Sun 15
Spotland Reform 2nd's
2
-
6
League
Open Age
J Yates (8'), (87'), M 'Enty' Entwistle (44'), D Sheeran (53'), D Hewitt (85'), (90')
*** A DAY TO REMEMBER - AND NOT JUST FOR FOOTBALL ***

*** A DAY TO REMEMBER - AND NOT JUST FOR FOOTBALL ***

By Wayne Gates
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The lads played with heavy hearts this morning - but did it for Denise!


Sometimes things are more important than football....

With the world reeling from this virus - and the sporting calendar decimated - there was action for the Wanderers at least as we were making the journey over to Rochdale to take on Spotland Reform 2nd's and having played so well since Martin took over the reins, there was an optimistic mood amongst the lads as they began to arrive. But there was also a sense of grief as well - because on Monday night, we lost a beautiful lady in Denise - Enty's step-mum - and due to all the lads knowing how great she was, they were all feeling it. Fair play to the skipper though as it was 'business as usual' for him in footballing terms but it was always great to see the squad pull together. And knowing that she'd want another three points for the Wanderers, the lads set off to Firgrove Playing Fields determined to bring them home...

The pitch looked heavy when we arrived - but there was game of football to be won for both teams so we would have to make do. Not every week can we play on the luxury of a flat 4g pitch but the lads looked pleased to finally be back on a grass surface. And as they set about their warm-up's, it was obvious that there would be changes to the starting 11. Kyle was still out raving in some back-street boozer, Tully was still unavailable through injury (although he had made the trip to be with his team-mates), Jason was away and The Beast and Liam were nursing little niggles - and when the boss announced his team, there were two changes to the team that started the win over AFC Railway last Sunday. These were Marcus and Cameron replacing Liam and Kyle in the midfield three and with The Beast, Connor and Aiden joined by Liam on the bench, we had options. Martin and Brian just asked their troops to play with the same tenacity and freedom as they have done for the past four games and we should have enough to consolidate 3rd place in the table. The referee called the teams forward and as a show of respect for our Denise, both sets of players observed a two-minute silence impeccably. The whistle went - and the action started...

Right from the off the Wanderers were on the front foot and with the ground a little boggy, we quickly adjusted our passing to reflect it. And on 8 minutes, it was the grey shirts of the Wanderers that took the lead. Winning a free-kick about 20 yards from goal, Cameron rocketed the ball towards goal - only to see it crash off the bar and rebound into play. But the 'fox in the box' that is Johnny Yates was first to react - and as he rolled the ball into the back of their net, he had claimed his 33rd goal of the season and put us 1-0 to the good. A great start to the game...

As the game progressed, both sides were finding it hard to play with any rhythm as the pitch wasn't conducive to a passing game but we were still causing them trouble when we got the ball into good areas. As has happened for weeks now, David and Craig were playing the wing-back role to a 't' as they got up and down to do both jobs. Marcus and Cam had slotted into the middle as though they had played there for weeks and the back three were solid and commanding in the tackle. Dillon and John were linking up well to give their defenders things to think about and as the half wore on, we looked the more likely to score the next goal...

We did. And when it came, the cameras from Sky Sports will be sorry they missed it. Because not only will this be awarded Goal of the Season all-hands down, it was a classic that will be remembered forever. With 44 minutes on the clock and both teams waiting for the break, we managed to guide the ball out wide. For some reason there was that man Enty and as he scooped the ball up, he nut-megged the advancing Reform right-back in a flash - leaving him dizzy as to where the ball had gone. From the left-hand corner of their box, he looked up briefly and curled in a beauty - that struck the underside of their crossbar on it's way into the back of the net. A finer strike will not be seen all season according to the Spotland Manager and as Enty wheeled away - chased by his team-mates - he must have had one thought on Denise. A stunning goal and we were now 2-0 up. We then realised that one of the home side must have said something - because the referee had sent him to the sin-bin and they were down to 10 men...

Half-time: SPOTLAND REFORM 2nd's 0-2 BREIGHTMET WANDERERS AFC

Martin and Brian praised the boys as they came in but the talk was still of the wonder-strike that we had all witnessed. Beaming from ear to ear, Enty took it in his stride - and reminded his comrades that there was still a job to do here. We had to go out and play like that for another 45 minutes and then his goal would be worth it. We made a change to go 4-5-1 so Cam came off to be replaced by Connor in at left-back - and with Taylor sliding into the middle three with Dilon and Chappell and Marcus in behind John in advanced areas - so with the lungs re-filled, the lads were back out there looking to go again...

From the re-start the ball was spending most of it's time in the host's half as we pressed them back and looked to increase our lead. And we did just that on 53 minutes when we were awarded a free-kick about 22 yards from goal. As the home team lined up their wall, David had placed the ball with a purpose and when the referee's whistle indicated he could take it, he let fly with a rasper - that had evaded their wall and hit the top corner of their net before their keeper could even react. Another stunning strike, David's 3rd goal of the season and now we were 3-0 to the good. It was going well so far...

But as always, nothing runs smoothly when the Wanderers are involved and on 70 minutes, a little bit of complacency saw them grab a goal back and with their tails up, the Reform boys started seeing a lot more of the ball. The Beast came on in place of Marcus and Martin decided to revert to a 5-4-1 to try and shut up shop. We had the points in the bag here so it would be silly to let go of them now. And as the game continued, the switch in formation had seemed to have done the trick - because we adapted quickly and turned the tide back in our favour. And on 85 minutes, we secured our fourth goal - and some breathing space - when another superb piece of play from David saw him beat their full-back all-hands down and as he crafted the ball to the back post, there was Dillon to meet it full on the volley with his laces. The ball rocketed past the out-stretched keeper's hand and it nearly ripped the net as it hammered into the back of it. It reminded the crowd of Robin van Persie in his Arsenal prime - surefooted and precise - and was a great finish. We were now 4-2 to the good with the points surely ours...

They were. We steam-rolled them for the remainder of the game - with Yatesy notching his brace - and 34th goal - in the 87th minute after some great build-up play involving no less than six players and as the game ticked into injury-time, there was still enough for us to grab our sixth - and last - goal of the game. This time it saw Craig's perseverance all game rewarded - as he got in behind the Reform defence and played in an inch-perfect that meant Dillon didn't even have to break his run before he wrapped his foot around the ball and curled it inside the far post. Brilliant! And at 6-2, that was most definitely that...

It was and when the referee's whistle went for the last time, the lads in grey knew they had done well out there. This was probably the best all-round performance from them all season and all over the park, they were at least an 8 or a 9. But the Phoenix Tax Services MOM was rightly awarded to David for putting in his best display of the campaign. He worked his socks off for the cause and we're well proud of you today mate! As we are all of you. That was fantastic to watch and if you keep playing like this, there's every reason to believe we can maintain this unbeaten record for weeks to come. Well done lads...

And a massive shout-out to the fans that came over to roar us on this morning. Martin would like to apologise for jumping all over Lee-Max when Enty's goal hit the back of the net though...

There's a week off for the lads next Sunday and the next time we're out, we will be welcoming Heyside to Breightmet - so make sure you try and get down to cheer them on...

So. A day of respect ended with a day of memories. Denise. Enty's goal. David's free-kick. Dillon's volley. And three points for the Wanderers. Standard...

COME ON THE WANDERERS!!!

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Match details

Match date

Sun 15, Mar 2020

Kickoff

11:00

Attendance

22
David Sheeran

Player of the match

David Sheeran