Two league matches this week offered further perspective on the Bears’ current standing in this season’s Premier Division. Against two teams adjacent to them in the League table they managed a draw and a narrow defeat (writes Mike McLaughlin).
On Tuesday they travelled north- westward to Skelmersdale, between Wigan and Liverpool. The venue was indicative of a club in transition, an unconventional, somewhat unwelcoming establishment, a sports centre with numerous pitches spread about.
Only recently the two teams met at the Silk Stadium, where the Bears won 3-1. The game was described thus: “The two teams were quite evenly matched throughout … good chances…few and far between.”
Two quality finishes from Dan Cope and Arron Johns were critical.
On an inhospitable evening — cold, windy and wet — a decent game unfolded.
The Bears enjoyed a good first hour, but then faded somewhat. In their period of ascendancy they had a lot of possession, but created very few chances. They took the lead on 45 minutes when Cope converted a penalty “after he was demolished by the keeper”. Former Bear Emini Adegbenro equalised in 69, when “the defence opened up” and allowed him clear passage on goal. Too much of the Bears’ attacking was aerially oriented and wasted, and, as they appeared “to run out of steam and ideas”, Skelmersdale began to edge matters.
As the game neared its end a home shot was fumbled, and the loose ball was bundled home. 2-1 to the hosts.
As Ray Ogden observed: “Overall, not too bad, worked hard, but we’ve got to stop giving easy goals away.”
On Saturday, the Bears made the brief journey to the St Luke’s Barton Stadium at Winsford. Winsford were three places and four points above the Bears in 13th place; nine wins, 13 defeats and no draws. The notable absence of a draw was rectified with a 2-2 draw in which “the Bears (were) probably just the better team overall, both teams (having) chances to win the match…
“A few parts of the pitch (were) sandy, which made play difficult.”
The Bears played some attractive football in the first half and the defence looked solid and safe. Tom Morris, supplementing the attack, smashed the ball into the roof of the net from beyond the back post to put his team ahead. 1-0.
On the brink of half-time, an all-too-familiar disaster struck when a poor ball out of the box from the keeper helped Winsford equalise. 1-1.
The second half resumed in similar fashion to the first, and the Bears retook the lead when Cope capitalised on good work from Lee Cropper on the flank, and slid the ball home. (Cropper and Cope, in you we hope!)
Let our travelling witness, Ray Ogden, tell the rest of the tale: “Some poor defending led to them scoring a scruffy equaliser that just crept inside the post. The last action of the game came in the 90th minute when they were awarded a penalty for one of the new types of handball that wouldn’t have been a penalty last season.
“Their player stepped up and blasted the ball so hard that it hit the underside of the bar and bounced down with so much spin that it looped up from the ground and went over the bar.
“A real let-off but it would have been terribly harsh on us to have lost the game.”
So, two close games, against positionally equivalent teams, and only one point gained from the six available.
Both games seemed remarkably similar in content, style and outcome, leading to obvious conclusions.
There remains plenty to like about the team, and plenty to offer hope for a consistent, positive revival. Keep working boys.
Next home fixtures
Tuesday, 28th January: Litherland REMYCA.
Saturday, 1st February: Whitchurch Alport.
Ken Mead, club secretary, last week received an email from “The FA Respect” titled “DISCRIMINATION. Raising awareness and reporting discrimination”.
Discrimination is defined as “the unjust or prejudiced treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age or sex”.
The email began: “Today, we have launched a new anti-discrimination campaign, aiming at raising awareness of how and why you should report any instance of discrimination. While incidents of discrimination in grassroots football are rising, we understand people may not be confident in the process of how to report them. With ‘Tell us, we’ll tackle it’, we are updating and simplifying the reporting process to make it quicker and easier to report issues of discrimination in grassroots football”.
The new reporting process is available at thefa.com/tell us
The email listed types of discrimination in line with the Equality Act 2010, and its deplorable existence whether in training, online, on the pitch, in the stands or on the touchline, and urged all to help to address the problem seriously and with confidence.