Wellingborough Men’s 1st XI, proudly sponsored by prop-search.com, ground out a hard fought 2:1 home win against St Neots on Saturday, securing their first back to back victory since October and pushing them up to eighth in East League 4NW
Wellingborough Men’s 1st XI, proudly sponsored by prop-search.com, ground out a hard fought home win against St Neots on Saturday, securing their first back to back victory since October and pushing them up to eighth in East League 4NW.
In a fractious game dominated by the defences, both sides struggled to convert periods of possession and pressure into open play goals, with the match ultimately decided by three short corner strikes and a more clinical edge to Boro’s finishing.
Boro started the game brightly despite miserable weather conditions and a very slippery pitch at Wrenn Academy. Langley, Morrissey and Dave Marriot had too much quality for St Neots in midfield and set up waves of Boro attacks through Whitrow and Hill on the flanks and direct to striker Joe Baillie. The surface made Boro’s quick pass and move game very difficult, and despite dominating play Boro's final passes kept going astray.
Against the run of play, St Neots took the lead midway through the first half. From a soft short corner, St Neots reacted first to the loose ball after a strong diving block by goalkeeper Bishop, and flicked over the stranded heap of pads and kickers with enough power to get through a brave defensive swat on his goal own line from Morrissey. Going behind brought an increased level of intensity to Boro’s game, and smart interplay between Whitrow and Knight on the right brought successive short corners for the home side. The first was saved from a Langley strike who also rocketed the half volley rebound just over the bar. The second was more subtle – worked to the right from Langley to Baillie at the top of the circle and fired in diagonally for a deft deflected goal from Oakley.
Parity between the sides at 1:1 was maintained throughout most of the second half, with both teams unable to break down strong defences and showing growing signs of frustration. John Bishop made two fine saves when he was called upon. Oakley deployed his sizeable box-to-box engine, providing overlapping options in attack and scrambling back to defend. Stockwell rounded off a fine man-of-the-match display with resolute defending and precise tackling. Langley and Morrissey provided the extra defensive back-up when required, breaking up threats before they emerged. Leslie-Carter – massive masterful and menacing in the middle and certainly this journalist’s favourite player - caged the hirsute tango forward line with ease and kept proceedings composed (despite being caught up in a minor altercation that saw him retaliating to a push and both players being yellow carded – barely worth a mention but included for completeness).
Going forward, the most fluent of Boro’s play was coming down the left channels with Stockwell seamlessly linking defence and attack and time and again releasing the tireless Smith, Hill and David Marriott in midfield. As the game became more stretched and Boro’s fitness and squad strength began to tell, Baillie and O’Rourke both had difficult one on ones that they would have expected to convert in easier conditions.
Matt Marriot’s introduction late in the game created more problems for the St Neots defence, and his reunion with Ian Knight - like an ageing Boyzone revival gig – produced the decisive moment in the game. A darting, jinking run from Marriot put Knight into space behind the scrambling St Neots defence, and Knight – all bluster, bellowing and fake GB kit up to that point – calmly won Boro another short corner. Whilst Marriot’s low drag flick was parried easily by the keeper, Morrissey was first to pounce on the bouncing rebound and lashed his shot into the roof past a gaggle of helpless St Neots defenders. Boro saw out the final few minutes to take a deserved 2:1 win, three vital points, the momentum of back to back wins into the last five remaining fixtures of this season, and to extend Paul Smith’s 100% winning record with the club!
Special mention to Cutters - Wellingborough's premier sports bar - for serving up the league's best teas after all our home games!!
MoM Matt Stockwell
DoD Rob Leslie-Carter (tough crowd)
Wellingborough HC Squad: John Bishop (GK), Rob Leslie-Carter, Luke Oakley, Matt Stockwell, Dave Langley, Simon Morrissey, Dan Hill, Dave Marriot, Paul Smith, Jordan Whitrow, Joe Baillie (Captain), Andy O’Rourke, Ian Knight