Tough match for Audlem FC

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Up and off to the village at 9.15am. Kit all spruced and clean — courtesy of our second sponsors, Audlem Dry Cleaners (Sevi). A true task as it is so caked in mud.

Cold keen wind cutting down the length of the pitch from the tennis court end. Very soft surface (sadly not marked out as Cheshire East told me not able to do the job — long Christmas leave — after the dusting of an early morning frost.

But we are so lucky in comparison to the reports of severe rain and winds elsewhere in the UK. Audlem does so seem to have its own micro climate and is generally milder — when Woore has snow, we quite often do not.

Enough, to the game. First one of the year. Referee Rick Bradfield arrives with his reputation as a stickler and not liked by our opponents today, The Rising Sun Team. I pay him his fee of £29.

Our players: Geoff and James (Managers) have 14 from whom to choose the starting eleven. Team is fast settling to this hard core of players.

The very accomplished campanologists of St James are giving us their own special back drop of a lovely sound as they peal out the call to service.

10.57. We kick off under a grey and heavy sky with rain forecast later. Immediate strong play as Rising Sun attack in numbers. Last time we met them in early December they thrashed us 9-1, with the damage all happening in the last 20 minutes of the contest.
Perhaps we will learn from that, I muse.

11.02. Blow me down. We are trailing 0-1. A so, so soft goal from an error. So soft. From then on we play and we play hard and with good shape. Ref. books an RS player. Amidst much haranguing from their manager who then receives a lecture from the Ref with a threat of sending him to our imaginary Stands. (Back of my estate car!)

Balance of play about 60/40 in their favour. Joe Benson playing very well as his runs are incisive and good towards their goal. Skipper Kev Mort all over the pitch as he drives all to play. Comments to the Ref very typical as he says " What ? Me , Ref? " as he walks away from a fierce full blooded tackle.

11.24 and the first corner of the match to RS — in spite of their attacks, which speaks well of our defence line. New player Ross Blakeman performing very well as left back.

Shivering now as the keen wind knifes through my clothes. A slip in our defence line lets RS shoot at goal but it goes wide. We win our first corner — kick goes awry.

Ref books another RS player for back chat. So silly. Ref is boss whatever he says. Best chance so far falls to Kev Rodgers but he fires just wide. Connor Baxter in goal doing very well with many a brave save. Just that so soft goal at the very start of the game.

Half time and we have held then to just that one goal, no mean feat.

Second Half

Kick off, on an ever growing glutinous pitch surface. Good team play by Kev Mort and Kev Rodgers as we attack. Still shivering as I write my notes. An arrow formation of Canada Geese fly over in good voice and wheel over our heads as they fly to their feeding grounds.

Our play so good and we are pressing hard. Giving them as good as we can. Geoff takes off Joe Benson and introduces Joe Overland.

12.01: Scrambled attack in front of their goal and Ross B pokes in a shot. His first goal for us. 1-1. Great stuff.
12.05: and rain begins to fall. Had been forecast but had kept off so far.
12.05: RS pressing and they score. 1-2. Oh dear. Are we to fall apart again.

A fracas. Handbags at two paces and Joe is booked just after his arrival, as is yet another RS player. Then an oh so very soft goal into an empty net and we are down again: 1-3
(My note pad getting wetter and wetter.)

On comes Jordan Green — first time he has played for a long time — off goes James Bebbington. Ref books another RS player with just 5 minutes to go.

But then they score yet again as our shape is all in pieces, a bit of déjà vu! 1-4.

To cap it all Kev Rodgers is booked — as pressure coming from the touchline makes up the referee's mind for him. In truth he had been keeping an eye on Kev who is very aggressive in his play as he drive ever forward.

Game over. A loss, but so much promise of better results to come.

Audlem FC trophy

Man of the Match Trophy to Kev Mort for all his fully committed industry. A very special mention to Ross Blakeman for only his second appearance for us.

Next Game. On 12th January versus Santa Maria, away.

Ralph Warburton