Magnificent Team Performance Sees 4-0 Rout & Third Place in League
By Dave Martindale
Radcliffe saved their most convincing performance of the season against a very tough Burton Joyce side to run out 4-0 winners and secure third place in Division 1
Radcliffe had home advantage for their last game of the season and other results had conspired to make this a big day. 3 points on offer and Radcliffe sitting 5th in the table just 2 points behind both 3rd placed Mansfield and 4th placed Beeston.
The opposition were Burton Joyce who had confirmed 2nd place in the league with three fixtures awarded just that week.
Due to an injury and an absence, Radcliffe just had the 11 available so it was up to the boys to make the 4-4-2 formation work with Oliver Jones-Wilkinson dropping into an unfamiliar central midfield role.
From the very off it was clear this was going to be a competitive, closely fought affair. Radcliffe had a few half chances that they couldn’t quite take and Burton Joyce were doubling up down the left flank to create a few chances of their own.
The deadlock was finally broken with a great piece of link-up play between the Radcliffe strike pair, George Arrowsmith squaring the ball for Oliver Petchell to make no mistake for 1-0 (23).
The Radcliffe back line were working hard for each other today and Harvey Woodward was growing in confidence after a few very good saves and some tidy handling.
Some incisive attacking football saw three players shoot, one after the other but the final drive at goal from George Arrowsmith was too high and the opportunity was lost.
The whistle for half time saw the game on a knife edge and the team talk was all about trying to get that second to put clear air between the teams.
Straight from the KO the desire was clear with Jack Willis bossing everything in the middle and the back four closing the space really well to dent Burton any opportunity.
A good challenge at the back from Jacob Sadler and a ball into Oliver Jones-Wilkinson’s feet in the centre gave the perfect base for a Radcliffe attack. Oliver Jones-Wilkinson only had one thought, his fast feet giving him the chance to run at the Burton defensive line and his strength leaving three players in his wake. His final touch was sublime as the net fluttered and Radcliffe supporters could breath a little easier 2-0 (44).
Goals change games and the defining moment of this game came when Tom Martindale was adjudged to have fouled the Burton winger on the edge of the box...wait, despite the linesman’s advice, the referee pointed to the spot.
The Burton striker stepped up and hit it hard and true into the bottom corner...only for Harvey Woodward to guess rights and get down amazingly, a firm hand pushing the ball clear and Ethan Fallon kicking the rebound to safety.
2-1 would have been a tough scoreline to protect but it got even better moments later when Radcliffe, from their very next attack, carved out a great chance again. The tried and tested double act of George Arrowsmith feeding Oliver Petchell for him to drill the ball home 3-0 (63).
There was still time for Radcliffe to make things even better. A great short corner routine allowing Oliver Jones-Wilkinson to chip a back post cross for captain Jack Willis to head firmly home for 4-0 (69).
A masterful performance and a lesson in how to take your chances and allow none.
A clean sheet, a saved penalty and four unanswered goals against a seriously tough team. What a way to finish the season and so well deserved.
Radcliffe won all six of their last games to leapfrog so many teams and finish third in the league (their best Div 1 finish ever).
One mighty proud coach.
Man of the match could have been pretty much anyone today but I’m giving it to the Captain, Jack Willis, for an immense performance and a goal to boot.