Convocation (4-5-1): Welsh J; Galy, Irakiza, Railton, Byatt; Parsons, Nabil, Prendergast, Long M, Lewis; McNally; Sub: Crockett
Convocation (4-5-1): Scalabrin; Galy, Irakiza, Welsh J, Byatt; Parsons, Nabil, Long M, Shore, Kaye; Lewis; Subs: Kent, McNally, Welsh A
An excellent weekend for Convo!
All three sides were in action, and what a weekend of results it turned out to be.
The Firsts were back in league action after last weeks Senior Shield outing, which ended with Convo thrashing Waterloo 5-0. Hopes were high heading into this weeks fixture, an away game at the newly refurbished Heron Eccles to face Rhein, a team who had thumped the Uni’s finest 5-2 when the sides met in mid-September. That result however appears to have been a turning point in the season, with Convo winning 3 of their next 4 league games heading into this fixture, along with a loss and a win in two cup competitions. Before we’d even got to the changing rooms however, farce ensued. With his being a new facility, modern technology has been implemented so that the public has to register to ‘scan’ into the site. Ever prepared, the club ensured that all players signed in the week prior to ensure no hiccups would be encountered. Enter, Jerome Galy, who not only hadn’t registered, but decided to leave his phone at home. Greeted by a mischievous employee on the front desk, the Frenchmans face dropped as he was told he wouldn’t be allowed to play as he had not registered, his mood improving when the good natured employee informed him that he was joking … Sacre bleu!
The return of a recognised goalkeeper also served to enthuse the ranks, despite the skippers clean sheet in the Waterloo rout. The team to line up against Rhein was then, as follows: Hendry making his return between the sticks after last weeks trip to Edinburgh for a charity game with former First team skipper and Vet regular, Houston. The back line consisted of Andy Welsh and Divin, their selection made easy by the dominance of their CB partnership last week. Either side of them, the effervescent Byatt took up his role on the left flank, with Farrell starting at right back. A midfield 3 of Kent, Shore and Lewis would have wing support in the shape of Parsons (more on him later) and Galy, with the skipper taking his place at the other end of the field, looking to give his best Niall Quinn impression. Kaye and Prendergast would make up the bench. Joining them in an actual dugout (hey, these new facilities ARE great!) would be the currently injured vice-captain Welsh, the perennially injured former vice-captain Crockett, and the sister of one Mr Parsons.
Prior to the match, it was revealed that one of the kits hadn’t turned up. With Rhein playing in their blue strip, Convo were forced into playing in a myriad of colours, silver tops of the old home strip partnered with the red shorts of our third strip, and an array of colours in the sock department. Best looking club strip is not a prize we look like troubling any time soon. The game started at a good pace from the away side, the full backs and wingers combining well to send some inviting crosses into the box early on in the game. But the real chances appeared to be coming from the combination of Shore sending inviting balls over the top for Parsons to run onto beyond the home left back. Time and time again he was found, and as it was, was the origin of the first goal. The ball found itself again with Shore, who had a fine game, and he looked up to send a ball into our right hand channel for what felt like the 10th time in only 20 minutes or so. The bamboozled left back evidently hadn’t wised up to this move as Parsons strolled onto the pass before finishing well past the onrushing home keeper.
Convo kept the pressure up, McNally hitting the crossbar with the most audacious of volleys from all of 35 yards as Convo grew in confidence. Yet for all of the incisiveness of their play, it would be another familiar rout to goal that would provide daylight. Shore, who was dominant in the middle of the park, once again looked up to find Parsons scurrying down the right wing, the home left back left trailing in his wake and surely wondering what he’d done to be targeted so much by a rampant Convo. Parsons took the ball in his stride and as he approached the keeper, took the decision to round the keeper. Such a call was met with derision by the on looking bench, especially as the angle tightened. But then, the West Derby man hammered the ball into the net for a 2 nil lead. Convo kept control of the game until half time was reached.
For the second week in a row, the half time team talk was a jubilant affair, but with the warning coming from Welsh, who had marshalled the back line impeccably, not to go ‘full Convo’ and drop off after the break. And in fairness, the side in silver and red didn’t. Though Rhein came back into the game, as would be expected after such a wretched first half, Convo kept calm and continued to play their football. Well, I say kept calm. Parsons would blemish his copybook with some ill thought of words towards the official. This reporter won’t mention the words, but needless to say it merited the goal scorer’s sister to remark “I’ll tell mum hat he said, she won’t be happy!” Ahh, the perils of the on looking relative. On the pitch, Farrell and McNally were withdrawn for Kaye and Prendergast respectively, as Convo continued to press forward. Byatt had the ball in the net but for it to be chalked off for offside (I think). In truth, the visitors could have scored a few more in the final half an hour. Sub Kaye had a couple of chances to bag, as did Lewis. The sides usually dependable goalscorer had a fine game in the middle of the park, but was profligate in front of goal, spurning three chances that on another day would have rippled the crisp, new nets of Heron Eccles 3G. Hendry had a couple of saves to make late on, but nothing too stretching for our resident Forest fan.
As it was, the game ended 2-0, and Convo move up to 6th in the league.
MOTM: Really hard to decide this week, Parsons’ 2 goals were excellently taken, and he had a really good game on his comeback. Lewis was superb as were the two CBs, especially as the game wore on. But this week, we’ll go for Shore. Not just for the two assists, but for the absolute dominance of his play!
This reporter wasn’t able to get down to see the Vets, but what agme it was. 3 nil down to Woolton Vets before Schofield bagged two, and goal apiece for the Poole brothers, ensured that the Vets walked away with a creditable 4-4 draw. A massive leap forward following the 7-2 drubbing the same opponents handed out to our elder statesmen earlier in the season.
And finally …
The campus team were back in league action after their midseason break to host our friends from Cologne last week. Lining up against Life Sciences, this was a battle between the only two games without a point in the league. Though Convo had only played two games so far, and had been unlucky not to win, let alone draw, in their last defeat, they nevertheless headed into this game looking to kickstart their season.
It got off to a good start, 1 nil from a corner early on, before the symptom of the club enveloped them. Life Sciences took control of the game and went 2-1 up, only for Convo to draw level on the stroke of half time. Lucky to be level at half time, some ‘wise’ words of encouragement were offered to the lads. Despite going 3-2 down on the hour mark, the second half was a vastly improved performance, with a 5 minute hat trick from our solitary striker giving Convo a 5-3 lead and knocking the stuffing out of the opponents. 3 points, and up the league we go!
3 games. 2 wins and a draw. Not a bad weekend. Not a bad weekend at all!
Well what a weekend it was!
We welcomed our German friends back to Wyncote for the 10th year for our annual match up, and what a game it was. With Cologne bringing 7 players along with them, and shored up with a plethora of Convocation ‘greats’ who have pulled on the shirt over the years, they were up against the youthful exuberance of the Campus team, owing to the Firsts and Vets having games that needed fulfilling.
Coming up against young legs was always going to be a tall order, and so it was that the younger statesmen of Convo ran out 8-2 victors in what was a typically fun and lively encounter, refereed in good spirits by the irrepressible John Topping. Cologne scored and missed a penalty each, but netting the rebound for their second goal, and had chances to add to their two strikes but for some fine goalkeeping from Borde in the home net. As for Convo, 3 veterans of the campus team (can veteran be used to describe 21 year olds nowadays?) helped themselves to goals. Napper bagged himself one, Vice Captain Chivers got himself 2 and returning graduate O'Sullivan netted 4 on his sojourn from his new home in Edinburgh. He tried to claim a fifth, but we’re definitely having that as an own goal.
Then, 2pm rolled around, and the chance for the First team to continue their recent fine form that had seen them climb the Liverpool Old Boys Division 3 to the heady heights of midtable! 3 wins in their last 4 league games had them flying high(ish) and hopes were high, despite being drawn against a Waterloo side that are plying their trade in the division above.
The team lined up as follows: McNally donning the gloves for his annual game in between the sticks, protected by a back 4 of Byatt, A Welsh, Divinand Jé Rhum. The midfield 5 of Nabil, Lewis, Shore, Long and Kent looked to give lone striker Kaye all the support he would need. Farrell, fresh from playing in the Cologne game, would single-handedly make up a rather lonely bench, with Vice Captain J Welsh making himself heard as a linesman. He would also deliver the request of Divin to take some ‘action shots’ of the stand in CB on his phone. There duly followed hundreds of images of Divin pointing and standing hands on hips. Not the all-action performance that our resident student had wanted to capture surely!
And all in all, what a performance it was from those in blue and white. Convo started well against 10 men (it took Waterloo until the 8th minute to finally gain numerical parity when a couple of their lads arrived at the astro). But a few minutes later, this would prove to be no hurdle, as Lewis lashed home a simply superb volley that two keepers wouldn’t have stopped. A truly tremendous goal that even a couple of the opposition applauded. Convo grew further into the game, the away keeper forced into a couple of fine saves as the half drew on. Just past the half hour mark, the lead doubled when Shore scored a looping header under pressure from the opposition defence, totally bamboozling the keeper and giving the home side some breathing space. A third was added just before the interval, Lewis, who was doing well to stride around the pitch as he did in the face of several hacks from the away midfield, forcing another fine save from the keeper. However, Kaye was Johnny on the Spot again, reacting quickest and converting the rebound for a 3 nil half time lead.
Credit to Waterloo, who came out of the blocks in the second half and created a few chances, before one of their lads was sent off for persistent dissent (or so this observer is led to believe). They’d also hit the post in the first half form a free kick, an overly confident McNally playing musical statues as the ball hit the post, the skipper apparently thinking the ball was flying well wide. A rare heart in the mouth moment in the game! But, after regaining a numerical advantage, Convo proceeded to turn the screw. With Farrell introduced for a strangely subdued Long, who himself admitted he was struggling to get into the game, the 4th goal would swiftly follow. After another foul was conceded 30 yards out from goal, Kent stepped up to bend in another superb free kick to make it 4, high into the keepers top right.
Nabil would later make it 5, stooping to meet a cross (from Kaye maybe? Answers on a postcard) to complete the rout. Home bystanders were even treated to Farrell staking his claim to be a dead ball specialist, knocking in some great corners and free kicks. Silly season had truly started!
The final whistle went with Convo able to savour a truly excellent performance. 5 goals, 5 different scorers, and a clean sheet for the skipper in goal. Why cant every week be like this?
MOTM: A tough one this week (no, really!). Lewis gave an exceptional performance and capped it with a strike of real quality, and Shore was superb too. In fairness, everyone gave a good account of themselves. But this week, we’ll give it to Van Wilder himself, Divin. Not often does he have to play CB, but with only 12 player available he stepped in and was excellent at the back, marshalling the team well together with A Welsh.
(Played at Wyncote – Jericho Lane still closed.)
Convocation (4-5-1): Hendry; Byatt, Prendergast, Railton, Farrell; Lewis, Welsh A, Long M, Roberts, Kaye; Williams; Subs: McNally, Nabil, Scalabrin
Convo hit the frame of the Alumni goal numerous times in the first half before conceding just before the interval.
Chris McNally appeared to have equalised in the final couple of minutes only for the referee to disallow his 'goal' claiming that the ball had gone out of play just before it was crossed into the box. The referee was nearly forty yards away from the alleged incident.
Convocation (4-5-1): Scalabrin; Byatt, Prendergast, Welsh J, Galy; Nabil, Roberts, Shore, Lewis, Kent; Kaye; Subs: Welsh A, McNally
2-0 @ HT. Scorer Matty Shore
A typical convo performance, goals conceded from possession and errors, a late rally but not enough people were at the races - or perhaps a few too many had their minds on the go kart racing afterwards
Convocation (4-5-1): McNally; Parsons, Welsh J, Prendergast, Byatt; Lewis, Long M, Shore, Williams, Kent; Kaye; Subs: Salgado, Irakiza, Welsh A
Bobby Mimms reports (be warned: it’s a long one)
Now here’s an accusation that can’t have been levelled at Convocation too often over the years, but during this rout they really were, quite noticeably, much fitter than the other team. That may be something of a back-handed compliment seeing as how that other team, Business School, were awful and looked in very poor condition, but credit where credit’s due, especially as it helped them to victory. Convo’s tails were already up after last week’s 5-0 thumping of Wavertree, and on Saturday they carried on where they’d left off, absolutely overwhelming their guests throughout the ninety-plus minutes and leaving them feeling as pummelled as a Supreme Court judge nominee by the end. The visitors had somehow beaten Collegiate in their previous game, but in this one they had no answer to their hosts’ frenetic attacks and intelligent moves, and were lucky only to concede seven.
The game was played on the less conventional side of Mather Avenue, behind the army barracks, and with the soldiers on some sort of light manoeuvres but occasionally stopping to watch the football their presence almost made you feel like you were at the FA cup final… Almost. It was a bright autumnal afternoon, with the leaves on the trees by All Hallows Church all manner of hues between yellow and scarlet; the sun shone perpendicularly across the pitch for most of the time, warming the throng on the Convo bench (although it would go a little chilly during occasional bouts of cloud cover), which as well as four substitutes included the spectating Craig Kaye, Mike Nawrocki, Simon Crockett and Divin De Buffalo (and of course your correspondent). As Convocation kicked off facing into a light breeze spirits amongst their camp were high – four goals without reply in forty minutes would only send them higher.
Business School’s two goals were scored during their best spell of the game, which spanned half time, although ‘spell’ is probably too strong a word as it was about fifteen seconds across half time. In fairness, they were tactically hamstrung from the off due to being, well, crap, especially at the rear, but you couldn’t even advocate that their best form of defence was attack as they didn’t really have one of those either: when they finally got one back, with the penultimate kick of the opening period, it was their first effort of any description. They won a free kick about ten yards inside their hosts’ half and out on the right wing, and curled it into the area where one of their men rose highest on the penalty spot and glanced a header into the net via the back post. Convo restarted and the referee – Mr A. Owen – blew for the break before anyone else touched the ball.
Having completely dominated the game up until that point there was a sense of ‘what the hell just happened there?’ within the Convocation ranks during the interval, but even so it was still a little surprising to hear a number of players agreeing that “the next goal’s vital” – surely they’d earned the right to have a tad more belief in themselves than that. It turned out though, that there was a basis for their wariness, as once Business School got things going again they knocked a few passes about until someone played a well weighted one from out on the left that split the Convo centre backs, Liam Byatt and Jon Welsh, and another man in red-and-black stripes ran through, fired off a shot that goalkeeper Alex Hendry could only parry at very close range, and then rolled the resulting loose ball into the unguarded net.
There can only have been fifteen seconds playing time between the two Business School goals. They manufactured another chance to score several minutes after that when a free kick from inside their own half was punted long into the Convocation penalty area and the ball skimmed off the top of Welsh’s head forcing Hendry to make a fairly comfortable claim inside his six-yard box – had it evaded the #1 and found the net it would have rounded off the most anomalous three goal, three minute spell in the history of football. As it was the visitors didn’t go close to threatening their hosts again until the dying embers of the game, when it had been long since decided.
They’d never looked like going close before they scored either. Decked out once again in blue-and-white hoops Convocation had completely dominated proceedings right up until they were hit by that (sort of) sucker punch just before half time, although the early stages of the game were blighted by the most atrocious baby elephant touches all over the pitch, with players on both sides giving off the impression that they couldn’t have trapped a bag of cement.
This footballing equivalent of pass the parcel continued until about the eighth minute, whereupon Andy Parsons made some shapes along the right flank before slipping the ball inside to Matt Long as he ran into the Business School penalty area, and as the opposition #1 advanced the Convo man placed a shot past him and into the net. Obviously you can never know how games are going to pan out so early on but, with the benefit of hindsight, there were already signs in the build-up to that goal that the visitors were there for the taking.
Both the scorer and his assistor were part of a five-man midfield that also saw Simon Williams out on the left and Mike Kent and Matt Shore in the middle, and when the latter of those was fouled out on the left flank not long after the ten-minute mark he got up, dusted himself down and took the free kick himself: it was drilled towards the far side of the Business School goalmouth where lone forward Chris McNally fell into a trademark slumping header – Timber! – and even though his effort appeared to be straight at the visitors’ ‘keeper it somehow found a way past him and into the net.
Business School had no reply to Convo’s unremitting pressure (although they showed no sign of resorting to damage limitation – mind you, it’s possible that they were incapable of even that) and things almost got worse for them on the quarter-hour mark when Williams played a lovely defence-splitting pass for Kent to run onto, but with only the ‘keeper to beat the ball rolled over the midfielder’s foot and out for a goal kick. The visitors inability to put in a decent challenge on their hosts was then epitomised when Jamie Long picked up possession at right back (Jerome Galy was on the other side of the rearguard) and ran on and on up the field without molestation, almost to the edge of their penalty area, although by the time he got there he was clearly shagged out and his subsequent effort was tame and wide of the target. His brother saved the family honour moments later though, when he received a throw-in from Parsons just outside the opposition eighteen-yard box, played a one-two with the same player and then ran on and drilled a shot across the #1 and into the back of the net.
With only a quarter of the game gone it was already three-nil, but for a nice change it wasn’t Convocation for whom the game threatened to turn ugly. Frustrations were growing in the Business School camp and possibly as a reaction to just how poorly they were competing in midfield their challenges started getting a little bit late and niggly, especially on Kent who endured a bit of a bruising stint midway through the half. Nonetheless the pressure on the visitors showed no sign of abating and at one point, having been set up by Parsons, Shore tried his luck from a little over twenty-five yards out but curled his effort straight at the opposition #1.
Not long after that the two Longs nearly combined to score when Jamie hurled a throw-in towards his brother on the corner of the Business School six-yard box, but Matt’s hat trick application was rejected when his flicked header was clawed away from under the crossbar by the #1, a little over-dramatically. From there the ball was only half cleared to the flank where Kent retrieved it and ran back diagonally into the area, but his subsequent shot was a shoddy waste of everyone’s time and appeared to be going well wide until Parsons managed to keep it in on the goal line, from where he played a pass back for McNally, who then scuffed an effort just beyond the foot of the far post.
With half time on the horizon the visitors actually got the ball into the Convocation penalty area, a lovely slipped pass momentarily giving them hope of some reward until Hendry slid out and claimed it fairly comfortably at an opponent’s feet. But then the home side went and netted a fourth after Shore had paid tribute to the 1980s by going route one from just outside his own penalty area, with McNally chasing the hoof towards one of the Business School corner flags; down the side of the box the Mancunian turned inside towards a defender and stumbled slightly (it looked like a shimmy), but then from a tight angle he put in a high cross-cum-shot that the opposition #1 parried – no Karius he – unfortunately, straight into the path of Long (M), who did get his hat trick this time when he stabbed home at the back post.
The Business School ‘keeper would have cheered himself up slightly almost immediately from the restart when, receiving a back pass, he sent the Convo captain off to buy the Echo with an impetuous Cruyff turn inside his penalty area, but otherwise things looked bleak for him and his colleagues. For the home side, well, at 4-0 up and with half time approaching, everything seemed to be going perfectly to plan…
Of course, as previously mentioned Convo then had a little wobble, but in the greater scheme of things those two goals (and even the whiff of a third) were small beer compared with what blighted them next. The second half was barely three or four minutes old when they attacked down their right and Long (J) took up possession not far from the Business School penalty area, but then with no one within a yard-or-so of him he collapsed to the ground in quite obvious distress. The watching Crockett was called for and suggested that he’d turned his knee and damaged ligaments, so the magic sponge wasn’t going to sort out this one; John Farrell replaced his fallen comrade at right back.
There was more fun and games in that region of the pitch several minutes later when Parsons attempted to Georgie Best his way round the back of the Business School left back and would have succeeded if he hadn’t been rugby tackled to the ground near the corner flag as he slipped past; for his lack of subtlety the miscreant had his collar felt by the referee and to no one’s surprise was shown a flash of yellow. At about the same time the Convo winger found himself in a great position to see just how close Williams was to scoring when the latter bent a shot just past the far post from on the byline – the far post that the unmarked Parsons was running in at.
Still Convocation kept creating chances while their guests showed little capacity for fighting back. Long (M) picked up possession in the middle of the Business School half and went barging into the area with the ball, opposition defenders flying everywhere until he tried his luck from about fifteen yards, forcing the #1 into making a decent save to his right. Shortly after that Byatt hit the crossbar when he attacked a free kick taken from out on the flank, although by the time the metal clanked the young official had already blown for a foul on the ‘keeper by the Convo man (which he later admitted was a fair cop).
But then, just before the hour mark, Convocation ended their (relative) barren spell by scoring a fifth. It was a great one-end-to-the-other goal, started with a clearance from the edge of their own penalty area to Parsons in the centre circle, whereupon he played a lovely pass through the high Business School back line for Williams who was streaking down the inside-left channel as though the hounds of hell were after him. He was clear through without a defender in sight, and yet (sort of) keeping up with him to his right was McNally, who amazingly stayed behind the ball, and thus onside (although its likely he just didn’t have the pace to catch up), so when the youngster squared to his captain as the #1 advanced to narrow the angle all that was required to make it 5-2 was the easiest of tap ins. The immediate fallout from that was a number of the Business School players revealing that they could do with going back to school to learn the laws of the game, as they held up the restart for over a minute arguing adamantly that the notch should be ruled out for offside.
Convo made a pair of substitutions just after that, with Sam Prendergast going on in a straight swap for Byatt, and Anthony Lewis replacing hat-trick hero Long, but despite coming across like a man who had just finished a marathon there was no way that McNally was hooking himself, not while he was after a third of his own. But, in minor acts of violence news, the Captain then received an opponent’s elbow to the face just outside the Business School penalty area and his nose blew up; despite staying down and giving himself several minutes to recover – during which time Crockett was summoned from the sideline again, once more leaving his kid unattended in its pram – he eventually had to accept defeat and staggered groggily off, with Mohammed Nabil taking his place. The offender didn’t appear to receive a booking for his assault but the visitors were penalised nonetheless, as from the resultant free kick Shore drilled a low shot through the opposition wall and into the bottom corner of the net (via a slight deflection). It was no more than the lad deserved because he was having a fantastic game in the middle of the park.
Proceedings were held up for another couple of minutes after that as the Business School ‘keeper had managed to hurt himself during his futile attempt to stop the shot (it was suggested that he may have dived into the post) and he couldn’t continue. You couldn’t blame him for jacking it in though, as there was still just under half-an-hour to go, even before taking into account what was going to be a sizable amount of injury time, so a hiding looked on the cards. But while Convo certainly didn’t declare at six or take their collective foot off the pedal most of the chances they created from then on failed to be despatched.
The irritable Business School #9 was cautioned by the referee for some back chat regarding the award of another free kick to Convocation, but even he was surely pacified and left open-mouthed in astonishment a moment-or-two later by the surreality of Farrell playing a sumptuous defence-splitting pass from his own half for Nabil to run onto, although in one of his very few mistakes during the game the official deemed the forward to have gone too soon and blew up for offside, thus slightly spoiling the magnificence of the overall spectacle. After that, with a throw-in, the Convo Chairman set up Lewis to flick an effort on goal, but when the ball was then half cleared Shore volleyed inches wide of the target from the edge of the ‘D’.
Understandably, considering that their defending had been about as convincing as Theresa May’s dancing, some of the visitors were behaving quite erratically, and when one of them was put under pressure by both Williams and Parsons with about ten minutes to go, for some reason he simply hoofed the ball just wide of his own goal from about thirty yards out. From the resulting corner Prendergast glanced a header across the face of the target, while Shore was at the back post and blasted a shot back again, his effort zipping just over the angle of upright and crossbar.
Lewis tried his luck from a little outside the penalty area not long after that, although the less said about his effort the better, but then the home side took advantage of some more horrendous defending from their guests and finally made it 7-2 when Hendry launched a long ball up the pitch, a defender missed a clearing header inside the centre circle – their back line was still camped out near the halfway line – and Williams slipped past, ran on and slotted past the new ‘keeper (who looked about twelve) from just inside the eighteen-yard box.
In the five minutes of normal time remaining Convo had four more attempts to further their lead, while possibly bored out of his skull and fancying a piece of the action Welsh came over a tad Franz Beckenbauer and went streaking up the middle of the pitch with the ball, nearly making it all the way through before he was tackled within scoring distance. A Parsons cross into the box from near one of the corner flags twanged off the crossbar and then dropped for Nabil running in at the back, but his stabbed effort towards the foot of (what to him was) the near post was blocked by the ‘keeper and, after a scramble, eventually cleared.
After that Kent had a couple of chances: the first was an effort from the edge of the area that just cleared the bar, while the second originated from a Convocation free kick in their own half that was played towards one of the corner flags, where Parsons kept the ball in on the byline and pulled a pass back for his diminutive colleague to hit a first-time rasper that curled just wide of the furthest upright. In the dying seconds of regulation time, with the referee announcing that there would be eight more minutes due to all of the injuries, Parsons was at it again, picking up possession in the centre circle and dabbing a delicate chip over the (high) Business School defensive line for Lewis to run onto, but having travelled all the way to the perimeter of the eighteen-yard box he dinked a shot over the advancing ‘keeper towards the back post, and unfortunately just wide of it.
There was a temporary let-up in Convocation pressure during added time when the visitors won a free kick that Hendry was forced to tip over his crossbar, but otherwise both Lewis and Williams were sent clear through on goal again – the former following another lovely pass from Farrell, the latter with a delightful dink-to-himself past the last defender – although on each occasions the Business School ‘keeper was quickly off his line to smother the ball at Convo feet. The final word though, went to one of the red-and-black striped forwards (who during the game had been more isolated than the indigenous Australians before Captain Cook turned up) who could contain himself no longer, and at the end of a long afternoon of frustration had to vent his despair at the baffling decisions of his team mates.
It can’t be confirmed whether their captain had cabbages thrown at him at full time – Crackerjack! – but his opposite number ended the game with make-up remover pads wedged up his nostrils as an aid to clotting. Despite his suffering McNally seemed in a decent enough mood, and it was little wonder considering how his charges had played; it would have been no surprise if Convo had hit double figures on Saturday, or even double their seven, and it’s difficult to emphasise just how poor Business School were. Take nothing away from Convocation though – as the old saying goes you can only beat what’s put in front of you – because they were well worth their victory and their season looks like it’s starting to click.
And years from now the people who were there will still be talking about the day an opponent made Convo look like the Brownlees.
Man Of The Match: [Redaction: Those who don’t contribute a jot to the website yet find fault with the work of those that do don’t get to be MOTM.]
Convocation (4-5-1): Hendry; Galy, Byatt, Welsh J, Long J; Williams, Shore, Long M, Kent, Parsons; McNally; Subs: Farrell, Prendergast, Lewis, Nabil
Convocation (4-5-1): Scalabrin; Galy, Welsh J, Byatt, Long J; Lewis, Williams, Ahmed, Shore, Kent; Abussnena; Subs: McNally, Crockett
Well, we may have been away for a few months, but Convo truly have returned! Though not particularly impressively …
Following two 4-1 reverses to start the season, losing to Wood Street and Collegiate respectively, we then were able to overcome Old Istonians 6-4. Hurrah I hear you yell, they’re off the mark for the season! Well, no, the no-show of the referee leading to the game being reduced an exhibition. Which brings us onto this weekend …
We lined up against Rhein for the first time in two years, having spent last season in separate divisions. The last two encounters we did have with the opposition ended in a 10-2 away win for Convo, followed two weeks later by a 2-0 home capitulation. The most Convo of things. Since then, we had been informed that Rhein had strengthened well, and that was certainly in evidence this weekend. Helping themselves to 4 goals in the first half, they attacked well and certainly seemed to be a more formidable side than previous years. Yet, as well as the away side played, Convo were poor. To paraphrase an old saying, you can’t win a game in the first half hour, but you can certainly lose it!
After going a goal down early in the game, Byatt rose like a salmon at the back post to nod in an equaliser for the home side. But then this happened:
22 mins: 1-2
24 mins: 1-3
28 mins: 1-4
Conceding 3 goals in little over 5 minutes was particularly galling, the manner of them even worse, as we contributed to our downfall each time. Taha pulled one back on the stroke of half time to make the score 2-4 and give us a fighting chance, and the last 15 mins saw us play with more aggression, but all in all it was always going to be a stern HT team talk.
Team talk delivered by Welsh, Convo entered the fray, and battled well. Taha and Parsons had a couple of chances apiece, the away keeper making a couple of fine saves, before Rhein hit us on the counter after possession was cheaply lost. 5-2, and the game all but gone. We battled hard, and there was no lack of desire, but the error strewn first half always meant that we were playing catch up. Still though, it's early in the season, and we've got more than enough quality in the squad to start climbing the table sooner rather than later!
Anyway, onwards and upwards. Wavertree West Derby Old Boys up next on Saturday. Lets get this season started! Captain McNally should be back to lead his troops for this one!
MOTM: Nawrocki, who had the good grace to enter the fray for two minutes, become aghast with the performance he’d walked into, and get himself injured so he no longer had to partake in it all!
Convocation (4-4-2): Scalabrin; Long J, Roberts, Welsh J, Byatt; Parsons, Long M, Shaw, Ahmed; Lewis, Abussnena; Subs: Kaye, Nawrocki, Salgado
[We] played a friendly on place of official league fixture because of a lack of a referee. In true convo style we therefore won 6-4.
Convocation (4-5-1): Scalabrin; Long J, Byatt, Roberts, Welsh J; Parsons, Shaw, Long M, Ahmed, Lewis; Abussnena; Subs: McNally, Williams, Irakiza, Salgado
Convocation (from): Scalabrin, Galy, Byatt, Railton, Farrell, Round, Shaw, Salgado, Nawrocki, Lewis, Kent; Subs: McNally, Long M
Convocation (from): Hendry, Round, Roberts, Byatt, Railton, Long M, Kent, Lewis, Galy, Kaye, Williams, McNally, Irakiza, Long J
With Convo already trailing two-nil Craig Kaye scored by poking the ball through the opposition #1's legs when he refused to pick the ball up in his own area. Woodstreet complaints of foul play inevitably ensued, but the referee waved them all away on the basis that it was the 'keeper's own fault if his cat-and-mouse ploy had backfired.
Convocation (4-5-1): Hendry; Farrell, Byatt, Prendergast, Galy; Ross, Salgado, Long M, Lewis, Kent; Kaye; Subs: McNally, Williams, Houston
1-0 to Liobians at half time.
Convocation (from): Hendry, Welsh J, Prendergast, Byatt, Long J, Parsons, Long M, Irakiza, Ahmed, Kaye, Williams; Subs: McNally, Ross
Started with only ten men. Played on 4G pitch. 3-2 to the visitors at the interval.
Convocation (from): Welsh J, Ross, Prendergast, Welsh A, Long J, Kent, Long M, Salgado, Ahmed, Kaye; Subs: Sawyer, Byatt
Bobby Mimms reports
The Amazon may be disappearing at an alarming rate, and the jungle destruction of South-east Asia isn’t far behind, but rest assured that deforestation hasn’t yet reached Mersey Road, or its so-called sward. Tuesday evening’s opening fixtures in this year’s South Liverpool Cup were played on pitches that would have caused disquiet to grazing cattle, with Convocation’s game in particular blighted by ridiculously long grass and all manner of exotic fungi in and around the centre circle.
It’s probably a little bit ungrateful to moan about such things though, considering that the boys from Wyncote eventually ran out comfortable winners, even if it is difficult to know exactly how much of that was down to them playing well, or their opponents – apparently a breakaway Cardinal Newman side that have reinvented themselves as Mossley Hill – being poor. As is so often the case it was probably somewhere in the middle, and yet by the end it was incontrovertible that the losers had also been desperately unlucky: they must have all received the black spot in the post on Tuesday morning as, almost from kick off, they proceeded to hit the woodwork like Ipswich in the ’78 cup final.
Convocation Captain Chris McNally sent his charges out in an experimental 3-5-2 formation, explaining that he’d decided it was necessary to have a plan B for when plan A wasn’t working – having been at the helm for five years now it’s surely only a matter of time until he becomes enthusiastic about this new-fangled ‘substitutions’ malarkey. He began the game himself, up front alongside the rediscovered Breno Salgado, while the midfield five that must have considered taking machetes out with them once they saw the state of the pitch consisted of (from left to right) Andy ‘Pub in the’ Parsons, Adel Ahmed, Divin De Buffalo Irakiza, Mike Nawrocki, and Mike Kent, the latter being described before kick-off as “knee-high to nettles” and for whom the game must have seemed like being on the set of Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Behind them the rearguard trio comprised of new Vice-captain Jon Welsh (whose comment on hearing the tactics was “it’s a bit random this”), Jay Railton and Graham Roberts, and donning the gloves for the first time this season was Alex Hendry.
The sun, shining diagonally across the pitch from out of a cloudless sky, was more-or-less in the Convo goalie’s eye-line during the first half, but instances when it might have had an effect on his performance were few and far between. For the opening ten minutes there was little to suggest that either team had the upper hand, but then from seemingly nothing Ahmed received a throw-in from Parsons and ran on along the inside-left channel and into the opposition penalty area whereupon he fired off a low shot that snuck in at the foot of the near post past the #1, who could probably have made a better attempt at keeping it out.
For the majority of the first period the Mossley Hill players – decked out in all red, apart from white sleeves – took it in turns to give the referee a hard time, which surprisingly continued long after he’d booked a pair of them in quick succession, shortly after Convo had taken the lead, for what we shall call ‘making observations’: the first of those, a young scally called ‘Jack’, was lucky not to get his marching orders for refusing to supply the official with his surname, repeatedly insisting that it was ‘The Lad’ until his captain ordered him to stop acting the goat. Around about that time the game also went through a phase where balls kept getting lost in the thicket of brambles at the allotments end of the pitch, although that didn’t prevent Convocation from doubling their lead when Irakiza spotted the opposition ‘keeper off his line and lobbed him from about thirty yards out on the wing; the alternative viewpoint – and let’s just say that it might be the correct one – was that the midfielder attempted to put a cross into the box but got the ball much closer to the goal than he’d intended and it dropped in at the back post, a total fluke.
It was not long after that that Mossley Hill’s rotten luck with regards to the Convocation goal frame began: firstly one of their players attacked down the right and, despite the best efforts of Railton, put a low cross into the six-yard box that evaded everyone but struck the back post; five-or-so minutes later they won a free kick on the edge of their opponents’ penalty area from which, again, they hit the foot of one of the uprights. Such near misses weren’t the reserve of theirs though, and shortly before the break Ahmed crashed a shot against the (not so wooden) woodwork from a dead ball of his own, but Salgado’d had no such luckless excuse for not scoring just prior to that when he’d been sent clear of the red-shirted back line, rounded their ‘keeper and then inexplicably fired wide of the resultant open goal. That, however, wasn’t the most bizarre sight of that closing period of the half, as it did look for all the world as though McNally was managing to stay onside whenever he and his troops attacked – mind you, the sun had been shining into the eyes of everyone on the Convo bench since the start, so…
The second half began with a raft of Convocation substitutions as Jamie and Matt Long, Sam Prendergast and Andy Welsh all entered the fray in place of Railton, McNally, Nawrocki and Kent, but the changes had little impact on the overall flow of the game, in that the red shirts continued to go close – in the first few minutes after the restart they had yet another shot that failed to beat the frame of their opponents’ goal – but it was their hooped adversaries who kept on finding the back of the net. Convo scored number three when one of their (unrecorded) ilk advanced into the Mossley Hill penalty area and almost rounded the #1, but in the end squared the ball to Parsons, and from about eighteen yards out he blasted past a couple of partially-covering defenders to notch his third from the last two matches.
There should have been another not long after that when Ahmed – who’d been getting megged at a startling rate throughout the game – was scythed down inside the opposition penalty area (well the tool obviously wasn’t being used to keep the grass short) but Long (M) put his spot kick far too close to the #1, who saved to his right. With the smell of a late-summer barbeque drifting on the air there was a lovely tribute at one point to Convocation legends the Chuckle Brothers when one of the Mossley Hill players implored a colleague for a pass with the call “to me” and the nearby Convo bench responded in the only way possible, but then it did become four-nil when Welsh (A) was hacked down from behind (the new club secretary did not take at all kindly to the foul) and Ahmed’s curling free kick hit the red-shirted defensive wall and looped up over the ‘keeper and into the net – Mossley Hill’s appalling bad luck was becoming painful to watch.
The sun finally dipped behind the nearby trees with about twenty minutes remaining and the local gnats showed up to chomp on the legs of anyone who wasn’t moving fast enough (those on the bench, for example); at about the same time Welsh (A), having calmed down from his earlier loss of composure, performed a lovely evasive pirouette in the centre circle that the watching Kent suggested had a hint of Billy Elliot about it. And then it all got really surreal when McNally, within seconds of returning to the action, got on the end of a drilled cross into the Mossley Hill area to make it 5-0 with one of those slumping headers that he specialises in, but which so often don’t prevail.
He should have made it six several minutes after that when a low cross from out on the Convo right reached him at the back post and on the edge of the six-yard box, but in front of what was a veritable open goal he skewed his shot wide of the target. In fairness to the Captain he may have been put off by Railton’s comical air kick when he had attempted to score a split second earlier.
It was Mossley Hill who had the last two chances to net but on both occasions they only confirmed what everyone watching already knew, namely that they were bewitched: with about five minutes remaining one of their players had a shot from the edge of the Convocation penalty area that was deflected by an attempted block, looped up over Hendry and then… well, a shiny penny for anyone who can guess what happened next. After the ball had hit the back post and rebounded out again – as if you hadn’t worked it out – the players in red seemed quite visibly shocked at just how wretched their luck was getting, but they still had one further chance to prove that they couldn’t score in a knocking shop when Welsh (J) upended one of their men inside the Convo eighteen yard box and another send the subsequent spot kick miles over the crossbar and halfway to the Wirral.
That was the final kick of what was beginning to feel like a never ending affair – both halves seemed to go on as long as that feel good hit of the summer, the Convo AGM – and at the full-time whistle the side from Wyncote will have been pleased with how they’d played. Although it never felt as though they were in any danger of losing control of proceedings the game didn’t have the feel of a 5-0 about it either, and it would have been nigh-on impossible for Mossley Hill’s luck to have been worse; they are clearly a side still in transition – breakaway clubs are seldom a good idea and are frequently filled with shifty characters – so Convocation should take this result with a pinch of salt. However, coupled with Saturday’s victory over the historically difficult F. C. Salle, it bodes well for the season to come, particularly if nobody mows a pitch across Liverpool from now until next May.
Man Of The Match: There was one outstanding defensive performance on Tuesday so it’s only fair then that it gets the recognition it deserves – the frame of Convo’s goal made four or five vital interventions to thwart their opponents, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it get a call up to St George’s Park for the upcoming internationals.
Convocation (3-5-2): Hendry; Welsh J, Railton, Roberts; Parsons, Ahmed, Irakiza, Nawrocki, Kent; McNally, Salgado; Subs: Long M, Long J, Prendergast, Welsh A
Convocation (4-5-1): McNally; Long J, Prendergast, Railton, Welsh J; Ahmed, Kent, Salgado, Nawrocki, Parsons; Williams; Subs: Long M, Unknown, 'Chris'
Convocation (4-5-1): Farrell; Byatt, Roberts, Railton, Unknown; Prendergast, Welsh J, Schofield R, Long M, Kent; Williams