Another trip to the Jeffrey's Humble playing fields saw Coeur line up against a familiar Alsop side. Handshakes and banter ensued pre match and both sides stood waiting for the official to show up. At close to 2:30pm it became apparent that the ref wasn't going to make an appearance. Bob, the Alsop manager, suggested that the game go ahead as a league fixture. Coeur were happy to play the match, given their history with Alsop. Bob declined the offer to referee, and it was up to Si to reluctantly take the whistle. However this did in turn remove the lethal threat of the impact sub extrordinare. Joking aside, Coeur then lined up with Andy Blackburn and Rob Phil on the bench rather than the 3 designated substitutes. Tommy Stevenson was sidelined through injury, so Coeur drafted the old warhorse in. Andy Rannard was plucked from the vets to start alongside Mike Smith at centre half. Gibbo was playing left back in the absence of the suspended Rob Hatton, and regular right back John Grego completed the back four. Degsi, Gav, Mally and Mick Taylor made up the midfield, and with Wes absent, Craig and Pablo were the pairing of choice up front.
So with his phone in one hand (as no stopwatch was available) and whistle at the ready, Si started the match.
The opening exchanges indicated that the game would be an open one with both sides willing to attack. Alsop had started the brighter of the two sides, but it was Coeur right back, John Grego, that opened the scoring. Unfortunately it was in favour of Alsop. Now John has had a stupendous amount of bad luck in front of goal this season, having hit the bar, the post, had perfectly good goals ruled out, and also found keepers making world class saves, or unbelievably lucky saves from his strikes this season. How ironic it was that when he actually managed to find the net, with a fantastic diving header, that it was actually an own goal!!
Coeur picked John up and tried to raise his spirits. Minutes later however Alsop doubled their lead. The scorer?? John Grego AGAIN!!! A beautiful curled clearance nestled nicely in the top corner of the net giving Kev in goal, no chance.
The game restarted, with Grego wanting to be anywhere but on the pitch. Coeur however managed to raise their game and slowly took control of the play. A sucession of corners saw the pressure mounting on Alsop, yet despite Coeur's efforts they couldn't reduce the arrears. 10 minutes before the break, John Grego was again involved defensively, and as he cut out a cross, the ball wrong footed the covering Mike Smith and passed the right side of the post for John, by a matter of inches. A hat-trick of own goals was just about averted!!
Coeur went down the other end and produced some incisive football, which saw Mally Harper bursting into the Alsop box before a deft back heel allowed Craig to sweep the ball home. It was just the tonic Coeur needed before the break.
Alsop 2 Sacre Coeur 1.
The second half was again an open affair, but it was Coeur who appeared the more threatening of the 2 sides. Craig and Pablo both went close, but some decent last ditch defending thwarted the pair of them. After 15 minutes of the half the big decision arose for stand in ref Si. Craig, broke down the inside left channel and attempted to lift the ball over the last defender in the box. The defender blocked the ball with both of his hands and Si awarded a penalty. The lad in question complained he was protecting his face from a boot, but in truth the ball had long left the boot, and the foot was never about knee height. Si waved away his protests, and felt vindicated as the reamainder of the Alsop players accepted the decision without complaint.
Degsi stepped up and stuck the penalty away in time honoured fashion to draw Coeur level.
Both sides were attacking and counter attacking and the Alsop keeper produced a fantastic save, complete with smiles for the camera. It was in the final few minutes though that Coeur almost grabbed the winner. Again a series of corners forced Alsop into some desparate defending. With 2 minutes on the clock, Andy Rannard ventured up for a corner and found the ball dropping at his feet. Andy then proved why he has remained firmly in defense for all these years, as he ballooned the ball over the bar, when the glory was his for the taking.
The final 30 seconds of the game saw Desgi fetching the ball and swinging a corner into the box. Mick Taylor brought the ball down and fired the ball goalwards. It was during the ball's journey to the goal that Si whistled for full time. A split second later the ball crashed against the inside of the upright and bounced just in front of the goal. Si was delighted that the width of a coat of paint had saved him from a Clive Thomas moment.
A decent performance by Coeur, and had John Grego not managed to score twice for Alsop, one which Coeur could and maybe should have won.
Alsop 2 Sacre Coeur 2.