Another Saturday, and another game against our nemesis. We lined up (in the rain) with a very soggy Oscar in goal, Sammy, Will and Luke Dobney drenched at the back, James Payton, James Carlton and Aaron Statham in a moist midfield and Luke Brown and Kye wet through up front. The poor lads getting soaked on the sidelines were Charlie Healey and Kaden Wet. I mean Ward.
Holy Spirit had an early chance, but Luke D snuffed it out - when James C tried to bring it out he was brought down for the first of many free kicks. Despite the conditions, there was some lovely passing by Sammy down our left, and before ten minutes had gone by we were one nil up. Kye passed it out to Luke Brown on the left hand side of the box and a neat turn and shot saw us take the lead.
It wasn't long before Holy Spirit were back in it, a quick break down our right meant we were caught a bit short in terms of cover and we were outnumbered in our own box; 1-1.
Holy Spirit started to pack the midfield, attempting to nullify our attacking threat - mainly by kicking lumps out of us, it must be said. One of the many resulting free kicks almost led to an own goal but it took a throw in that went straight to James Payton who took it first time, a looping shot over the keeper to make it 2-1. We had the bit between our collective chompers now.
ANOTHER free kick for ANOTHER foul on Luke Brown, James Carlton stepped up and put it right on the postage stamp - top right hand corner, unstoppable. 3-1.
It wasn't all one-way, we were caught upfield, Holy Spirit broke at speed and a good finish in the bottom left hand corner pulled it back to 3-2. Time for a bit of a change; Aaron and Kye left the field to dry off (ha!) and Charlie and Kaden replaced them.
After YET ANOTHER free kick after some strong work by Sammy their keeper had to parry the shot away, the ball wasn't cleared but a very damp flag signalled the resulting goal offside. We were in the ascendancy now, efforts from Kaden and Luke B came agonisingly close to increasing the score.
Aaron replaced Luke at half time, so he could nurse his many bruises, and Will Shore came into midfield with James C joining the defence. The crowd on the sidelines were buoyed by the production of Jeff Bulmer's home made mulled wine, so forgive the possible errors in the second half summary (hic!).
The first chance of the half was a scramble in the Holy Spirit goalmouth, Will managing to stroke the ball home. 4-2. Charlie had the next effort, a one on one with the keeper but the final shot didn't match the effort given to beat the defence.
We spent the majority of the second half camped in the Holy Spirit end, giving them plenty of opportunity to try (unsuccessfully) wind our players up. I'm sure the Holy Spirit would be turning in his/her grave. A succession of corners, a slide rule pass leading to a blocked shot from Kaden...it was all Radcliffe. More and more pressure, another Kaden effort blocked but this time Kye was on hand to follow up but their goalie was having none of it, probably because he was the only one not to give away a free kick.
It took until the 15th minute of the second half for Holy Spirit to get into our penalty box, leading to two corners but Sammy cleared the potential problem. Kaden broke upfield again, and the icing on the cake was provided by James Payton handing over to Kye Norton who slotted past the impressive keeper for 5-2.
All in all, a VERY satisfying win to round off the year and the first half of the season against a niggly opponent who should spend more time working on tactics and less time on insults. Cue massive raspberry tthhhhpppbbbtthhhhh!
Sammy Hill was awarded Man Of The Match, a strong disciplined performance. Here's to a continuation of the improvements in 2016.