|A Team||vs||Portland OB Res|
|Saturday February 18 2023|
|The A’s were back in action against Portland OB Res this week and it hadn’t gone unnoticed by the eagle eyed that their first team didn’t have a fixture so some caution was needed in the event of any ‘ringers’ coming to town.|
The weather for once definitely matched the time of year, with a very strong wind blowing down the pitch it was clearly going to be a game of two halves.
The A’s opted to kick into the wind and knew the first half would be frustrating and they would need patience and focus. It was Vincent’s who started brightest though and launched a handful of promising attacks which didn’t amount to much. Portland used the wind to their advantage and A’s struggled to get the ball out of their half when trying to clear their lines. A mis-hit clearance saw the ball hang in the air and then float with pace back to the A’s goal where their forward had a glorious chance to head home but somehow missed the target from close range. A ‘big let off’ as they say.
The backline of Jacobs (GK), Miller, Wride , Lopez-Bland, Gadd were doing a sterling job of thwarting the Portland attacks and one sensed that if Portland were going to get anything from this game, they needed to do it in the first half.
With about 10 mins to go, a nice bit of passing saw Scott find Stanleigh in the middle, who played it out wide to Pond in oceans of space. He advanced a little further before whipping a cross which found Finney in the box who chested it down and then poked it beyond the keeper for 1-0. A deserved lead.
Clifton St. Vincent@s A’s 1-0 Portland
Halftime talks were positive, and two changes saw Jevan Laxen and Pete Mansfield enter the game, and both got stuck in as expected.
With the wind behind them, the A’s now knew the long ball (if needed) was on. Jacobs’ goal kicks were now easily hitting the halfway line & the A’s began to dominate and pin Portland back. Portland still had the ability to counter though, and with a handful of first teamers (which the Portland lino confirmed was the case) they were still dangerous on the break and some class challenges from Lopez-Bland and Wride ensured the backline held firm.
15 Mins in the A’s won a corner, resulting in Pond swinging in a dangerous ball which found Cotton at the back stick which at an awkward height he instinctively chested the ball home for 2-0 CSV. There were forlorn protests from Portland suggesting a handball, but the referee had been well placed to see the goal and dismissed the complaints swiftly.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 2-0 Portland
This goal sparked the A’s into life and moments later Mansfield pinched the ball off a defender and skipped into the box, pinging it across to Cotton who saw his shot smash the crossbar and back out into play.
More chances fell the A’s way, with Mooney bursting through the backline to find himself one on one. His shot was strong, but the Portland GK made an outstanding save pushing the ball with one hand over the bar.
Into the final phase of the match, Portland did create another great chance but saw their shot fly wide when they should have pulled a goal back.
At the other end, a breakthrough the middle saw Mansfield through on goal. He was brought off balance by the defender chasing him and managed to poke the ball sideways to Stanleigh who had sprinted alongside him to strike the ball into the net only for the Portland lino to raise a very questionable flag. The referee spoke to him, and the conclusion was that Mansfield had passed the ball forwards, rather than to the side. A conclusion that the A’s didn’t agree with one bit, but no matter as there was literally minutes left and the game was won.
Full time saw another valuable 3 points for the A’s and confirmed a 7-point advantage over 2nd placed Sneyd. With now just 7 league games to go for the A’s, they know that they must approach each match one at a time and maintain the same focus and calm they’ve shown all season.
MoM – It was always going to have to be a defender for this week’s MoM, as getting a clean sheet on the downs is always a rare collector's item. Strong shouts for all of them really, with the general consensus that Matt Lopez-Bland was the standout this week. Great positional play and some vital interceptions/tackles. He must have played well if even co manager Finney’s vote was for him.
Line up – L Jacobs, H Miller, M Lopez-Bland, M Wride, O Gadd , J Pond , H Scott , M Stanleigh , S Mooney, L Finney, M Cotton , J Laxen, P Mansfield
|A Team||vs||Sporting Greyhound Res|
|Saturday February 11 2023|
|Another crucial game awaited the A team who faced third placed Sporting Greyhound Res.
The club had been ravaged by poor availability to the extent that the poor B team had to postpone their fixture to allow many of their players to bolster the teams above.
The weather was very calm and still on the downs, but the A’s calmness was lacking a little in what was a huge game in their quest for glory.
The A’s welcomed debutant Stefan Johansen in goal, who had Lopez-Bland, Wride , Scott and Gadd in front of him . The midfield of Danhawoor, Stanleigh, Herman, Cotton and Stevens supported K Mooney up top.
It was a warm welcome return for Jon Stevens who spent every single day of 2022 running 5k for the mental health charity ‘Mind’ 👏 👏 You can still donate to his just giving page, and if you’re reading this and haven’t done so, please do it!
The game was frantic with both sides struggling to get the ball down and play. Pitch 18 is one of the narrowest on the downs and the A’s certainly don’t enjoy playing here. They dropped points with a draw against Torps before Christmas and had mostly blamed the pitch for that one, so didn’t want to have make excuses today.
There weren’t really many memorable moments from the first half. Both sides were resulting to direct long balls as trying to pass it around on the pitch just wasn’t happening.
A’s GK Stefan made a magnificent one on one save to keep Vincent’s from going a goal down.
A rare passage of play saw Stanleigh ping a long pass into Mooney’s run who steered it past the keeper only for the ball to hit the post and back out into play.
The halftime score line was a fair one. Both sides should have scored but neither had. The second period saw Pond enter the game and it continued as the first had ended; scrappy, clumsy and it felt like effort and determination was going to win this game rather than skill and guile.
There were some good personal battles going on with Cotton having some colourful verbal exchanges with just about half the sporting greyhound team.
Scott had now pushed up into his favoured midfield role and was also putting his foot in hard. Gadd made a series of excellent clearances at left back and was giving their winger no chance.
Mid way through the half greyhound lunched an attack which was initially defended well, but resulted in a second wave of pressure. A floated cross to the back post where Vincent’s had switched off allowed an unmarked greyhound player to head the ball home completely unchallenged.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 0-1 Greyhound.
Now the A’s barely had chance to feel sorry for themselves, and before anyone had time to ponder the curse of pitch 18, a through ball ricocheted very kindly into the path of Mooney who poked the ball past the onrushing GK to make it 1-1 . The A’s had only been behind for about 90 seconds.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 1-1 Greyhound
With a renewed sense of urgency and belief the A team pressed on. Some nice slick passing then saw the ball pinged into Mooney’s feet who laid it off nicely just as Pond broke through the backline taking the ball with him on the charge. He closed in on goal and Coolly slotted it past the keeper to give the A’s the lead.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 2-1 Greyhound
It’s fair to say that perhaps the A’s didn’t fully deserve to suddenly be ahead and the game was now heating up with mistimed tackles and some choice words being exchanged from both teams. The tipping point then came when Lopez-Bland chopped down a greyhound player, resulting in him leaping up and shoving the A’s skipper over . That was the trigger for nearly every player on the field to be involved in a melee that kicked off good and proper.
Amongst the shoving, shouting, and screaming the referee did a very good job of dispersing the players and in all the chaos he correctly identified and red carded the original perpetrator, whilst both sides were probably a little fortunate not to see others dismissed for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With Greyhound now down to 10 men the A’s thought their final 20 would be easier going , but to Greyhound’s credit they chucked everything they had at Vincent’s and if anything seemed to be even better than when they had 11.
There were a few tense moments and some long throws / corners to deal with but the A’s held firm and saw it through to the final whistle. A massive three points. The old enemy were on a pitch nearby and news filtered through that they’d lost, meaning the A team are now 4 points clear at the top of the table. Still a very long way to go but the A’s are now daring to dream.
Not a day for flair and creativity MoM nominations but more hard graft and getting stuck in. Noteworthy names were Mooney and Gadd this week with K Mooney taking the award for a good goal, an assist, and lots and lots of running.
MoM – Kez Mooney
Line up - S Johansen, M Lopez-Bland, M Wride, H Scott , O Gadd , K Danhawoor, M Stanleigh , O Herman, M Cotton , J Stevens , K Mooney , J Pond
|A Team||vs||Sneyd Park A’s|
|Saturday January 28 2023|
|After several weeks off with Xmas & New Year, followed by too much rain and ice, football was finally back on, and it felt great to be back. No sides on the Downs had been given the chance to run off the festive gluttony yet so fitness levels were always going to be questionable.|
The A’s actually hadn’t played since December the 10th and found themselves back in action against none other than the old Enemy. It was a top of the table clash and the winner would cement themselves on top of the pile (for the next week or two at least).
The A’s welcomed Jacobs back in the nets with a backline of Lopez-Bland , Wride , Pearce and Gadd protecting him. The midfield of Mansfield , Scott , Stanleigh , Cotton and Finney started the game supporting K Mooney up top.
The A’s started the game well and dominated the opening phase of the game. They had Sneyd on the back foot and thought they had scored early when Stanleigh lobbed a ball into Mansfield who found the net only for the Sneyd Lino to rule it out. A very tight call which Vincent’s were not in agreement with to say the least.
Sneyd did launch their own attacks and some solid clearances from the Vincent’s defenders were required to keep the danger out.
Scott was covering a lot of ground for the A team in the middle of the park and Cotton was making the Sneyd defenders lives difficult. The A’s could sense they were the stronger side.
On around the 20-minute mark a long searching ball from Wride into the corner saw K Mooney do very well to keep the ball in play. He then found Scott inside the box who turned and swept a strong pass across the goal finding an unmarked Cotton at the far post who kept his cool and side footed it home.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 1-0 Sneyd A’s .
The goal gave the A’s a real confidence boost and they pressed again looking for more. S Mooney joined the action and got straight involved as one of the CM’s.
A couple of Sneyd attacks did cause some nervousness in the A’s penalty area but the A’s cleared their lines with some good positioning from the back four.
The A’s soon got their rewards for their hard efforts when Cotton turned and weighted a lovely through ball for K Mooney to chase down. He got there just before the Sneyd defender and showed good strength to shrug him off and find himself one on one with the keeper. He kept a cool head and slotted it past the GK to give Vincent’s a commanding 2-0 lead.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 2-0 Sneyd A’s
Halftime gave the A’s a much-needed breather and allowed for some positive discussions with the obvious observation that a clean sheet in the second half would win the game. After lashings of deep heat and ibuprofen gel were applied the second half got underway.
The second half continued in much the same manner. Vincent’s dominated the play but Sneyd were always more than capable of a counter attack and it just felt like the next goal was going to be ‘massive’, which ever way it might go.
Javid Pond joined the action after 15 mins and was quick to get stuck in to what was becoming a quite a frantic game.
Just as it felt like Vincent’s might go and get that third goal a long Sneyd ball into the box wasn’t dealt with at all well by Vincent’s who missed a couple of chances to put laces through it. Sneyd punished the A’s for this and saw their shot hit the back of the Vincent’s net.
Clifton St. Vincent’s A’s 2-1 Sneyd A’s
The goal gave Sneyd renewed hope and they were certainly now up for it. To the credit of St Vincent’s they didn’t let the goal affect their performance overly and continued to play their style knowing that they were the better footballing side on the day.
The game was starting to get a little prickly however and some proper s***housery and mistimed tackles saw Pond see the wrath of the referee’s cards, collecting a yellow . Both sides were really giving it their all now.
With 20 mins to go a long ball into the Sneyd area saw K Mooney get to the ball just before the on-rushing keeper and defender who clattered Mooney but not before he nodded the ball goal bound for Cotton to make sure from very close range.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 3-1 Sneyd A’s
The A’s were so busy celebrating they forgot about K Mooney star fished on the deck. He was thankfully soon up on his feet and a quick concussion protocol of asking him what his name was deemed good enough to crack on.
This goal gave Vincent’s the comfort they’d enjoyed for much of the game and looked like they were enjoying it once more with a two-goal cushion.
Some very presentable chances in the final stages fell to Finney and S Mooney, but neither could find the net which would have sealed the victory for certain.
There were a couple of late goalmouth scrambles in the A’s area and to Sneyd’s credit they never stopped trying, but thankfully the backline did their job and cleared their lines when called upon.
The A’s kept they’re cool and saw the game out for a significant victory as they now move back to top spot, one point clear of Sneyd, and with a game in hand still. A huge win for the A’s today but they know they’ve got a long way to go still.
Almost every player could have been MoM this week.
The A team are becoming like a fine-tuned racing car ……. With the Backline acting as the breaks …… the wingers giving the speed & dynamics …… the CM’s are of course the engine and the forwards the drivers and indeed this week the drivers were taking the limelight for MoM nominations, with Cotton and K Mooney shortlisted. The A’s management decided a joint MoM award this week to them both. Class games from the pair of them, although they must remember without the rest of the team there will be no car to drive 😉
MoM – Matt Cotton & Kez Mooney
Line up - L Jacobs , M Lopez-Bland, M Wride, J Pearce , O Gadd , L Finney , H Scott , M Stanleigh , M Cotton , K Mooney , S Mooney , J Pond
|A Team||vs||NCSF Res|
|All Saints Cup||Saturday December 10 2022|
|The A’s were again in cup action this week, but this time in the All Saints Cup group stage. The pitches were a mixture of rock-hard frozen patches and then the occasional bit that had thawed out and was slippery, far from ideal conditions. The A’s were favourites for this group being the only Div 3 team in a group of 5. |
The A’s had a much-changed look about them with Seamus Mooney starting in goal, a backline of Woolston, Wride, Peace, Gadd and then a new look midfield/attack of Sperring, Wilson, Scott, Stanleigh, Davies and K Mooney.
The game got off to a patchy start for both teams. The pitch condition was proving very tricky to get the ball down and move it around, and numerous players were slipping when turning.
Both sides failed to find any rhythm and it felt like an even contest for half an hour with a couple of dangerous balls into the A’s area which thankfully were all just about dealt with.
Davies saw a half chance from the edge of the area fizz over the bar and Sperring and Wilson were starting to get space out wide.
With 10 or so to go a good move from Vincent’s saw Sperring glide past the full back and pinged a low fierce drive across the box where Stanleigh had timed his run nicely to side foot the ball home with a good connection.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 1-0 NCSF Res.
Half-time saw the eagerly awaited return of J Pond who had been side-lined with injury for a month or so, and the Mooney bros switched things up with Seamus going up front and Kez in goal.
The second half saw Vincent’s finally get a grip and start to dominate the Div 4 outfit. Good pressing from Davies and Scott saw the A’s winning the ball back quickly whenever they lost possession. Wride and Pearce were having a good battle with the NCSF big fella up top, and Woolston and Gadd were now seeing more of the ball too.
For all Vincent’s good play, clear cut chances were lacking a little, that was until a poor back pass from the NCSF midfield saw Stanleigh get to the ball before the defender and leave him for dead , bearing down on goal from a tight angle the GK had rushed out to meet him so he played the simple pass rolling into the space in front of goal where S Mooney found himself several yards out with the goal gaping. He side footed it but to everyone’s shock saw if fly over the bar. We’ll blame the pitch.
The A’s went close again when Pond’s freekick from 25 yards out just flew the wrong side of the post.
With time running out, Vincent’s got the breathing space they’d been working for. A throw in found its way to Pond inside the box who managed to wrap a left peg on it and saw it loop into the far corner and with that the game was won.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 2-0 NCSF Res.
There was still time for another goal , and not for the first time in this game, NSCF played the ball out from the back rather dangerously and this time Sperring made them pay, dispossessing the defender , he drove into the box and fired it past the GK giving him no chance.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 3-0 NCSF Res
MoM – The A’s usual managers were away this week and so Stanleigh & Wride shortlisted Scott , Davies and Sperring for MoM. The applause however goes to Sperring for an energetic display with a fine assist for Vincent’s first goal, and a well worked self-made goal for himself to seal the win.
Line up – S Mooney, J Pearce, M Wride, O Gadd , S Woolston, M Stanleigh, H Scott, M Davies, B Sperring , M Wilson, K Mooney, J Pond
|A Team||vs||Rockleaze Rangers|
|GFA Cup||Saturday December 3 2022|
|The A’s were in cup action this week against an unknown opponent in Rockleaze Rangers. Although Vincent’s were the away team, the game was being played on the Downs due to pitch issues at Rockleaze.|
For the second week in a row, the whole club struggled with player availability and substitutes were few and far between. The A’s had new faces galore this week with four players called Matt, just one shy of the record of 5 Matts set a few seasons earlier. In any case if anyone was in doubt about the identity of their new teammates, they knew shouting “Matt” or “Mate” was the best bet. It was a bitter temperature on the downs and the thermal layers were now being worn by most.
Rockleaze started the game strongest, and it was obvious within minutes that we were up against a very decent team. Matt Turner in goal was making his debut for the A team and had a backline of McConnell, Wride , Lopez-Bland and Gadd to protect him as best they could.
The A’s were able to launch the occasional counter attack and a decent passage of play saw Stanleigh play Sperring into the box, who managed to get around the keeper but his shot wasn’t quite hit with enough gusto and trickled towards the goal where a Rockleaze defender cleared it off the line. Vincent’s players appealed for a goal and the Ref rather comically advised he didn’t have VAR to check and couldn’t possibly give it.
The midfield this week was Mansfield, Davies, Stanleigh, Woolston and Sperring with golden oldie Matt Procter leading the line.
An injury mid-way through to Woolston meant that Finney joined the action and went straight into the middle three.
Just as the half was drifting away a Rockleaze players came forward and from 25 yards sent a worldie into the top corner. A great goal and nothing Turner could do about this one.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 0-1 Rockleaze.
Half-time came and went with fairly positive vibes, and optimism that the A’s were now kicking downhill.
The A’s did start the second half the brighter team and were finding a bit more joy. A free-kick just inside the Rockleaze half saw Lopez-Bland send a long searching ball into the box, where Stanleigh connected with a strong header that looped over the GK and levelled the game.
Clifton St Vincent’s 1-1. Rockleaze
For the next 15 mins the A’s had a purple patch (pun intended) and were certainly looking like the team that might go in front. But sadly, just as it seemed we might edge in front, a Rockleaze corner saw the ball ricochet off a Rockleaze player’s sensitive area and onto the goal line where a desperate attempt to clear saw the ball fly up into the roof of the net. A harsh goal to concede.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 1-2 Rockleaze.
The goal seemed to deflate Vincent’s and Rockleaze again restored their dominance launching numerous attacks. Some good saves from Turner and memorable tackles from Wride and Gadd prevented a 3rd goal, but then with 10 mins to go a free-kick 25 yards out saw another great strike from range which found the top corner and with that it was effectively game over.
Clifton St. Vincent’s 1-3 Rockleaze.
The A’s to their credit didn’t stop trying and saw a presentable chance fall to Finney in the closing stages but his shot fizzed over the bar.
The final whistle condemned the A’s to their first loss of the season. Not bad considering its Christmas in a few weeks’ time and many of their usual faces were absent this week. Rockleaze were arguably the strongest team the A’s had played all season and so felt no shame in this result, and now get ready for a return to league and All Saints Cup action before the Xmas break.
Final Score; Clifton St.Vincent’s 1-3 Rockleaze
MoM – The A’s management shortlisted Turner & Stanleigh for this week’s MoM, with the applause eventually being awarded to Turner for some fine saves. Realistically nothing he could do about any of the goals conceded.
Line up – M Turner, J McConnel, M Lopez-Bland, M Wride, O Gadd , S Woolston, L Finney, M Stanleigh, P Mansfield , M Davies, B Sperring , M Procter
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