Share of the Spoils leaves Ministers more satisfied in Annual Showdown
by Joel and Phil
Renwick FC failed to overcome the RP Ministers XI for the second year in a row last Wednesday, with the sixth annual Jonny McCollum cup ending in a goalless draw at the Ozone. It was the third time Renwick have failed to overcome the motley crew, and means that Renwick are yet to win the cup this decade.
One year on from their famous victory, the transfers of legendary goalkeeper Lytle to FC Nantes and the loan signing of Peter Loughridge to the Scottish RPC Ministers XI had left the ministers in a weakened position. Stalwarts PMo, Aggers and Prof Bill Wilson were joined by the 2011 RTC intake (except Pual who was working on his Hebrew) and guest ministers Rev McCavery and Rev Dr McKelvey. Last year’s goal scoring hero Reuben Agnew also returned. As did Tim McCollum, another veteran of last year’s implausible victory. Due to a kit clash the Ministers turned out in the iconic Outer Fenn kits, which made their debut in the inaugural Jonny McCollum Cup. Mark complained that his number 9 shirt had been shrunk since he last pulled it on, and bizarrely, Cream Bun played the whole match wearing nothing but a skin-tight thermal top. Before kick-off Nigel led us in the traditional pre-match prayer, despite Renwick’s attempts to do away with the practice.
As a spectacle, the match was a mixed affair. Renwick started brightly and played to their strengths, with tidy passing and sharp runs off the ball. Though they threatened down the flanks several times in the opening exchanges, they were unable to provide any real fire-power in the final third, where Aggers and Mark were giving very little away. C Robert came closest for Renwick and perhaps should have at least hit the target when the ball dropped to him 12 yards out. While the Ministers were relatively untroubled in terms of clear shots at goal, they too were unable to exert much pressure on Renwick keeper J McCullough. Nathan, Nigel and Mark all had speculative efforts from corners but none troubled the keeper. As the game progressed the Minister’s organisation at set plays began to cause confusion and panic in the Renwick defence. The qatal and shalom balls in particular being executed to great effect. In contrast, Royston sent the Wellhausen ball straight into touch, right where it belongs. Cream Bun’s guided missiles also caused moments of worry in the student’s defence, and the students had B Hanna to thank for confidently dealing with many of these. With several substitutes to choose from, the Ministers’ in-game rotation policy tended to slow the game down, and perhaps disrupted Renwick’s game. Slowing the pace is a traditional tactic of the Ministers, yet perhaps the strangest incident of the first half was Joel’s warning for time wasting in the opening 10 minutes. Late in the half Ben Hanna Captain had a clear header from a corner blocked before skying the rebound, (which he apparently thought he had beaten the keeper with). But they were unable to break the deadlock, and cut a frustrated group when P Fallows slyly indicated the close of the half.
With Steelo urging on the nahars play got underway in the second half. Renwick once again threatened several times early on. Though the ministers held firm and tried to counter-attack (despite their ever decreasing pace and increasing tendency to hack the ball away), B Hanna and Spaniard R Abella were giving nothing away in their danger area. Renwick manfully persevered in trying to play the Barca way, building from the back, but they rarely made inroads to the sturdily guarded nether regions of the minsters’ defence of orthodoxy. With tension building, a few tasty tackles were handed out by both sides, and both had strong shouts for penalties waved away by referee and match sponsor Jonny McCollum. All day the students struggled to cope with playing in a man’s world and did plenty of whining about challenges. This even continued after the game when, with disgust, it was noted that one Renwick player even had scrapes down their leg! Who would have thought that in the modern era a player might carry some physical marks after a football match?
The minister’s probably had the better of the second half chances, and definitely finished the game the stronger side. An incisive pass played in Steelo with the sort of chance which he would have shinned/toe-poked/butted into the net back in his heyday, but he couldn’t latch onto it on this occasion. Phil had a quality free-kick palmed away by J McCullough, who recovered before Mark could drive it home. Cream Bun, master of hitting a ball hard in the right general direction, pinged one from 30 yards only for a slight deflection to push it off the far post and away. At the other end M Hawthorne, non-Rev P Murphy and P Aicken all had chances, but the clerics’ presuppositional defence proved too strong for the Renwick attack and we never really got to see if it was Royston or Maik in nets.
For the last five minutes, Mark went upfront for the Reverends, and B Hanna did likewise for Renwick. Mark’s presence had an instant impact and perhaps this could have been the game-changer if the ministers had made the switch earlier. With literally the last kick of the game Phil latched onto a loose ball and lobbed it beyond J McCullough. Fourteen ministers, would-be ministers, friends of ministers and brothers of ministers watched with bated breath, ready to go delirious with the victory, only to watch his effort bounce off the top corner of the woodwork. Moments later, in a moment of great poignancy, Jonny McCollum blew time on the Jonny McCollum cup. Eager to avoid further embarrassment Renwick declined the option of non-binding penalties. Emma Dunwoody, photographer extraordinaire for the afternoon, snapped the team picture.
Outstanding performers were B Hanna and P Aicken for the young lads. However the plaudits go to the Ministers, for whom the draw is as good as a victory. Aggers was outstanding as usual and pastors Mark and Andy put in great shifts also. Cream Bun and Pmo both deserve mentions for fine performances. But the man of the match accolade goes to Nathan. A tireless shift in the centre of the park involved plenty of tracking midfield runners and covering both flanks, where Renwick were particularly threatening. Credit also goes to Phil for his insight and tactical nous in his first year having over managerial duties from the exiled Peter Loughridge.
By and by the day was, in essence, another victory for the Clerics. If Renwick are like England – joyless and underachieving – the Ministers are like Man United – over achieving in recent years despite limited players.
The Jonny McCollum Cup is shelved for another year, but much to the annoyance of Renwick FC, it bears the name of the Ministers XI for the second year running.
Minsiters XI (4-2-Peti-3): J. Loughridge – J. McCollum, N. Agnew, M. McCavery, J. Blair – A. McKelvey, N. Hawthorne, P. Baijko – P. Dunwoody, P. Moffett, S. Steele. Subs: R. Agnew, N. Wilson, T. McCollum.
Renwick (4-3-3): J. McCullough – L. Campbell, R. Abella, B. Hanna, A. McCollum – M. Hawthorne, G. Blackwell, I. Buchanan – P. Murphy, R. Cromie, P. Aicken. Subs: P. Fallows, A. Morrison, D. Lynch, P. Neilly
Photos to come when Ben gets back from Dubai!
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