Time: 1pm, Oct 28th, 2012
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park
By Michael Christie
On a dry pitch sprinkled in misty drizzle, City met Dentway in the opening game of the BML. It was the first game of the season and it showed! A very fast, skiddy surface meant that it was a day for passing strictly to feet. Sadly, lateness was possibly one more factor in City’s failure to open their season in tip-top form!
The starting eleven was Dale in goal, Matt Wharton at right-back and Dapper Danny Wilkinson at left-back, with Brian McGuinness and debutant Alan in central defence; Danny W, Alex R, Christie and Lionel C were spread across the midfield from right to left; and Big Dan C and Big Andy, making his City debut, started up front. (The Dentway defenders must have been cacking themselves before the game but they stood up to the big guys quite well, to their credit, when the whistle blew.) Ian Edwards started on the bench.
The game itself? There was a lot of good passing football from City, and Dentway could rarely get hold of the ball. However, one City player said we only switched the play once in the whole of the first half! On the plus side City attacked with pace. On the minus, there were, as one City player said, “blind alleys.” The City debuts of Alan in defence and Big Andy up front were creditable. In fact, everybody made some good contributions. Lionel C and Alex R played well in particular.
City opened the scoring courtesy of an excellently weighted through ball from Lionel to Dan. With a deft touch on the ball, Dan turned, beat his marker and finished with force. The next team to score was Dentway! From a free-kick on the right flank, Dentway floated in an inswinger over a four-man wall which was not adequately cleared, leaving a Dentway the simple task of poking the ball in at the far post. This was the one blemish on an otherwise spotless performance by the new-look City defence!
City responded with a goal. After some good work by Alex R, Lionel C and Danny W, Dan C was through. The goalkeeper parried his shot but Lionel C was in position to finish with a clinical left-footed half-volley. 2-1! City extended their lead a few minutes before half-time with a good far post header by Brian McGuinness from Alex R’s excellent corner.
3-1 was not a bad score to be holding going in at half-time but the City players were vaguely aware that they were not playing like champions. Anyway, at the start of the second half Big Andy made way for Ian Edwards, who looked sharp. The second half was, if truth be told, hard work for both City and Dentway. To their credit, Dentway kept looking for a goal and often passed the ball well even if they didn’t trouble Dale. City had some more good chances but, except for another strike from Dan, couldn’t add to the scoreline. Matt Wharton was the supplier with a long ball from right back that was misjudged by the central defender. Dan latched onto it and ran through finishing excellently off the post.
It stayed at 4-1 for the rest of the game. After the final whistle, City walked off the pitch with pride intact if not enhanced by a serviceable performance against a decent team also playing their first game of the season.
MAN OF THE MATCH – LIONEL