Cardinal misses cost Coeur the points
It's funny how this division has panned out this season. Despite winning just 1 out of their first 9 games, a win against third placed Cardinal Newman would see Coeur move just 4 points behind them having played the same number of games. Coeur had beaten Cardinal Newman's first team in the Senior Shield earlier in the season, but the consensus was that the second team were slighty better than the first team, as can often happen within clubs.
The first challenge Coeur faced was to obtain a pitch at Buckley Hill. Despite the fact that Coeur has two pitches at Buckley Hill, they were made to wait for a junior match to finish before they could put the nets up on a pitch nearing the perimeter of Buckley Hill. The reason for this? Well it became apparent when sides such as Oaks Institute and St Mary's had both managed to secure a pitch at Buckley even though they both play their home games at alternative venues, however could that have happened?
The farcical situation was highlighted further when St Lukes turned up to use their pitch and changing rooms only to be told that there were no changing rooms available for them to use! It makes you wonder whether or not they will get a refund on the money that they paid to Buckley Hill for use of its facilities for this season.
Coeur, eventually, lined up with 3 subs for the first time in a while, and Si had the luxury of offering Mike Smith another step on his road to recovery after the second team match was called off late on. This late development meant that Mike took the third berth on the bench and Si was ousted from his now customary subsuit. Kev started in goal and the back three consisted of Shunter, Pricey and Jay. Joe was wide right and the tempestuous Mick Taylor was deployed wide left. The midfield trio saw Dave Parry line up alongside the returning duo of Lynchy and Draper who had both missed last week through injury and illness respectively. Up front saw last weeks hat-trick hero D'Cruze flanked by Paul Jordan. Mike was joined on the bench by Sean, who had managed to wake up in time this week, and Martin who requested a spec on the bench rather than in the starting eleven, due to work commitments.
Coeur took the field and were faced by former Coeur player (and the son of the current Chairman) John Doyle, who looks part way through his battle to shed a few pounds and return to his former glory. The game started in bright sunshine and a gusty wind which was blowing across the pitch and slightly in Coeur's faces. Cardinal Newman had the best of the opening exchanges and Coeur were struggling to act as a cohesive until. Kev Taylor was called upon a couple of times, once to come and collect and the second to block a shot when Mick had been caught napping. Coeur were trying to hit Newman on the break and on 15 minutes wasted a glorious chance to take the lead. Paul Jordan challenged for the ball from a Draper throw in and managed to divert the ball into the path of Joe Carragher, who took the shot on but pulled it wide, when it seemed a certain goal. Cardinal Newman were also denied a goal when Shunter blocked a shot on the goalline, though he later admitted it was over the line by a foot.
The half continued with Newman having the better of the game, but Coeur looking to hit them on the counter.Newman went close through a left footed shot from John Doyle, but Kev was guarding his near post and was happy watching it drift past the upright. Coeur's D'Cruze was lively up front but unfortunately his radar needed recalibrating, as each of his efforts drifted just off target. The game reached the break without either side creating any clear cut chances in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Sacre Coeur 0 Cardinal Newman 0
Coeur strode out the second half looking to put in a more commanding performance than they had in the first half and instantly they looked brighter and there was a renewed vigour in their play. Draper, Dave and Lynchy were looking more dominant in the middle of the park and the lads at the back were functioning better as a unit. A couple of tight offside decisions thwarted Coeur and Newman were looking a little less assured at the back.
10 minutes into the second half Sean was introduced for Paul Jordan. Dave was pushed up front and Sean slotted in alongside Lynchy and Draper. At this point Coeur were having the better of the game and moments later a glorious opportunity was carved out for Dave.D'Cruze received the ball on half way, retreated slighty, evading a few tackles, and slid a sublime ball through the centre of the Newman defence.Dave Parry broke well, bursting past the defenders and bearing down on goal. Unfortunately the ball popped off Dave's knee as he was striding clear and run just out of his reach and into the arms of the greatful keeper.Richard went mental at the waste of such a good opportunity, but sometimes the luck just doesnt fall on your side.
Continuing on from the progress they were making Coeur introduced Martin for the tiring Mick Lynch in an attempt to add more drive in the centre of the park.In fact the next burst from the midfield came from fellow substitute Sean who saw the Newman defence trying to push up and force him into playing in an offside player. Instead he showed a little piece of brilliance, two quick feet saw him evade the back line of Newman's defences and he flew past them and into the clear. Bearing down on goal he attempted to sort his feet out and slide the ball past the approaching keeper. He suceeding in beating the keeper but his shot slid inches wide of the left hand upright and the scores remained level.
Newman took acknowledged this as a huge let off and in turn tried excerting some pressure of their own. The tricky number 10 was left unguarded a couple of times by Mick Taylor, but Shunter was on hand to tidy up, before serving Mick with a volley of abuse for switching off.
Mike Smith was introduced for Dave Parry up front, in an attempt to eek out a opportunity or two for Coeur. Once more though, the number 10 escaped the attentions of Mick Taylor but fortunately Jay was well placed to deal with the threat. At this stage Mick was seething after his rebuke and he had lost his concentration on the game. The very next attack ended wth the number 10 and Mick Taylor in a petulant little spat that left neither of them leaving it with any credit. Kev then kept Coeur in the game with a smart save on his nearpost from Newman's first clear chance of the half.
With both sides unable to make any further headway, the game looked as if it was headed for a draw. However three minutes from time poor concentration prevented Coeur from properly clearing the ball and it landed in front of an onrushing attacker at the edge of the box. The ball appeared to stike his shoulder, chest, shin and a few other parts as it bobbled past the packed Coeur defence. I dont think it would be cruel to suggest that he never had control of the ball until six yards from goal where it sat up nicely for him to spank it home past a helpless Kev. Newman were delerious with joy, Coeur crestfallen. With barely 120 seconds on the clock Coeur piled forward looking for an equaliser. Twice within the final two minutes they went close firstly a thumping header from a corner cleared the Newman bar by inches, then deep inside the last minute Sean swivelled and shot, but his attempt narrowly passed the wrong side of the right hand post.
A tight game that looked as if one goal was always going to win it. Newman were the better side in the first half and probably deserved to be leading at the break, but Coeur controlled the second half and created a few excellent opportunities to lead before Newman stole all 3 points at the death.
In all honesty a draw was probably a fair result, but had Coeur converted one of their clear cut chances in the second half, it may have been them rather than Newman leaving Buckley with the spoils.
The defeat still leaves Coeur battling away near the foot of the table, 10 points adrift of third place rather than the 3 points it could well have been.
Sacre Coeur 0 Cardinal Newman 1