The result was irrelevant, the performance was poor but it was a sad game for more than those reasons. It was to be Hayley Waller’s last match in a Cobras shirt before she departs for Vietnam with her family. Miss Messi has been a great ambassador for both the club and her family and behalf of everyone I wish her well.
As with the previous Figtree game Russell Vale sat back in the opening minutes and allowed Oak Flats territorial advantage before taking an early lead against the run of play. Despite all the pressure Oak Flats failed to capitalise in those early moments and from our first attack of the evening we won a corner. Harrison Benn’s cross was met superbly on the volley by Ryan Hanlon and flew into the net 1-0.
Oak Flats response was instant and several times Brody Armour was called into action. As the half wore on the rain came and made the conditions slippery. Although we created little in the way of chances Russell Vale still led 1-0 at the interval.
The style of football of the two teams couldn’t be any more different but surprisingly the only time either side looked dangerous was from corners. Oak Flats thought they had scored when a deflected shot from a corner landed on the roof of the net. It should have been a huge wakeup call for Russell Vale because from their next corner we froze again allowing their defender another free header but this time it went in off the off underside of the bar 1-1.
Russell Vale nearly regained the lead twice, both times ironically from a corner. Another Harrison Benn kick caused havoc in the 6 yard box and in the resulting medley Blair Dunn pulled his shot wide of the left hand post. Soon after from another corner Oak Flats thought they had cleared the danger but the ball dropped invitingly for Jack Donnelly on the edge of the box and his first time effort whistled past the right hand post.
Just like the first game away to Oak Flats, Russell Vale faded badly towards the end of the match and both times it cost them a goal. The visitors finished the strongest and scored a deserved winner when an uncharacteristic mistake in defence gifted them the opportunity. There was no coming back for the Cobras and the Oak Flats celebrations at the end were reminiscent of a Grand Final scene.
As I said at the start of this write up the result didn’t matter it was all about our honourary captain for the evening No.7 “Hayley Waller”. She led us to League & Grand Final wins last season and the following is a little song based on Liverpool’s “Fields of Anfield Rd” that the players dedicated to her in the changing room after the game.
All round the fields of Cawley Park,
Where once we watched Miss Messi play,
“AND COULD SHE PLAY”
From midfield and the wing she game us dreams and songs to sing,
Of the glory round the fields of Cawley Park.