Talk about a struggle, and thats before we even got to the ground. An unprecidented number of players were unavailable for selection this week. Baxi, Rob Phil, Gav, Ste Burke, Andy Gordon and Kev Henerty all opted to watch some crazy haired goon missing a last minute sitter at Goodison. Mick Draper was also unavailable, Mally was stuck in Newcastle and Paul Price is out for the season before making his competitive bow for Coeur. To add further complications, Mick Carr and Craig Burns had both fallen off the face of the planet, leaving Coeur with a bare 11. A call was made to the vets for a sub or two, but a mix up in their venue meant they couldnt supply anyone at short notice.
So the decision was made to play regular keeper Kev Taylor at left mid, and for the fat cat to rise from the ashes and take his place in goal. The scarcity in numbers also led to Si handing debuts to the untried duo of Joe Carragher and Dave Parry. Mark Redman was also making a debut of sorts, as he returned to the Coeur fold after an absence of 7 or 8 years.
Fortunately for Coeur, the eleven on duty were able to play in their natural positions, other than keeper Kev who occupied the left hand side of midfield, though technically, Si couldnt occupy his natural position of stood on the touchline. Waterloo lined up with a full compliment, several of whom had played against Coeur for many seasons. Stalwart centre half Chris Jump is well known to Coeur as was the number 9 Tommy Clarke.
The game proved to be free flowing with both sides attempting to get the ball down and use the width. Both sides had early half chances, but alert defending, prevented any clear cut opportunites. Waterloo were restricted to long range efforts during the first period and only once did the fat cat have to use his hands to prevent a goalbound effort. Coeur were desparately unlucky not to take the lead when Mick Taylor lofted a volley with the side of his foot, right over the top of the keeper, only to see it drop onto the angle of the post and the bar.
Waterloo 0 Sacre Coeur 0.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first, both sides trying to get the ball down and knock it about. Coeur had a decent early chance when Mark Redman was slid in, only for him to waste the opportunity. Waterloo, also continued to attack, but even the slightest opportunity, saw Coeur's impenetrable defence come out on top. Another excellent pass saw Mark Redman freed again, unfortunately his first touch was heavier than the earlier downpour, and the ball was bravely snaffled by the keeper, despite Mark sliding in to try and win it back.
Waterloo responded and saw a fortunate deflection bounce into the path of the striker who fired narrowly wide. 10 minutes from time, Jay Kay was harshly penalised for a tackle on the edge of the box. A brilliant free kick was fired in, but Si was alert enough to tip it over for a corner.
10 minutes from time a great pass from Dave Parry fed Peter Price clean though, his finish was exquisite as he lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper and into the bottom corner of the net. Waterloo piled men forward to try and grab an equaliser. A tricky ball over the top saw Jay Kay poke a toe on it trying to intercept the ball, which skewed off his foot and was eagerly grabbed by Si in goal. The ref inxeplicably blew for a free kick. Coeur were apoplectic! Si calmly spoke to the ref and stated that surely it couldnt be interpretted as an intentional back pass. The ref agreed, but then said "You have gained an advantage though, so its a free kick". While this clearly contravenes law 12 of the F.A. rules, the referee insisted he was in the right. A free kick was awarded 15 yards out. Justice however was done as the resulting free kick was fired high over the crossbar.
A decent game of football playing in good spirits. Both sides attempted to play football, despite the heavy rain and greasy surface. An excellent defensive display saw Coeur take all the points on a day where a goal for either side was going to win the match.
Sacre Coeur 1 Waterloo GSOB 0