It was time for Coeur to bounce back after last week's dissappointing loss. Again selection problems caused Si Furlong problems. Absent this week were Gav Scott, Neil Shelley, Baxi, all at the match. Damien and Kenni both injured, Jay Cunningham has returned to the seconds, Mally Harper was at a wedding and Peter Gibbons still not available until next week. Rob Philiskirk and Andy Blackburn were drafted into the squad, to make up a heavyweight bench along with Si Furlong. Bob Marley had declared himself no longer available for selection after his outburst last week. John Doyle also returned to the squad as he strove to find fitness.
Once again it proved to be far from a settled squad, especially after Rob Phil, pulled out late on, and then Craig Burns missed his lift off Mike Smith. This meant that Andy Blackburn stepped up to the starting line up and Si was devoid of company on the bench.
The early exchanges were frantic, but lacking in quality as both sides, struggled badly on a very poor pitch. Collegiate showed plenty of endevour and attacking intent, which belied their poor league standing. A couple of early warnings for Coeur sparked them into life. Firstly Collegiate missed a sitter when two players found themselves free in the six yard box, fortunately for Coeur the ball was stroked wide of the upright. The second Collegiate chance saw the ball ball blazed over the bar.
Coeur's response was instant. Wes Grego burst past a couple of defenders and squared the ball, past the keeper and into the path of Pablo. A simple tap in was all that was required. Sadly, Pablo managed to balloon the ball, high, wide and handsome.
Coeur were now getting on top in the game, and a great move down the left saw Rob Hatton, Degsi, Pablo and Wes interchange one touch passes, before Andy Blackburn was fed in, 10 yards out. Andy provided a clinical finish as he slid the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Collegiate continued to attack, but Coeur again hit them with a quick counter attack. Pablo was freed down the left and went to fire a cross into the box. He miscued slightly and the ball looped towards the top corner of the net. The keeper readjusted and caught the ball on his line, only to drop it into the net. Coeur celebrated, Collegiate looked dismayed, but to the amazement of everyone the referee's whistle never sounded. Somehow the ref had failed to spot the goal, and the keeper was in no mood to admit to his error. Coeur were enraged and their concentration slipped.
Collegiate hit back when poor marking left the forward on his own in the area. He slid it home for the equaliser. Andy Blackburn nearly restored Coeur's lead when his header from a corner, was fortuately blocked on the line. With the game settling down, Collegiate hit a long clearance from the back. Mike Smith positioned himself well, but the ball failed to bounce when hitting the deck. As the ball squirted through, a forward latched onto it and made no mistake in giving Collegiate the lead.
Despite the best efforts of Couer's midfield, the passing game was never going to achieve much, due to the increasingly heavey conditions underfoot. With 7 minutes to go to the break, Pablo layed the ball in behind the left back. Wes Grego strode onto the ball and cut it back for Pablo who made ammends for his previous miss.
Collegiate 2, Sacre Coeur 2
The half time team talk consisted of messages of concentration and determination. It was imperative that Coeur increased both of these in the second half to ensure they came away with the points. The scond half started with Collegiate pressing forward. Two decent raids were thwarted by Kev in goal, and Coeur managed to stay on level terms. After 10 minutes, Collegiate committed a crude foul on Couer's left hand side. Degsi lifted the ball into the box, where Tommy Stevenson chested the ball down, into the path of Andy Blackburn, who gleefully, smashed the ball into the Collegiate net from 15 yards.
With Coeur now in front, Collegiate poured forward at will, in search of an equaliser. Degsi and John Doyle were struggling to prevent the runners from midfield, as turning was proving almost impossible in the muddy conditions. Coeur's defense was standing firm though, and it was Tommy Stevenson, who broke up an attack, and played a glorious 70 yard ball towards Mick Taylor. Mick leapt in front of the defenfer to win the ball, and in one movement brought the ball down and then lofted it over the helpless keeper into the net, to give Coeur a 2 goal advantage.
Having , conceded the lead in the first half, Coeur were keen to finish the game off now. Andy Blackburn was moved up front, as his legs were fading fast. Mick moved from the right to the left, and Wes took up a position on the right of midfield. some great work by Andy up front, saw him skip past 2 challenges, and roll the ball past the keeper for Wes to stride onto, and fire into the empty net. Excellent! 5-2, game over. Not such luck! The referee deemed Wes offside, and awarded Collegiate a free kick, with a decision as contentious as the one in the first half.
Collegiate were spurred on by this gift from the referee, and managed to grab a goal back after poor defending from a corner, again left men unmarked in the six yard box. Coeur immediately went down the other end and replied with a goal from Wes. Unfortunately, the ref completed his hat-trick of shocking decisions and ruled Wes offside again. Unbelievable!!
With nine minutes to go Coeur wrapped up the win, as Mike Smith burst forward through practically the whole Collegiate side, only for Pablo to take the ball off him, round the keeper and walk it into the net.
A scruffy win, that should have been a lot more comfortable than it was. In truth though Coeur scored eight times, though the referee was only kind enough to allow five. Wes suffered most at the hands of the ref, as both his goals were incorrectly struck off. Positives that can be gleened from the match are two excellent goals from Andy B, 90 minutes completed by John Doyle, and a truly top drawer finish from 16 year old Mick Taylor.
Collegiate 3, Sacre Coeur 5