The Lakers came into the match vying for the top spot with Jesmond Tutu, whereas the Bombs are at the foot of the table. These contrasting fortunes were predicted after the first meeting between the two teams back in October, when the Geographers won 8-1.
Although Rodallega Bombs had the first shot of the match, the first ten minutes indicated that the match may well be a repeat of their first encounter. With only two minutes on the clock, an interception from Jonny Marsden found Hannes Read. Neat interplay from the midfielder gave winger Freddie Fitton the space and time to terrorise the opposition left-back, who was an easy target having tragically turned up in trackies and a beanie.
The inevitable opening goal came from a pinpoint Ben Eastwood pass picking out Max Monteith on the right-hand-side. The forward shimmied the ball onto his left before rifling a shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal, rattling the crossbar on its way in.
Shots from Monteith, Luke Jeffery and Nandan Joshi all troubled the Bombs defence but couldn’t quite find the target. Meanwhile at the back, Marsden and Lakers captain Joe Watkins had the ponytail brothers, Mike Fry and James Andrews, in their back pockets.
“The inevitable opening goal came from a pinpoint Ben Eastwood pass picking out Max Monteith on the right-hand-side”
Lakers substitute Ollie Talbot thought the team should be “at least three up” by half-time, and came on to replace Jeffery to help the team push for more goals. Shortly after, a peach of a cross by Joshi couldn’t be converted by Monteith, but a fumble by Jackson allowed the striker nip in before being brought down, however the referee waved away the calls for a penalty from the Geographers’ bench.
As half-time approached, there was a serious injury worry for the Oxbow Lakers as their creative star Joshi went down with an ankle injury. Harry Boniface then came on, apparently replacing both Joshi and Eastwood. As a result the Lakers were down to ten men for no reason other than complete incompetence.
During this time, a beauty of a cross from Sam Blackburn was met by James Andrews, nestling a header in the corner past Rob Wicks in the Geographers’ goal.
The constant pressure was too much for the Bombs defence however, as a high ball was nodded home by Read as the opposition defence stood around like statues. The relief was evident throughout the Oxbow Lakers team, and was a sucker punch for the Rodallega Bombs to concede just before half-time.
“a beauty of a cross from Sam Blackburn was met by James Andrews, nestling a header in the corner past Rob Wicks in the Geographers’ goal”
Max Lafferty and James Clayton came on for the Lakers in the second half, with the former being immediately involved as he nearly latched onto Monteith’s left-footed delivery. Nevertheless, the team recycled the ball and a beautiful outside of the foot pass by Jeffery was collected by Monteith on the right, who stroked the ball into the far corner.
Swiftly after the restart, the Geographers attempted to press home their advantage, as shots from Eastwood and Jeffery were unlucky not to have extended the team’s lead. However Bombs counter-attacked with Leicester-esque pace and a ball over the top to Andrews was converted into the bottom-left corner. Linesman Watkins had flagged for offside but the referee controversially overturned the decision.
Stand-in captain Richard Smith set up Monteith who laid the ball onto Lafferty, but a terrific tackle by Julian Ashby sent the ball back out to the Lakers’ midfield. The ball was then played out to Monteith, who in turn sent the ball onto substitute Harry Francis via Lafferty. Francis’ first touch with his head took the ball away from the defence and then with his second caressed the ball underneath the on-rushing keeper.
Yet in true Lakers fashion, the defence stepped off Mike Fry, allowing the striker to curl into the top corner, reminiscent of Dani Osvaldo in that one good game he had for Southampton against Manchester City.
“Francis’ first touch with his head took the ball away from the defence and then with his second caressed the ball underneath the on-rushing keeper”
Rodallega Bombs then looked to draw level for the second time in the match as the ball was lofted over Clayton, allowing Jay Kirkham to run in on goal but fire just wide.
In the following attack, Fitton’s ball was touched on by Monteith for Lafferty to coolly slot home for the Lakers’ fifth of the match.
Looking to finally kill the game off, the ball was laid on to Boniface just outside the box. The boy from Bloxwich then stopped the ball dead before striking for the left-hand post. Unluckily for Boniface, the keeper just got a touch to it and fumbled the ball clear.
As the game drew to a close, the Bombs were rewarded as a goalmouth scramble led to a late consolation by centre-half Sam Lyons.
In a hectic game, the scoreline probably flattered Rodallega Bombs, but they must be given credit for their commitment to the long ball. Tony Pulis would be proud. In truth the Oxbow Lakers were much the better side, but perhaps struggled to create enough clear cut chances after Nandan Joshi went off injured. In his post-match team talk, Lakers captain Joe Wilkins emphasised how vulnerable the team are when they’ve just scored, and ideally would like to make the defence more watertight before their next match.