three substitutes to provide some fresh energy. Archer replaced Fairbrother, Kidd replaced McPherson and Wain came on for Mullender.
Village had a chance to make it three as Carter made a great run from his own half with the ball and, after jinking past a few attempted tackles, got into the box. He poked the ball towards goal but the keeper got the merest of touches on the ball to divert the shot wide.
And Village were made to pay for this as Saints got back on level terms with two quick-fire goals. They got their first after a Saints midfielder expertly smashed a headed clearance towards goal and the ball sailed over Rodriquez and into the back of the net. 1-2
They quickly got their second as the Saints number 11 curled a left footed shot round the Spaniard in goal from just inside the box. 2-2
This fightback threatened to blow Village away but, to their credit, they managed to engineer a couple more chances for themselves. Carter supplied a ball to Mooney who tried to repeat his trick of beating the keeper at the near post. This time the keeper dived the right way and deflected the ball out for a corner.
Mooney again was involved in Village's last chance as he flicked on Johnson's throw in. His flick found Bolgar but again the keeper was equal to the effort and he smartly kept the ball out.
The final whistle blew with Village slightly dejected at letting a two goal lead slip. There was reason to be cheerful in that, despite not getting going until the half hour mark, they kept the score level until half time and then managed to find the "passion and bollocks" that their manager was asking for.
The two teams Village have faced so far both finished above them last season so to come out unbeaten after a tough start is something the lads can be proud of. They will hope they can get back to winning ways as they face Lawds next Sunday.
Saints 2-2 Village Manchester
Lawds v VMFC1
Sunday 21 September
Saints were happy to join Village Manchester wearing rainbow laces as part of the weekend's national #RainbowLaces campaign to rid football of homophobia. Well done Saints!