Match Report - 08 Sep 2013, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers lost to FC Lonsdale
FC Lonsdale 5 Clapham Rovers 0
The result certainly looked emphatic, but only told half the tale of what was ultimately an embarrassing first run out for the Rovers this season.
On paper Rovers looked strong and went into the game brimming with confidence with some old faces returning to the fore. However we all know that games are not won on paper and Rovers were accountable for a series of errors that were duly punished and up against a top quality opposition goalkeeper who played out of his skin.
It looked like business as usual when G clattered into a Lonsdale forward 5mins into the game, leaving said striker unable to continue. Tone set, with the Captain leading from the front. And certainly amidst the usual helter skelter of the opening exchanges Rovers looked to play the better passing football as they adjusted quickly to the newly launched 4-2-3-1 formation. If anything there were times when Rovers looked to overplay and could have benefitted from clearing their lines from the back when put under pressure.
The first goal conceded certainly falls under this category. A sideways ball played into Matt ‘The Magician’s’ feet deep inside our half saw him do his best disappearing act trying to control the ball as he crumbled to the floor like Paul Alcock (although on this occasion Paulo Di Canio was nowhere to be seen). Leaving our back 4 exposed and slightly out of position the ball was played into the channel with a Lonsdale striker bearing down on goal. G was in close enough proximity that I was expecting a repeat of the infamous 2012 missile tackle that Chris Godwin dreams about every night, but whether G was conscious of conceding a penalty / red card so early in the game or slightly off balance there was no repeat of that earth shuddering tackle and the ball bobbled into the bottom corner after a scruffy finish.
Rovers responded well to that set back and were unfortunate to be not only level at the break, but in front. Smudger was heavily influential, committing defenders and spraying cross field balls to open up the game. One lovely threaded ball from Smudge between CB and LB saw Grif one-on-one with the keeper only for an uncharacteristic bad first touch to let the chance go begging.
Then there was the save of the century. A great team move started by Bunny who clipped the ball into Juan on the left, resulted in some great one touch triangles and a ball fizzed low into the cavalry Horse deep inside the penalty box. Jim met the ball strongly with the front right hoof sending the ball back low back towards goal. Their keeper going the other way responded with a reaction save low to his right that would have had Horse, Uncle Joyce and G reminiscing of that Gordan Banks save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup (a game that each of which were allowed to stay up late to watch live).
Rovers found themselves in other good field positions and it was often only the final ball that let them down. While a great run by Grif that presented a goalscoring opportunity went agonisingly over the bar. An injury to Molby 30mins in didn’t help the shape and ball retention from Rovers and Lonsdale were not without their moments in the first half, with JD hooking a ball off the line and them clipping the bar from a well taken free-kick. Lonsdale were certainly a big unit and their most dangerous moments came from set pieces. A questionable corner deep into injury time of the first half saw the lead extended to 2-0. The ball swung in under the bar was flapped at, headed across goal and tapped into the gaping goal. The timing of the goal was a sucker punch and an unjust scoreline at half time. Apparently even one of the Lonsdale defenders was heard saying “I can’t believe how we are winning this match”.
There was still all to play for in the second half assuming Rovers struck first, but the 3rd goal really killed the game as a contest. G playing head tennis with the opposition, eventually led to their smallest player sneaking into the box and looping a header over Danny in nets, to which he kept repeatedly shouting like one of Gaz’s Tourette’s moments “I scored with my head, I scored with my head!!!” Rovers heads went down after this and we began to chase the game with more mistakes creeping into the game which was a constant theme throughout.
The 4th was a penalty when Juan appeared to get a touch on the ball, although have also seen given. Danny got a hand to it, but wasn’t enough to see it nestle in the bottom corner, while the 5th was another set piece header that should have been disallowed for off-side.
Moments for the Rovers (the Good, The Bad and The Ugly) in the second half…
The Good – A nice cameo from Tom and showed some good touches. Three more great 2nd half chances that could have led to goals, one from Gori that went agonisingly wide after a bursting run, another great low stop by their keeper from close range and a ‘worked’ free-kick that saw a shot blocked from point blank.
The Bad – Bunny dubbed a little school boy who adopts the foetal position at the first sight of danger tried to restore his ‘hard man’ (bahoo!) reputation, by identifying one of Londsdale’s smaller players for a typical late lunge which ensued in a bit of argy bargy and surprisingly his first ever Rovers yellow card. Surprising given the recklessness of some of Bunny’s tackling in the past.
The Ugly – Two outrageous dives from Smudger, one that won a penalty and his subsequent ‘Pirlo’ dink from the spot that went over the crossbar made this a birthday that he’d like to forget.
MOM: James Mark (Horse). First real game back after a long injury lay off and he led the line well up top. Won countless headers against an imposing CB and were it not for a stupendous save would have opened his goal scoring account for the season.
Ultimately it could have been a day that could have gone a lot differently. It’s difficult to take positives from a 5-0 defeat, but there were certainly a few.
- More composed finishing and a less formidable keeper would have seen us score 4 or 5 another week. We created chances and at times played with good fluidity.
- Our squad looks a lot stronger than this time last year, so no reason why we can’t bounceback from this and go on a long winning run
There are also things to work on however
FC Lonsdale 5 - 0 Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers ()