Last minute goal salvages a point for Renwick

25 Mar
  • Much changed Renwick side earn a point in final league game
  • Both teams forced to play with 10 men due to lack of numbers
  • Other results mean Renwick finish up in 6th in the league

[Updated details about dinner at bottom of post]

The opposition for the last game of the Belfast Superleague came in the form of 10 man Belfast Bible College. While the Renwick manager had struggled to get a team together, his BBC counterpart had clearly had a worse time of it. To their credit, they did manage to bring someone to referee the whole game. Due to numerous absences, 3 players were making their first appearance of the season. Joel Loughridge, the former Renwick number 1, stepped in at centre half to marshal the defence. Richard McKelvey, returning to the action following an 18 month layoff due to a broken nose (unfortunately the match report does not record the circumstances), joined the defence at left back, leaving Ben Hanna to move further up the pitch. Newcomer Dave Browne started the game on the bench, coming on in midfield midway through the first half.

Richard thought his shirt smelled. Seriously.

Just before kickoff Renwick were informed that BBC could only field 10 players, forcing the manager into some quick tactical changes. In the end, a 4-3-2 formation was adopted, although whether it worked is up for debate. Either way, it was certainly strange, and left masses of space in the wide areas of the pitch. Philip Dunwoody would have had a field day! Due to numerous injuries plaguing several Renwick players throughout the match, having a sub worked out quite well.

BBC got the match underway, and almost immediately it was clear that they were not a team who were comfortable on the ball. Renwick were very dominant in the opening exchanges, controlling possesion, and setting the tempo for the game. BBC handled the pressure well, and did enough to ensure that Renwick were not able to find the killer pass in the final third. A general hesitancy and lack of strength in front of goal did not help the cause.

McCullough about to munch the striker

The opening goal came from the most farcical of circumstances. The BBC rolled the ball to his left back, who feeling the pressure from Mitchell, scuffed a pass which somehow passed through the centre of the park, under Stevie McCollum and into the feet of the striker who beat the onrushing keeper with an early shot. This was the first real attack BBC had put together and came very much against the run of play. Like most goals Renwick concede, this one was very defensible. After the goal, the game continued as before with Renwick encamped outside the BBC box, but not creating any real chances. With every goal kick, Renwick easily won the ball in the air and took it up the pitch. At one point I did wonder whether the keeper was deliberately kicking the ball into touch just to get a throw in to move the play up the pitch, a bit like what happens in rugby. In fact, the game at times could have been mistaken for rugby, what with the amount of big high kicks from the keeper and the lack of corners.

Another Renwick attack about to come to nothing

The Renwick midfield was set up with Mark Porter playing alongside Mark McCavery, who had been dropped back to add some bulk to the centre of the park. The wings were largely neglected, although Ben Hanna did spend some time on the left flank, and worked tirelessly to prevent BBC having an time to collect their thoughts and pass the ball about. Mark Porter’s direct running at goal caused problems, but the defence managed to hold tight.

With about 10 minutes to go in the half, BBC launched another counter attack, this time coming down the right. Richard McKelvey, who had been having a solid game up to this point, allowed the striker to muscle goal side of him, and as before, took an early shot at goal, leaving McCullough in no man’s land, and the ball creeped just inside the post to make it 2-0 to the Dunmurry side. Sky Sports News don’t cover BSL matches, but if they did, no doubt they would have come up with some stats to illustrate the huge share of possession and territory Renwick enjoyed.

Decent finish

Renwick’s dominance did finally pay off shortly before half time, when Michael Mitchell fought well to hold onto the ball in the BBC box. The ball was passed to Ian Buchanan who showed good strength to beat the defender as he slid in to score his 15th goal of the season and continue his 2010 scoring run. The goal had been coming almost since the start and was certainly deserved. With only minutes of the half left, the Elmwood side were unable to convert the pressure into another goal and both teams convened for half time talks.

The guy stuck to Joel’s shoulder slowed him down at times

He managed to shrug him off eventually

Even at half time, the strain of playing with 10 men was starting to show on some players, and it would be fair to say that the next 45 was played at a slower pace. BBC, spurred on by their surprising lead, took the game to Renwick in the second half, and started to play down the wings, causing problems in the Renwick defence.

With 20 minutes remaining, and BBC still 2-1 up, Renwick were starting to look very short of options. Ian Buchanan and Michael Mitchell were being met with some resolute defending. Buchanan and McCavery swapped places, reverting to more familiar positions. Up to this point, McCavery had done well in midfield, winning everything in the air and ensuring that there was no way through for any would be BBC attacks. Shortly after this switch, Mark Porter, who had been having a great attacking game already, picked the ball up inside the centre circle and embarked on a direct run an goal, weaving through at least 3 defenders before shooting just inside the box and placing the ball well into the corner, leaving the keeper and several confused looking defenders in his wake. It was a fantastic individual goal, certainly a contender for goal of the season. It gave Renwick a much needed boost, and although it was not a team goal, the foundations had been laid through some very good team play and desire, a factor which had been slightly lacking in previous games.

Not even their 8ft tall keeper could stop it

A promising BBC attack forced McCullough into a save to push to ball behind for a corner kick. The corner came to Morrison standing on the post who got a head to it, but the clearance was unconvincing and the ball came straight back into the box. With no one stamping their authority on the situation, the ball fell at the feet of the BBC left winger who turned a shot high into the top corner of the Renwick net with an unstoppable shot. Having just got into the game, the goal came as a blow to Renwick, but the belief remained.

Poor guy didn’t stand a chance

For the last 5 minutes, McCullough came out of nets, leaving the injured Ben Hanna to see out the season as goalkeeper. His only action was to take a kick out of his hands, which he did with minimal success. McCullough immediately moved high up the pitch and got up into the faces of the BBC players, forcing several throw ins. In the last minute, Buchanan took a throw deep in enemy territory to Andrew Morrison, and after a quick passing interchange, he found Stevie McCollum roaming on the edge of the box, as he likes to do. He took a touch or two, found half a yard a struck a shot hard and low into the corner of the net to score the goal that brought the teams level again at 3-3. A cheeky if ever there was one.

Ian about to play the killer ball

Stevie’s goal – awesome way to finish

Man of the Match

Mark Porter – an excellent solo goal capping a great performance

More photo action:

So that was it, 3-3, and the league was over. Maybe not the finish we had hoped for, but under the bizarre circumstances, a fair outcome. Renwick finished 6th in the league. Derryvolgie had already won the league last week, and the best Renwick could have hoped for was 4th place. However wins today for Donegal Rangers and Derry City made this unachievable with only a point from the game today. Final league standings here. Renwick’s push for the title faded considerably after Christmas, with the loss of key players in key games no doubt contributing to this. Having said that, it’s been great fun and I’d like to thank everybody who has played in any game for however long. Credit especially to Mark McCavery, James McCullough and Ben Hanna who have played in every game this season. To those who come and watch or take photos, thank you to you as well!

But the season isn’t over just yet, as this year Renwick have still to compete in the Belfast Super Cup, which is to be played after Easter. There are currently 15 teams entered, meaning there will be four rounds. As has been noted this season, we have not played a team that we absolutely could not have beaten, and so the Cup should be viewed as a decent chance of making something of the season. The first match is 21st April, with the draw yet to be made. Details will be in the Twitter feed on the right of this page when they’re available.

With all that covered, the only thing left to mention is….

Renwick Dinner 2010

The annual Renwick football dinner will once again be held in Barnabys, near Ballyclare. It will be on Monday 26 April, probably starting around 7.00-7.30 pm. It will cost £22 £20, payable to Andrew Morrison. If you want to go, if you could let me know before 16th April, that would be great, and just to be clear this is not just for the football team! If you’ve any other questions, just get in touch with me.


2 Responses to “Last minute goal salvages a point for Renwick”

  1. Andy March 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Someone left a green zip up top with a hood in the changing rooms, if it’s yours give me a shout

  2. Taylor March 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    i like andy…. and i lost my green hoodie… has anyone seen it?? i’m so sad… the teardrops are on my guitar!

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