EVERSELY AND CALIFORNIA RANGERS V FINCHAMPSTEAD ROVERS 14th March 2020
At last another game for the Rovers. After a stuttering start to 2020, due to Blighties good old winter weather, a drier week had allowed the big local derby with Eversley and California to go ahead. Even so, there was a new storm cloud on the horizon, Corvid 19! You could be mistaken thinking that it’s the name of a new trendy hipster aftershave, but this is something even more offensive, Yes, a virus. Still as per usual the British stiff upper lip has prevailed and there’s a fine turn out to watch this popular meeting of the two local teams.
This game with Eversley never disappoints and so there was a mix of optimism but also concern, as the Rovers really hadn’t had much football this year and after losing in the cup the previous week, it would be interesting to see how the boys responded. Simon and Steve were putting the team through their warm up and it did appear that the two coaches were instilling a healthy dose of positivity throughout the squad.
The Eversley team are in formation in their half and waiting to start but the Rovers are possibly using a bit of psychology and making them wait. Finally, all in place, the game begins.
Straight away a break from Alfie and he races down the right wing but the defender manages to snatch the ball away good early crunching tackle from Lucas C wins the ball back. The play switches again and Eversley push on only for Ollie to nip in and then release a pass for Leo to now break but again Eversley hold strong.
Great play on the right, as Bunny crashes into the opposing midfielder and comes away with the ball, a deft flick to Jake M and he now in turn sets Bunny away, bearing down on the keeper. A last second flick and the ball is palmed wide. No luck though and Eversley gather the resulting corner. Eversley now attack and a rising shot see’s Luke jump and even though he’s impeded he manages to push the ball away. Another attack see’s Sam T play Lucas C in but the defender just makes it to the ball before Lucas C can shoot.
A real end to end game is developing with neither team relenting until the ball is played into the box from the Eversley midfield and neither Sam T or Ollie can use their collective strength to stop the shot from hitting the bottom right hand corner of the Rover net. One nil to Eversley.
Unflustered by the goal, the Rovers immediately start playing the ball around. With Jake M and Adam ruling the middle of the park, this now allows Leo to break down the right time after time. The Eversley team are replying with a barrage of runs down their right but unlucky for them James is in imperious form. Winning the ball time after time and not just clearing away but showing superb skills to dance round the opposition, which in turn brings cries of “Ole” from the crowd.
The temperature is now rising and as Jake M is clattered into, there’s no free kick given. Minutes later and a booming tackle from Adam gives Jake M the space to break free and flick the ball wide. He athletically stretches to keep the ball in only to see a throw given to Eversley. Hmm, not the best decisions but, that’s football.
Once again James shows silky skills to send Adam forward into the Eversley box, a corner is won. Bunny places the ball and lifts the ball into the box where Lucas C flicks the ball on and there’s Adam at the back post to coolly side foot it into the net. One all.
Eversley are right back at the Rovers and a deep cross sees Sam T brought into action with a diving header to clear. Again, there’s a Rovers attack and the big Eversley defender pushes Bunny to the
ground. No free kick. Ayjay now starts mixing it up, like only he can, with flicks and drag backs, he sends the Eversley defenders one way then the other. He then releases a great ball and Nathaniel is on his way at supersonic pace, only to see the Eversley defender just get a toe in to clear.
We then see an excellent example of hygiene! Sam T sprints back to block an attack and with the precision of a surgeon, Josh spins and plays the ball down the wing. In celebration of their achievements there’s no high five, on no, a quick tap of “Chicken Wings” instead.
The Rovers are growing in confidence now. Good passing and moving off the ball is paying off with Adam playing a blinder in midfield Eversley can’t get though. More skills from Josh at right back and James at left back the defence are looking tight.
Once again good work from Ayjay wins a free kick 10 yards inside the Eversley half. Up steps Sam T and the distance is within his range. Four steps in and he launches a shot which heads towards the top right hand corner but the keeper has time to adjust his feet and pushes it out for a corner.
Eventually the Rovers pressing gives Eversley some space and the right winger collects the ball on the right hand corner of the penalty area. He shoots and the ball floats across the box towards the top left hand corner of the goal. Luke stretches up and gets his finger tips to the ball but he just can’t keep it out. Two one to Eversley.
Rovers are still in the game and don’t let their heads drop. Further runs from Nathaniel and slim chances for Lucas C can’t break down the Eversley defence. Kam is now on, and even demonstrating his specialised double knee clearance can’t get any joy for the Rovers. Half time arrives and it remains two one to Eversley.
The story of the first twenty minutes of the second half can summed up quit simply – eat your heart out Barcelona! The Rovers put on a display of passing second to none. This is why, at times the Rovers really are a joy to watch. Pass move, pass move. From the back to the front the boys are amazing, the Finchampstead ethos of coaching the boys to play football rather than kick a football really does pay off.
Soon enough the hard work and skills klick. Strong tackling in the midfield by the Rovers causes the ball to break for Nathaniel and he flies off goalward. By the time he’s reached the edge of the Eversley box he’s got two defenders on him, as they’re clawing for the ball one of his boots is whipped off but still he advances. The keepers out now, but with a drop of his shoulder and a spray of his sweaty unsheathed sock he’s round him and slots the ball home for the equaliser. A great example of never giving up. Two all.
Nathaniel is having a really rough time today and he’s pummelled to the turf time and again which eventually results in injury. One particular member of the Eversley team is very keen on using his arms to push players to the ground but at least he’s following the medical guidance and isn’t actually using his hands!
Slowly though Eversley get more of the ball and with their first keeper now on pitch he’s really injected some pace on the right wing. Soon he’s away and Kam is with him, the winger then just nips in front of him and Kam can’t get his feet clear and clips his heels and he’s down in the area, penalty.
The same winger steps up and thumps the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the Rovers goal. Luke leaps down but the ball is so well placed he can’t prevent it from making it three two to Eversley.
The Rovers heads may be starting to drop but no, they come again with more battling from Lucas C and Leo helping Bunny break free. No luck though. Kam is off on another run and Jake M who’s now playing centre forward manages to break free and flicks the ball over the advancing keeper only to see his shot just drop wide of the right post.
More attacks, but it’s just not coming off for the Rovers now and the referee decides times up.
Once again, it’s a close and entertaining game between these two rivals but this time it’s Eversley who come away with the three points.
Who knows if there’s going to be another game next week as there’s talk of all sport being stopped to prevent the spread of the virus but fingers crossed we’ll see more football next week.
EVERSELY AND CALIFORNIA RANGERS 3-2 FINCHAMPSTEAD ROVERS