Scorers: Haani, Josh 2, Kyle 2.
Manchester Rovers 5-2 Greenfinch (Sunday 29th September 2019, Hough End Playing Fields)
After surviving an early second half scare, Rovers came out deserved 5-2 winners on a soaking wet morning at Hough End, in a game which saw the greens play some fabulous football all across the park.
Starting the game brightly, Rovers were unlucky not to be ahead sooner after creating plenty of chances. Greenfinch rarely threatened the Rovers goal, and on the few occasions that they did, the formidable central defensive partnership of Dec and Callum dealt with the threats, coupled with some great saves from Owen in between the sticks.
As half time was fast approaching, Rovers’ pressure mounted and they went close from corner after corner. Finally, they took the lead when a Bills corner bounced across the box and Haani reacted quickly, outmuscling three Greenfinch defenders to slot home for 1-0.
With lots of positives to take from the first half, Rovers knew they needed to do more. However, an eventful few minutes followed which ended up with Greenfinch in the ascendancy. After another Rovers’ corner, the Greenfinch keeper sent a long punt forward which bounced over the Rovers’ defence and was met by the Greenfinch striker who converted well to equalise.
One minute later, another long ball caused Rovers problems. The resultant cross was whipped across the six yard box and in trying to clear, Gav finished expertly (but unfortunately into the wrong net) to make it 2-1 to Greenfinch.
Knowing the importance of this fixture, Josh and Haani rallied Rovers and ensured heads did not drop. Driving forward, Josh took on a shot from thirty yards which thundered into the Greenfinch goal, making the scores 2-2 – a favourite for goal of the season surely.
Now having the momentum, Rovers continued to push forward. Finding himself in a crossing position from the left, Whitey sent in a perfect cross and with Kyle lurking at the back post, the outcome was never in doubt. Heading home typically clinically, he restored Rovers’ lead to make it 3-2.
Soon afterwards, Rovers added a much needed fourth after some lovely free flowing football despite the treacherous conditions and the effect that had on the pitch. Playing some wonderful one-twos, Josh found Manu who gave the ball back to him which Josh dispatched for his second of the game, capping off a wonderful performance.
With the introduction of fresh legs, particularly the attack minded Tom Dale at full-back, Rovers went on a seemingly endless search for a fifth to put the game to bed. Characterised by inch perfect through balls from Alex in the middle of the park, the Greenfinch keeper made a string of wonderful saves from almost every Rovers outfielder to keep the game close.
Eventually, Gilly drove forward and slotted Kyle in, whose perfectly timed run was met with an equally cultured finish. With the addition of another two goals today, Rovers’ top scorer maintained his record of having scored in every game he has played in this season.
As the clock ran down, Rovers created several more chances and were unfortunate not to end the game in double figures. Searching for their hat-tricks, Josh and Kyle came close again and were denied the opportunity to convert from the penalty spot when Gilly was hacked down 5 yards inside the penalty area, with the referee deciding that the offence had actually been committed outside the box.
Although there was a scare early into this contest, Rovers deserve immense credit for the wonderful football they played, particularly in the latter stages of the game. Whilst the lapses in concentration need to be cut out and more ruthlessness is required at times, another resounding win against opposition who troubled Rovers last season points to a bright future for this talented squad.