|A Team||vs||Phoenix Downs 1st|
|Saturday April 29 2023|
|It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, albeit maybe a bit too hot to play football. Nevertheless the A’s came out on to the downs for their last league game of their title winning season against Phoenix Downs a team that had held them to a draw at the start of the season. The A’s were on one of their favoured pitches and one which they had not lost on this season. They started in a 4-2-3-1 with the usual defence of Jacob in goal, Lopez-Bland, Wride, Pearce and Gadd, Scott and Stanleigh sitting behind Finney, S.Nickless-Mooney and Mansfield with K.Nickless-Mooney up top. They also boasted a strong bench of Cotton and welcoming Miller back into the fold for one last hurrah.
The game kicked off very even and tense with both teams having chances but lacking the finishing to put it away. The game would clearly be won and lost in the midfield with both team playing a midfield three to some extent and both looking to control the game from there. It was Phoenix who struck first from long free kick which sadly cannoned off of Wride’s head and looped over Jacobs and into the net.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 0-1 Phoenix Downs 1st
As had been the case a few times this season going one nil down seemed to wake up the A’s as they piled on pressure with Pearce, Wride and Scott mopping up any out balls by the Phoenix defence and feeding back to the midfield to keep Phoenix parked in their own box. The A’s were really cooking now and just needed the ball to be tucked home, they even looked quite dangerous from corners which is something they maybe haven’t utilised as much season. The breakthrough finally came when Scott took another of his now trademark long throw-ins which the Phoenix centre back sadly headed directly into the path of Finney to nod home for his 4th goal in his last 3 games. This included his second headed goal to make him the top scorer with his head this season.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 1-1 Phoenix Downs 1st
The A’s continued to pressure but were sadly slowed down by an injury to Gadd which forced a few changes with Cotton and Miller coming on as Finney also went off. With S.Nickless-Mooney going to LB, Cotton to CAM and Miller to Right Wing, with these changes they continued to push on to take the lead with a great ball over from S.Nickless-Mooney to Mansfield who brought it down and put in K.Nickless-Mooney but sadly the Phoenix CB got in just ahead with a world class tackle to stop the attack. Sadly, after the A’s sustained pressure and maybe trying to force it they gave the ball away and then Phoenix countered and overloaded the right hand side and slotted it home with Jacobs getting a hand to it but sadly it was not enough.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 1-2 Phoenix Downs 1st
Not long after the half-time whistle went and the A’s jogged in and knew a big second half was needed, lots of shouts about finishing the league season strong and going out on a win. Everyone around knew they could beat Phoenix but that a big second half was needed from the Vincent’s.
Phoenix kicked off the second half but the A’s continued to pile on pressure, going close quite a few times even with a rogue shot from Scott sadly going straight to the keeper. A few good crosses were coming in from Lopez-Bland, S.Nickless-Mooney, Miller and Mansfield but witho no luck. Finally, Scott played a great ball with the outside of his boot threw to K.Nickless-Mooney who was brought down in a much similar fashion to last weekend but this time the ref blew for the penalty and stood his ground. K.Nickless-Mooney then coolly slotted away the penalty into the bottom corner despite some questionable encroachment from one of the opposition players.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 2-2 Phoenix Downs 1st
The A’s then made a switch with one eye on the semi-final on Tuesday so Scott came off for Finney with Mansfield going into CDM and Miller going to Left wing and Finney going to Right wing. The A’s were in two minds with still about a quarter of the game to go, they could either push on for a winner or hold out for a draw and preserve energy for the semi-final on Tuesday. It was no surprise they chose the former and pushed for a winner so they could go into the semi-final having won the game but also knew that IF they won in the semi-final on Tuesday, Phoenix could well be their final opponents. Again it seemed like attack after attack with multiple chances from K.Nickless-Mooney, Stanleigh and many more. While these attacks were continuous the passing was free flowing and after some neat team play around the box, Finney dinked a lovely ball over the top of the defence to dubiously positioned Stanleigh who very reminiscent of a goal he had scored earlier this season chipped it over the goalkeeper and into the empty net. The defence all looked over for a flag but none came.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 3-2 Phoenix Downs 1st
Now with only about 15 to go the A’s just needed to slow the game down and stop Phoenix from gaining any rhythm and that’s exactly what they did. It was an excellent effort from the whole team to just slow the game down with passes backwards and players going to the corner flag although, there was also some chances to maybe make it 4-2 as the A’s are always on the look out for goals. The final whistle blew for the last time in the league this season and the mini celebrations began with multiple team photos and even some Prosecco was involved.
It had maybe not be one the of the A’s best games this season but showed the grit and determination that they have shown all season to come back twice and take home all three points in a game that meant nothing to them. Now all eyes turn to the semi-final on Tuesday against Sporting Greyhounds Reserves and the A’s were just two games away from writing themselves into Clifton St Vincent’s Folklore.
There was a few shouts for Man of the Match, mainly for L.Finney, H.Scott and S.Nickless-Mooney who all worked tirelessly in a tough game and some were involved in the goals but the award went to S.Nickless-Mooney who was causing havoc as he usually does playing behind the Striker and then sacrificed himself and went Left Back and had a great game keeping their winger out off the game and also putting a few good crosses and passes.
MoTM - Seamus Nickless-Mooney
Squad: L.Jacob, M.Lopez-Bland, M. Wride, J.Pearce, O. Gadd, M. Stanleigh, H.Scott, L.Finney, S. Nickless-Mooney, P. Mansfield H. Miller M. Cotton.
|All Saints Cup Quarter Final||Saturday April 22 2023|
|With the downs division 3 title already secured, the A team turned their attention to the All Saints Cup where they were desperate to keep themselves involved in competitive football for as long as possible. It was the Quarter final, and they were up against their current ‘bogey’ team as NCSF Firsts are the only team to have beaten the A’s (twice) in the league this season.
Although the most recent game where the A’s had 10 men for 90 mins doesn’t really count.
The weather was fine and the ground was still soft enough to take a stud. Pitch 17 is a decent sized pitch by Downs’ standards and the squad was pumped. Indeed, they even embraced into a team huddle before the game to show NCSF just how up for this game they were.
The game started with both sides clearly quite nervous about the occasion. No one was able to relax and find any rhythm, with lots of ‘safety first’ type play. The A’s started with Luke Jacobs in the nets, with Lopez-Bland, Wride, Pearce and Gadd as the backline. Just in front of them was Scott and Walsh with Finney and S Mooney out wide with M Cotton central and K Mooney in his usual solo striker role. Mansfield, Stanleigh and Clucas made for arguably the strongest bench all season.
The opening half hour was very cagey. It was quite an open game with end-to-end attacks from both sides. On 20 mins NCSF created a good attack leading to a goalmouth scramble and for all the world it looked like they would take the lead but an absolute world class reflex save from Jacobs stopped the A’s going behind and the ball was hoofed away to safety.
On half an hour the three A’s substitutes joined the action and got stuck into what was a tense and even game of football.
Half-time talks were generally positive, but Vincent’s knew they all needed to give it a bit more to swing the advantage their way.
The A’s answered the managers plea, and everyone started to up their game. Cotton was moved into a deeper role and started to really dominate the battles. Scott was also having a cracking game in the middle making sure the NCSF play was broken up. Walsh was putting his foot in where it mattered too.
On 60 mins a lovely pass out from the back from Gadd found K Mooney just inside the opposition half and he in turn played a lovely weighted pass for Clucas to chase down. The race with the NCSF CB had started neck and neck, but Clucas soon found top gear and outpaced him to the ball allowing a one on one with the keeper. He kept his cool and hit an outside of the right boot shot into the net to spark massive celebrations from the A’s.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 1-0 NCSF.
The goal brought this game alive and now both teams were giving everything. Mansfield won a few freekicks for the A team , whilst Lopez-Bland, Wride and Pearce all made noteworthy tackles.
On 70 mins K Mooney got played in for a one on one and was taken out by the chasing NCSF defender. The ref immediately awarded a penalty. Whilst discussions were taking place about who wanted to the responsibility of such a high pressure kick, the A’s didn’t realise that the NCSF linesman had called the Ref over to declare he believed his defender had got some of the ball prior to taking all of the legs! To the A’s disbelief and shock, the Referee decided to take the lino’s judgement and changed his mind, no penalty!
To be fair to the A’s , they didn’t let that injustice affect them negatively and they remained focused on the job in hand and were rewarded on 75 mins. K Mooney was released in behind the defence slightly out wide in the left channel. He whipped a great low ball into the area, where Finney had timed his run brilliantly to connect a left foot on the ball and steer it into the far corner for 2- 0
Clifton St.Vincent’s 2-0 NCSF.
The A’s now sensed victory, and although to be fair to NCSF they never ever gave up, as the clock ticked closer to full time, you could feel their belief fading away also.
On the final whistle there was some emotive outcries of victory from some the A’s players, who had tasted the bitter pill of defeat twice from NCSF, and had now found redemption in the most satisfying way, with a solid win taking them onward to the semi-finals.
The A’s now have their final league game next Saturday (which will mostly be used for a photoshoot and social media frenzy) as they hope to collect the division 3 trophy after the game. After this however, its no messing about as on Tuesday 2nd May they will play their semi-final as an evening K. Off on the downs. They know they have the ability to keep going, but they must bring the mentality and attitude that they showed against NCSF in the Q’s.
MoM – The A’s managers were very proud of all the squad for this victory, but the stand out for them was Matt Cotton who adapted very well to dropping deeper than he would usually like, and winning just about every ball that came near him.
Line up - L Jacobs , M Lopez-Bland, J Pearce , M Wride , O Gadd, L Finney, H Scott, A Walsh, S Mooney, M Cotton , K Mooney , M Stanleigh, P Mansfield , O Clucas
|A Team||vs||NCSF United First|
|Saturday April 8 2023|
|All matches being rained off last week meant this was A’s first match since clinching the league title and it was a lovely day of Easter sunshine for it. The A’s were out against the only team to beat them in the league this season in NCSF United Firsts. Unfortunately, Vincent’s as a whole had been hit with bad availability again so the A’s only had 10 to field including a player only just returning from injury. Nevertheless, they had a strong 10 and knew if they got the luck here they could get a result.
They fielded a change in formation due to availability of 3-5-1 with Jacobs in goal, Gadd, Lopez-Bland and surprisingly K.Mooney in a back three, Gernonn and Sperring on the wings with Scott, Finney and the returning Pond in the middle and Cotton up top. The team was still a good team but they were going to dig in deep to get anything against NCSF who had a full 14.
The match started fairly evenly with both teams trying to find some rhythm after a week off, NCSF were definitely using their extra man but the A’s were digging in. The first chance fell to them as they swung in a corner to the back post and being met by one of their players to head into the back of net.
NCSF 1-0 Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s
Not long after the A’s were pushing up and NCSF stole the ball back and launched a counter and used the extra man on wing who found his way into the box before going over questionably when Lopez-bland came near him and the ref pointed straight to spot with the A’s players up in arms. The penalty was tidily tucked away with the Jacobs not having much chance.
NCSF 2-0 Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s
The A’s just didn’t seem to be getting the luck of the bounce which was something they clearly needed given the squad difficulties. Sadly NCSF launched another ball forward and their striker got in between Mooney and Jacobs to tuck it home.
NCSF 3-0 Clifton St.Vincent‘s A’s
After this the A’s decided to change the formation and go 4-3-2 with Sperring coming to right back and Gadd going left back and Gernonn going up top with Cotton. This provided them some much needed assurance and safety at the back and they were arguably the stronger team till half time and even had a few chances with Sperring hitting the bar and having a goal mouth scramble following a corner. The final chance came with some slick passing from the A’s before Scott slipped Gernonn through who unfortunately dragged his shot wide.
Following the change in formations the managers make some movements at half time with Mooney going back to his usual position up top, Cotton going into the midfield, Finney going left back and Gadd going to Centre back. The A’s knew that if they continued how they finished the first half then there was slight chance they could get something from this.
And that they did with NCSF struggling to get through the back four of the A’s but sadly up top it still did not feel like it was clicking despite the effort of the players. However, after some great dogged work from Cotton (as usual) who clipped a ball over the top of the defence to Pond who managed to chip it over the on rushing goalkeeper. The A’s now had a slight chance here.
NCSF 3-1 Clifton St. Vincent‘s A’s
Credit to the NSCF defence and midfield who were able to slow the game down following them conceeding although the ref didn’t help with some questionable calls and seemed to have taken a disliking to Mooney, Blowing up every time he touched an NCSF player.
The A’s had struggled to break down NCSF despite being the better team in the second half before a long throwing from Scott found Pond in the box who was taken down the defender and the ref pointed to the spot. Pond stepped and coolly slotted it in the bottom corner.
NCSF 3-2 Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s
Sadly there was only few minutes left and although the A’s tried they just couldn’t get it over the line and the ref blew the final whistle. The A’s had lost again to NCSF although this one felt unlucky as with 11 men they probably would have won the game and also meant nothing for the A’s in the league as they couldn’t be caught. Still all attention now to the big quarter final against NCSF in two weeks time but before that they have Helios with A’s wanting to get back to winning ways before the quarter final.
The man of the match award could have gone to every player today with all of them digging in despite the circumstances. But special mentions to the Scott and Cotton for working tirelessly in the middle despite being in a 2 vs 3 situation at times. The award went to Pond considering this was his first game back from injury and had stated he could only play 20, he worked like a dog as much his body would let him and got two great goals and won the penalty.
Squad: L.Jacobs, M.Lopez-Bland, O.Gadd, K.Mooney, G.Gernonn, H.Scott, L.Finney, J.Pond, B.Sperring, M.Cotton.
Kez Nickless- Mooney
|A Team||vs||Cotham Old Boys|
|Saturday March 25 2023|
|After a week of classically British weather consisting of blistering sunshine and torrential rain, the A’s were ready for a game that would put them 3 points closer to the title although if results go their way they could be league champions today. It was a normal sunny and windy afternoon on the downs as the whole of Clifton St. Vincent’s had been hit with poor availability meaning the A’s had the bare eleven again.|
They were still able to lineup with a strong 11 of Jacob in goal, Lopez-Bland, Wride, Stock and Pearce make up the back four, Scott and Stanleigh sitting deep in midfield with Finney, Cotton and Mansfield sat behind K. Mooney up top.
With the A’s kicking off into the wind first half they got going straight away and started to turn screw on their opponents despite starting off with the disadvantage of the wind blowing in the favour of the Cotham Old Boys. At around 15 minutes in after some good passing by the A’s, Mansfield got to the byline and cut the ball back for Finney who shot with his weaker foot with the ball then taking a knock off an unknowing defender and into the net (we will let the managers decide on whether that was an own goal or Finney’s).
Cotham OBs 0-1 Clifton St Vincent’s A’s
After that the A’s continued to keep the opponent in their half thanks to good pressing from the front four and then good mopping up from Scott and Stanleigh with the back four not really troubled. Just before half time a breakaway saw Scott playing a lovely through ball to K. Mooney but his toe poke was sadly saved by the goalkeeper before the ref blew the whistle for half time.
As they were in for half- time the messages were more of the same but also take their time and use the advantage this half, but to also test the goalkeeper as it didn’t feel like they had too many shots in the first. Also there were the standard shouts of focusing on keeping the clean sheet as per.
As the second half kicked off the A’s continued to show their dominance with keeping the ball in the opposition half (albeit with some help from the wind. A few early misplaced pass or chances and it looked like this might be a rare low scoring affair on the downs until the A’s got a throwing about half way into the oppositions half. Scott with his surprisingly long throws launched one to Mooney who was able to bring it down and fire it off to Finney who quickly played it to Cotton on the edge of the area who slipped it through to Mooney to tuck it past the keeper.
Cotham OBs 0-2 Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s
The A’s continued to keep the opposition in their half and even saw a few long free kicks from Pearce of all people catching the goalkeeper out with the bounce and Mooney almost scoring a lovely dinked attempt after a sumptuous ball through from Stanleigh. Clearly the centre mid and striker were developing quite a partnership with a few good balls over the top from him to Mooney including a back heel pass in the air but no luck as it didn’t look like he wouldn’t grab another goal. But the A’s were pushing and with Cotham camped in the box with some passes around by the A’s looking for an opening, the ball came to Scott who caught the whole defence by surprise when he saw Stanleigh running through and delicately chipped the ball over then defence for Stanleigh to dink it over the on rushing goalkeeper.
Cotham OBs 0-3 Clifton St Vincent’s A’s
With not long left in the game now Cotham started to come out more and more and even tested Jacob who pulled off a Hollywood save (his words!) and not long after Cotton received the ball on the half way line and drove towards goal making his way through two defenders before slipping the ball to Mooney to slot it away for his second.
Cotham OBs 0-4 Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s
Not long after that the final whistle went and the A’s were 3 points closer to that illustrious league title or so they thought but as they headed off to the pub for the celebratory pint a few players had gone ahead to scout for potential results of second and third place. Both of which had dropped points meaning that …
CLIFTON ST. VINCENT’S A’s HAVE WON LEAGUE DIVISION THREE FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1966!!!Due to both NCSF and Sneyd failing to win and the A’s winning, the A’s could no longer be caught and are now division three champions.
The A’s main focus is now to progress in the All Saints Cup with the quarter final next week (not before a few celebratory drinks were had of course). Managers Lopez-Bland and Finney had believed in this team all season saying from the start that they had a chance of winning this league and with the amount time and effort they put into the management role and on the pitch when playing it’s good to see it paid off. We all believed we were in with a chance for the league remaining unbeaten until game week 12!
Now all they have to do is finish strongly in the All Saints Cup and it would be a hallmark season for not only the A’s but Clifton St Vincent’s as a whole.
Man of the Match could’ve gone to anyone with the A’s rarely putting a foot wrong and showing a real title winning performance but special shouts to the midfield three of Scott, Stanleigh and Cotton for keeping the opposition midfield quiet and not letting them get out of their half and grabbing a few assists and goals. The managers decided this one would go to Stanleigh for tireless performance of running, tackling and passing and then capping it off with a lovely goal, “his best performance all season” was the quote from one of the managers at the press conference.
Squad: Jacob, Lopez-Bland, Wride, Stock, Pearce, Scott, Stanleigh, Finney, Cotton, Mansfield, Mooney
K Nickless- Mooney
|Clifton St. Vincent’s up to third after 2-0 win over dogged Bohemia||Saturday March 25 2023|
|Vincent’s had to fight hard against a well-drilled AFC Bohemia to grind out a 2-0 win and extend their winning run in the league to five.
The Vincent’s were looking to build on their recent form and started the brighter of the two teams with their direct, attacking style causing the home side problems early on.
In a half with few clear cut chances the best of the bunch fell to Dyf Davies who, after the ball was half cleared from a corner could only fire his shot over the bar.
The home side came back into the game in the closing minutes of the first half but despite some good linkup play, the Vincent’s defence held firm to go into the break all square.
HT Clifton St. Vincent’s 0-0 AFC Bohemia
After a cagey start to the second half, Vincent’s started to find their feet again and some great play down the right from half-time sub Josh Stevens saw him skip round the defender and whip a dangerous ball to the far post that found the lively Dahanwoor to fire it past the keeper.
Vincent’s looked comfortable after going ahead and while the game looked destined to end 1-0, a blistering attack saw Aaron Roberts taken down 20 yards out leaving an outside chance to sure up the result.
Nobody was taking the free kick off of Roberts, and he justified that when the ball flew into the back of the net to give Vincent’s a commanding 2-0 lead with three minutes remaining.
No more dramas in the closing stages and with some other results going their way, the First Team moved up to third in the league, their highest league position of the season.
Nine points left to play for and now two points off second place. All still very much to play for.
FT Clifton St. Vincent’s 2-0 AFC Bohemia
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