– First ever all RP team. Yooo!! If only we’d realised at the time!
– Given recent news reports, we were expecting Union to field an all-girls team. However it turned out that the only thing to worry Stafford was a guy with long hair and a bandanna.
– PS: Phil I’ll have you know my goal was from at least 3 yards!! :-P And you forgot PMO’s header! And mine cleared off the line!
RENWICK 2 UNION THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE 2
Renwick were held to a 2-2 draw this week, in a friendly against Union Theological College at Ozone. With the league organisers failing to update results or provide a fixture list for the week (worryingly, it was at about this stage last year that the organisation of the league went to pieces), competitors were left to their own devices if they wanted some football. Graham of Union sent round a circular text, and Renwick were the first to reply, and so here we are.
Once again there were some selection problems in midfield and attack for the RP lads – ALL RP lads, possibly for the first time… Ian Buchanan and Gareth Hughes were the earliest withdrawals, and were followed by Peter Henderson and Andy McKelvey, both of whom were ill. Desperate times call for Steelo and Philip Moffet, so we called them. Philip was delighted to make his Renwick debut, having played against us twice for the ministers (none of whom called to protest at the move). Gavin returned for another outing in a Renwick shirt, and this time started on the right wing. Mark McCavery, determined to maintain his record of most appearances for the team, made it from Bangor to Belfast in record time for kick off. With no Skills Buchanan or P10 McKelvey, Phil moved up front with Steelo, and Phil M subbed for the first half.
All the disruption, and the late arrival of half the team, contributed to a rather lame first half performance by the boys in yellow. Union had been ready to go for about twenty minutes, and had plenty of motivation to get one over their RP rivals, after we beat them 2-0 in the league earlier in the season. As a result they were by far the sharper team in the first twenty minutes. They created a number of half chances and played some nice football. Their first goal, however, was more a result of a mix up at the back coupled with a lucky bounce for their attacker. Renwick failed to clear and the ball was stabbed home from close range, to give Union what was probably a deserved lead. The second twenty/twenty five minutes of the half did not produce anymore goals. Renwick began to get more adventurous in attack, but the ball wasn’t sticking upfront and Union’s midfield worked hard to cut out our passes. Apart from a few shots from distance we didn’t really trouble their keeper. Despite this, Union did not press on and build on their lead, and seemed to think the game was already won. It was 1-0 at the break.
At half time Philip Moffett made his debut, as we changed things around to try and offer more in attack. He came on the middle, with Phil D going back to his usual place on the right and Mark going upfront to give their centre halves something to worry about. We knew if we got more physical Union would be frustrated and there would be greater opportunity to play our football.
Almost immediately the changes worked. Phil M had a great performance in the middle, and Phil D provided more of an outlet on the right. Mark was troubling the defence and the combination put us in the ascendancy in the first few minutes. Our equaliser came when Conor played a ball over the top which Phil D ran onto against the keeper, who missed the ball entirely and gave Phil a virtual open net to shoot into. We felt we’d been given our break and tried to push on for the lead.
Unfortunately this didn’t really happen. We were certainly playing better than in the first half but couldn’t get the final pass. At the other end our defence was playing well – Pete and Jonny gave great performances against two tricky Union wingers, and Steve and Ian were solid in the middle, closing down strikers and making clearances. It would take something special for Union to get another, but they stepped up after about twenty minutes. Their right winger got half a yard out wide and put in a cross which their forward met with a fantastic header which gave Joel no chance. It was a reminder to us that we still hadn’t played our best in the game, and we pushed on with greater effort as a result. Philip and Conor were fantastic in central midfield, working hard to feed the wingers and forwards. We had a couple of half chances and good shots, but the equaliser, again, was a combination of good pressure and poor goal-keeping. Phil D got the ball out wide, and thumped in a high ball towards the far post to put the keeper under pressure. He came to meet it but missed, with Andy Lynch and Steelo waiting to pounce. It was the latter who got the final touch, knocking it in from half a yard in typical fashion!
The last fifteen minutes saw the teams locked in stalemate; Union were dangerous on the counter and Renwick always looked dangerous in attack. Both teams had a number of corners and free kicks (there were a few minor skirmishes on and off the ball!) but neither were clinical in front of goal, and a draw was probably a fair result in what was a strange game, from a Renwick point of view.
Given the circumstances we weren’t entirely disappointed, and it was good to play a in a tough match ahead of our last few league matches. Some would say it is a little worrying that no difference could be found between the RPs and Union, but we can console ourselves with our league victory over them earlier in the year. Mention must be given to P.Mo, who told me he had been waiting a long time for his call-up, and did not disappoint when thrown into midfield. Same time next week Phil!
Team (4-4-2): J.Loughridge – P.McConaghie, I.Dunwoody, S.McCollum, J.McCollum – G.Blackwell (P.Moffett, ht), P.Dunwoody, M.McCavery, A.Lynch – C.Hyndman, S.Steele (r: G.Blackwell, 85)
Photos (thanks again to Bob P)