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