Summer was putting in another late appearance for the second game of the new season as Finchampstead Rovers visited Westwood Wanderers. Considering the size of the squad, the team was low on numbers and then even before the match was started, poor George had to drop out due to a pain in the neck (no names to be mentioned).
The teams had met at the end of last season and had contested a slightly scruffy and in some areas, especially the penalty area, a bit of a niggly match! Anyway, new season, new start.
A peep of the whistle and they’re away and it’s a nice calm start with good steady passing from the Rovers, until the balls sent high into the blue sky and drops into midfield where Josh bravely heads it away only to collapse to the ground. This does not look good.
With both Simon and Steve on and the game stopped it’s a worrying sight but thankfully after a long break Josh is back on his feet but moving very gingerly and it’s obvious he can’t continue. On comes Jake Mc to replace him.
The games Is under way and immediately cool play at the back from Kam starts an attack and Nathaniel is away and is through on the keeper, who just manages to tip the ball away. Again, Rovers push forward with Lucas S collecting the ball but his shot is wide.
It’s then Westwood’s turn to hit back but Sam T is in quickly to block the attempt, conceding a corner. The ball is swung in but cleared. Messy play now with an unpleasant clustering around the ball, which to be honest, no-one likes.
That’s better, Rovers get some formation and in no time they’re into the Westwood area. Jake M shoots but it’s blocked. He wins the ball again but his touch is too firm and ball is lost. Sam F no uses those silky skills to turn out of trouble and dinks a peach of a pass through to Nathaniel who’s pace just leaves the defence standing, he shoots and the keeper spills it wide to Bunny. He shoots but there’s just not enough pace on the ball and the keeper pushes it wide.
Again, Westwood fight back but Luke is too good and dives to his left to save. Rovers are controlling this game but Westwood are threatening and it’s not long before their number 17 shows some very dainty footwork which leaves Kam like a Warthog stuck in mud!
The Rovers passing game is really starting to work now. A lovely slick move involving Sam F, Jake M and Nathaniel rips the Westwood misfiled and defence apart but it’s just offside. The ball is then caught nicely by Sam T with both hands but the batsman’s not given out and neither is the free kick, strange.
Time and time again Rovers attack but they just can’t get the touch right and score but then there’s a huge kick by Luke and Nathaniel is off like a bullet, round the defender, bearing down on the keeper. The keeper stops, he thinks it’s off side, but no, pay to the whistle, GOAL! One nil to the Rovers.
Off they go again and immediately the game opens up, end to end football. Another Stop by Oliver see’s the ball run through to Sam F who looks up and lays a square pass to Jake M who wastes no time in shooting straight into the bottom left corner, two nil Rovers! A few minutes later and the referee blows for half time and a well-deserved two nil lead for the Rovers.
The second starts and it’s back to business immediately for the Rovers. A charging run from Kam down the right, as he passes not one, not two but three players before a perfect cross skips right across the penalty area but no-one can get a touch on it.
Westwood aren’t giving up though, pressing again and again down the right but Jake Mac just won’t give up. He’s continually chasing and harrying the winger until he gets a tackle in or the player fumbles. Right across the Rovers team there’s real desire to win this game. Leo is up and down the right wing getting a foot in where it counts and playing nice triangles with Sam F and Kam. Lucas S is battling away and over-lapping with Bunny on the left, skipping past players and laying off deft touches to frustrate the opposition.
More and more chances are created by the slick Rovers passing. Jake M shoots just wide, Sam T sees a banging drive tipped onto the cross bar, Sam F is flicking left then right, playing passes through to Nathaniel but the keeper is very quick off his line and save time and again.
Westwood pressure Rovers further with long balls but it’s Oliver and Sam T who’re stopping just about everything and when the ball does squeeze though, Luke is there every time to mop it up.
Once more the passes link and Bunny’s away on the left, he draws the keeper out and is fouled. The free kicks taken and the ball drops in the box, a kerfuffle ensues and Jake M is taken down, penalty!
Who’s going to take it? Oh yes, it’s El Capitan, Jake M. He steps up, silence falls somewhere in the world but not in West Reading. Oh yes, like a fine painter at the easel, he strokes the ball home. Three nil Rovers.
Now you’d think Finchampstead would ease off now, but no, they’ve got the taste for it and even in the early autumn heat they keep chasing and passing. Away again Nathaniel charges at the Westwood defence. He really has given it his all, fantastic fitness and desire. Flick, down he goes and the free kick is given. Up steps Sam T, left edge of the penalty area, 22 yards out, memories of the last-minute winner against Henley, could he do again? He strikes it. It rises high then begins to dip. TOP BINS! Four nil Rovers.
Can they get five, it’s possible. The whole team are buzzing and will not give up. All the years of the Finchampstead ethos of “play football” is bearing fruit. More attacks ebb and flow but they can’t squeeze out number five.
Westwood attack and their striker is through and out muscles Sam T, Luke stretches but just can’t keep it out. Four-one.
Rovers push on but there’s no more time and the final whistle blows.
Superb game, it had it all.
This was a great performance from the Rovers. Each player deserves the man of the match award. Let’s have more like this please.
WESTWOOD WANDERERS 1-4 FINCHAMPSTEAD ROVERS