The match that was billed as ‘the one’ that both side’s clearly needed to win to maintain hopes of landing the Taunton and District Youth League top honour ended with an emphatic nap hand victory for Rovers – but that margin of victory was possibly a little harsh on the visitors who once again proved to be a formidable opponent. It’s true that Holway did have the ball in the Rovers net twice in quick succession shortly after the all-important opening goal was scored by Cameron Connolly on 42 minutes. However, in both cases the ‘goal’ was chalked off, first time the referee made the decision and the second one was made by the linesman. Thereafter Rovers keeper Harrison Burton, who put his ambition to become a qualified match official on the back burner so he would not miss being part of a Rovers title attempt – was restricted in his involvement to coming quickly off his line to thwart the rare occasion that the immaculate defensive line of Tom Badcott, Sam Rawlings and Dan Foweraker presented. In front of those three boss Clive Jones opted to go with a middle five of Oliver Elsworthy, Sam Jones, Jack Rawlings, Owen Buxton and Philip Andrew with Bailey Jason-Ryan and Max Cooper tasked with front-running duties.
There were three on the bench at the start; Cameron Connolly, Mitchell Dart and Jordan Biss.
The first half was tight as both side sparred well. Rovers, playing into a strong wind edged the period and only the depth of the bar denied Sam Jones a spectacular opening goal. There was another ‘near-thing’ when the lively Jack Rawlings saw his effort head for goal with the keeper stricken on his penalty spot only for the impressive Holway centre back Clark to clear the ball a yard from the line. The Holway front two of Kye Toogood and Matt Trump would give any back line a hard afternoons work, but they got little change out of our back three in which the Badcott and Rawlings combination once again presented a pacey, hard and sharp rebuff to their best attacks and also got tremendous support from Dan Foweraker. The three offered up a solid platform in front of safe hands Burton between the sticks!
The first changes were made 20 minutes in with Mitchell Dart and Cameron Connolly joining the game with Buxton and Cooper the two to make way. Half-time arrived with both sets of players needing a break from what had been a high-tempo first 40 minutes superbly officiated by referee Nick Searle.
Within two minutes of the re-start the deadlock was broken and it came down the inside left channel with Connolly tucking the ball inside the Holway gloves man’s near post. With their tails up it was very nearly two as jack Rawlings went close before the first of the off-sides. A shot from a free-kick about 20-yards out that the well positioned match official was clearly able to adjudge off-side. Three minutes later the ball was again in then net, this time the linesman, again in the right place, gave the award, and there were no complaints.
The lively bailey Jason-Ryan, what a find he has been and has brought some serious forward energy this season to the team, made a fine run and a half chance appeared for Ollie Elsworthy, but came to nothing. Four minutes later though it was 2-0 with Jack Rawlings applying a neat finish. Two down and the visitors seemed to wilt. Not all their number, but enough to allow Rovers to rally take charge. Owen Buxton made a barn-storming up field surge and the ball fell to Connolly who shot just wide before max Cooper showed quick feet and was hauled down by the Holway keeper. Up stepped Jack Rawlings to send the keeper the wrong way and effectively end the game!
The icing on the cake were two late goals, the first a classic near post header from the visitors’ choice of Rovers Player of the Match, Sam Jones and there was still time for Connolly to get the second goal his personal contribution to the cause deserved.
The final score might seem harsh on a good Holway side, but the cast your mind back to a heart-breaking cup defeat as Under-12s and the football wheel has turned sufficiently for revenge to be very sweet! The season might not be over for these two teams. Rovers still have to get one more win against Tone Youth at home (Tuesday, March 25) and Wembdon (to be announced to secure the title. Holway have one left and ironically could seal the title for Rovers if they don’t lose at Wembdon in their final league game next Sunday (March 23). A draw or a Holway win in that game and Rovers will be champions BEFORE the Tuesday night game with Tone Youth. If Wembdon win the game then Rovers will require a win at home to Tone to be crowned champions with one game to play.
Rovers may yet meet Wembdon in the cup this season – that scenario only happens if Rovers first overcome Wembdon in the April 6 quarter final at Wembdon – the winners of that tie meet Holway in the semi-final on a date yet to be determined.
Rovers team: Harrison Burton, Tom Badcott (Capt), Sam Rawlings, Dan Foweraker, Philip Andrew, Oliver Elsworthy, Sam Jones, Jack Rawlings, Owen Buxton, Bailey Jason-Ryan, Max Cooper: Suns: Mitch Dart, Cameron Connolly and Jordan Biss.
PHILIP ANDREW was named the coaches MAN OF THE MATCH
SAM JONES was awarded the Holway players choice of MAN OF THE MATCH