With two games for the Rutherford B Unit this weekend, the Cherries knew 6 points were needed to maintain the title push. First up were Telford, who had collected 21 points from their last 8 games and sat above Rutherford before kick-off.
Coach Jelliffe woke up from a heavy night on the orange juice with a chest infection, meaning Catlow took player/manager responsibility. Telford struck first and deservedly so, but Ross Atkin stepped off the bench on 20 minutes to find the bottom corner with a tidy finish – his first of the season. Telford pressure continued though, and a half-cleared corner was shovelled successfully past Higgins, who was impressively deputising in goal with first-choice Bogdos spending the weekend outside of the Loughborough Bubble. 2-1 Telford at half time.
Required changes to formation and personnel were made at the break. Rickenbach, who turned up 30 minutes late after a busy ending to his FND, added midfield steel while Catlow put himself on up front. Jamie Owen, who was now on the right wing, found Catlow with a delicious pass which was slotted into the corner for the Reds’ second equaliser.
Azam, captain Tipping and Rickenbach were now dominating the middle of the park and it was no surprise when Owen, at the second attempt, found the top corner of the net to send the on-looking players of league leaders Rigg Rut into raptures. Sims, Miles, Coxhill and Bigman had error-free second halves and Rutherford deservedly held on for a win that took them up to second place.
RESULT: Rutherford 3 (Atkin, Catlow, Owen) – Telford 2
RUTHERFORD vs FARADAY – IMS ‘B’ LEAGUE
Saturday’s win saw unprecedented interest in the Rutherford B Unit, with 22 players keen to don the famous red and white shirt. Sadly, none of them were goalkeepers – Higgins injured himself in the rugby sevens tournament, Bogdos was still AWOL, scrum half Papuca had a purple thumb, former All-Star and Blue Square North keeper Williams retired years ago and Tipping was required in midfield. It was therefore left to right back Chris Sims to wear the gloves.
Faraday are a strange football Hall. Their A’s are one of the best in the business, who dominated Rutherford during a goalless contest last December. Their Bs on the other hand have a mixed record but, as was feared, Faraday quite literally brought their A game to the midfield party. It was defensive howlers that gifted Faraday the early lead though – 2 goals up within 3 minutes.
Rutherford – without the injured Azam in midfield – were struggling more than Labour’s leader does with his breakfast. Tactical tinkering was appearing to have little impact, but Suleyman pulled a goal back just before the break to offer hope. 1-2 at half time.
Rutherford’s second halves have been odd lately – conceding 5 against Bill Mo, but turning it around against Telford and Bakewell. A lucky long-range strike from Faraday’s forward seemed to end hopes of a Telford-like comeback though; 1-3 with 55 minutes played.
Faraday’s midfield gun trio of Mark ‘Vote Ron’ Osmond, Lewis Elliott and Doug Howie were enjoying the space offered to them in the middle of the park. Faraday’s fourth goal was something that most opposition wouldn’t prevent though – a superb ball in was met with a towering header back into the far corner. Not quite Niall Quinn-esque, but not far off. 4-1 Faraday.
Catlow was on by this point and was having a personal tussle with Faraday’s centre back, who was displaying moves more suited to the Sevens tournament that finished an hour before kick-off. Sharp play from Pistak, Lal and Suleyman put Catlow through to make it 4-2, and a rare decision from referee Hulk Hickson in favour of Rutherford gave Tipping his chance from the penalty spot to reduce the deficit further. He found the net – but time had run out on Rutherford’s spirited comeback.
Two games left, then, for the B team of 2015. They’ve already won 9 more games than the class of 2014, but defensive shortcomings look to have put pay to the Cherries’ title challenge. Faraday move up to 8th in the B-League ladder.
RESULT: Rutherford 3 (Suleyman, Catlow, Tipping (pen)) – Faraday 4
The triple-header of weekend IMS men’s football got underway on Friday night with a challenging match up against improving David Collett. The Cherries started the game 13 points ahead of DC and the league position superiority showed in the first 15 minutes when centre midfielder Al Roberts scored first from a set piece.
Somewhat surprisingly, that was as good as it would get for the reds. The performance, strewn with miscommunication and misplaced passes, was in stark contrast to the 3-0 demolition of Elvyn Richards 7 days previously. DC equalised thanks to a deflected shot 18 yards out that squeezed over keeper George Tipping – and a wasteful Rutherford in the second half were made to pay when DC struck the knockout blow with 20 seconds on the clock remaining. DC’s revival continues; Rutherford’s chances of a top 3 finish now look as likely as Wayne Rooney winning a boxing contest.
RESULT: RUTHERFORD 1 (Roberts) – DAVID COLLETT 2
Just 12 hours later, those willing to sacrifice a heavy night in the Union were on the front crumb for an early Saturday morning clash with William Morris in the B League. Bill Mo are a quality A team outfit, but often lack defensive mettle in reserve team fixtures. This was demonstrated in the first 30 minutes – Rutherford gave an exhibition of attacking flare and potency that included 4 goals and a rare assist by Noah Bigman. Goals were shared amongst Barber, Tipping, Coxhill, and an own goal. A Barber penalty miss before half time proved, very nearly, to be costly.
The second half begun at 9:40am and, by then, it was clear that Bill Mo had sobered up. Rutherford’s opponents fired in two quick goals before a Barber cross was smashed home by Azam, who was demonstrating the upside of alcohol abstinence. Bill Mo replied by scoring 8 seconds from the restart – if this was Fifa, Rutherford would be delivering Subways to the off-campus hall. The Barber-Azam partnership was at it again, making the score 6-3 with 10 minutes left. Bill Mo went on to score 2 more goals, setting up a finish more nervous than wannabe committee members giving a hustings speech. The Cherries held on but any repeat of this pathetic final 20 minutes in future matches would surely end all ambitions of a strong run-in.
RESULT: RUTHERFORD 6 (Coxhill, Barber, O.G., Tipping, Azam x2) – BILL MO 5
Still with us? It’s appreciated. Onto the final game of the weekend, a Super Mothering Sunday clash between the impoverished Cherries and the prosperous Bakewell B Team. Only those with long-distance (or distant) parental relationships were available, which somewhat forced Coach Jelliffe’s hand. Jelliffe is struggling to let go of his Sports Sec powers, but fair play to him for rescheduling his Harvester date for this clash.
Bakewell started like Barcelona. It always helps when the opponents are statuesque, but it took a wonderful finish to put the affluent hall in front on 5 minutes. Rutherford then discovered Bakewell’s Achilles heel – long balls and defenders more sluggish than Ipswich Town’s centre back pairing in the video below. Cal Miles punted it forwards, Catlow scooted around the back and found the net with his right foot. 1-1 at half time.
Some hormonal shouting from a couple of the returners fired up the Cherries for the final 35 minutes of the footballing weekend. Rickenbach, Huz and Tipping completely dominated the midfield. Miles and Coxhill were stopping all Bakewell attempts at the back, and an injury-free Aditya Lal continued his rehabilitation into the IMS setup with two superbly-taken goals. Catlow rounded off the goalscoring with a volley. Jelliffe sent on Big Dave Dawkins in a fraught attempt to get him his first goal of the season, but the Bakewell referee blew the final whistle 4 minutes early, scuppering his chance. The passing, confidence on the ball and use of width was all impressive from the Cherries, destroying Bakewell’s flow. Even Spiros International Athlete Bogdos was a safe pair of hands between the sticks. If only the A team could have replicated this effort.
Rutherford B’s 2015 form guide reads WWWDWW and leaves them 2 points off the pace in third. 4 matches remain against lowly opposition. Will the Cherries be lifting a trophy in Room 1 at the IMS Awards in May? Form suggests it’s a possibility.
RESULT: RUTHERFORD 4 (Catlow x2, Lal x2) – ROBERT BAKEWELL 1
With Rutherford’s recent form guide reading DLLD, title hopes were over but the search for a top 3 place was still on. What wasn’t needed, then, was a calamitous oversight from the hierarchy in reading the fixture list. 4 hours from kick-off against winless John Phillips, a surprisingly-strong team was assembled and marched down to the new Holywell crumb in the rain.
New captain Harry Barber insisted on a 3-2-3-2 formation, much to stalwart left back Alex Martin’s confusion. Die-hard Leeds fan and goalkeeper George Tipping is used to disappointment and was therefore unsurprised at how the first half hour played out. There were no shots on target from either side, despite Rutherford’s midfield trio of Aitken, Roberts and Sanchez (who was back from a footballing sabbatical) dominating possession. Alex Bare-Back Rickenbach took a whack and was replaced by Owen, but 30 seconds later Rutherford found themselves 1-0 down after a sharp counter-attack. It stayed this way until the interval. For those wondering – John Phillips haven’t won a single point in IMS football for 45 weeks. Disaster and embarrassment was looming.
Tinkering of the formation occurred at the break. Netherway came on at left back, Owen went wide left, Catlow right wing and Azam came on in central midfield. The changes soon took effect with Catlow, who mistook breaking his elbow for a slight bruise last weekend in the tame draw with Telford, wrong-footed JP’s full back and found the bottom corner in typically one-footed fashion. 1-1.
This left captain Barber behind in the top scorer stakes, and led him to immediately step up his game. Delightfully put through by soon-to-be-single Aitken, who cancelled a Valentine’s date to partake in the game, Barber beat the impressive keeper to put the Reds in front for the first time. 2-1
Despite this, something was still awry in the tempo of Rutherford’s game. The arrival of the Faraday posse on the touchline, who were baying for a JP equaliser, didn’t help – and nor did newly-installed manager Noah ‘homewrecker’ Bergman’s insistence on switching the formation once again. JP began pressing further into Rutherford’s half and were rewarded with a well taken goal by the left midfielder. 2-2 with 10 minutes to play.
Lazlo Henry and Sam Themistocleous were now on the field as the Reds’ desperate search for goal number 3 continued. Catlow made a complete mess of a presentable opportunity, and Aitken fired wide after creating a yard for himself in the D. With 2 minutes remaining, Faraday laughter ringing in the Rutherford ears and Coach Bergman’s trousers turning brown, Themistocleous found himself on the right wing. Some partly-unintentional skill led him to the by-line. The ball was pulled back to where Catlow, Aitken and Henry were all set up for one last smash. It was Henry who took responsibility and found the corner of the net, with a surprisingly helpful hand from the JP keeper. 3-2.
Nervy final moments were safely negotiated by Connor and Stewart-Green at the back, and a relieved Rutherford held on for win number one of the new calendar year. JP probably deserved better and it’s a surprise that their goal difference stands at -32 from their seven games.
According to the schedule, the next IMS ‘A’ Team fixture for the Cherries is Friday 20th at 6pm on Holywell. Players and supporters are advised to put this in their diary now, just in case management again fail to remember. Rutherford now top of the league, but have played up to 3 more games than the title challengers.
FINAL SCORE: John Phillips 2 – 3 Rutherford (Catlow, Barber, Henry)
With temperatures marginally above freezing, a much-changed Rutherford side stepped out of the dining hall and began the trek to the new Holywell rubber crumb to face unbeaten Faraday. They were met with their opposition immersed in intense drills, no doubt set up by the Ashby Rovers / Faraday quartet of Messenger, Elliott, Osmond and Webster. Typically, Rutherford’s warm up involved a light jog and a hope that the players from town would show up before the 6pm kick off. They did, and the game got underway with a Faraday referee for the first half.
The claret and yellow outfit, famed for dominating most IMS leagues in recent times, were backed by a sizeable crowd and made most of the early running, testing the new Rutherford CB pairing of Chambers and Kimbzy. Tipping, in the Rutherford net, saved smartly on more than one occasion in the first half while third-year full backs Buckley and Martin were dealing well with Faraday’s tricky wingers. A mistimed crunching tackle from Kimbzy offered Faraday an ideal free kick opportunity which was put over the top, while at the other end Catlow was decked by the ‘stocky’ Faraday keeper. The referee agreed with the partisan crowd and waved play-on, to the disbelief of those in red. Goalless at the break with Rutherford largely second best.
The second half started far brighter for the Cherries. The midfield trio of Mclachlan, Vousden and Rickenbach finally began communicating with each other, the latter perhaps feeling the effects of an eventful Mayhem evening 18 hours earlier. Lazlo Henry was getting some joy down the right hand side, but struggled to find lone striker Barber in goalscoring positions. Faraday’s centre backs Osmond and Webster did a job on Barber, who ended the game more battered than the lunch on offer in the Campus Living dining halls on Fridays – Webster’s experience of spending his Sunday mornings on the muddy fields of Charnwood in evidence here.
As Rutherford tired and the Faraday crowd grew larger still, the Cherries’ midfield substitutions made little impact to stem the tide and it was Faraday with the first glaring miss of the game. A low cross from the right somehow evaded the Faraday strikers; I’m reliably informed one has notched 8 goals already this season, but they must have all come against JP based on this performance. Kimbzy then decided to maraud forwards with the ball, much like Tal Ben Haim does at the start of the video below. The Faraday attackers pinched the ball and were through on goal, but Tipping saved the day for Rutherford. Chambers, Catlow and Barber all had half chances in the final 10 minutes but Faraday still had the lion’s share of the ball and could have had a penalty of their own – Rutherford perhaps grateful for the change in referee personnel at the break.
As the final whistle blew on what is perhaps the first goalless draw in the history of IMS football, the frustration on Faraday faces was clear. The better team, they failed to break down the committed defensive trio of Kimbzy, Vousden and the outstanding Chambers, and for that Rutherford were worthy of their point. Faraday still unbeaten, Rutherford still second, but both losing ground on frontrunners Bill Mo.
RESULT: RUTHERFORD 0-0 FARADAY
Alex Martin, Eugino Kimbzy, Chris Chambers, Henry Buckley
Lazlo Henry, Alex Rickenbach, Joe Vousden, Tom Mclachlan, Lewis Catlow
(Huz Azam, Jamie Owen, Matt Higgins)
3 days on from a winning league start against The Gables, Rutherford were back in action against a huge Royce side. A lack of organisation hit a new low for the Reds as the team arrived with no recognised goalkeeper, no pumped up footballs, no sports sec and no goalkeeping gloves. Alex Rickenbach deputised in net while Cal Miles and Kolby Pistak were making their first starts of the season.
Royce began outplaying Rutherford from the first minute with incisive passing and a seriously big unit up top. He made even Tom Aitken look small. Royce took the lead inside 15 minutes thanks to a very debatable penalty decision, well stroked home in the bottom right corner before Rutherford had even managed an attempt on target. 0-1
Against the run of play however, Alex Martin got himself on the end of a ball into the box and tucked the ball inside the post coolly to restore parity. A fantastic piece of opportunism from the makeshift right winger. 1-1.
It is worth noting that the wind at the PEC, as is always the case on campus, was hurricane-like and in Royce’s favour in the first half. This was highlighted by Royce’s second goal when a corner floated over Rickenbach and was tapped in at the far post. Just before half time, Rickenbach made amends with a superb 1 on 1 stop from Royce’s big man Lloyd Daniels, and ensured there was only one goal in it at the break.
Nobody could foresee what was going to happen in the first 20 minutes of the second half. James Morgan, who finally showed up with a pair of gloves, replaced Rickenbach in goal while Huz Azam came on in the middle of the park and immediately started making a difference. It was Al Roberts who notched up Rutherford’s second leveller of the game, bursting into the Royce box and slotting home from 15 yards. 2-2.
Ruthless Rutherford, with the wind literally in their sails, then scored goal number 3 when a scrappy cross from the left hand side was slammed home by Azam from a yard out. The big Royce lads were looking shell-shocked, but not as much as Coach Williams who couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
Just 5 minutes later a Rutherford corner was cleared only as far as Catlow, whose terrible first touch took him into the box but wide of the Royce goal. He then felt a faint touch from the Royce left back and decided to take a calculated tumble, knowing that the referee would be looking to ‘level things up’ following his shocking penalty decision in the first half. He duly pointed to the spot for Rutherford’s second penalty of the week. Catlow again took this one but his woeful effort hit the keepers’ legs. Fortunately, the ball bounced straight back to the Rutherford wideman who tapped in the rebound. Reds now 4-2 up with 15 minutes to play.
Royce began looking increasingly desperate and another couple of Reds substitutes were made to help see the game out. Centre backs Tom Stewart-Green and Tom Aitken dealt with every long ball hoofed at them in the second half, ensuring Rutherford saw out the remaining minutes to go top of the league with 6 points from 6. Hopefully there will be footballs, keeping gloves and missing personnel back for next Saturday’s crunch game against Falk Egg.
RESULT: Rutherford 4 (Martin, Roberts, Azam, Catlow) – Royce 2.
Alex Rickenbach (GK)
Adam Walker, Tom Aitken, Tom Stewart-Green, Gareth Connor
Alex Martin, Al Roberts, Tom Mclachlan (Capt), Cal Miles, Lewis Catlow
After the farcical double-booked scenes on the PEC the week before, the Rutherford Football A Team finally got their league campaign underway on the front crumb in the wet, against a Gables side full of off-campus freshmen. Everyone was relieved to discover roll-on subs is indeed a thing this season – none more so than IMS stalwart and Manager Scott Williams, who had picked a 17 man squad.
A few eyebrows were raised at the lack of Rutherfreshers in the starting XI, with Williams sticking to players he had heard of. Al Roberts, Tom Mclachlan, Harry Barber, Lewis Catlow, James Morgan and Tom Aitken were the starters with previous IMS experience.
This experience counted for little in the opening 15 minutes as Gables, perennially at the foot of the IMS table, took a surprise lead thanks to a bullet header from a decent corner. The Rutherford defence are yet to master the ugly side of the IMS game, allowing the Gables chap a free run at the inswinging cross. 0-1.
Rutherford started looking dangerous with Irish right back Gareth Connor pinging in some top crosses towards frontman Barber. He eventually got on the end of a looped ball after winning a 50/50 with Gables’ keeper, and slotted home into the empty net with aplomb from half a yard out. All square after 20 minutes.
A goal apiece would have been a fair reflection of the first half but Gables’ right winger, who was wearing glasses that resembled Barnet legend Edgar Davids, latched onto a second ball from a long goal kick and expertly chipped the helpless Morgan in net. The sparse Gables crowd explained that he had never done this before – the scorer’s look of complete shock said it all. Rutherford 2-1 down at the break.
AU superstar Tom Jelliffe used the half time interval to explain to the Rutherford boys how to play football; a notably useful nugget of information was to ‘try to keep the ball better’. There were many polite nods of agreement amongst the freshers, presumably because they are too new to voice up an opinion of their own yet. Hopefully this will change.
Rutherford increased the urgency in the second half, with Tom Aitken and Al Roberts excelling in the middle of the park in particular. The Gables keeper decided to pick up the ball outside his area, gifting the Reds a free kick which was whacked home off the wall by Roberts to restore parity going into the last 15 minutes. Game on.
The talented (if unfit) Sam Themistocleous switched wings as Catlow moved to the right to team up with Gareth Connor, and Catlow’s pace began causing problems without any hint of an end product. Coach Williams rung the changes in the final stages, throwing on old-timer Henry Buckley on the left hand side for freshman Adam Walker (who had a solid debut) and Lazlo Henry up top for Barber.
Buckley made the difference, ambling into the box before being helpfully scythed down by Gables’ ex IMS All-Star 2012 triallist right back. Penalty. With 3 minutes on the clock this was going to be the pivotal moment, and all of Rutherford’s 5 attackers wanted the chance to be the hero. Catlow demanded the ball and thankfully tucked it just inside the post, before wheeling away to celebrate in front of absolutely noone in the corner. Not even his teammates joined in. A couple of nervy moments ensued but centre backs Eugino Kimbzy and Tom Stewart-Green, who both mixed class touches with potential moments of calamity throughout, helped see Rutherford home. RESULT: RUTHERFORD 3-2 GABLES.
An underwhelming but important opening result for Rutherford then, who are already 3 points ahead of Cayley in the league. The big lads of Royce await at 7:30pm on Saturday, when Rutherford will have the chance to go top.
James Morgan (GK)
Gareth Connor, Tom Stewart-Green, Eugino Kimbzy, Adam Walker
Sam Themistocleous, Tom Aitken, Tom Mclachan (capt), Al Roberts, Lewis Catlow