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15th January 2022 v St Anne’s (Wirral) at St George’sPark.

Regular O50s opponents St Anne’s (Wirral) were to be our first fixture of the year and we were looking forward to it till a youthful SA(W) side turned up. Never mind, a game was on and we were thankful for that.

St Anne’s kicked off and the first opportunity fell to the RAF in the sixth minute when some good work down the left involving Beattie, Martin and McLeod ended with a throw deep in the SA half. From the throw the ball was crossed and Coull got his head to the ball but was slightly under it and the ball flew over the bar. Straight from the goal kick, SA went down the other end and scored when opportunities to clear the ball were wasted by defenders as they tried to pass the ball out of defence. One pass went astray, straight to the opposition and when the shot came in it took a mighty deflection that took the ball over a helpless Stones in the RAF goal. 0-1 St Anne’s. Both sides had a couple of chances but the RAF were causing their own problems with some sloppy passing. That said, when they got it right it forced desperate defending from St Anne’s and Laws was unlucky with a shot narrowly over in the 11th minute. In the 13th minute it was 2-0 to St Anne’s when, having not learnt their lesson, the RAF once again tried to pass their way out of their own area and St Anne’s nicked the ball. Yet again, another deflection, and the ball is once again in the net. 0-2 St Anne’s. In the 20th minute the RAF hit back after some good work by Barker saw the RAF win a corner. When it came in, the ball bounced around the box before Coull decided to smash it goalwards and his effort paid off. 1-2 St Anne’s. St Anne’s were the better side on reflection but the RAF were trying everything to get back into this game against this youthful opposition. Chances came and went for both sides but in the 40th minute following a shot from Bryan that was deflected out for a corner it was all square again. The corner came in and it looked to have been cleared but a fortuitous flick back into the box was met by a fortuitous flick of the leg by centre half Robinson and the ball looped up and over a despairing St Anne’s keeper. 2-2. Parity didn’t last long as in the 42nd minute with the RAF on the offensive, they lost the ball and a long punt forward saw the attacker beat the offside trap, or so said the assistant, although everyone else there disagreed including the St Anne’s officials and he slotted past Stones. 2-3 St Anne’s. Beattie then went down in the box and the shout for a penalty went up…only from Beattie himself. The crowd just shouted “Tom Daly”. The referee then blew for half time. HT 2-3 St Anne’s.

The second half kicked off and it was a similar game to the first half. In the 53rd minute, St Anne’s extended their lead when they again won the ball back and beat the offside trap. The forward scored curling the ball around the advancing keeper who was Lusardi who had come on for Stones. A good goal that one. 2-4 St Anne’s. There had been a lot of changes at half time including Lusardi in goal but his game didn’t last much longer as he went down injured and Stones had to return. The RAF tried again to get on top but they were struggling under mounting pressure but the RAF defending was immense at times now and the opposition were not finding clear opportunities as easy to come by. However, after 75 minutes, and it’s a first for me, I saw a player sin binned!! Beattie had given the ref a hard time, questioning his decisions, after his earlier penalty appeal had been turned down I think (lol) and following a foul said too much. The referee sin binned him for 10 minutes. On his return to the pitch the benefit was almost immediate. In the 86th minute a corner to the RAF was played short to Edwards. Now, most players would have turned inside away from the line and the defender thought so too but the maestro let the ball go between his legs and turned totally bamboozling the defender who had tracked him out there. Edwards the ran along the goal line before firing in a low cross that Pearce happily slotted home. 3-4 St Anne’s. That’s the way it stayed.

Following a tremendous win in Cardiff against Wales in the last outing there seemed to be a bit of a hangover here. The effort and work rate was exceptional here but the application not so. That said, a great turn out for the O50s and it’s another step on this blossoming O50s journey.

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