Battle at town meadow
By Karl Spencer
Top of the table clash ends roach unbeaten run
The day had arrived for the top of the table clash between roach orange and walshaw at walshaws pitches at meadow park. The two hadnt met since the main cup final at nuttall park which roach emerged from with the title. The reason was due to the poor actions after the game and inappropriate comments made by walshaw coaches to roach players who were injured during the game. Both teams entered the fixture unbeaten and the win would likely prove to be the deciding fixture for this years league title. The fixture saw the absence of malachi and a semi fit goalkeeper in gerrard at the start.
The game started and the roach lads started well moving the ball confidently and getting some very good early chances with some great link up play between benji, dylan and oli and it took only 2 minutes for dylan to get a good shot off which forced a good save from the walshaw keeper. Walshaw were not about to allow roach to have there way and the class from walshaw was evident as the two north bury league giants fought for possession. Roach were opening with slightly more possession and were pressing high but on two and a half minutes roach lost concentration for a second allowing the walshaw winger to find acres of space behind the roach defence leaving him 1 on 1 with thomas but the injuries being carried proved costly as not only did the shot find the back of the net but it also took its toll on thomas who had to be brought off. This saw the introduction of back up keeper nick who had done brilliantly in his last outings both as a defender and a keeper. Roach for a second looked nervous but captain benji lifted the lads quickly pulling the boys forward. Despite a high work rate the roach lads were giving possession away to easily and walshaw started to ease the game passing the ball quickly through roach and the roach lads had seemed to forget how to tackle which clearly gave the walshaw lads confidence. The game had become more even in terms of possession with neither team able to get a clear chance. On 7 minutes oli found himself through on goal and the entire roach team believed the ball had crossed the line but the referee decided the walshaw keeper had kept the ball out. 2 minutes later big sam again tried to bring the game level but the shot was wide of the mark. The game continued to move back and forth and dylan was working hard winning back possession and attacking quickly but the deadlock wasnt for breaking until 12 minutes in with some good passing and a good finish by the walshaw player. The roach lads let their heads go down and seemed to forget they was more than capable of winning the fixture. The introduction of harry was made to try and instill his passion into the roach team. Walshaw played with confidence and if it wasnt for the defensive efforts of dylan, shaqeel and some great saves from nick the lead might have extended. At 18 minutes after some significant pressure by the walshaw lads with attack after attack, the roach lads seemed to realise that if they worked as a team, walshaw couldnt score but in fact they could control the game. The team defending improved as did the passing and movement. The roach lads started to claw back the possession stats a bit and started carving holes through walshaw. Walshaw struggled at times to hold the roach flow and on 20 minutes dylan received a great pass through from sam with his back to goal, he faked one way and spun the other to buy a yard off the walshaw defender at the edge of the area before finishing with class. All of the attacks at this point from walshaw was squeezed out by kayden and shaqeel who both now looked more comfortable again and were defending really well. Walshaw despite the improvement by roach were still always a threat and walshaw showed this with a shot just wide of the mark. But dylan again worked his socks off and again caused real problems for walshaw forcing another brilliant save. Benji wasnt happy not having his share of shots and let lose a wicked shot which again was saved right on the half time whistle. The first half was fairly even and although roach were behind the momentum was definitely with them.
The second half began and roach showed they wanted the victory passing the ball well and attacking quickly resulting in a walshaw player having to commit a foul or rick roach scoring just outside the area. Sam stepped up to take, walshaw looked convinced roach would shoot directly and benji spotted with this screaming for sam to give him the ball four yards out from the goal line, he played a fast pass to benji feet who was only to happy to convert the goal and the tie was level. The second half continued with roach getting the higher possession of the ball and the frustration showed with another foul and a roach free kick. The game moved end to end and you could see neither team wanted to lose or give an inch, this really was a battle of the titans with either team making a good case to be the league leaders by the end of the day. The second half didnt really reveal many real chances. For the final 5 minutes of the game walshaw started to bring back their dominance from roach. The tie had been fiercely fought and evenly balanced by both teams and it had to be said a draw was a fair result but today wasnt roachs day. In the last minute of the game walshaw won a corner, the ball came in and roach attempted to head the ball away but unfortunately the head carried the ball over the top of the keeper and despite every effort by the roach defence to keep the ball out, it went just over the line and walshaw took the lead. The result went to walshaw in what had been a brilliant battle however again the fixture had been marred again by walshaw coaches making remarks to injured roach players causing some ugly scenes. The roach team would love to play this talented walshaw team more often but the coaches wont allow their players to be open to that kind of criticism which is a shame as the fixtures are always entertaining. This was the the first defeat for the roach lads this season and they will be looking this week to get back to winning ways against new north bury team Bury Youth. Cmon roach!!