Sun 26
Open Age
5
-
1
League
Newbury
K Boardman (3'), J Yates (19'), J Birchall (56'), K Bailey (68' Pen), K Cheetham (78')
*** WE KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM ***

*** WE KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM ***

By Wayne Gates
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Our old rivals Newbury came to Dolan Park for this one - and all three points stayed in Breightmet...


With most of us still reeling from watching AJ getting battered last night, this morning saw more action for The Wanderers - and a chance for us to make it 12 points out of 12. Our recent displays had left the whole division talking about this new-look squad but this morning was probably going to be our toughest test to date. Newbury were the visitors to Dolan Park for this one and knowing that they trounced us 0-4 here back in April, we would really need to be on it from the first whistle if we wanted to maintain this unbeaten start to the season...

IronMan was in town (again) and that meant several roads being closed in and around Breightmet - so although most of us arrived on time, the visitors were late to the venue. And Dolan Park looked a venue as well. The turf is looking lush at the moment so let's hope the weather is nice to us and we get to grace it for as long as we can this campaign. So with the Wanderers flags flying on each four corners, the nets glistening in the early-morning sunshine and a large crowd starting to gather, the lads started warming up...

With the strength in depth in the squad these days, the starting 11 will always be tasty - and today was no different. With several members still on the physio-table and Ryan still in London after the fight last night, there were going to be changes from the team that started against Middleton last week - so when it was announced, it saw the back five stay as it has for a few weeks now and the middle three was made up of Kyle Bailey, Curtis and Taylor. Dillon and Kyle Boardman were tasked with providing the width and pace out wide and Yatesy was tasked with firing the bullets up top. There were only two on the bench - but in Ste Palin and Cheds, we had enough. The lads grouped together and Martin and Dunc's message was clear - just do what you've been doing, keep your cool and don't get involved in anything and play our game. The socks were pulled up for the last time and as the teams entered the field of play, the supporters of both teams were showing their backing...

And as has been the case for the past few weeks, we started quick out of the traps. Quickly into our stride, we were pinging the ball about already and before long, the Wanderers were in front. Winning the ball in the middle, Curtis played a great little 1-2 with Taylor who played it quickly into the path of Carl. He beat his man and as he crafted his cross in, it took a deflection and went out for a corner. Across went Dillon and as he has done a few times already this season, he hit it low and hard towards the front post and there was Kyle Boardman to make an early inside and with a cheeky flick, he fired the ball past their keeper and into the opposite corner of his net. 1-0 to The Reds and we were off...

As the half wore on, it saw a majority of the possession at the feet of the Wanderers - but we weren't our usual fluid self and we were failing to string our passes together as we have been doing. That said, we still looked dangerous when we went forward - and it was no surprise when we doubled our lead not long after. A quick counter-attack from the visitors saw Locky and Jonny B clean up at the back and they fed it into Kyle Bailey early. He in turn flicked it onto Dillon who brought the ball down with ease and passed it square to Taylor. Like a prime Iniesta, he flicked it over their defenders head and into the path of top-scorer Yatesy - and he didn't disappoint. Latching onto it quickly, he looked up and slammed his shot past their keeper from about 10 yards out. 2-0 and this was more like it...

But we were then guilty of not making our possession count as we were getting chances but not finishing them off. Yatesy fired a good header over the bar from about 8 yards out and Craig saw a snapshot fly wide of the mark - but we were 'bitty' and not playing the way we know we can. And when the third goal came, it was the visitors that got it - somewhat against the run of play. They won the ball in the middle of the park and their midfielder fed it through the channel for their striker to stroll onto it - and ram his shot past Enty and into the back of our net. 2-1 and this was closer than it should have been...

Both sides knew the importance of the next goal and it made for a cagey remainder of the first-half - as neither side wanted to concede again before the break. So there wasn't much goalmouth action before the referee blew his whistle for the interval and as both teams trotted off for a breather, Martin and Dunc looked desperate to get their lads in...

Half-time: BREIGHTMET WANDERERS AFC 2-1 Newbury

As the drinks were being drunk, the coaches set about their work - and were quickly into their speil. They weren't happy as we were lacklustre and at times we were rushing about and dropping our levels. That wasn't good and we needed to keep doing what we were good at - and that's getting the ball down, getting in behind and then filling the box. Communication is key - so if we all started opening our mouths, half the battle would be won. Give your heads a wobble and go back out there to show us why you're top of the league now! So with the lungs re-filled, we were back out there and ready to go again...

Right from the re-start, there was a renewed sense of urgency flowing through our veins and with the midfield working hard, it was giving us time and space to start playing football. The wingers were working hard to drive their full-backs towards their own goal - and that in turn gave Craig and Carl the chance to shine. Getting forward whenever they could, they were adding to our attack and that was beginning to see their defence creak. And it wasn't long before that pressure told - and we regained our two-goal advantage. Great work down our left-hand side by Kyle Boardman saw him play it in quickly to Curtis - who fed it on instantly to Carl and he was free down the flank to swing in a beautiful cross that saw our big No.6 to rise like a salmon and bullet his header past their best player on the pitch - their goalkeeper - and for once, he had no chance of stopping it. 3-1 and were we back in control now?

Then came a moment that panicked us and rightly so. The Newbury side poured forward and as they had done most of the game, our defence stood firm and the ball went out for a corner. They played it out to the edge of our box and their midfielder fired in a great shot that looked destined for the top corner. That was until our Enty managed to extend those Go-Go Gadget arms again and get his little finger to it and tip it over the bar. But as soon as he hit the floor, there were signals from the referee and all the players - as it was quite apparent that at the very least, he had dislocated his finger. Like the warrior he is, he wanted to stay on - but that was a hospital job and he had to come off. A quick changearound saw Yatesy pull on the keeper's jersey and go between the sticks and with Ste Palin coming on, Dillon went up top. With an hour gone, we were starting again...

And I tell you what... Yatesy can play in sticks as well you know. He made a couple of good saves, punched the ball when he needed to and showed assured handling - and that meant that our back four still had the confidence to go forward. Then came a piece of magic from our No. 17. Kyle was surrounded by three Newbury players but he swivelled well, knocked the ball with his left foot and then twisted whilst nut-megging their centre-half - and leaving him dizzy wondering where he'd gone. He then fed the ball onto the other Kyle who turned inside and played it quickly to Taylor. As he had done all game, he was stringing it all together and he fed it to Ste who flicked it out to Craig sprinting down the right. This was more like it - fast, flowing football - and Craig crossed it in to find Kyle on the opposite side but he could only fire his shot over the bar from about 15 yards out. A great bit of play and a goal would have been the icing on the cake. Unlucky lads..

The away side were still very much in this still and they were working the ball well when we gave them the time and space to do so. But it was us that got the next goal - and it really was route one stuff that saw us get it. Locky fed the ball into the feet of Curtis and he looked up before playing a Steven Gerrard-esque through-ball for Ste to latch onto. He was bearing down on their keeper and as he was just about to get his shot off, their left-back came to try and clear it - but could only clear out own very own Little Duck and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. The next question was - is it a red? He was definitely going to shoot and it was a case of 'last man' - but the referee was quite right to only award a yellow card AND the penalty. With the usual spot-kick taker now wearing the keeper gloves - and Dec Warwick still out - skipper Locky threw the ball to Kyle Bailey and he was given the responsibility of surely claiming these points. He placed it calmly, took his run-up and unlike Fernandes, he made no mistake - giving their keeper the eye before making him dive - and slamming his shot straight down the middle and into the back of their net. 4-1 and that must be a gap too big for them to close...

Martin decided to freshen things up and on 68 minutes, he brought Cheds on so that Dillon could have a rest. He was told to hold the ball up and play in the wingers and the midfield men so he could get in the box and hopefully get on the end of it. And you know what? That's exactly what he did. We were playing the ball out of defence and into the midfield now, spreading the ball about and wearing down our opposition. And when vice-captain Craig took hold of the ball in the right-back position, he played an excellent ball through the channel that saw Kieran onto it like a gazelle. He left his marker begging for him to slow down as he sprinted forward and WHACK! the ball hit the back of the net with a tidy finish from around 12 yards out. He ran off and celebrated like a young Alan Shearer - with his arm afloat racing towards his adoring fans. A great bit of movement and at 5-1, surely that was that....

Kyle Boardman was then given a standing ovation as he came off for a well-deserved break - and with Dillon back on the pitch, we were still going on the search for more. Ste was causing them trouble every time he was set free down the right and whenever they did get near Yatesy, Locky was in inspired form - sweeping up behind his lines and making sure their striker wasn't getting a sniff - but in truth, we knew the game was won now and took our foot off the gas a little. So when the referee decided he had seen enough and blew his whistle to end proceedings, it was the Wanderers that had been victorious - and with it made sure we've won every point available to us so far. This hadn't been our best performance - not be a long shot - but when you walk off the pitch still winning 5-1, surely that's a good thing. The handshakes were done with pride and as both teams left the pitch, the fans from both sides showed their appreciation...

As the lads came in, the coaches were obviously happy - but they are football-men and they both know that we were nowhere near our best out there. We still have plenty of gears by which to raise it so the plan now is to make sure we hit those gears week in, week out. But what could we moan about? Another three points - and another good all-round performance. Yatesy had done really well after having to go between the posts and with the attacking prowess in this team, we will always cause problems going forward. But the Phoenix Tax Services Man of the Match was given to the skipper Locky - as he controlled his troops and drove them forward at every opportunity. And as the goalposts started going down and Dolan Park was tidied up, that was that for another Saturday...

Massive respect to Graham and the Newbury players and supporters for making this a spectacle to be enjoyed - and after having the sad news about your goalkeeper after the game, we wish him a speedy recovery back to full health. Good luck for the rest of the season and we look forward to seeing you all again soon...

But this one was all about us - again - and with 12 points on the board, the boss is clearly ecstatic. So when Wanderers TV caught up with a jubilant Martin, this is what he had to say "I'm just glad to be stood here with the points if I'm honest. We were slow from the off and knowing what we've produced so far this season, that was well-below par wasn't it? I left Dunc to it at the break - and boy did he give them the Fergie hairdryer treatment. It worked - and they must have listened to every word - because they were much better in the second period. Good teams get results - and that's exactly what we've done here today. But there's still lessons to be learnt so that we can improve for our next game - away at Hark to Dandler on Sunday - meaning that we want them all at training in midweek looking to do even more. But we'll take being top with a goal difference of +23 after four games. We'll take that very nicely thank you...'

And then he was gone. Probably to get ready to watch Arsenal trounce those horrible Spuds in the North London derby. Oh no - wait a minute - that was me!

COME ON THE WANDERERS!!!

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Match details

Match date

Sun 26, Sep 2021

Kickoff

11:00

Attendance

57
Jordan Lock

Player of the match

Jordan Lock