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Match Report: Arnold Town FC 2 – 1 Graham St Prims

The 'Arna' lift themselves up to 9th in the table

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Since league battle was re-joined with Graham St Prims last season the Spondon side had plundered an easy nine points from their three games against the Eagles scoring eight goals without reply in the process. Today they came up against a rather more resilient Arnold side currently putting together a welcome run of form in the Central Midlands Alliance. 

Without doubt the home side were greatly aided by the fact that the majority of their squad were fit and available for pre-Christmas selection. Strikers Jake Ogden, Tyler Cobb and Dan Chambers were all restored to the starting line-up with recent signing Tremere Lindo being the principle absentee through illness.

From the get go the Eagles took the game to their visitors with the Oxton Road penalty area hosting the bulk of the action. In bright sunny conditions the swirling wind was largely working in Arnold’s favour and early corners were causing problems for the Prims defence particularly in the 4th minute when an almighty scramble in the six yard area somehow evaded a killer touch from the swarming Arna attack. 

On eleven minutes as the Yellows’ offensive continued a chipped effort from the edge of the area by midfielder Lewis Neville drifted a yard or so wide of the mark and then later a more powerful attempt from wide out on the left delivered by Dan Chambers had Prims keeper Jack Morley clearly beaten yet flew inches over the cross bar. 

Prims first reply of note didn’t arrive until the 20th minute when the home side conceded a free kick on the left edge of the Colin End area. The dead ball effort harmlessly cleared the bar and then only served to trigger Arnold’s opening goal a minute later as one way traffic was restored. 

Tyler Cobb sent in a fierce goal bound effort from just outside the area which the diving Morley was unable to cling onto. With the ball running a couple of feet clear an alert Jake Ogden was first on the scene to swiftly plant the ball to the right of the fallen keeper to give his side the lead and become only the 34th Eagle to notch 20 goals for the club since our reformation in 1989. 

Arnold’s lead came at a cost however as Oggy’s landmark goal served to spark Prims into life. A forceful run down the left flank made progress despite repeated attempts to tackle from the Arna defence. The surge ended with a fine save by Strycharz at his right hand post and then a fairly easy gather for the keeper from a header following the resultant corner. 

Moments later with 26 minutes on the clock the Eagles rather gifted their opponents an equaliser. A long ball down the left appeared to be rolling into no man’s land for a moment and Strycharz appeared to be making the correct decision to rush from his line to meet it. For some inexplicable reason Piotr managed to over run the ball and thus allowed Prims centre forward Liam Gregg to nip in behind him and tuck the ball away into an empty Colin End net. 

Soon after the half hour mark the Eagles appeared to regain the advantage with an absolute peach of a goal. Dan Chambers took receipt of the ball on the left wing and managed to hold off his markers well before delivering an excellent curling cross which Tyler Cobb met perfectly in a crowded six yard area to glance the ball past a helpless Morley. 

A brilliant goal and from where we were standing more or less in line with the action nothing to suggest anything was wrong with it. Sadly the assistant on the far side disagreed for what could only have been the tightest of margins. 

The game started to become more end to end now. An unfortunate slip by Lenny Jenkins allowed Alex Seale to run on towards the Arna goal but the striker only succeeded in dragging his shot wide of the target. Moments later a long low shot by Arna’s Ogden produced another half save from Morley who was certainly advertising his occasional frailty to the home forwards. 

With minutes to go to half time a significant shift to the game arrived in somewhat unsavoury circumstances. About five yards out of the Prims area in a fairly crowded midfield Prims’ Callum Wilson opted to scythe down Lewis Neville with an extremely reckless  and dangerous looking tackle which understandably enraged the Arna contingent.

After a lengthy kerfuffle the referee seemed much more interested in booking Arna’s Kieran Lane for passing a comment on proceedings than opting to do anything about a tackle which had clearly warranted a straight red. Sadly for the Eagles this unsettling turn of events seemed to rattle them and they would struggle to return to their early dominance of the game whilst the least said about the referee’s woeful performance throughout the remainder of the match the better. 

It didn’t take long for the second half to throw up more controversy although it should be noted that this time matters appeared to be contrived in the home side’s favour. Late out of the club house the first thing I saw was Adam Clift challenging for the ball in his own area and the whistle loudly blown. Expecting a penalty kick to arise I was somewhat relieved when the official appeared to bring the action back for an earlier Arna misdemeanour some ten yards out of the box. 

As mentioned the Eagles were now struggling to keep their composure at times and in addition Prims now had the advantage of the gusting wind and fierce sunlight beating down towards the capless Strycharz’s goal. The ingredients were all there for a shift in the balance of play and the visitors were indeed now looking the much more threatening side with Arnold’s counter attacks becoming few and far between. 

Arnold’s defence were sometimes reduced to panic mode but aided by some effective stops by Strycharz and marshalled well by skipper and eventual man of the match Adam Clift the improving Eagles managed to weather the storm. Despite the heroic efforts being made things were not looking too good at this stage with Dan Chambers sin-binned at one point and Craig Taylor having to depart the action for some minutes whilst trying to locate an elusive blood shirt. 

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PHOTO: Jim Bethell

Thankfully a full and experienced bench were on hand to help shore up Arnold’s efforts as they sought to keep hold of something from a game which on the basis of their earlier “pre-tackle” play they certainly deserved.

Over the years the weary Arna faithful have come to terms with the fact that things very rarely seem to go the Eagles’ way. Well today would prove to be different as the lads not only  doggedly held on for grim death at the back they only went and grabbed all three points with a dramatic and well executed goal as the game headed towards nearly ten minutes of added time. 

Jake Ogden’s non stop running played a big part in triggering the winner. Oggy repeatedly ran at the Prims defence as they played across the back four. Eventually a break appeared for him to run onto and tear into the Colin End area and see sub James Jackson well placed on the left side of the box. A perfect pass from Oggy still needed a coolly slotted home effort from the youngster who gleefully saw his effort glide into the bottom left hand corner for his first ever senior goal. 

Further intense pressure was unsurprisingly heaped upon the Arna defence as the added minutes were painfully played out. However, is has to be said that the best chance came on a swift break for the home side again with Jake Ogden this time bearing down on goal with a clear intention to add to his earlier strike. His low drive went agonisingly wide of the mark to the dismay of the Arna faithful and sub Toby Francis who had kept pace with the action and was standing in acres of space to Jake’s right. 

But never mind all that Christmas had indeed come early to Eagle Valley. Admittedly with more games played than all the other teams surrounding them the Arna had lifted themselves up to 9th in the table. That might not sound much to many folks reading this but with our recent track record it represents a most welcome step in the right direction!

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