Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, Southern, Bastow, Prince; Poole G, Poole I, Shanahan, Dillon; Kaye, Lamb C; Subs: McNally, Schofield R, McLaren, Knox, Carnacina
Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, Bastow, Shanahan, Barlow J; Carnacina, Schofield R, Holder, Dillon; Poole G, McNally; Subs: McLaren, Prince
(Rushworth formerly Mind Map F.C.)
Convocation (3-5-2): Morgan; Shanahan, Welsh J, Bastow; Poole G, Poole I, Nawrocki, Houston, Schofield R; Stephens, Kaye; Subs: McLaren, McNally, Greene, Byatt
Convocation – First Half (4-4-2): Willis; Lamb B, Schofield K, McLaren, Jago; Holt, Kay, McDermott I, Edwards; Leahey, Lamb C; Subs: Whylie, McNally, Schofield R, Stopforth, Wheller, Gittens, Holder, Harper A
Convocation – Second Half (4-4-2): Willis; Harper A, Southern, Bastow, Fairclough; Jones Ar, Houston, Poole I, Galy; Harper P, Poole G; Subs: Knox, Kaye, Carnacina, Dillon, Lamb C, Stopforth, McLaren
Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, Wade, Bastow, Jago; Kaye, Kay, Holder, Kent; Harper P, Dillon; Subs: Prince, Carnacina, McLaren
Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, Southern, Bastow, Prince; Carnacina, Poole I, Houston, McNally; Harper P, Poole G; Subs: Lamb C, Jago, Holder, McLaren
On cold and dank November weekend Wyncote’s finest welcomed the battle hardened North Liverpool Old Boys team of Essemmay. This fixture has a history for being a feisty affair, and Saturday November 6 was not going to disappoint once again. Manager McLaren was MIA due to COVID, so the stand in manager for the day was Geoff Poole, for which the correspondent believed done a first class job.
Due to the recent downpours the fixture had been moved to the 4G pitch with Convocation lining up with Morgan in goal, (from left to right), Andy Harper, Southern, Bastow, Fairclough, a midfield of Carnacina, Kay, Holder, Jones, and up front Lamb and Kaye, with subs Paul Harper, Kearney, Knox and the manager for the day Geoff Poole. Referee for the day was Phil Webster.
Before the game kicked off, the Essemmay goalkeeper walked past your correspondent and was heard saying “This fucking pitch is huge, we’re gonna be knackered”, such foresight was bewildering.
The game was kicked off by Convocation kicking right to left, and marginally with the wind behind the hosts. Essemmay were more than a match for the hosts in the early exchanges, and although never threatening, they like to stroke the ball around the park. Indeed, both teams were keeping the ball well when in possession with a couple of early Lamb shots being the only menace to either goal, but never troubling the keeper.
The opener for the hosts arrived on around the 10 minute mark. A neat out swinging corner by Carnacina evaded the large back line of Essemmay and from around the penalty spot Lamb directed a looping header into the far left of the Essemmay net. This was no more than Convocation deserved, whom up to this point had been very neat and tidy. However, disaster was to strike a mere 5 minutes after taking the lead. Passing the ball around untidily at the back, Bastow dwelt on the ball for what seemed like an eternity, allowing their tricky small number 9 to steal the ball and run from just inside the halfway to slot home. Ill deserved the Convocation faithful may decree, but a harsh lesson in keeping the ball moving.
Setbacks like this however, the second team this season have routinely bounced back from, and this was again the case for South Liverpool’s finest. After peppering the Essemmay goal after going behind with snap shots from Kay and Lamb, Convos’ current top scorer (Lamb) received a ball from Kay with his back to goal on the left side of the Essemmay 18 yard area, turning 90 degrees to his left he drove across the 18 yard area and cracked a low drive into the bottom left of the Essemmay goal with the goalkeeper motionless. 2-1 to Convocation.
Convocation continued their assault on the Essemmay goal, Kaye being put through at one point and his attempted lob scoring 3 points instead of a goal and Lamb continuing to be a menace in and around the box. However, Essemmay were not frightened in getting forward, especially down their left side, with their left full back being full of running and being a real headache to Fairclough who was at 6’s and 7’s.
At this point in proceedings Poole made wholesale changes to ensure everyone in the squad was given enough game time. Jones made was for Poole himself at right midfield, Harper came off for Kearney at left back and Kaye came off for Harper up front.
Whether it was the changes by Poole, the willingness of Essemmay, or the changing of the inclement weather, no one knows, but Convocation again allowed a sloppy goal to be conceded. The marauding Essemmay left back again got down the wing and played a neat ball in to midfield, who then played a first-time ball to the diminutive Essemmay centre forward. On the right hand edge of the Convocation box, he won a 50/50 with Kay and then proceeded to river dance, pirouette and waltz past Kearney and Southern and drill a low angled shot past Morgan; 2 all and game on, but again Convocation showed weaknesses in the back line.
The game was now becoming a little bit feisty too, the nasty little Essemmay right midfielder chundering away to whoever would listen, and the steroid tattooed centre midfielder throwing himself into any challenge that would have him. However, Convocation were more than a match for the North Liverpool thugs, matching them stride for stride and more than ‘putting it up them’. Convo continued with their neat brand of football in the attacking half, and after a neat one two by Holder and Poole down the right, Poole put in a low cross from which the on rushing Kay buried first time into the centre of the Essemmay goal, 3-2 Convocation, a lead this time they would not relinquish.
Harper was buzzing about up front like a dog with 2 dicks, and with Lamb dropping deeper to receive the ball, Essemmay were struggling to deal with the forward line. It was indeed this combination which served its purpose late into the 1st half. Lamb received the ball, turned and played a lovely through ball to Harper, who on the right of the Essemmay box rifled home in the bottom corner of the goal for a very tidy finish. 4 -2 now to Convocation, from which the murmurings and disheartening of the Essemmay team could be heard in North Liverpool. With the first half finished, Poole reminded the faithful at half time that the game was not yet won, to be vigilant and to continue moving the ball. No changes at half time.
The flow of the game did not really change after the break. Convocation appeared in control, no real dramas or threats from Essemmay, as the visitors appeared to tire. Loud wrangling’s about the age of the Convocation faithful were also starting to emerge after the restart, questions asked “How old is he?”, “He isn’t under 45” being touted around as the dummies were now properly beginning to be spat out.
Harper and Lamb continued to be a thorn in Essemmay’s side, and it was the diminutive Harper who caused havoc for the hosts 5th goal. Receiving a smart ball from Kay, on the by line, he evaded the Essemmay centre halve with a quick shimmy, and was then ruthlessly pulled back, penalty decreed the referee. The Essemmay players were up in arms, “what chance have we got as you for a ref” etc etc, showing total disrespect and repulsion for the man in black (but sporting a fetching illuminous waterproof jacket!). From the resulting penalty, Lamb grabbed the ball, send the ball down the middle, the goalkeeper got something on it, but was unable to keep it out. 5-2 to Convocation, well deserved and they were now playing against a team of berating blood hounds, angry, like a pack of dogs that had just been neutered.
The game then went through a pretty pathetic 10minute spell of mis-possession and temper tantrums, notably by the Essemmay team and John Kearney. For a 5minute spell your correspondent counted 4 consecutive occasions where the Convo right back gave the ball away to the opposition which justifiably melted the heads of some of the Convocation team.
However, when the ball was in the Essemmay half the Convocation front line and midfield would come alive. Knox, who had replaced the Italian Stallion Carnacina, received the ball after some neat interplay by Kay and Lamb. Unselfishly Knox played the ball across 18 yard box to the penalty spot to Kay. With the Essemmay centre halve in front of Kay, he pulled the ball back neatly and slotted calmly into the bottom corner. 6-2 to the hosts and cue pandemonium in the Essemmay ranks.
Convocation were now creating chances at will. Knox found the net once, only to be ruled offside, and Lamb after good service from midfield also found the net and was again ruled to be offside (although he looked on by a country mile).
With around 30minutes of the match remaining and the game in Convocation’s lap, Kay was subjected to not one, but two hefty two footed challenges, and although running away with the ball, the referee blew for a free kick. Essemmay’s centre midfield version of a member of One Direction in their late 50s lost the plot, blaspheming continuously to the referee in a nonstop tirade. Webster then tried to reach for his red card, but could not grasp it properly under his illuminous waterproof jacket, but just before the Benny Hill music belted out, he grasped the red card from his top pocket and off the “Harry Styles wannabe” trudged off, shouting, still blaspheming which almost led to a revolt of the whole Essemmay team. “We’ve been cheated”, “It’s not fair”, “They’re all young”, “Let’s all walk off” were the incredulous cries, much to the amusement of the Convocation faithful.
However, after the crazy spell, and the referee obtaining some assemblance of order again the game did restart. Much to the overall picture of the game, Convocation were again on top against the 10 men of the visitors, and indeed it didn’t take any time at all for Kay to feed Harper again down the middle the centre forward to bag his second of the game with a neat side foot finish. 7-2 to Convocation and the chance to finish off the visitors.
Changes were again afoot by Manager Poole. Kay, Lamb, and Southern making way for Jones, Harper and Kay with still a good 20/25 minutes remaining. However, the zest of the game had seemed to diminish with the continued cries of pain from the Essemmay team and management line. There were no real chances or rushes of blood to speak of during the final minutes of the game. Convocation continued to be neat and tidy, and the visitors appeared to give up the ghost so to speak.
So, another good performance by Convocation with the victory wagon bludggering on. The majority of the Convocation team had good solid games. The back line was generally sound in possession apart from Kearney and Bastow’s early mistake, the midfield worked hard and were neat and tidy, but what won it for Convo on the day was the forward line. A good brace from the effervescent Paul Harper with two well taken goals, and a well deserved hattrick from the big arsed Lamb. MOM therefore has to go to ole pie arse himself, Chris Lamb. He dropped deep continually to receive the ball, scored a really good header, and drove in a lovely 2nd goal too. Being the youngest of the Convocation side at 36 he really did get on the Essemmay team’s tits in every sense of the phrase, and long may it last! Another good test out of the way against one of the more aggravating of sides the faithful play each year, and your correspondent if very grateful to shove it right up em!
The Seconds host Northop Hall O.B next Saturday, and fingers crossed the victory march keeps rolling on.
Reporter Sid James
Convo who were looking to continue their great form arrived at Boughton Hall to be greeted by a wedding in the marquee attached to the clubhouse. The Bride looked beautiful in her size 20 wedding dress!!! The Groom looked half cut, maybe needing some dutch courage for his upcoming nuptials.
Anyway onto the game. Convo lined up with a 4-4-1-1 formation with Morgan in goal. New recruit Lawrence at right back, Bastow and Shanihan the centre half pairing with Convo's very own Italian Stallion at left back. Across the middle was Si Holder, Ian Poole, Mark Jones and Ged Powell with Geordie in a 'Firmino' role just behind lone striker Geoff Poole. The game started with Convo in the ascendancy from the first whistle. Ian Poole and Jones were dominating in midfield with some good crunching tackles. Carnicina and Powell were busy exchanging passes with Geordie on the left hand side. The visitors were in total control with 15 minutes gone. The only time Chester threatened was when a nervous Lawrence failed to engage in a few challenges he should have won and wouldn't put his head in where it hurt. Bastow and Shanihan could have been sat in their armchairs with their feet up it was that easy! Then some nice play between Geoff Poole and Jones found the ball find its way back to Bastow who sprayed a fantastic 40 yard diagonal to Geordie who beat the offside trap to chest down and slot from close range 1-0 Convo. Shortly after Ben Prince came on for the 'lost' Lawrence and quickly shored up the right back position. After more domination from the away team Holder played a hopeful ball forward which trickled through to the keeper. In a moment of madness he decided it would be a good idea to throw it straight into Geordie's back. Mark Jones won the ball back and laid it off to Ian Poole who chipped a delightful effort into the top corner Cantona-esque!!! It was the Convo number 10's third goal of a very productive season so far. 2-0 Convo. As the half wore on, the wind appeared to drop. Convo players were determined to take full advantage of the steep hill. More good play from Powell lead to a flurry of chances pinning Chester back. After what seemed like the umpteenth corner the ball was flashed across the box by Geordie for Geoff Poole to tap in at the far post. 3-0 Convo. Chester's players by now were starting to feel aggrieved at every challenge especially the little number 19 who wasn't shy at dishing it out, but cried like a baby every time he was tackled. A few minutes later a good ball by Jones arrived at the right foot of Geoff Poole who despite cries for offside calmly finished hard and low to make it 4-0. By now Convo were creating chances at will. The impressive Jones danced through two or three Chester defenders only to be chopped down in the area. Penalty! The little number 19 was at it again claiming Jones had dived, but in truth it was a 'stonewaller'. Geoff Poole sprinted over to grab the ball fully aware he was on a hat trick. As he placed the ball the Chester keeper was trying some strange antics to try to put the taker off. As Poole struck the ball the keeper yelped out a loud BOO!!! which appeared to put Poole off and duly saved the penalty kick. Hardly in the spirit of sportsmanship as it was a blatant attempt to obstruct the penalty taker. In my opinion it should have been re-taken. Poole's misery was complete when McLaren substituted him for the returning Lawrence. Half time Chester 0 Convo 4.
The second half began with Chester on the front foot, but in general they were still no threat to the Convo goal. The visitors started to get sloppy in possession, Holder in particular giving the ball away needlessly. This gave the home team something to cling on to and became more involved in the game. After some good play again by Chester, Jones (Who was beginning to tire by now) gave away a soft free kick just outside the area. The resulting effort took a wicked deflection and ended up in the back of Morgan's net. 4-1. Chester would feel they deserved this after being much better in the second half. Convo though were still creating chances. A poor kick by the 3ft 2 inch keeper fell the Ian Poole who chested the ball down and sent a looping volley towards goal but the vertically challenged number 1 managed to keep it out. Good play by Prince on the right sent a great ball into the area right onto Geordie's hammer left foot but he couldn't keep his volley down. Despite the home teams improvement there was still no real penetration through Convo's defence. If anything, Convo where guilty of causing their own problems. Powell another newcomer was starting to find the pace of the game too much and was starting to misplace simple passes. That's when he felt the wrath of skipper Geordie who let him know in no uncertain terms it wasn't good enough. Another chance passed by when a good cross arrived into the box. Holder had a free header but he glanced it wide. Maybe his long flowing locks got in his eyes!
Still the tackles were flying in and still the Chester players squealed. One move resulted in a through ball played into the Convo half which looked suspiciously offside. Morgan misjudged the situation hoping it would travel into the area but it held up and the big lump of a number 7 rounded him to poke home. Convo defenders could be held accountable for stopping hoping they would get the offside decision but in all honesty it was sloppy all round. As the game petered out it became a long ball battle with both sides giving away possession to each other.
To conclude it was Another solid performance from Andy's Army. Not as silky and swashbuckling as the two recent wins over Woolton Vets but the battling qualities were there in buckets. Convo are on the crest of a wave right now and it's great to be involved and part of it. Long may it continue.
Man of the match: Some good performances to mention. Ian Poole was solid and aggressive throughout. Mark Jones had a very good first half but tired as the game went into the second half. Carnicina was neat and tidy. Geoff Poole enjoyed his two goals. The two centre halves did everything that was asked of them but the man of the match has to be Geordie. He added to his goal tally and caused Chester no end of problems with his energy and tackling. He's having a great season so far. He also then rounded his afternoon off by telling the Bride that he knew what she was going to be getting up to later. A good afternoon was had by all.
Up the Convo!!!
Convocation (4-4-1-1): Morgan; Carnacina, Shanahan, Bastow, Swan; Jones M, Poole I, Kay, Holder; Powell; Poole G; Subs: Prince, McLaren
Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, Houston, McNally, Prince; Carnacina, Holder, Poole I, Kaye; Harper P, Lamb C; Subs: Bastow, Jones Ar, Jago, Kay, Southern, McLaren
4-5-1: Jack, Harper A, Dave B, Chris Mac, Ben, Carnacina, Geordie, Poolie I, Huston, Craig, Round. Substitution: McClaren
Another away game for Convocation 2nd team, and this time an international one! A short bench for our team with only 12 players against a newly merged team, including a few players with only 10 minutes cameo appearance on the pitch. As a note, this is the last game of Speedy for the home team. An unedited scheme with Jack back in goal after a tour in Germany, with 4 in the back (Harper A, Dave B, Chris Mac, Ben), 5 midfielders (Carnacina, Geordie, Poolie I, Huston, Craig) and Round as striker. Green-striped kit today, as, against all odds, another team plays in black and safety orange.
Despite the short bench, a good quality team with three skilled tiki-taka players in front of a strong defence. Good match temperature at 17.5 C with clouds that later turned into light rain. Wind blowing SSE 2 m/s. Heavy pitch in average conditions, with some uneven grass of near imperfect cut. Strangely narrow as well. Mr Salmon the referee starts the game with Convos kicking off for the 1st possession of the game. Good initial 10 minutes with the skilled centre midfielders circulating well the ball. The home team shows from the beginning of the game what would be their main tactic, long crosses to their 2 quick strikers to release the pressure from our midfield. But is Convocations here that dominated the initial phase of the game, with few risks for the defence and few initial wide attempts from Geordie.
It is around the first 10 minutes that Dave steals another of the long ball from the oppositions, passes to it Ben, Poolie receives and then let an indomitable Craig in the corridor, managing to attract two defenders from the opposition. He then passes on back to a free Carnacina that from around the penalty spot kicks a well placed left-footed shot behind the goal. 1-0 for the away team that see their good organization well repaid.
In the following few minutes, another long ball finally cracks Convo’s defence for a temporarily tied game. Shame as they were playing some good football there.
Jack saves several close-proximity shots, hypnotizing their strikers on several occasions, including a post being hit and not going in back to their strikers. Convocations kept pushing forward to score another goal and this time if from the left side of the pitch that Geordie displayed all his power to the opposition, managed to pass two of their players on a single touch, for a run to the end of the pitch. The accurate back pass for a free Carnacina was well connected for a central strike that their goalie only managed to touch. Convos ahead again with confidence against a team that has been known for being a strong opposition in the past.
On the 2-1, Chris Mac like a magician tries to make the ball disappear from the box but the trick did not work well and the ball rematerialized itself a few steps behind him. The defence then cleared, with Chris quite innocently acknowledging the play.
On one of the successive possession, Dave tried to pass Chris to release pressure from the defence, but their quick strikers appeared from nowhere to steal the ball for the 2-2. Few minutes of good play for Convo and then both teams back in the changing room.
Quick start of the second half for the opposition that in few minutes managed to release their fast strikers for easy shots one on one, for a 3-2 first and after a few minutes again, with a similar combination. 4-2 for the home team. Convos have lower their centre of gravity which provided a better chance for clear passes from the opposition midfielders.
It followed a phase where convocations pushed with all their might to get back on track. And it seemed to pay off, with most of the effort brought by an energetic Craig.
Craig was then run over of few times but Mr Salmon was not paying attention, as he was talking to one of the away team and not looking at the game.
The opposition team kept playing the same old game long ball to their strikers, but the defence showed solid in this phase and seemed to control them better.
It was from a long fantastic filtering pass from Dave on one of the opposition long balls, he swept that triggered Craig on the right side of the pitch, his speed not matched by their left-back. His dangerous shot bounced off the goalkeeper and was collected by Round who managed to push the ball in for an easy tap in for the 4-3.
Convos kept pushing for a further 15 minutes, with good intensity as Speedy left the pitch amongst the initially timid applause of both teams.
But it was at this point that the short bench took it tall. Another long ball for the strikers that again managed to convert a clear shot for their strikers for the 5-3
In the next play, a bad tackle against Round prompted the loud complaints of an energetic Poolie, quite rightly so. Good possession for Convo in the next few minutes. Geordie skimming shots is slightly wide, but the keeper decides to try to save it. The referee calls is for a goal kick, but fair play to the goalie that helped to overturn Mr. Salmon decision.
On the corner, Chris Mac had a free header, powerful but inaccurate with the ball bouncing immediately in front of him and then heading over that bar. In the next stretch of the game good run from Harper who managed to tackle on the corner a yet again dangerous run of their strikers. A solid game for him today. Another good spell for Convos with Round engaging their goalkeeper that managed again to show some good skills and handed the ball for another corner.
On the resulting corner kick for the exhausted convocation, a cameo appearance for McLaren replacing Harper, who sprints towards the goal for one of his famous headers, but Carnacina’s badly kicked cross was low and easily cleared by the defence.
On the next long ball from the opposition, one of their quick wingers collected a loose ball in front of the penalty area and hit an unfortunate McClaren that bravely tried to stop the shot to go wide with his foot and made the ball tumble over a frozen Jack. Unlucky for the away team and their captain. In the next few minutes, a generous Geordie pulled again with the referee awarding a free-kick from a dangerous spot. Huston took charge and with a nicely curled only managed to hit the bar. Shame for the solid midfielder that played a nice game.
Minutes run with the same repeated tactic of long balls for their inspired strikers and to an easy for another goal. Last chance for Carnacina sent in the corridor from Geordie. Ignoring both Poolie and Round screams in the middle of the box, he opted for his speciality weak shot that was easily saved by the goalkeeper.
A good game from the convocations. The manager McClaren at the end of the game declared ”We played well today against good opposition and we had a hell of a first half, with a longer bench we could have managed better the energies on the pitch. Now we need to concentrate for our next game against Wolton”.
Final score 7-3 for the home team (Carnacina 12’, Carnacina 30’, Round 65’).
MoM: Carnacina, special mention for Jack for all the saves and bites
Autumn had well & truly arrived. A dip in the temperature, a swaying wind and torrential rain, making the pitch surface softer with a bit of zip on it. This would prove to be more than suitable for the away side today.
Alsop today’s opponents have proved firm opposition down the years. Last time out, they wiped the floor with Convo at Wyncote but today would prove more different.
Convo started well and on the front foot. Kaye was in the thick of things in the centre early on. Breaking up opposition play and driving forward with some swagger. Needless to say he broke the deadlock early on. Finding the space, Kaye unleashed a 25 yard shot edict should have seen the keeper collect, but he went down a sack of spuds and let the ball under him. 1-0 to Convo.
Meanwhile at the other end, Andy Harper had his keeper having kittens when thought he was Messi in his own penalty area, walking the ball out of his own keepers grasp, losing it to the forward and then luckily getting it back before the danger was cleared.
The opposition rarely threatened and before too long, Kaye unleashed another similar effort to the first. 20-25 yards out and the keeper again went down too early and missed it completely. 2-0. Convo totally in control.
Somehow though, before half-time, Convo conceded a penalty. A tackle by Justin just in the line of the penalty box was adjudged to be in the box by the ‘home’ referee and he gave a generous spot kick to the hosts. The new keeper was well up for it however and a great save diving to his left to palm out.
A couple of excellent corners swung in after that by G Poole saw Chris Lamb have 2 efforts off the line, but Convo went in a comfortable 2 up at the break.
2nd half proved a more feisty affair. Alsop’s version of Paulie (Burgess Meredith) started to blow a gasket at little niggly tussles with I Poole, Kaye who were clearly on top. Craig Kay also took the Ian Poole kick off award this week as he fronted up to a mean looking Alsop defender who had just tried to hack his thigh off.
Other than that, Convo carried on with their incisive attacking play; C Lamb was determined to get on the scoring sheet & got 2. Graham Kaye (*spoiler alert) meanwhile capped off a man of the match performance by grabbing his hatrick.
At the other end, Mcnally & Justin blocked everything coming through continuously and it was only a very dubious decision by the ‘home’ referee (yards offside) which gave Alsop their paltry consolation.
Ian Poole also added another headed goal this season from G Poole corner to complete the rout.
6 goals in the bank for Convo & free pint glasses given away in the NALGO bar after the game to anyone who wanted them too! A good days work all round!
MOM G Kaye. Good performance by Mcnally tooConvo; keeper [Cadd], Jago, Justin, Mcnally, A Harper, G Kaye, I Poole, Fairclough, Arwell, Iacopo, C Lamb…used subs: G Poole, C Kaye, McLaren, B Lamb
Mike Neville Report
A very warm autumnal day treated the visitors to the now well-trodden road of Crosby as we faced Ramblers “B” team today for the 2nd time this season. We were to play on the B pitch as Ramblers 1st team had a simultaneous fixture.
Convocation lined up with (from left to right) Knox (GK for the day), Fairclough, Bastow, Shanahan, Jones, Carnacina, Welsh, Kay, McNally, and upfront Schofield R and “Paul”. Subs for the day was the effervescent McLaren, Kaye, and Prince (cameo role – more of that later!).
Ramblers kicked off proceedings and from the outset their game plan was simple, lump it long to the big man upfront, for the youngest member of their team (and probably their best player) to run onto and cause what havoc he could. During the first 20mins or so of the game Ramblers used this tactic time and time again when they had possession, and then out of possession closed ranks and made it difficult for the Convocation team to play through them.
However, this is not to say that Convo didn’t create many chances. When they did play football and passed it around several gilt-edge chances fell the way of Kay and “Paul”, but neither managed to work the keeper from good shooting chances. It appeared at times too that all too many of the Convo team were willing to buy a lottery ticket from 35/40 yards and win the jackpot, however none of these bothered the steady Ramblers goalkeeper.
It was the visitors however that took the lead on the 25th minute mark, a good one two between Kay and Schofield set Kay away down the left wing. He evaded the right back’s tackle and slid in a lovely ball on the six yard area for “Paul” to tuck away for a deserved 1 nil lead. This is nothing more that the visitors deserved after peppering the Ramblers box for the first period of the game, and Knox having been merely a bystander.
All this was to unravel somewhat in a crazy, and rather puzzling next 10 minutes to the game. Another long punt up the pitch was heaved towards the Convo half by the Ramblers no.1. Kay and Bastow both went for the same ball with Bastow’s shout being disregarded, the ball skimmed off Kay’s head and straight into the path of the Ramblers centre forward. With Know off his line on the 18-yard area the forward simply lobbed Knox to make it 1-1. This was something Convo ill deserved, and this was literally the only attack Ramblers had mustered in 25 minutes.
However, a few moments later disaster struck. Just inside the Convo half Kay grappled with the Ramblers lanky centre forward and was pulled back by his opponent for which the referee blew. Unbelievably though the decision was given against Convo and in favour of the hosts. Convo players questioned the decision extensively but no change. From the resulting free kick however, the Ramblers young centre forward, floated a lofted ball into the Convo box which then sailed over Knox’s head right into the top right hand bin of the Convo goal (Ronaldinhoesque from the 2002 World Cup). Convo were rightly in shock at this happening and at the unjust nature of the free kick given.
More damage was to come. The hosts now buoyed on by this quick unfathomable turnaround actually had an attack. Some interlinking play down the Convo left led to a throw which resulted in Carnacina being turned inside out by a player labelled by Ramblers as “Psycho”, who then played a tantalising ball into the box for the Ramblers left midfielder to turn it past a stranded Knox. 3 -1 to Ramblers at the break.
McLaren’s team talk centred around keeping the ball, passing the ball and stopping innocuous shots from 35 yards. A change for the visitors meant the disappointing Carnacina coming off for Kaye. The start of the period began as the first half had started, namely Convo dominant in possession, and creating lots of clear-cut chances. The ball was now infrequently coming into the Convo half, the visitors now dictating the pace and play, and reward finally arrived around 15/20mins in the half. A neat one two by Kaye and Jones down the Convo right let to Kaye crossing in a pinpoint ball for “Paul” to rise like a salmon and nod home from 10 yards into the bottom left corner. This was little more than Convo deserved after their dominance, game on.
3 to 4 minutes later Convo should’ve equalised. A neat one two by Kaye and Kay down the right led to the sub playing across the Ramblers goal inside the 6-yard area. With the keeper at the front post the goal was gaping. This is where McNally entered the fray. With the ball served up on a plate, along with serviette, cutlery and cut-glass crystal flutes, the lanky midfielder got his legs all tangled, completely missed the ball, and it nutmegged him. His excuse was that he thought he was offside……………………………………whatever!
Still 3-2 to Ramblers, but the pressure was still building from the visitors. Knox had one or two balls to deal with in the 2nd half, but with no real menace. Chances came and went in quick succession from the visitors, notably the ball falling to “Paul” in the Ramblers box for this hattrick, only for the diminutive striker to get underneath the ball and blast the ball skyward. Chances also came to Kay at a frequent rate, but it appeared he had left his shooting boots at home for the day as not of his “shots” bothered the Ramblers keeper. However, his luck turned on around the 30-minute mark, collecting a clearance from the Ramblers defence, he for once found the target from 22 yards into the bottom right of the Ramblers net to make it 3 all.
For the remaining 10minutes the game did limp along a little. Some last ditch defending kept Ramblers in the game at time as they were determined to hang onto this draw. Prince was now off the bench (in his cameo role) as well as Captain McLaren as Convo tried to look for the winner. Your correspondent is not sure how many times Prince touched the ball, but he did fall over several times when the ball came near him, so one only hopes for improved cameo roles in the future.
A winner however could not be mustered by either team, though Convo were the most likely. All in all, it was not a bad game to watch which was played in the right spirit even if there were some dodgy refereeing decisions. Convo at times played some good football, and with all the missed chances on another day could’ve been out of sight. Solid performances were had by Jones, Welsh, Kay and “Paul”, but MOM goes to Shanahan. Up against a lankly front man, he dealt with almost all aerial balls comfortably and was a calming influence in defence.
Jaap Stam: “We came, we saw, we kicked their ass. Convo have shorts with pockets and that is where Woolton Vets stayed.”
Convocation (4-4-2): 'Gaz'; Harper A, McNally, Bastow, Barlow J; Fairclough, Poole I, Houston, Poole G; Lamb C, Lamb B; Subs: Knox, Carnacina, Harper P, McLaren
Three “Come ‘ere, Lad”s (all for South), and a last minute winner – the season proper’s back.
Convocation (4-4-2): Morgan; Harper A, McNally, Bastow, Barlow J; Fairclough, Nawrocki, Schofield R, Galy; Poole G, Kaye; Subs: McLaren, Knox, Carnacina
Bobby Mimms reports
Like the Taliban, Convocation are back, just forty-two days after their AGM (Convo’s, not the Taliban), but unlike the Afghan cuddlees people are actually pleased to see the chaps from Wyncote once again. They’d been invited to play Ramblers on Saturday – just for a change – in a memorial match for the Crosby club’s former player, Stuart Hooper, who died at a ridiculously young age from cancer several years ago. A minute’s applause around the centre circle prior to kick off (which seemed to go on forever, leaving one or two of the less fitter participants needing a rest after it finished) showed in just how high esteem the fellow was held.
As so often at Moor Lane the game was only forty minutes each way, a small blessing considering how humid the early afternoon was (it had been spitting throughout the morning and started again after the final whistle), but even so it was clear that fitness was going to be a problem for the visitors against a mixed Ramblers side whose average age was a good fifteen years younger than theirs. Several of the Convo players were also hamstrung from the start due to a thoroughly depressing chat they’d had en route along the M57 concerning overpopulation, disease, famine, and war – Happy New Season! – while one complained of having the ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ theme tune stuck in his head.
For some reason Convocation could only scrabble together eleven able bodies to start, out of the whole club (Anthony Lewis would eventually turn up midway through the second half, having got stuck in traffic), with even Keith Purcell having to be de-mothballed to play in goal. Ahead of him the orange-shirted visitors had Tim Jago and Paul Fairclough at left and right back respectively, with Dave Bastow and new First Team captain Jon Welsh in between, while in midfield Ian Poole and the lesser spotted Richy Schofield began in the centre, flanked by Craig Kaye (l) and Chris McNally (r), the latter having pumped up the balls with supplies from lovehoney.com if his claims of what he’d been up to all morning were anything to go by. Up front Simon Williams was partnered with Ramblers loanee, Steve Hogan, who would come back to haunt his parent club (well, slightly peeve them), and on the bench Andy McLaren was joined by another guest from the home side, Adam Killen, and a friend of the tardy Lewis, James Appleton.
The start of the match was slightly surreal on a number of levels, no less than in the warm-up when McNally – looking well, as heavy no longer lies the crown – hammered a practice shot into the net and appeared to call out, “Sue Barker!” And then, once Convo got proceedings underway on the freshly cut, bobbly pitch that was covered in some flavour of animal droppings (and with the these-days-forested tennis courts behind them), they proceeded to defend for the first quarter of the game in a slapstick manner that would have had aficionados of the Keystone Cops purring with delight.
Let’s get this clear: the back line didn’t play too badly, and despite conceding nine over the whole game Bastow and Welsh were a reassuring presence at the heart of it, but for a while it was a real Jekyll and Hyde showing from everyone. Marking is a fitness and savvy thing so let’s skip that for the time being, but before it was even necessary the absolute basics seemed laughably unachievable: simple passes to team mates were gifted straight to lurking (and sometimes not-so-lurking) opponents, clearances were frequently delayed allowing them to be charged down, a number of players tried out Cruyff Turns on the edge of their own box, and more than one back pass to Purcell – making his first appearance of the decade and wearing a short-sleeved Burnley top in the absence of a goalkeeper’s shirt – was absolutely wellied at him; Appleton, once he went on, hoofed his high up into the heavens and across the area, and only just missed finding the net at the furthest upright. That being so, in between all the nonsense they defended admirably, almost like World Champions, and somehow none of it resulted directly in any concessions.
The game was never one-way traffic though, and at the other end of the pitch Ramblers – decked out as usual in blue-and-gold quarters – were perfectly capable of fannying around themselves. Convo were on the front foot just as much as their hosts were, with guest player Hogan quite clearly in no mood to go easy on his chums, while midway through the half Williams forced the all-in-white ‘keeper into a good double-palmed save to his right to push the ball around the post. For the first twenty minutes McNally and Fairclough overlapped intelligently, causing the opposition problems down that flank (although the less said about their willingness to track back…), while Schofield had two-and-a-half years of shooting from miles out to catch up on. And Poole… well, Pooley’s Pooley.
Anyway, to the nitty gritty. In amongst all that unpunished defensive madcappery Convo did still concede three times, albeit due to the more conventional scourges of poor marking and – drum roll, please – an own goal. Ramblers’ first was scored about ninety seconds after Purcell had made a save low to his right to prevent a daisy cutter from sneaking in at the post, when they attacked down that same side of the pitch and, pretty much from the byline, crossed into the middle, where captain Jordan Mornington bulleted an uncontested header into the net from just outside the six-yard box to the sound of forty-or-so people (mainly his colleagues) groaning.
As already mentioned the game was far more back and forth than the early scoring might suggest, but Ramblers were quite ruthless when they actually created chances (rather than having the chances served up to them on a plate), although when their lead was doubled several minutes after the opener they didn’t really have to do too much themselves. The break down their left flank after Poole lost possession on the halfway line, well that was all their own work, but when one of their players ran on into the Convo penalty area and crossed low into the middle as Purcell advanced to meet him, Welsh saved his hosts the need to put themselves out by walloping the ball into his own unguarded net from near the twelve-yard spot; his woes were slightly soothed by Jago, who pointed out that he had been speeding in from the opposite side of the pitch and would almost certainly have oggied himself had the First Team captain not done so.
Within a few minutes the visitors found themselves three-nil down when Ramblers attacked down their left and crossed through the box again, one of their own doing the damage this time by smashing home at the back post, once more completely unmarked. With barely a quarter-of-an-hour gone there was serious concern within the orange ranks that things could get very ugly, but then, whaddaya know, they only went right down the other end of the pitch and got one back: Jago attempted to put the ball into the penalty area where Williams was in mid-dart, but it struck an opponent and looped up with a bizarre trajectory, before dropping back down into the net just underneath the crossbar and past an extremely blasé attempt to keep it out by the #1. Sue Barker!
Appleton and Killen were introduced to proceedings midway through the first half in place of Jago and McNally respectively (Fairclough stayed put at right back for the remainder of the half), and though they both gave good accounts of themselves, before long Ramblers scored again. For a change they attacked along their right flank, and when one particular player dribbled inside and into the Convo penalty area, twisting back and forth to try and throw off defenders, he eventually seemed to have a clear view of the goal and dinked a shot past Purcell as the ‘keeper advanced to close him down (for a brief second the #1 was probably thankful that he didn’t have to worry about flapping away the midges that had plagued him since the start; whenever the ball was in the home side’s half of the pitch he’d been throwing around semaphore shapes as though signalling to the fleet – Hello Sailor!).
The nadir of Convocation’s defending on Saturday was almost certainly their hosts’ fifth, scored about ten minutes before the interval. They may have conceded goals at which the marking was non-existent, been caught on the break on countless occasions, and put through their own net, but when one of Ramblers’ twenty-somethings gained possession on the halfway line and danced Maradona-esque past five orange-shirted opponents, all putting in challenges like someone dipping a toe into a hot bath, if at all, it was scandalous; the youngster may have ‘turned like a little eel’ when he won the ball but he shouldn’t have been allowed to get anywhere near the Convo eighteen-yard box, where, admittedly, his curled finish into the far postage stamp point of the goal from the corner of the area was rather special. In an otherwise enjoyable game of multiple concessions, it was the only time that the visitors looked like losing their rag.
But then, while they waited for Ramblers to score again, Convo went and grabbed a couple of quickfire goals of their own. Well, they got goals, as the first of the pair was yet another oggy – the third of the half, never mind the game – bundled past his own ‘keeper under no pressure whatsoever by an over-enthusiastic defender, when a hopeful but seemingly harmless ball was crossed into the box from the region of the pitch where you would expect to find Kaye or Schofield. Within ninety seconds Welsh extended a go-go-gadget neck to power a header into the net at a corner, bringing his personal goal difference up to zero. And at half time the score was 5-3.
The second period began at a steady, undemanding pace, and the first ten minutes-or-so were spent predominantly in the home side’s half of the pitch, the breakaways that they had benefited from so much before the break now being regularly ruined by everyone in their colours who went anywhere near the touchline flanked by nettles letting the ball roll under their feet and out, whenever it was played to them – very strange. That said, on their first real excursion into Convo territory they scored: one of their younger chaps danced around and eventually into the visitors’ penalty area and, having been held up by opposition defenders for what felt like an eternity, got a shot off that Purcell did well to block with his gut; unfortunately for the ‘keeper the rebound fell back to the shooter who then chipped a second effort over the mound of orange bodies that had collided into each other in a bid to stop the original attempt, and into the net.
Ramblers had changed their ‘keeper during the interval, with one of their first-half midfielders donning the gloves after it, but there was little he could do when Convocation pulled another goal back as the midpoint of the second period neared, Hogan biting the hand that usually feeds him by blasting a net-finder through a thicket of bodies at a corner. Game back on? Well no, because within minutes of Lewis finally turning up and being introduced to proceedings (by which time Killen was back in his usual colours) the home side scored a seventh following a mad scramble in the Convo area, numerous shots and blocks, and a youngster in quarters running in from his right and absolutely leathering a shot in off the back post from a tight eight yards out.
Suddenly the game started looking exactly what it was, the first of a new season, and many players on both sides were putting in all the exertion of 50-B&H-a-day fiends. Ramblers grabbed an eighth with about ten minutes remaining when they attacked down their right, the player in possession ghosted past Jago near the byline, and from a very tight angle dinked an effort just over the shoulder the advancing Purcell and into the net.
McLaren introduced himself – as you do – for the closing stages, but there was little that he or anyone in orange could do when the hosts netted one last goal with a couple of minutes remaining, through a shot from about twenty-five yards out that was just out of reach of Purcell’s fingertips. Bastow though, disagreed, and suggested after the match that the ‘keeper should have done better, although he also conceded that if you’re going to cock up it might as well be the ninth of nine.
With Purcell having split his boot from toe to heel when Ramblers scored their sixth, meaning that he’d effectively been playing in flip-flops ever since – something he’d neglected to tell anyone – he chose that moment to reveal that he couldn’t go on (it was nothing to do with the score nearing the dreaded ‘double figures’ mark, honest to god). So when the official called it a day, several minutes later, it was new glover Safe Hands Jago who was the recipient of a (mini) clean sheet.
On returning to the changing rooms after the match the Convo players found that their Ramblers counterparts had left them a crate of Corona beer – Corona!?; ironic, or what? – while there was more booze to follow during a brief memorial ceremony, but only outside in the spitting rain as the clubhouse was out of bounds (for loitering) due to the Covid restrictions. Equally as taboo during the game, it often felt, was defending, or at least competent defending, as there were periods of fantastically comical nonsense, from both sides, that will surely encourage the crowds to flock back, post-pandemic.
The final score and result was a fair reflection of how the game proceeded, and probably understandable considering the relative age and fitness of the two sides, but at least it was a game of football, which can’t be sniffed at after all the disruption of the last eighteen months. Hopefully as the season progresses things will get back to something resembling normality.
(And speaking of normal, how about this for a potential tour song – while it’s difficult to imagine that anything would be lost in translation, the words might need some getting used to.)
Man Of The Match: Everyone played okay, and the two Ramblers lads deserve thanks for helping Convo out, but while it’s tempting to give the award to Sue Barker, the nod goes to Fairclough. His overlapping with McNally was actually quite enjoyable to watch, and though he was slow to track back at times that was more to do with the ravages of time than a want of doing his duty. You can’t censure a man for getting old.
Convocation (4-4-2): Purcell; Jago, Bastow, Welsh J, Fairclough; Kaye, Schofield R, Poole I, McNally; Williams, Hogan; Subs: Appleton, Killen, Lewis, McLaren