Terrible Conditions But A Great Game of Football Nonetheless
By Dave Martindale
Radcliffe managed the conditions better than their opposition today in a great, flowing game of football, marred only by a sending off for Selston’s striker after a very late challenge.
The wind was gale force and blustering diagonally across the open pitch this afternoon which was never going to make for flowing football but both teams were determined to make the most of it and a very enjoyable spectacle it turned out to be.
Radcliffe had the better of the wind direction first half and took full advantage early on with a neat one-two between George Arrowsmith and Josh Jones-Wilkinson, the latter finishing neatly past the keeper for 0-1 (9).
Radcliffe were seizing the goal a little, helped by the swirling wind and Selston’s back line did very well to keep the deficit down. Their keeper twice saving smartly when George Arrowsmith had broken the line and got a shot away.
Selston did have the odd chance though, their physical number 9 playing tight on Jack Willis who’d had to drop into a makeshift back three with the absence of Ethan Fallon and Will Halstead having broken his finger. Jack Willis was immense though, sweeping up pretty much everything and giving as good as he got when he had to.
Tom Martindale and Jacob Sadler were also dealing well with the ball in the air, even though you could never tell exactly where it was going to drop...
Ollie Skinner had finally been able to join us for a cameo appearance in a Radcliffe shirt and on 23 mins he joined the action with all to play for, Connor Bland making way and Ollie Petchell dropping onto the right wing.
From inside his own half, Oliver Jones-Wilkinson curled a long ball forward and it held on the wind and dropped perfectly for George Arrowsmith to run onto - no guesses for where it ended up, clinical finishing and 0-2 (29).
If anything, Radcliffe could and should have had another but for some strong defensive play and with the 40 minutes already up there was a hammer blow when Selston broke forward and their shot was deflected past a stranded Harvey Woodward into the bottom of the net for 1-2 (40+).
What a sickener and the whistle for half-time was directly from the kick off. The team talk was slightly different than it would have been but, with the wind in our faces for the second half, had we done enough?
George Arrowsmith made way for Connor Bland back on the right hand side and Ollie Petchell was asked to give us another 10 mins even though his hip was hurting.
The conditions had worsened all afternoon and the wind was now completely in our faces. Harvey Woodward was manfully getting this kicks to carry to the half way line at least but with the constant change of direction, more often than not they were carried into touch and Selston could build an attack.
Fin Jackson upped his game in the middle and helped protect the back three but, again, if it wasn’t for Jack Willis’ uncanny ability to read the flight we’d have been opened up on a few occasions.
The inevitable then happened when the pressure was just too much and a good cross from the right was drilled home for 2-2 (49). It was one of those games where you’d take the point and run with half an hour left to play...
Selston had their tails up and also had the wind advantage but Radcliffe weren’t out of it by any stretch and actually had a few good chances with Morgan Roberts and Oliver Jones-Wilkinson winning more balls than they had a right to in the centre.
A cruel blow though when another cross into the box found a Selston player and his downward header was too good for Harvey Woodward and they finally had the lead 3-2 (55).
As I’ve said many times before, this team don’t know when they’re beaten and against all adversity they just wouldn’t give up. The best move of the game so far saw five consecutive passes and Oliver Petchell on hand to smash home for 3-3 (56). A goal that would grace any first class football game and I would have snapped their hands off for the point there and then.
Oliver Petchell finally got to come off and Radcliffe had 24 minutes to see if they could weather the storm - literally!
What was I worried about...another example of tenacity from Morgan Roberts in the centre saw him ride three late challenges and drive at the heart of Selston’s defence. A lovely shift and pass out to Josh Jones-Wilkinson and his cross was perfect for Ollie Skinner to smash the winner 3-4 (64).
The remainder of the game was tight, with both teams having chances but Radcliffe managed to keep their heads (unlike the Selston number 9 who lashed out at Fin Jackson well after the ball had gone to earn a red card) and the whistle left us with all three points.
A great game today, a quality performance and a man of the match performance from Jack Willis at the heart of the defence for a change.
Two week’s break now to enjoy being joint second in the league...