Never-say-die attitude of squad prevails
4:01pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in Sport
AFC Whitchurch 2-2 Cadoxton Barry
CADOXTON Barry has lost five league matches this season, but only twice have they come off the park knowing they were clear second best.
An August evening had seen them outclassed 3-0 at home by Whitchurch.
For their part, Saturday's opponents had lost only one home game and, and had just beaten league leaders Max Utd 4-1. CB would need all their regular players if they were to take any points back to Barry. Well, that's what everyone thought. The reality was something completely different.
A recent team-sheet could have looked as follows: Davie, Baldock, Royle, Blackmore and Walsh; Hopkins, Scott Williams, Dawson and Morgan; Adams and Weekley. On Saturday, keeper Davie was there, fit and ready, and striker/midfielder Dawson reported for duty, slightly unwell but ready to do his best. The other nine outfield players were missing through injury or illness. Manager Harvey excels in keeping a cool head. Fringe players Sam Williams and team treasurer Ross Panto Matthews would step in. Harvey called up experienced Sean Andrews, Luke Bjegovic and Jonathon Nonny Ashton for their first appearances of this season. New signing Caine Wells would start in midfield on his CB debut.
As usual, CB started in second gear, but they still managed to stifle the early efforts of the home side. Indeed, the first decent attempt on goal took all of 25 minutes to arrive. Sean Andrews surged past three or four opponents to send a long-range shot dipping just over. It was Whitchurch who took the lead, enjoying the rub of the green after a corner struck one striker and landed at the feet of Gareth Woodman, lurking two yards out. CB's game plan had been working well up till then: Andrews had nullified the threat of the pacy, tricky winger, Tyrone Herbert; Baker was proving an effective if unorthodox centre-half; Wells was oozing confidence when on the ball; while Thompson and Bjegovic were harassing the home defence at every opportunity, aided by Oaten, who had been a pre-match illness doubt. Keeper Davie, Bickley, Williams, Christoforato and Dawson were playing their part in their usual unhurried fashion. Whitchurch must have expected an easier match, aware as they were of the three suspensions and the numerous team changes. CB supporters were quietly confident that their sides neat, passing game would pay dividends.
At half-time, Oaten was moved to the sick-bench, stalwart Matthews his replacement. Whitchurch, the wind now at their backs, soon turned up the heat; they were unlucky not to double their advantage after ten minutes and even more unlucky in the 13th minute of the half. Williams passed to Bjegovic who raced towards the home defence. After coming up against a wall of defenders, he laid the ball back into the path of the following-up Williams, then watched, open-mouthed with delight as Sam decided to grab his annual goal, smashing the ball into the top corner from almost 40 yards- an unstoppable strike. Bjegovic, having run practically non-stop for an hour, then made way for Ashton. Usually a right-back, Nonny took up station on the left flank. This meant CB now had on the field six players who had featured at right-back this season: Williams was on the left, behind Nonny, Panto Matthews was in front of Andrews, Ato was in midfield and Thompson had been pushed forward to partner Dawson up top. Whitchurch withdrew Herbert and it was the replacement left winger who, unable to run or dribble past Andrews, played a through ball which unlocked the CB defence. Ben Carey took the goal well and CB were left with ten minutes to salvage a point. Keeper Davie managed to keep it at 2-1 with two smart saves, the second bringing a corner with only five minutes left and CB under the cosh. By now, Dawson was looking a bit lonely up front, Thompson having been forced back to help repel the Whitchurch onslaught. The corner was cleared to Panto who played the ball into the path of the overlapping Andrews. Sean ran 30 yards before firing a long pass towards Dawson, in the box with his two Whitchurch minders. Somehow, J-Dog managed to outwit them both before scrambling the ball past the keeper.
Whitchurch were furious and threw everything into attack. The never-say-die attitude of this CB squad prevailed however, thanks in no small way to yet another fine save by Davie. Andrews was quite rightly picked by the opposition as MOTM but all could hold their heads high after this gutsy performance. Whitchurch are everybody's favourites for the league title, and so this was a very good point. On the evidence of this match, CB have a squad capable of making the top three. This Saturday's game is a home match at Bryn-y-Don.