After a week off the third team resumed their league campaign against second placed Old Xavs.
15 players quickly became 12 on the Saturday morning as Gav Scott pulled an ale induced sickie, Rob Phil pulled a none ale induced sickie, then Dave Parry announced that he had been called into work early, though later on he stated that he was given the night off. Therefore Coeur lined up with Kev in goal, Jay Shunter and Joe in the back line, flanked by Kev Hennerty and Mick Taylor. Draper, Sean and Lynchy were the trio in the centre of the park, and Paul Jordan was joined up front by D'Cruze and his shiny new boots.
It was always going to be a tough encounter against an Old Xavs side that had beaten Coeur 3-1 earlier in the season. The match started with the play moving from end to end. Old Xavs were using the ball well in the centre of the park and Coeur were looking to break quickly when the opportunity arose. In fact despite Xavs having the better start, Coeur had the first opportunity of the game when Kev Henerty snook in behind the back line but could only divert the ball over the bar as it reached him on the half volley. Xavs continued to press with both full backs joining the atttacks when they could. This prompted Coeur to switch from a three to a flat back four. Mick Taylor moved to left back and Shunter and Jay occupied the centre with Joe on the right. Kev moved to left midfield and Sean went out to the right.
Despite the changes Xavs managed to take the lead. The spritely number 20 nipped in behind the defence and fired goalwards from 8 yards. Kev did all he could to stop it , but the ball ricocheted off the post behind Kev where the forward gleefully smashed the ball in from inches out. Coeur responded well and within 5 minutes they had drawn level. The ball came across to Paul Jordan on the left hand side of the area and he fired the ball towards the far post, where the onrushing Kev Henerty slid in to divert the ball home past the helpless keeper.
The game meandered towards half time and despite the game being well contested neither side created any clear cut scoring chances.
Sacre Coeur 1 Old Xaverians 1
The team talk consisted of retaining our focus and keeping the work rate high. The feeling in the side was that the 3 points were definitely up for grabs. The directions were to get the ball wide to Kev and Sean and let them have a run at the full backs, particularly Kev, who looked to have the beating of the Old Xavs right back.
Coeur went out and started the half brightly, forcing a corner inside the first 5 minutes. However it was Old Xavs who managed to break quickly and a long clearance was flicked on by the massive ginger forward to his strike partner, who had managed to sneak in on the wrongside of Joe Carragher. The forward made no mistake as he strode away and finished well to double his and Xavs tally.
The goal gave Xavs renewed confidence and the began to dominate the possesion more. Up front for Coeur, D'Cruze was suffering with blisters and Jordan was also strugging to make any significant impact as the duo were well marshalled by the Xavs centre halves. Whilst Xavs were controlling the game, neither side created any decent chances, but unfortunately for Coeur a poor offside ruling left 3 Xavs players in the clear. It was left to the number 20 to complete his hat-trick, which he duly did.
Coeur's protests fell on deaf ears and Jay asked the referee if he could say which one of Coeur's defenders had played the 3 Xavs players onside, as they were all clearly offside. Unbelievably the referee couldn't and Coeur were left to rue an unjust happening. The big ginger forward asked Si "Were we off?" to which Si told him that all 3 were off by a matter of 3 or 4 yards. He sympathised, but stated "You get them every week though, don't you?". True as it was Coeur could have done without it this week.
20 minutes from time Mick Taylor was withdrawn having felt a slight twinge in his hamstring. Joe moved to left back and Mike was introduced at right back. Xavs continued to control the game, but in the last 8 minutes Coeur went close on several occasions. The ball was played up to D'Cruze who held it up well, but chose te wrong option when he could have slid in either Kev or Jordo who both made excellent runs that would have seen them clean through had the pass been made. The forward forrays continued and at last Coeur were getting the ball out to Kev Henerty. Twice in the last five minutes Kev burst past the right back and into the box. The first chance saw his shot strike the outside of the upright, whilst the second strike was brilliantly turned away for a corner, which proved to be the last action of the match.
A reasonable performance against a decent Xavs side. Coeur were found wanting at times, though the main factor they were lacking was experience, which Xavs had in abundance. In fairness Xavs deserved the victory, but Coeur can take several positives out of the game which they must build on in next weeks crucia six pointer against Liverpool Medics
Sacre Coeur 1 Old Xaverians 3