Match Report - 17 Feb 2013, Clapham Rovers A Clapham Rovers lost to Real Northern 'A'
Clapham Rovers ‘A’ 1 – 2 Real Northern ‘A’
Rovers crashed out of the Bert Gaby trophy at the semi final stage on Sunday, relinquishing their defence of the trophy in the process.
It was a disappointing result in a game that could have gone either way, but in truth one that Real Northern probably had slightly the better of. Northern showed a greater willingness to win and mixed battling qualities with strong arm tactics that a Rovers team missing the goliath G struggled to cope with.
Rovers found it difficult to get going in the first half and squandered possession on regular occasions as Northern came out of the blocks hard with a pressing style and determination to win the individual battles. By playing a long ball, back to front game Rovers conceded the ball time and time again and found it difficult to get a passing game going in the right areas of the pitch. If not for some outstanding defensive headers from Nath and Grif, a miraculous one handed stop from Danny and another superb smothered stop then Rovers could quite easily have found themselves a couple down before the game had really even got going.
It was therefore against the run of play when Rovers took the lead half way through the first half. A fine move starting with Grif bringing the ball down in the middle of the park and linking with Nick and/or Smudger down the right before the ball came to Godwin in the box. Godders pirouetted like a ballet dancer (which unfortunately was an impersonation he tried to maintain for the rest of the game) and laid it off to an unmarked Sosa who dispatched the ball after sneaking in from the left hand side. A fine goal.
The goal came at a time when Rovers had begun to get more of a grip on the game as Nick and Grif began to win the midfield battle and Smudger began to attack the wide players with some silky runs. Time and time again when it looked like we about to build a threatening attack Northern reverted to diving in and committing fouls with Smudge and Sosa their number one targets. This led to free-kicks going into the mixer which the physically slighter Rovers’ players compared with their counterparts were unable to capitalise on.
Shortly before half time Rovers gave the ball away in their defensive third and Northern’s striker complete with see through hair net latched onto the ball, cut inside and let rip with a ball that dipped into the top corner, scraping the underside of the bar on the way down. It was an absolute worldie and took the teams in all square at half time.
The second half saw both teams try and wrestle the initiative before Northern began to force more pressure and a series of corners. Rovers’ switched to a 4-4-2 system in search of winner, but were shortly behind after a mêlée in the box led to a shot that was parried into the path of Northern’s striker who duly slotted home. There was more than a suspicion of offside, but it is difficult to overly complain when there was an actual assistants running the line.
With plenty of time to get back in the game and a couple of half chances presented themselves as we started to play with a bit more freedom. Nick came closest with a right foot curler from the edge of the area that grazed the post, but other opportunities were sadly blocked or snuffed out. As the game ticked on and we became more stretched looking for that illusive equaliser. It was during that period chances fell to Northern on the counter and Danny and a scramble defence did well to restrict us to just a one goal deficit.
The final whistle blew with tempers frayed and Rovers hopes of another glorious cup winning season came crashing to an end with something of a bitter taste.
Man of the match: Credit to JD for putting in an assured performance in an unfamiliar role at centre back. But it was a toss-up between Steve Grif who showed plenty of adventure and spirit in the middle of the park and Danny who kept us in the game with some fine stops. I have to give it to Danny though who made one world class save in the first half and showed safe hands when called upon.
Luckily Rovers have the opportunity to enact immediate revenge when they face Real Northern in the league next week. There’s still the chance to mount a promotion push and banish the demons of the week before. Now’s the time to stick together and put in a big performance.
Real Northern 'A' 2 - 1 Clapham Rovers A Clapham Rovers ()