Derwent 1sts 2-1 Alcuin 1sts
– Determined Alcuin hold Derwent in a scrappy first half.
– Deflected McConnell effort cancels out Bew opener.
– Substitute Bell scores long range winner.
– Derwent take tally to nine wins in ten in 2014/15.
The Derwent 1sts were made to dig deep by a disciplined Alcuin side in order to maintain their 100% start to the season.
Though Ryan Gwinnett’s men delivered a rather lethargic performance, it is important to identify the reigning league champions’ remarkable ability to grind out the three points in the ugliest of fashions.
Having been frustrated by an impressive Alcuin side throughout the first half, who at times threatened to take the lead themselves, Josh Bew appeared to have kicked the Derwent steamroller into motion when he curled in after the break. Instead, Derwent frustrations intensified when a Jack McConnell volley was inadvertently deflected past Charlie Cooper by Derwent skipper Gwinnett. Nevertheless, the black and blue outfit found an unlikely match-winner in the form of substitute full-back Euan Bell to secure a precious win.
It proved to be a slow start, with both sides seeking to win the battle in midfield. The first clear cut chance of the game fell to Derwent midfielder Joe Easter, who prodded wide from a Sam Weighall through ball.
Easter’s next chance was to test Alcuin ‘keeper Jake Richardson, with a curling effort from a short corner needing a strong parry away.
Alcuin, however, were not content with simply subduing Derwent pressure, with striker Cameron McLarty finding space behind the Derwent defence and forcing a good save from Cooper.
Andy Naylor’s passing ability in central midfield was to be a positive note amidst a stuttering Derwent display, and he provided a teasing ball towards winger Henry Ferrao who could only poke wide.
Alcuin skipper Peter Kennick then brought on Sarin KC for Fernando on the right wing, who proved to be an instant impact when he found himself bearing down on goal before Cooper confidently smothered the ball.
The momentum was with Kennick’s men, and from the touchline it looked as though they had taken the lead when Joe Turner curled just wide from the edge of the area.
The mood within the Derwent camp was to worsen when Ferrao was forced to limp off just before half time. However, his replacement Alex Ingham was to make a positive difference in the second half.
The first bit of incisive Derwent passing in and around the Alcuin penalty area provided them with the opener, with a clever one two between Bew and Easter allowing the former the time and space to curl an effort past Richardson.
Moments later, substitute Ingham produced a dipping effort which sent Richardson sprawling across his goal line to claw away. Naylor then directed a close range volley against the post, with Bew unable to force in his headed effort. Derwent appeared to have awoken form their slumber and a second goal seemed inevitable.
It was to go Alcuin’s way. With the Derwent defence having failed to clear a corner, the ball fell to McConnell ten yards out, who delivered a powerful volley towards the near post. Charlie Cooper may have had a chance of keeping it out had it not flicked off the head of Gwinnett and into the net.
A moment of controversy was to follow when a Weighall header from a corner was adjudged to have been cleared off the line. Referee Charlie Dunning was to receive an earful from the Derwent dugout for the ensuing ten minutes.
No matter, for the winner arrived in the final few minutes of the game when Euan Bell’s speculative effort from about 25 yards out bounced past Richardson and into the bottom corner. No doubt, the Alcuin ‘keeper will feel he should have reached it, especially after having produced a string of impressive saves.
Despite making it three wins from three, Ryan Gwinnett et al will recognise the need to improve on this performance if they are to retain the title. With James having demolished all of their opposition, Derwent could find themselves needing to beat the Black Swan on the final day based on inferior goal difference. It’s a long way down the road, but the Derwent 1sts may have to consider winning games emphatically.
Derwent 1sts XI (4-2-3-1): Cooper; Whittall, Shelbourn, Belshaw, Askham; Easter, Naylor; Weighall, Gwinnett (c), Ferrao; Bew.
Alcuin 1sts XI (4-5-1): Richardson; Houlgate, Perera, Pickar, Kennick (c); Fernando, Barrie, McConnell, Turner, Garn; McLarty.
Subs: Southall, Sarin KC, Harget.
Vision’s MOTM: Andy Naylor (Derwent).
Attendance: About three.