It was a wonderful facility that welcomed the two team today at Eastwood Community Football Club – a perfect 3G surface and a stand for the parents too.
Both teams were determined to make the most of it with some top notch football on show.
Sandiacre are an accomplished passing side and love to move the ball around but Radcliffe were on it today and it was only a matter of minutes before Josh Jones-Wilkinson slid the ball across for Nathan Stocks to drive home 0-1 (5).
Calamity struck half way through the first half though with Will Quilter caught by a stray foot after an overhead kick went wrong and he had to leave the field with a bad ankle. This meant a complete restructure as Radcliffe had no spare defenders available. Captan, Jack Willis had to drop into central defence and Ollie Skinner into his midfield role with George Arrowsmith taking up the central striker position.
The remainder of the half was played out with a whole host of entertainment for the good sized crowd. Incidents of note were a stunning double save from Harvey Woodward from a free kick, Malahku Selassie pulling off a world-class clearing header at full stretch on the line and the Sandiacre keeper with a couple of smart stops from Radcliffe efforts.
The second half started brightly again and, not long in, a clumsy challenge on Josh Jones-Wilkinson in the box saw the referee point to the spot with no hesitation. The loudest claim was Fin Jackson who Cooly slammed home the resultant penalty for 0-2 (53).
Sandiacre were good in possession though and soon had a bright chance that they managed to finish off for 1-2 (65).
Radcliffe could have crumbled but not this time, Ollie Jones-Wilkinson with a sublime through ball for George Arrowsmith who rarely misses when one on one and he tucked it away well for 1-3 (67).
Radcliffe weren’t finished yet though and a great run down the left from Ollie Jones-Wilkinson was capped with an unselfish ball across to an unmarked Ollie Skinner who slotted home for 1-4 (76).
The best was yet to come though…with seconds left, Jack Willis played a ball to Josh Jones-Wilkinson on the half way line and he drove for goal, beating six separate players and smashing it past the keeper for 1-5 (80). A goal that would grace any premiership game and the icing on the cake.
Sandiacre managed a consolation deep into stoppage time from a lovely passing move to make it 2-5 (83).
The story of the game though was the sublime attacking moves from Radcliffe and the stalwart defence from a makeshift back line, ably supported by the ever more impressive Harvey Woodward in goal.
My man of the match could go to several players today who had great games but I’m opting for Malahku Selassie who made the left back position his own with a confident and energetic display – and that gold line clearance – wow!
Great football boys – a credit to the club.