Divin missed a pen with the last kick off the game.
Convocation (4-5-1): Riley; MacDonald, Railton, Roberts G, Farrell; Parsons, Salgado, Byatt, Kent, Abussnena; McNally; Subs: Prendergast, Irakiza, Griffiths, Lewis
Our final game before the start of the South Liverpool Cup ended the way of our last two friendlies … in defeat. But take heart Convo fan(s), we’re slowly getting there!
For the third game in a row, we fielded a patched up team, borrowing a couple of players from our local neighbours, whilst continuing to give trails to prospective new players. And though it ended in defeat, this observer believes they’ll have seen enough to keep on turning out for the Uni’s finest!
The team started with Farrell (yet again) in goal, protected by back 4 of Ollie, Jay, Graham and Liam. A midfield 5 of Divin, Kent, Houston Griffiths and Nawrocki supported the lone striker Kaye, with a bench comprised of trialists, vets and a welcome return for Prendergast. He’d find himself in the heart of the action, but more of that later ….
Things started well for Convo, winning a penalty which Kaye duly converted. Having taken a similarly early lead against Newman’s other team 10 2 weeks earlier, we were hoping the result wouldn’t be similar. But some old demons would come back to haunt us. Convo actually dominated the ball in the first half, easily having more possession in the first 45, as we tried Houston’s brave rule of ‘nobody can launch it, if the opposition score it’s not your fault if there’s nobody to pass to’. This rule would come back to haunt us though, only after the obligatory game of ‘Convo musical statues’ allowed Newman to equalise from a corner, a blue shirt waltzing unmarked to the front post and nodding past a hapless Farrell.
So, no launching it then? We took that to heart, and again it must be stressed we passed the ball beautifully at times. However this became our own worst enemy twice in the space of 5 minutes. First, the ball was given away cheaply, allowing the Newman striker to run through one on one before deftly finishing past the onrushing home keeper. Things would get worse though, Railton giving the ball away cheaply, although admittedly there were few passes available. As the blue shirted striker set himself to shoot, so too did Farrell get set to save it. And palm it he did. Well, sort of, his intervention about as useful as a chocolate teapot as the ball nestled in the back of the net. 3-1, and who’d be a keeper?
We coasted in towards the break, dominant with the ball but looking like a late-Rodgers Liverpool team. Possession but ponderous with it. Chances were few and far between, Divin knocking a couple over the bar and Farrell tipping a high ball over the top of his bar (that he could reach that high is the genuinely unbelievable thing). But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and as Houston commented, you can’t be good at something the first time you do it (cue sniggering from the onlooking Vets gaffer Malaren).
Changes were frantic at half time, with 6 subs coming on, namely Jon, Tom, Neil, Toby, trialist Liam and Prendergast. Ah yes, Prendergast, he’s back! With all the new changes it was hard to keep up with what was going on, so much so that this onlooker has forgotten about the order of the goals! However the key talking points are this. With the shackles off, and long balls now permitted without threat of heckling, Railton knocked a lovely long ball over the top which Kaye dispatched for his second of the game. A really lovely goal, and Kaye went onto seal his hat trick with a smart finish following some excellent work in the box from Byatt, who’d been moved to left wing in all of the changes. However, in the midst of all of this, Newman scored a fourth, confusion in the reshuffled Convo ranks led to a breakaway in blue shirts, the striker finishing another one on one past the despairing dive of Farrell.
A late appearance from Lewis nearly gave Convo an equaliser, but he hacked wildly over from the edge of the box. Get them out of your system now young man, we’ll need your goals once the season starts! The result was probably just about fair though. Despite Convo dominating possession, it was actually the visitors who created the better chances, hitting the bar at least three times, and Farrell making three smart stops on the break (No, honestly, they were actually decent saves). Newman also had one chalked off when the ball hit the bar, bounced down and back out. Did it actually go in? This observer would say no, but who will truly know until Wyncote installs the fabled ‘goal line technology’?
Oh and Prendergast? He made his comeback by scything a Newman player down in the box and claiming he got the ball. His actual words were ‘I played the ball back to you Faz’. If by ball he meant the strikers boot, then yeah, he got the ball. All in all the big fella did well though, coping everything that the visitors threw at him. Honourable mentions to the Ollies too, and trialist Liam who did himself no harm in his quest to win a contract with the Convo.
MOTM? Kaye’s hat trick elevate him above the rest, but Byatt and Ollie ran him close.
Next up? Well, there’s the matter of a cup defence for us!
Convocation (4-5-1): Farrell; 'Ollie', Railton, Roberts G, Byatt; Kent, Nawrocki, Griffiths, Houston, Irakiza; Kaye; Subs: Prendergast, McCormack, 'Toby', 'Neil', 'Tom', Kearney, Lewis
Even by Convocation's frequently incompetent standards this was a phenomenal example of them shooting themselves in the foot; a truly impressive feat of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
They were 4-1 up against opponents described as 'a semi-professional Welsh side', but then conceded four times in the final five minutes, including a last-second penalty, to lose a tie they had done more than enough to win.
No wonder Captain (and referee for all but those final five minutes) Chris McNally made a hasty departure at the full-time whistle.
Convocation (from): Morgan, Prendergast, Railton, Welsh J, Byatt, Roberts G, Kent, Houston, Salgado, Irakiza, Kaye, Abussnena, 'Lawrence', 'Ollie', 'Steve', McNally
So pre-season has officially kicked off in earnest, with the (not so) Mighty Convo making the short trip up Rose Lane to Sudley House in a hastily arranged game with Cardinal Newman, who will present themselves as foes to ourselves in the season ahead. Hopefully we’ll give a better account of ourselves when the business of league football starts, but I’m getting ahead of myself ….
Turning up at the changing room-less, pitching marking-less pitch atop of th’ hill, 11 plucky men masquerading as Convo sought to pit their wits against Cardinal Newman, a team we’ll face later on this season following our shock, and let’s be honest, outlandish, promotion to LOBAL Division 3. This owes more to a reconstruction of the league, but hey, this is Convo. We’ll take it! The patched up XI would line up as follows:
Farrell (GK), Trialist, Railton, J Welsh, Trialist, Trialist, Nawrocki, Kent, Byatt, Abusnina, Kaye.
442, and yes that’s right, Farrell in goal, hoping that he wouldn’t concede as many as his last foray in between the sticks for us, a bruising 7-4 home defeat against Quarry Bank in 2015. 3 trialists would play as well, Ste, Ollie and Liam, who all acquitted themselves well, and can be content with their contributions.
And for a makeshift team we started well, taking the lead through a composed finished from Kaye within minutes of the start, springing the offside trap well to slot past the home keeper from within the area (I say the area, but I don’t actually know, as the pitch was marked out in cones. But hey, a goal’s a goal!)
After this promising start though, the pressure started to build. 3 offside calls came to Convo’s rescue in the opening 20 minutes, although they were probably just about right. The defensive line was holding well, with the two trialists, Ste and Ollie patrolling the wings well either side of their more established colleagues in the centre, and our other trialist Liam making inroads down the right wing. But then the sucker-punch ….
Possession was gifted away cheaply to the home side and, putting a few decent passes together, they bore down on the Convo goal. Noticing that the away keeper was, well, how to put this kindly, not of typical goalkeeper physique, the quick thinking striker chipped the ball high, lobbing the back tracking Farrell and nestling in the back of the net. The lead that Convo had held was gone, and we wouldn’t get it back for the rest of the afternoon. Cardinal Newman then nearly took the lead but for a double act of a save from Farrell, with Welsh clearing up afterwards. The next 20 minutes were goal filled, albeit most of them coming for the home team. Firstly, a decent cross from the Newman right wing was nodded back across goal by the home left winger, before another quick goal followed. Advancing down the left wing, the home player sped away from a tiring Ste before firing a shot towards goal. Now, a proper keeper would have saved this. In fat, a proper keeper wouldn’t have stood in the middle of his goal yet thinking he was actually covering his near post. Sadly, Farrell isn’t a proper keeper, and watched comfortably as the ball flew past him and into the net, when he actually thought it was going wide. Cue the obligatory hand up in the air and apology to the team.
2 more goals before half time though, and I think this order is correct … Convo got one back through Kaye, making the score 3-2, though it could and really should have been the leveller after Nawrocki skied over the top right of the goal minutes earlier (he would later admit that he was aiming for bottom left … how did he do this? Answers on a postcard please). Yet the game would slip further from the Convo grasp shortly before half time. The pacy left winger managed to elude Ste’s clutched again, the trialist really being worked hard on what was a balmy July day. Cutting inside, he fired a shot that Farrell did well to parry across goal, yet the soundtrack to this diving save was a sigh from Railton, as his man got the jump on him to knock in the rebound. 4-2 at half time.
The full backs were swapped around at half time in order to try something different against the pacy home wingers, but ultimately to no avail. Newman would go 5-2 up through a one on one finish, before a 6th was added after the ball was smashed across goal and tucked in by one of the advancing strikers at the far post. The flurry of goals proved too much for this observer, who actually can’t remember the 7th goal. There was still time though for Taha to get on the scoresheet though, slotting past the home keeper to bring a tiny bit more respectability to the scoreline. We did in fairness play some decent stuff in the 2nd half, wasting a few chances. A weak effort from Taha in particular that brought about a shout of “you’re just chippin’ it to ‘im” from Farrell sticks in the mind, something that amused the onlooking Houston greatly.
Ultimately, a lack of subs on a hot day and round pegs in square holes (I’m looking at you keeper!) cost the lads, but there were some positives to take. The three trialists performed well in difficult circumstances, and Farrell actually managed to make a few saves. Kaye also looks to have kept his sharpness from last year. Nawrocki however ….
Anyway, these things are just about fitness, and we’ll be in a loyt better shape come the season proper. Next week, we play host to a semi-professional Welsh team. What could possible go wrong? Convocation Vs Beaumaris Town, 5th August, Wyncote, KO 14:00. We’ll see you all there!