A crazy few days had started on Wednesday for manager Si Furlong, when second team gaffer Phil Steele had enquired if Si needed any extra players. It seemed that both Phil and Si had approaching 20 players available this week, so it was decided to see if a friendly match could be organised to allow the extra lads to get a game under their belt. Former first team supremo Marc 'Derek' Eckersall was enlisted to run the side on the day. Coupled with this first team gaffer Chris was unavailable so Si had to make sure that stand in boss Robbie Phillips was clued up on his managerial debut.
With all this in mind, and 5 lads from the thirds playing in the friendly, it was still encouraging to see that come Friday night Si had the luxury of having 14 players, plus himself available (if needs be). Early Saturday morning saw the start of the troubles as in form forward Andy Pflancer informed Si that he had been throwing up all night and wasnt going to make it. No bother thought Si, as he could fill the third berth on the bench himself. Fast forward to 13:10 and a text to Jonno checking whether he was meeting at the school or Buckley solicited the response "Sorry I'm not available this week". Strange, considering he had been told previously that he was going to be in the starting line up and hadn't mentioned his unavailability. Five minutes later, Coeur were due to set off for Buckley and Si attempted to locate the absent Sean Davies, to no avail!!
Buckley Hill was bathed in sunshine and Coeur's players were delighted seeing the fantastic new strip that had eventually been delivered. Mully was running late and was also nursing a badly bruised thumb, so Jack Kelly offered to don the gloves. The lads got changed and went out to the pitch including the soon to be returning Rob Hatton, who did a John Terry, and put a full kit on, despite not participating in the game. The injured Degsi also got changed for the team photo and then decided to offer his services as a sub, with the stipulation "only use me if you absolutely have to".
The lads lined up with Jack Kelly in goal, Lynchy and Matty at centre half, Mike Robertson and Rob Phil at full backs. In front of them were Darren, Ian and Jack Riley, with Mully landing a forward role by default, flanked by Mick and Ady. Si was then joined on the bench by Degsi.
Coeur started the game the brighter of the two sides and despite their passing lacking its usual crisp and fluid nature, they took the lead after 10 minutes. Rob was fed in down the inside left channel and he made no mistake by lifting it over the keeper and into the net. A decent start but one that Coeur needed to build on. Mick Taylor and Ady both went close as did Mully but the second goal wouldnt come.
Kingsford didnt offer much of a threat and Jack Kelly was doing his best to stay awake in the Coeur goal. A second goal for Coeur came 18 minutes before the break as Mully showed great strength as he bundled past a couple of defenders and rolled the ball across for Mick Taylor to slot home his third goal in four games so far this season.
Coeur continued to dominate play and possesion for the remainder of the half, but their play lacked a cutting edge. The only point to note was Mully's laughable free kick. He addressed the ball Ronaldo style, before leathering it yards over the bar.
Sacre Coeur 2 Kingsford 0
Encouragement was offered at the break, but it was emphasised that despite leading the performance in the first half was not up to the usual quality. Steve Allison had joined the viewing public just after Coeur's second and had asked what the score was. Si thought it was funny to tell him we were losing 2-0.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first as Coeur had the majority of the play, but were failing to create clear cut chances.
After 20 minutes Ady Maxwell escaped down the right and had the choice of Ian or Mully to play it to. He opted for Mully, but instead of rolling it into his path he clipped it across where Mully managed to fire it over from just 6 yards out.
With the game entering it's latter stages, Si decided to introduce himself into the fray for his first appearance of the season. 10 minutes from time, the luminous yellow bib was discarded and the gaffer entered proceedings. Ian was switched to the right and Si joined Mully up to to create a heavyweight front line.
Instantly Si was in the action getting whacked from behind in the box. Strangely though, his dodgy knees stayed strong and kept him upright. Had they done their usual trick and given way then undoubtedly the ref would have awarded a penalty. This ref though was in no mood to satisfy Si's requests.
Minutes later Mully skipped a tackle down the right and darted towards the goal. Si joined him in the box and was screaming for the pass but instead he shot and the keeper turned it around the post. The corner was swung in and Rob Phil rose highest, thumping a header against the underside of the bar. It bounced down where Si controlled it and banged it home. Having already denied Si once, the ref made sure he was off the Christmas card list by ruling the goal out for handball. In all honestly, it had struck Si on the chest and upper arm as it rebounded off the bar, but far less obvious (and intentional) than the one Everton's Fellaini had got away with hours earlier.
With the game coming to a conclusion, Mully evaded a tackle on half way and drew the centre half towards him. Si had decided to use his season's quota of pace and energy up in one go and demanded the pass. Mully threaded it through and Si hared* onto it (* well like an old hare, with bad knees, and a large gut). The keeper advanced from his goal but was not quick enough as Si prodded it past him first time with his RIGHT foot. Time stood still as the ball rolled towards the bottom left corner of the goal. For a moment the post looked as it might come into play, but it nestled perfectly in the bottom corner of the net, much to Si's delight. Degsi nodded his approval from the touchline, and Si's crazy week got the perfect ending
Not Coeur's greatest performance this week, but one that was sufficient to earn the points and keep the towards the top of the table.
Sacre Coeur 3 Kingsford 0