Coeur entered the new year having spent the previous seven Saturdays football-less. It was imperative that Coeur began the calendar year well as they were languishing towards the foot of the table, with just goal difference keeping them aheadof Mossley Hill. A tough derby match was up this week against a Waterloo side against whom Coeur registered their solitary league win of the season. Since the previous encounter Waterloo had risen to the heady height of third, winning their last four league games. Coeur on the other hand had lost all six of their subsequent league matches, though had notched a couple of wins in the cup.
A strong side was deemed necessary if Coeur were going to gain all 3 points, sadly once again, several members of the squad were not available for selection. Tommy and Shunter were off getting fitted for suits for Tommys nuptuals late in the year, Gav Scott was struck down with man flu late on Friday, Mully was unavailable for reasons unknown, Rob Phil declared himself unfit (as opposed to injured). Along with these absentees, Ste Burke and Kev Henerty were working and a mishap with registration forms meant that new signings, Jordan, Edwards and Phillips were unavailable. Add to this long term injuries to Paul Price and Baxi and you get the picture.
Si was faced with a major dilemma as in his squad of 12 he had Kev the Keeper, 2 defenders Jay Kay and Joe Carra, and the rest professed to play either in centre midfield or up front. Oh yes and of course Si himself was the twelveth man and perennial bench dweller.
After several minutes deliberation, winger Mick Taylor was deployed at left back, and a disgruntled defensive virgin Mally Harper, was asked to fill in alongside Jay at centre half. Draper and Sean were pleased at being given their preferred spot in the centre of the pitch while Mark and Peter were used out wide. Up front was Lynchy and Richard D'Cruze. With last seasons captain Degsy plying his trade with the seconds this season, and both Shunter and Tommy missing, Mally was given the metaphorical armband.
Both sides started the game with plenty of pace and effort but neither made serious inroads into each others defence. The low winter sun was going to cause problems throughout the game and Coeur were the ones dealing with it from the off. Early on Waterloo escaped down their left, twice skipping past Joe, who was still to shake of the 7 week rust. Solid work in the centre though saw both sorties nullified without serious threat to Kev's goal. Coeur ventured forward when given the chance, but the only clear cut opportunites saw a mishit shot and an excellent block deprive them of testing the keeper. A long range shot was fizzed just over the bar as well, but in truth neither side were creating good scoring opportunites. With 8 minutes to go to the break a long throw came in and was flicked on, The defence and Kev were struggling with the sun and and the forward to advantage of this to nod the ball home from 6 yards out.
Sacre Coeur 0 Waterloo 1
The half time team talk consisted of showing pride, upping the tempo of the game and pressuring the Waterloo side at every opportunity. It was also said to make sure that lads gambled on any long balls as Waterloo would also struggle with the sun in their eyes in the second half.
The first 5 minutes of the second half saw Coeur pin Waterloo in their own defensive third. Excellent passing and pressure saw Coeur come close on a couple of occasions, though the equaliser wasnt forthcoming. A free kick from 25 yards was fired in by Draper, but the keeper did well to pluck it from underneath his crossbar. Waterloo were fenced in at this point, but to their credit broke well at every opportunity. A dubious refereeing decision allowed a player to escape and when clean through on goal he rolled the ball past the upright when it was easier to score. Coeur continued to press for the equaliser and Lynchy saw a couple of shots well saved, one after a lovely jining run in the box. D'Cruze was also creating problems at the back for Waterloo and it was he who dragged Coeur back level. A long ball into the sun was flicked on by Lynchy and Rich pounced, sliding the ball home on the half volley.
At this point Coeur felt the game was there for the taking, though Waterloo responded well hitting the woodwork and also having a goal chalked off for offside. The game swung one way and the other at this point and Coeur twice felt aggrieved by poor refereeing decisions. Firstly Joe burst forward from right back and was played clean through, the ref blew for offside,wrongly in my opinion, but then Waterloo had also had a tight call ruled against them as well. Next Lynchy was played in down the inside right channel, but was bearhugged away from the ball by the burly centre half. The ref blew for a foul and the centre half may well have walked. Unbelievably though the ref awarded the free kick to Waterloo!
Both Waterloo and Coeur continued to press for a winner and Waterloo again flicked the woodwork and Coeur's makeshift defence scrambled the ball clear. Coeur then took the lead as D'Cruze fed Lynchy who in turn played in Mark who slotted the ball past the advancing keeper, to the delight of the men in blue.
Waterloo tried to respond, but Mally, Jay Mick and Joe dealt with the threat comfortably. Gaps then appeared in the Waterloo defence and D'Cruze skipped past the defender who pulled him back in a not dissimilar manner to his centre half partners previous misdemeanour. The ref blew for the foul, awarded the free kick to Coeur, then extended thefestive spirit as he showed a yellow rather than a red to the defender. The resultant free kick was well saved, and this proved to be the final meaningful attempt of the match.
An excellent result against a decent side, especially considering half the side had to play out of position, some in places they have never played before. Lets take this forward into next week and try and avenge the last minute winner stolen by Bootleians earlier in the season.
Sacre Coeur 2 Waterloo 1