After two victories from the first two games, Coeur showed plenty of enthusiasm for the game against Old Holts. In fact they were overly keen, as Si's arrangements had them showing up in Halewood over an hour before kick off and even before the home side, referee and groundsman.
Once again team selection was hindered by a few noticeble absentees. Lynchy was working once more as was D'Cruze. Ady was at a wedding, Darren had been requested by work to umpire Blundellsands Tennis Club's junior tournament and Degsi had a bruise from hip to ankle after rupturing a thigh muscle last week. Nonetheless a bountiful squad saw Coeur with 15 players available (until Sean never showed up). A debut was in the offing for right back Mike Robertson, while Matty Vaudrey was returning to the club after a lengthy absence coaching in America.
Mully continued in goal, with Mike replacing Lynchy at right back. Rob Phil, Jacko and Peter made up the rest of the back four. In front of them were Jacks Kelly and Riley along with Ian (back from attending a wedding last week. Mick Taylor, Doyley and Andy Pflancer completed the line up.
Coeur started the game brightly with some slick passing that was creating problems for Old Holts. A couple of early chances went begging as both Andy Pflancer and Mick Taylor failed to find the back of the net when put clean through. Jack Kelly also had a fizzing shot that went just inches past the upright.
Peter, Mick, both Jacks and Ian were involved in a fantastic passing move down the left hand side of the pitch that saw Old Holts carved open with ease. The ball was whipped across the box where Andy Pflancer got across his marker and diverted the ball goalwards. The keeper however made a decent save, denying the move the end product it deserved. Matty Vaudrey on the line commented that he didnt mind being sub so much if he got to watch football like this. Si asked him if he would pay money to watch it, to which Matty quipped that he already had!!
Old Holts had a couple of forrays forward, but were thwarted with relative ease by Coeur's backline.
Halfway through the first half Jack Riley produced a stunning pirouette on the ball, leaving four Holts players in his wake. He fed in Mick down the left who skipped past a defender and crossed low into the box, where a last ditch block turned the ball behind for a corner. The corner was delivered into the box where the keeper inexplicably pushed Andy in the back with both hands and the ref was given no option but to award a penalty to Coeur.
Prior to the game, Coeur's players had been practicing penalties and Si had ruled that Ian take them, much to the dismay of Jack Kelly. So Ian placed the ball on the spot and smashed it past the keeper towards the bottom left corner of the goal. Unfortunately for Ian and Coeur, the ball was an inch to far to the left and the ball rebounded of the post, and Mick Taylor was unable to turn the rebound home.
It was only a matter of time before Coeur scored and it came from the left boot of Doyley. A decent run by Andy down the right saw him check back and feed Doyley who span his defender and slotted home with ease.
Coeur almost doubled their lead before the break when Andy rose highest at a corner, but his header was inches over the bar.
Half Time Old Holts 0 Sacre Coeur 1
Old Holts had obviously had a rocket at half time as they started the second half with renewed enthusiasm. A couple of early half chances were wasted before Coeur got into their rhythmn again.
Andy and Mick were giving the full back plenty of trouble with their attacking intent and Coeur were pressing for a second almost at will.
Once again the goal came from the left boot of Doyley. Jack Kelly lofted a ball over the backline of Old Holts. The keeper took it upon himself to come and clear from the path of the onrushing Doyle. The challenge was too late though and Doyley bundled past him to the left hand side of the box. With defenders converging from all angles he steadied himself and smashed the ball home to give Coeur the lead their play deserved.
The Coeur line encouraged the side to push forward and get a third goal which would kill the game off. Mick Taylor was first to exploit this as he fed Doyley in. Doyley strode goalwards only to be halted by the ref's whistle. A shocker of a decision and one which could have seen the game sealed.
Not put off by that piece of back luck Coeur pressed forward again. Mike Robertson bursting through from right back before releasing Andy on the right flank. Andy cut inside and fed Doyley who turned the defender in a carbon copy of the first goal. As he chased the ball, Mike Robertson took over and swept the ball home, from an offside position. Had he left it Doyley would have slid it home to complete his hat-trick.
Five minutes later Coeur saw four players all try in turn to force the ball home from yards out, but nobody was able to thread it past the desperate blocks on the line.
With all the chances having gone begging it was almost inevitable that Coeur would get hit by the sucker punch. A long ball over the top was misjudged and then a couple of weak tackles saw the ball break to the Holts forward who swept it home to give them a glimpse of hope.
Old Holts were spurred on by this goal and 10 minutes before the end they were level as a corner from the left saw Mully under severe pressure unable to catch the cross. The ball dropped on the line and Peter was unlucky to slice his clearance into his own net and level things up.
Holts pushed forward looking for a winner and threatened on a few occasions but Coeur still looked dangerous on the counter attack. Andy Pflancer went on a powerful run, evading lunging tackle after lunging tackle, somewhat reminiscent of Cannigia's run again Cameroon all those years ago. He was eventually chopped down just inside the box, but the referee deemed it a free kick right on the edge. The free kick was wasted and Coeur's last chance to win the game had gone begging.
In the final seconds of the game the ball was fired into the chest of Andy in the Coeur box and Old Holts went ballistic screaming for handball (which it wasnt). The ref raised his whistle to his lips and blew..........for full time.
Some brilliant football at times which saw Coeur create several good chances to score. But once again a combination of bad luck and poor finishing saw Coeur not getting the reward their play deserved. Disappointing to drop two points, but continue to play like that and Ceur should do well in the league this season.