Rugby Town (1)
Date; 7th October 2017
Venue; Butlin Road
Attendance; 300 approx
Well hello one and all. After United got back to winning ways in the league on Tuesday night with a 3-1 away win at Long Eaton United, today we make the short trip down the A45 to Butlin road to take on Rugby Town in a league fixture. United have already played Town this season in the FA Cup when we ran out 2-1 losers in our first game of the season. This fixture is going to be a real test for United as Town have hit a great vein of form of late and are powering up a very tight looking table.
United manager Terry Anderson will hopefully have Mitchell (tap-in) Piggon back in contention after a lengthy injury lay off kept him out of the side. He has definitely been missed and although will not be match fit yet, it will still be good to see him back in the fold.
The referee gets the game under way and Town see an early chance by the No10 Rueben Wiggins-Thomas when his header goes high over the bar in the 2nd minute. Then with a free kick that’s wasted in the 6th minute they are showing their intent and are not looking at letting United come at them.
United also have plans of their own too as debutant left back Tom James plays a searching long ball up field for Aaron Opoku to latch onto before seeing his tamely hit shot go straight to the Town keeper Niall Cooper for an easy save in the 4th minute. The first booking of the match goes to Town’s No4 James Dance (captain) for his challenge on David Moli in the 12th minute and the resulting free kick coming to nothing.
Most of the possession is being played out in the middle of the park with both sides trying to force a breakthrough. United force a corner in the 20th minute that’s taken by Lewis Rankin, but Aaron Opoku’s header once again goes straight to the keeper Niall Cooper for another easy gather.
With both teams seeming to be cancelling each other out, the only way of breaking through is with a long ball and Town apply that tactic in the 23rd minute to set free the No9 David Kolodynski but he sends his shot dreadfully wide of the target from a good position. United then respond again with another Lewis Rankin corner that sees David Moli send his header straight at the keeper Niall Cooper for yet another easy take in the 24th minute. United soon after carve out the best chance in the game so far when Lewis Rankin picked up the ball out wide on the right. He proceeded to jink his way to the edge of the area before sending a great curling shot goal wards that needs a great save from the Town keeper Niall Cooper to keep the scores level in the 28th minute.
With plenty of good and mostly fair tackles being made in this battle, it’s not long before the referee is getting his card out again. The Town No7 Ben Ashby gets a yellow card for his tackle on Gift Mussa in the 35th minute. Then with the end of the first half in sight a couple of more yellow cards are issued when United’s David Moli is booked for his tackle on the No10 Rueben Wiggins-Thomas in the 40th minute and then in the 41st minute Town’s No11 Sam Belcher is booked for a high tackle on Aron Wint. Soon after the referee blew up for half time with honours even.
TOWN 0 UNITED 0
The second half gets under way with neither side making any changes. This game soon after feels like it’s more like a game of bookings as the referee brandishes another yellow card, this time to United’s Kyle Barnett for a tackle on No11 Sam Belcher in the 48th minute.
The first chance of this half falls to United as they press forward and David Moli raced into the area before seeing his angled drive comfortably saved by the keeper Niall Cooper in the 50th minute. United also have to make a forced change in the same minute as the injured Aron Wint is replaced with Donnell Benjamin.
United continue to get the upper hand in these early exchanges and another chance soon comes when a rare Town defensive error lets in Lewis Rankin who finds space inside the area to get his shot away but blazes it way high over the target in the 52nd minute. More United pressure brings another yellow card for Town when the No2 Fabien Smith commits a foul in the 53rd minute on Tommy Glasscoe. With United in the ascendancy, it’s a case of when are they going to score and not if, but Town are a very resolute outfit who are not frightened to stand up and fight for every ball. Another chance comes in the 61st minute when Aaron Opoku does well to fend off a couple of challenges before he sees his powerful drive well saved by the Town keeper Niall Cooper.
Town decide to make a change and take off the No8 Lee Miveld and send on Steve Palmer in the 62nd minute. Then in the 64th minute United’s Gift Mussa is also shown a yellow card for what I still don’t know?????
With the game still evenly poised, United decide to make another change by taking off David Moli and sending on the long awaited return of Mitchell (tap in) Piggon in the in the 68th minute.
United have had a great period of play and looking for the opening this game deserves. Another chance fall for United in the 71st minute when Donnell Benjamin is set free just inside the area. With the keeper coming off his line, he tries an audacious chip but it sadly lands on top of the net and another chance goes begging.
Then tempers get slightly frayed when United’s manager Terry Anderson is a little quick to pick up the ball as it goes out of play much to the annoyance of some of the Town players. The usual bantering ensued and the referee deemed it necessary to send Terry Anderson off and out of his technical area in the 73rd minute.
With United looking to be getting the upper hand again Town decide to make another change when they take off the No11 Sam Belcher and send on the No16 Chad Birch in the 77th minute. United follow suit in the 79th minute when they take off the hard working Aaron Opoku and send on Craig Reid.
The game is now into the last 10 minutes and Town press forward to try and grab a late winner. A cross is sent into the United area and the No10 Rueben Wiggins-Thomas sends his tamely hit header into the arms of keeper Richard Morris in the 84th minute.
The referee soon after gets his yellow card out again for United’s captain Chris Cox after his challenge in the 85th minute. Then with the clock on 90 minutes United are gifted with a great chance to score at the death when a long Tom James through ball sets Donnell Benjamin away into the area. He looked odds on to score but the keeper Niall Cooper pulled off a fantastic save to deny him and keep his team on course for a well earned point.
Then with the game on 90+2 minutes the referee had the last say as he booked United’s Lewis Rankin for once again I’m not sure what before soon after blowing up for full time and points shared.
TOWN 0 UNITED 0
In summing up this game, it was a battle from start to finish. Both sides stood toe to toe and gave it their all in a very entertaining game although the score line would not suggest. Both teams had early half chances but has the game wore on United carved out more chances but continued to miss putting any of them away.
The second half started with United remaining strong and always looking for the opening goal but Town were always capable of causing United problems on the break. Has the stats will show though, most were even but United did have 6 more chances on target than Town and it proved to be United’s Achilles heel once again that not converting these has probably cost them two points today.
Not to take anything away from Town though, they were strong and resolute from start to finish and on reflection a draw would probably be a fair result as neither side deserved to lose this pulsating encounter. It also has to be said that in my opinion the referee went a little over board with the 9 yellow cards and a red in a game that was not dirty at all and was played out by two committed teams in a respectful manner.
Players worthy of a mention would have to be the Town keeper Niall Cooper who made a handful of great saves to keep his side in the hunt.
For United this was a much better steely display with plenty of solid performances against a very good Town side. New boy Tom James looked assured at left back and played some great through balls to spring United attacks. Kyle Barnett and Chris Cox once again looked solid in the centre of defence and had to be with a very potent Town forward line to contend with. Gift Mussa had another good game alongside the fantastic Tommy Glasscoe who I think had a fantastic game and was so unlucky to miss out on my man of the match award as he was just eclipsed by the phenomenal performance of Right back Brad Jones. Brad today was exceptional and displayed an array of facets to his game. He made a handful of last ditch tackles and was always quick to turn his defensive duties into attack. That performance for me was by far his best for the club so far so very well played Brad Jones.
Match Stats (United) (Town)
On target (7) (1)
Off target (4) (4)
Corners (4) (3)
Free kicks (15) (15)
Yellow cards (5) (4)
Red cards (1) (0)
Offside (2) (4)