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RAFVets v Rhyl Vets 24th Aug 19

The first game of the season has been a long time coming since the euphoria of winning the Inter Services back in March. We did play at Wootton Bassett in an end of season game in May but an end of season friendly is no replacement for a truly competitive fixture as this will be, playing for the Kev Walton shield. For those who don’t know, Kev was a stalwart of RAF football for over 30 years and was closely associated with Rhyl FC too as his hometown club. Kev Walton sadly passed away a couple of years ago and this trophy is competed for in his memory. The game was to be played at St Georges Park on the indoor arena 5G pitch and there was an excellent turnout from the RAF contingent.

Matt Beattie, the Vets manager, had a simple challenge for all those gathered. He used the analogy of building a house to get his point across stating that the foundations had been laid, we moved on to put the ground floor in and kept building upwards. Following last seasons success, we are now looking at putting the roof on but there is still more to do. We have built high and can now be seen and are there to be shot down. It is up to the family to keep this momentum going, keep building and keep believing. His challenge...”Don’t let anybody knock us down”.

And so, onto the game. Rhyl kick off. It’s a tentative start by both sides but the first action of note is from the RAF when they win a corner. The ball is cleared but Taylor, 40 yards out spots the keeper off his line and tries to lob the ball back. Alas he’s too far out and the keeper has time to recover and gather safely. After 5 minutes, a good break down the left from Rhyl almost paid dividends but the pull back was behind the Rhyl forward. After a bit of bagatelle in the box a shot did come in but it was high over the bar. Patterson managed a shot after eight minutes but it was wide and just three minutes later, Rhyl went ahead. The RAF, looking to switch the play, gave the ball away and a quick counter down the right then saw a through ball beat the offside trap. The forward drew Algar from the RAF goal and as Algar went to ground, the forward calmly chipped the ball inside the far post. 1-0 Rhyl. The boys in blue responded straight away but a Wanless shot was pulled wide. Another Wanless effort was well saved before Laing met a corner with a left foot shot that was again well saved by the Rhyl keeper. Robinson, at the centre of the RAF defence then had to be on his toes to foil a Rhyl break with a great tackle before the RAF finally got themselves level. I can’t tell you much about the goal apart from it being the first RAF goal of the season as, for whatever reason, I missed it!! It was the 20th minute and apparently Taylor crossed the ball in and Tweedie hit it first time. 1-1. The RAF were beginning to boss the game though chances came and went. Both Stewart and Mccormick were close to getting their heads on superb crosses but on both occasions they were millimetres away from connecting. After forty minutes, the RAF rightly gained the lead when Laing found himself unmarked in the Rhyl area as a corner came in. He powered in a header from 8 yards that nestled nicely in the net and it’s 2-1 RAF. Robinson then found himself in the opposition box but when everyone was crying out for a left foot volley, Woz elected for a right foot volley instead. The corner flag was in more danger than the goal. Then, as we waited for the half time whistle, Patterson played through a lovely ball and was then there to take the return and slot home. There was just time to kick off before the half came to a close. HT 3-1 RAF.

There were a couple of substitutions at half time but there is a strength in depth in this squad and not much was expected to change. McMahon who had come on was straight into the action but he fluffed his cue. Bryan then went off with a hamstring injury but still the RAF were finding a rhythm. Wanless then played in Tweedie who finished with aplomb. 4-1 RAF before Tweedie smashed in an effort that the Rhyl keeper did well to keep out albeit at the expense of a wrist injury. After a few minutes stoppage, the keeper was ok to carry on despite the fact that he’d initially thought Tweedie’s effort had “broken” his wrist!! Arscott and Tweedie then combined well before Arscott firstly beat the defender, then the keeper before smashing it into the back of the net. 5-1 RAF in the 80th minute. Just a few minutes later, Wanless, who had obviously learnt from the nimble toed Arscott, set of on a mazy run himself before finally beating the keeper and slotting left footed into the empty net. 6-1 RAF and that’s how it stayed. FT: 6-1 RAF

An excellent performance from all involved and a marker for the season ahead. Stu Algar, the RAF goalkeeper was awarded the Man of the Match award for his organisational skills at the back and when he was called into action he was more than capable though I’m not sure about that beard and didn’t think it was allowed until 1st September!!

All in all, Matt’s house is looking good...bring on the National Vets Champions tomorrow!!

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