By – Sour
After another month’s enforced break due to weather and having one particularly poor day on 8 January, the Knights returned to action (and the road) as they cruised over to Chester to take on a Romans side coming off the back of a close loss to Oldham.
The forecast wintry weather of Friday did little to liven the spirits of an uncharacteristically morose Knights squad featuring no new players for possibly the first time this season. Michael returned in goal, with Ellwood, Davenport and the indomitable (if not tardy) Warwick in close D. “Cleatless” Kyle Standiford took LSM, with Webbé (rocking the shorty), Higginbottom, Stewart, Suddaby and Beattie in Middie. A Fordless attack was patched up with Lacey taking up a spot next to usual suspects Webb and Wheeldon.
Chester featuring a number of Staffs Uni players and without the midfield dynamo that is Tom Warwick (Steve’s brother) looked eager and motivated, with the only pre-game hitch being the re-filling of a significant and strangely square rabbit hole about 12 yards from the goal we were warming up around.
Determined play around the face-off X saw Chester’s early gains on winning the initial battle come to very little as the face-off unit scrapped, battled, threw some checks and laid some body about to kill off fast breaks, and often turnover possession before a single pass could be made.
Issues familiar to readers of this news section soon became apparent as passes went awry, double and triple teams drawn with the ball being not shipped off, and poor shot selection was became the order of the day. Despite getting a lot of knockdowns and winning a fair share of the GB battle Chester failed to muster a shot in the first quarter as the Knights “pressure-zone” ride baffled them completely and turned a lot of ball over.
The first finished 3-0, the second following an almost identical pattern finished 6-0.
Following a step up in intensity, but unfortunately not quality, the third finished at 8-1 after some determined possession from Chester, that in a similar vein to York 4 weeks previously the Novocastrians were happy to watch as the ball was moved about with little obvious purpose until a clear broke down and Chester’s #19 finished well to record their only tally of the day.
What passed for usual service was resumed in the 4th quarter with another 3-0 rounding out what should have been a resounding victory, but actually felt rather flat.
This melancholy may stem from the knowledge that at times this season there have been performances that were several orders of magnitude better, and that a performance like that against Leeds next week is likely to end in a loss. That said though at this stage of the season a win is a win, and this 2 points has taken us above Oldham into a clear second with the big 14-4 tie breaker over them.
Next week the Knights welcome back Bryant, the inspirational Ford and the aspirational Woodrow, but will be without Michael and the ever improving Stewart who notched his first goal of the campaign in the third quarter.
Suddaby’s performance once again belied his lack of experience as he notched another brace and the Man-dallion. Higginbottom, Webb, Beattie and Wheeldon all snagged a single tally, with the rest of the goals coming from Lacey, who didn’t seem happy unless he had 3 defenders dangling off him. Standiford went 0-5 shooting, and collected the handbag for some impressive petulance to go with his goon award for forgetting his cleats.
The pattern of scoring means that the race for the Golden Wand (or whatever it’ll be called) is really hotting up. With 4 games to go Wheeldon and Ford are tied at the top on 23, with Webb and Lacey tied at 16 for third.
Wheeldon J 1G
Webb M 1G
Season Scorers to date
Andy Ford 23
John Wheeldon 23
Mark Webb 16
Nick Lacey 16
Kyle Standiford 8
Dave Bryant 6
Andy Higginbottom 6
Chris Suddaby 4
Pete Happanel 2
Robin Webb 2
Steve Warwick 1
Sam Ridgeway 1
Liam Thomas 1
Ben Beattie 1
Ian Stewart 1
Apologies for the lack of detail about the game, but I don't really remember what happened.
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