In very wet, soggy and difficult conditions up at JTC Park, JTC JWFC ran out comfortable winners against a dogged St Clement in the first league game of 2016.
With Bradley Stratford and top scorer Jamie Savory both suspended, along with Tommy Buchanan being injured, Maher, Bennion, new signing Jack McKenna and Ben Blacker made up the back four. Bradley Rimeur, recently back from travelling, joined up with Dan Romeril to provide pace on either flank. Andrews, Thompson and Nafkha provided an experienced midfield three, with youngster Lorne Bickley leading the line as a solitary striker.
With a game plan to deliver balls into the area at the earliest opportunity, Wanderers started off brightly and created a number of half chances. With the appalling weather having a major influence on the game, neither side managed to get much in the way of passing football going, and with tackles flying in and players at times struggling to stay on their feet, it wasn’t going to be a day for the ‘beautiful game’.
Romeril and Rimeur were both finding success on either wing and it was this combination that eventually led to the break through. Romeril skipped passed his full back to cross the ball into the area for Bickley’s shot to be saved, leaving Brad Rimeur with the opportunity to finish with his trusty left foot, which he did with clinical precision.
McKenna and Bennion, appeared to be forming a good understanding with each other and the St Clement attack very rarely troubled either of them. Both Maher and Blacker showed good energy with overlapping runs on both sides and, although delivering quality ball into dangerous areas proved difficult in the conditions, Wanderers were very much the team on the front foot. With Andrews his tireless self in the centre of the park, Nafkha’s intelligent runs and use of the ball and Thompson’s inventiveness, the midfield three dominated the first half.
Following the half time break, and with the wind behind, the second half was more of the same with Wanderers dominating possession albeit the match continued to be a scrappy affair. St Clement’s long ball was more effective as it held up but, with the defence all winning their personal battles, there were very few occasions when the home goal was seriously threatened.
The second goal of the game came midway through the second half. Maher’s left foot delivered yet another glorious ball from a corner and Terry Bennion was at the far post to forcefully head past St Clement’s defenders and keeper on the goal line.
Before the end, Bickley conjured up a wonderful opportunity of his own. After spinning smartly on the half way line, he powered away from his defender and into the box only to see his rifled shot hit the post and out to safety. Another glimpse of what this promising youngster is capable of and, while his afternoon’s efforts went largely unrewarded, he again put in a fantastic shift and continues to shows signs of being a top player.
U18s Evan Nobes and Josh Daniel came on to add fresh legs in the closing stages with both doing particularly well in the circumstances. Further evidence of the talent coming through from the junior ranks.
The game ended 2-0 with 3 points safely collected.