THERE'S SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

KSB UNITED 4–3 !AUDACIOUS – SMCCFL Division 3 – 16th December 2017 – SLS Stadium @ Fearns

KSB United had won at !Audacious on the opening day of the league season, and were expected to do the double with another home win. It had been 4 long weeks since the debacle at Poynton Connect and so the Streeters were desperate to get back in action. However, Brett Aspden would miss the game after recently becoming a father. This meant a return to management for Tom Pickup, who had a strong squad to choose from.

Matt Gosnell was struggling with an ankle injury but continued in goal, with Matt Jones returning to defence for the first time since scoring in the return fixture. Ste Evans and Alex Marsh were available after serving their suspensions, but unfortunately Matt Aspinall will have to wait until the New Year. Luke Hobson joined Marsh in midfield for only his second United appearance of the season. Joel Brown returned up front.

The major concern ahead of kickoff was the weather – footage had come in from Fearns of a snow and ice–covered pitch. Despite it looking unplayable, Brown had been down to investigate to reveal a layer of slush that looked good to go. After some good work from the players to remove some of the ice, referee Dale Markham arrived with big worries. Despite this, it was agreed to ‘see how it went’ and indeed, any doubts over whether it was playable were soon thawing along with the snow.

That’s not to say that conditions were easy – the ball slid around without much chance to control the ball and take more than a touch. It took a good while for the players to get used to the surface, which explained an uneventful opening half hour. Archer was having joy on the left and nearly finished off a great move before his finish went wide.

Most other chances came from set pieces, and indeed one of these resulted in the opening goal. Jonathan Rigby was fouled just outside the box and so Archer did the unspectacular by scoring his second free–kick in his last two attempts.

Gosnell was holding out at the other end, with the only sniff of a chance coming from set pieces. But a failure to clear from Tom Pickup invited the forward to slam home an equaliser not long before half time. This prompted Rob English to replace Pickup, with Phil Butterworth coming on for Brown.

The pattern of play continued in much the same vein in the second half, and once again it was Archer who provided the breakthrough. He latched onto Hobson’s through ball to guide the ball neatly into the far corner.

Gradually the visitors were coming into the game and United were getting frustrated. Hobson was amazed not to have been booked for a scythe, and more errors of judgment were being made. But it was corners that were causing all the problems for United’s defence, with a free header marking the equaliser.

Not long after and the unthinkable happened – an !Audacious third meant time was running out for United. Rigby returned to the fold and the system was changed to a 4–4–2, with Butterworth and Brown up front. The lads rallied and took the game to their opponents, knocking on the door in every minute.

Archer looked set to equalise and claim his second hat–trick of the season with a volley, but the shot crashed back off the post. Hobson had everyone off their feet but his finish flew agonisingly wide. More scrambles from corners were somehow not converted, prompting worries that United’ promotion hopes could be hit a serious snag.

Yet man of the match Rigby emerged the victor with two goals late on to win the game. First, he nestled in a gentle ‘shot’ from outside the area into the bottom corner, before minutes later slamming home a rebound into the roof of the goal.

The celebrations showed how important this was to United’s season. Rigby nearly had a hat–trick but his right–foot volley was well saved. The lads held on despite one or two more scares from !Audacious corners. This was a crucial three points that see United stay top at Christmas, and continue their imperious record at Fearns. That’s now 9 wins there in a row, which will give them a great chance of promotion come May.

 

Team (4–2–3–1)

13. Matt Gosnell (GK)

2. Johnny English (DR)

5. Ste Evans (DC)

6. Matt Jones (DC)

3. Tom Pickup (DL)

4. Luke Hobson (MDC)

10. Alex Marsh (MDC)

8. Daven Argile (AMC)

11. Wayne Archer (AML)

25. Jonathan Rigby (AMR)

7. Joel Brown (SC) (c)

 

Subs – 9. Phil Butterworth (SC), 12. Rob English (DR)

Man of the match – Jonathan Rigby