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26th Sep 2021 v Vauxhall Motors O35s at Rivacre Road.

Onto Day 2 and it’s a new one for the Vets. Vauxhall Motors FC Veterans section play in a local league here in the North West and are a more than capable outfit of giving the RAF a game here today.

Due to my current predicament I was unable to be in the dressing room when the management team gave their instructions but I do know they will have been along the lines of targets given and the phrase “go out and win it” may well have been used.

The RAF kick off at the VanEupen Arena and the first couple of minutes are uneventful as both sides strive to take a hold of the game and the first cross into the box was by the motors side but it was easily claimed by Algar. With 3 minutes on the clock, Robison played the ball to Groves who played a defence splitting pass through to Norton on the right. One touch, two touch and then a delightful ball across the box found an unmarked Jeffery who side footed on the volley from 6 yards. 1-0 RAF. Great start whatever was said prior to kick off. Having spoken with manager Matt Beattie prior to the game I knew one of his targets was not going to be keep a clean sheet as his new mantra seemed to be “double it”. If the opposition score one, we must score two. If they score two we must get four etc and it was just as well his mantra changed as just two minutes later, Motors were level. An attack down the left saw the ball played across and in an almost carbon copy of the RAF goal it was now 1-1. Both sides seemed up for the game. Groves had a shot from 25 yards but it was well over and then a little trickery from Norton, where he flicked the ball over his own head and that of the defender almost, paid off but his cross was just too close to the keeper. Motors were creating their own chances the closest being when a the RAF failed to clear their lines about 5 times until the ball finally hit the shins of a motors player and rolled through to Algar. The keeper was called into action some minutes later when a good break by motors down the right saw a shot come in from an acute angle but Algar was equal to it, saving with his legs at the expense of a corner. After 32 minutes there was a bit of concern when, following a storming run down the left saw the winger whip in a cross before colliding with the wall surrounding the pitch. After a fair few minutes, the wall was declared fit and Watkins went off for further assessment to be replaced by Zenko. 5 minutes later, Zenko was replaced by a clearly fit and ready to go Watkins without having even touching the ball!! Both teams were playing some nice build up football but both defences, despite the early lapses, were on the tops of their games. HT 1-1

Again, I don’t know what was said at half time but the RAF came out a different side in the second half. It was the same personnel on the pitch but there seemed to be a bit of a swagger about their play and it took just two minutes to take back the lead. It was a free kick to Motors deep in the RAF half that was headed clear. Norton chased into the midfield and won the ball. He played it out wide to Zenko who raced down the right before pulling it back to the inrushing Norton who took one touch before lashing it past the keeper. 2-1 RAF. Motors seemed to wake up to the fact that the RAF had upped their game but were powerless to stop it though they themselves were still playing some attractive football. The better chances were falling to the RAF however and the Motors defence were now very deep allowing the boys in blue to come forward at will when in possession. The RAF did however have to stay cautious as Motors had a couple of speed merchants who could take advantage of any holes in the RAF defence. O’Hagan had come on and Zenko followed suit a couple of minutes later. Taylor, the RAF Captain then tried his luck taking the ball on his knee before smashing the ball goalward. The Motors keeper was lucky to hold it at the second attempt just under the bar. On only the second Motors visit into the RAF half during this second period, a superb tackle by Robison ended any chance they had and set the RAF on the attack again. Motors then got a corner that everyone seemed to jump for and as the ball sailed over Algar’s head, Dixon was on the line to head clear. Taylor was replaced by the MoM from the previous day, Stevie Muir, in the 70th minute and what an introduction. He played the ball forward to O’Hagan who was tackled and the ball went out for a throw in. Muir took it and threw it to Watkins who with one touch, turned his defender and his second touch was a 25 yard screamer into the roof of the net. 3-1 RAF. Brown and Groves in the middle of the midfield for the RAF were tireless in their running and distribution and the RAF defence were repelling all that was thrown at them with Addlesee particularly playing a very strong game and Dixon, now Captain following Taylor’s substitution, barking out his orders and organising his defence. Both teams were playing some lovely football but the RAF were now on top. In the 84th minute it got better still when, after a break down the left, the ball was pulled back across the box and Zenko was there to smash home. 4-1 RAF. Motors had a couple more chances as did the RAF but there were no more goals before the final whistle went. FT: Vauxhall Motors 1-4 RAF

A great game to watch and as I said in a previous O35s report, the lads who come in step up to the plate and do what they are asked. No weak links and some of the lads took part in both the Saturday and Sunday games. A credit to the fitness levels that they have achieved.

Special mention to John Cotton from Vauxhall Motors who was the main contact there and who hosted us exceptionally well before, during and after the game. Our Ambassador Geoff Hancocks was even invited to present the Vauxhall Motors Player of the Year Awards that had been held over from last season to the Motors players. The food was tremendous!! Massive shout out to all the staff there too. A special mention must also be made to our new recruit in the photography section to work alongside John Bones. Charlotte Graham, daughter of our superb kit man Oz, took an astounding 3236 pictures at the game and having seen a few examples, we are in for a treat when she has posted them though not all will go into the album…thankfully!!

Representatives for the RAF below…

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