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The webmaster wishes to record his grateful thanks to Edward Wyatt for the photographs
 and to Michael Wyatt for the reports on the matches. 


Game 23 : League Match : 14 April 2012 :
Cambray  5 – 3  North Cheltenham

On an overcast day, with both rain and sunshine threatening, NCC visited undefeated Cambray, for their final match of the season. In this delightful setting of newly-leafed tree-lined boundaries, and under the stare of Leckhampton’s splendid slender spire, the hosts kicked off and were immediately on the attack. NCC held their line, and matched them. Debutant Simon Cozens had a half-chance to put fame to his name as a cross sped by, but he was stranded, wrong-footed. From a tantalising free kick Cambray sent in a high ball, which was headed generously over the bar. Through Ian Jones and Mark Broekman, with Peter Vaughan-Shaw and Emlyn John backing up, NCC made several threatening forays. At the other end Jon Craxford did some excellent work in defence, keeping out the speedy Tim Wallace. After ten minutes Cambray came down their left wing, outstripped the NCC defence, and rifled home a thunderous volley from the edge of the penalty area. The ball sped past a beaten keeper, and ended up in the far corner of the NCC net, to give the hosts a deserved lead. Within a minute Emlyn John took an NCC free kick, and delivered a great ball towards the goal. Unfortunately Ian Jones, completely unmarked, miss-kicked the ball, giving Cambray a priceless let-off.

Cambray exhibited many of their team’s skills when they came down each wing with equal ease, but Ryan Adams made a series of spectacular saves, beginning his actions sat on the turf. Emlyn John delivered another free kick to the far post, and Mark Broekman’s effort missed the upright by a whisker. John Craxford made a second great save as he deflected the ball away from Tim Wallace, for Ryan Adams to collect; moments later Andrew Murton came to the rescue as the ball sped across an empty goalmouth, with the keeper prone. Ian Jones had a valiant attempt denied as he tangled with a trio of Cambray players in the mouth of their goal. Almost immediately another Ian Jones shot saw the ball pass behind the net. After further actions from NCC, and approaching the half-hour mark, a sweet movement saw Peter Vaughan-Shaw send a good ball to Ian Jones; his pass enabled Mark Broekman to fire a dipping ball past the keeper, to level the score.

Shortly after this Ryan Adams made the save of the match; as a lone Cambray forward, challenged by Jon Craxford, let fly a shot. Instinctively Ryan got both hands to the ball, and pushed it over the bar, for a corner. Up field a lone Ian Jones was denied as his effort was saved. Jon Craxford, as last man, again denied Tim Wallace as he blocked the ball most decisively, conceding a corner; which was headed over the bar. Cambray moved up a gear, and put greater pressure on the NCC defence with a series of attacks and corners. It paid off as they scored twice in the final five minutes of the half, the second was gifted following a spectacular error in the NCC defence. As the half closed so Ryan Adams made yet another brilliant save as a forward, having outpaced the visitors’ defence, shot too early, with only the keeper to beat.


Ryan Adams makes the best save of the match, a good reflex reaction whereby he pushes the ball over the bar

Within five minutes of the restart Cambray went further ahead. A run up their left wing saw an attacker shoot, and, as the ball spilt out of Ryan’s hands so the rebound was despatched into the net. Despite a titanic effort from NCC their hosts were cruising home with ease. NCC had two more attacks; one from Emlyn John went over the bar and then a run down the right by Mark Broekman was deflected for a corner. Cambray had three quick corners before NCC gained one; here the keeper calmly punched out the ball as three players rose simultaneously for a header. Another corner was unsuccessful as Cambray packed their goal with half a dozen players.

 
NCC have a great chance, but the ball is saved


The Cambray keeper gets to the ball first


Emlyn John heads the ball away from the NCC goal

With about fifteen minutes remaining Simon Cozens, on the edge of the goal area, headed the ball to Ian Jones. He turned and sped towards the penalty area, accompanied by a Cambray player on each flank. These were outstripped before the ball was lifted past the advancing keeper, to end up in the roof of the net; thus scoring the team’s 200th league goal. Two minutes later, and having survived a scare at the other end, NCC scored a third. A good ball from Peter Vaughan-Shaw found Ian Jones, who once again shot as the keeper come out, and watched with glee as the ball ended in the bottom corner of the net. Fifteen minutes remaining, what could a resurgent NCC accomplish in these final thrilling minutes? Play rotated, with Cambray slightly on top, although Simon Cozens had a teasing sniff of a goal. Again Cambray threatened but man of the match, Ryan Adams, made another brilliant save as a lone forward failed to convert a gift. As time added-on came so Ian Jones was denied when the pass was sent too far ahead of him. From this save Cambray sped up to the other end for one more attack, and gained a penalty. As the ball entered the net so the final whistle blew, ending the team’s challenge and indomitable fight-back from 4-1 down, the second time in a month.


The final kick of the NCC's season was a penalty which scored against them
 

A resigned Michael Wyatt signing-off, for the season, from The Burrows


Game 22 : Plate Match : 31 March 2012 :
North Cheltenham Churches 1 – 2 Cheltenham Trinity

On an overcast morning NCC kicked off this game, playing for a place in the plate final. In the opening minutes both sides made determined attacks; for NCC Andrew Murton had a challenging run down the left wing, where he passed the ball to Ian Jones, but it went out of play. The visitors came up their left wing, where a good cross was met by an unmarked attacker, but he could only head the ball over the crossbar. Cheltenham Trinity set up another attack which saw Ryan Adams collect the ball at the edge of his area. After seven minutes NCC had a free kick, on their left wing, and just inside the opposition half. Emlyn John sent a high ball into the penalty area. Mark Broekman, waiting near the far post, controlled it, before he sent a volley towards the goal. The Trinity keeper was unable to hold this shot and the ball bounced off his body, where an alert Andrew Murton was able to follow up, and stab the ball home, to give NCC a great start.


The ball comes off the Cheltenham Trinity keeper, but Andrew Murton is on hand to score the opening goal

Moments later Mark Broekman made a lone run down the right wing. Without support he appeared to be caught in two minds, and the resulting cross passed in front of the whole width of the goal, and continued, to fall harmlessly behind the line. Play ebbed and flowed up and down the pitch, but NCC posed the greater threat. Ian Jones shot over the bar and had another effort stopped by the body of the visiting keeper, as both players ended in a heap by the goalpost. Mark Broekman had another solo run down the right before he passed the ball to Andrew Murton, but this was cleared as the Trinity defence turned up in numbers. Suddenly a Trinity forward made an individual effort through the middle of play before good defending from Simon Trew cleared the ball.


Man of the Match, James Stevens, about to line up a shot

Immediately the visitors were awarded a free kick, and the ball bobbled around before the danger was cleared. NCC continued with their relentless attacks, with runs from Emlyn John and Andrew Murton, the latter resulting in a corner. Its high kick was pouched with deft skill by the keeper, as he watched it descend with a cool and calm composure. Andrew Murton sped down the wing, and his pass was again taken by the keeper, almost from off the nose of Ian Jones. Awarded a free kick, for offside, Trinity sent the ball up field with amazing speed. A cross found an isolated forward, but he shot straight at Ryan Adams, who saved the effort at the same time as the offside flag was raised. From another corner, awarded to NCC, man of the match, James Stevens, sent over a high cross. Mark Broekman made a valiant effort to head home, as he out-jumped everyone, but his attempt sped past the wrong side of the post; moments later another endeavour from the tall lad saw the ball sent straight at the keeper, who spread his body to ensure the ball was taken cleanly. Cheltenham Trinity managed a rare attack, up their right, before the ball was crossed and then went out for a corner. For NCC Ian Jones had an effort just pass over the bar, and Mark Broekman made another penetrating run, and his attempt, from a narrow angle, almost shaved the far post as it sped by. Having survived a torrid thirty minutes from their hosts Trinity ventured up-field in another of their rare visits. Good fortune smiled on them as they were given a penalty, following a foul on the extreme edge of the area. Their successful kick meant that the half ended all square, and the Reds would rue the fact that only one of their countless opportunities had been taken.


NCC have a corner and the Trinity keeper watches the ball as it descends

It was a more alert and diligent Cheltenham Trinity who emerged after the interval. From the restart they attacked, and caused Ryan Adams to take a descending ball in front of an attacker. Moments later they had a free kick, from just outside the area, but this was wasted as it sped harmlessly by the goal. NCC, as they created an attack, was awarded a free kick. From half-way Emlyn John sent a beautiful effort into the goal area, where Mark Broekman made a valiant effort to glance the ball into the corner, as again he out-jumped all, only for the ball to graze the bar as it sped clear. Then Andrew Murton had a solo run up the right wing and fired the ball across the goal; as no-one was there to tap it home he could only watch, vexed, as the ball skimmed by the far post; this was repeated moments later. As the third quarter of play drew to its conclusion NCC continued to waste the golden opportunities they were creating; Ian Jones sent a diagonal shot wide of an empty goal-mouth, Andrew Murton’s cross, from the left, again shot by the empty goal, Emlyn John hit one over, and, following a corner, a Trinity defender headed the ball out before it could cross the line. In between all of this the visitors were beginning to mount more threatening attacks as they came down both wings, and they were camped in the NCC area for a brief period.


A Trinity defender manages to head the ball clear, following an NCC throw-on

Then, in the seventieth minute, the visitors flowed down their right wing, and outpaced the home defence. At first the ball was partially cleared but it fell free on the left. There it was volleyed past the desperate outstretched arms of the NCC keeper. As he lay on the ground he could only watch as the ball entered the far corner of the net, to give the visitors a shock lead; NCC was stunned. Trinity created several more attacks, and endeavoured to keep the ball in the home half with a series of high and long balls sent down the field. NCC strove hard in their efforts to rectify unfair justice; Ian Jones was closed down as he sped along route one, and then, as he jumped high in his effort, he headed behind, and Phillip Collins was denied a brace of successive opportunities as the keeper reached the ball first. In these closing minutes Ryan Adams, at the other end, found himself busier than at any time throughout the match. In time added-on a Trinity defender, in his attempt to clear the ball, was fortunate not to put it into his own net as he gave away a corner. As this was taken, by Emlyn John, we noticed that all of the NCC players were up, including their keeper, so desperate and determined was the team in their quest for a just equaliser. Moments later, after the ball had sailed over the visitors’ bar, the final whistle went, and the team must still be wondering how a game they had almost won, so convincingly, was lost, so simply.


In the 90 + 1th minute,  NCC throw everyone, including the goalie, up in their quest for an equalising goal

A mournful Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 21 : League Match : 24 March 2012 :
Cirencester  4 - 4  North Cheltenham Churches

A glorious sunny day saw NCC come back heroically, from 4-1 down, to draw 4-4, with Cirencester. Sun and lack of rain made for a hard and awkward bouncy pitch, which caused problems for both defences, and the opening period was a scrappy affair. Cirencester had several chances early on but these were either blocked by good defending or fired straight at goalkeeper Tim Rudge. NCC had a great chance to score when a defensive misunderstanding by Cirencester left an open goal, but unfortunately James Stevens could only lift the loose ball over the bar from a distance. Ian Jones made a strong run towards the goal-line, and sent over a cross which was pounced on by man of the match Paul Chandler, who scored. However Cirencester equalised almost immediately, when a high ball bounced over the NCC defence and was steered past Tim Rudge, this just after twenty minutes. Another chance fell to James Stevens, waiting on the edge of Cirencester’s 18-yard box. As he was surrounded by three defenders he was unable to get the ball out from under his feet to shoot. This was followed by a harsh penalty decision, given for handball against NCC, and resulted in Cirencester taking a 2-1 lead. They went further ahead when their forward just outpaced the NCC defence, and slid the ball past Tim Rudge. Then Paul Chandler had a clear shot at goal but the ball cannoned off Ian Jones on its way forward, and fell harmlessly for the Cirencester goalkeeper to grab.

Fine defending by the trio of Adam Cox, Andy Macauly and Matt Allison kept Cirencester at bay. An Emlyn John long-range “special” free kick just failed to dip enough, hitting the crossbar, while Cirencester also saw a shot cannon off the post. The industrious James Stevens put in several good corners from which Cirencester just managed to emerge unscathed. Then, on 55 minutes, the home side went 4-1 ahead, after breaking forward from an offside position not spotted by the linesman, and curling the ball round Tim Rudge. After several half chances for both sides there now began a spirited NCC comeback, which saw them, or rather Ian Jones, score three times in the space of ten minutes. Twice James Stevens and Ian Jones combined, via a through ball and cross, which enabled Ian, in space, to select his spot and slot the ball home. Then, following a push, NCC was awarded a penalty. Ian Jones despatched the ball into the corner of the net, via the keeper’s outstretched glove, thus ending his recent goal drought in fine style. This allowed him to complete a well-deserved hat-trick, his second against Cirencester. NCC maintained their pressure to the end but could not find the winning goal, and the match resulted in an exciting 4-4 draw.

An exhausted Stephen Murton, after running the line and deputising for the usual reporting team.


Game 20 : League Match : 17 March 2012 :
Diamonds   2 - 3   North Cheltenham Churches

On a chilly and overcast morning Diamonds kicked off this twelfth league meeting between the teams, and opened with a couple of attacks down the slope. However, an alert Lee Bradley cleared one, as he booted the ball up-field, and in the other Ryan Adams held the ball at the edge of his box, as an opposition forward came charging in. For NCC Andrew Murton and Peter Vaughan-Shaw each had a shot at goal. Play centred around the middle of the field, where Martin Eccles, Emlyn John and Peter Vaughan-Shaw were to demonstrate great commitment throughout the game, well supported by Andy Macauly out on the wing. When Diamonds next came down their right wing Simon Trew got into the action as he headed the ball away. Shortly after this NCC conceded a free kick, the first of several, but this was wasted as it sailed high over the cross-bar. Diamonds made some threatening runs at the NCC goal; one was stopped by Adam Hitchman and the other saw the hosts again send their shot over the bar. The Reds grew in strength and made a series of promising moves up the right wing; Martin Eccles hit wide, Martin Cookson saw his endeavour smothered by a diving keeper, and Andrew Murton delivered a solo run through the middle of play, before the ball was sent straight at the keeper. The home side had another free kick, which was put out for a corner, safely cleared, as both Emlyn John and Martin Eccles rose to head out the ball. Almost immediately NCC defended another corner, but Emlyn John’s deft header removed any threat.

Having had twenty minutes of fast and furious football Diamonds were awarded another free kick, right on the edge of the penalty area. Again this was headed out by Simon Trew, allowing NCC to mount an attack, in which the ball was comfortably held by the flamboyant Diamonds keeper. The home side had one effort, which was easily saved by Ryan Adams, and another was denied by Adam Hitchman, allowing the keeper a simple save as the ball rolled over the ground. After twenty-two minutes the home side flowed down their right wing, where the ball was passed to a waiting attacker. Outflanking the defence he fired a long low shot, and watched with joy as the ball sped into the bottom corner of the net, with Ryan Adams rooted to the spot.


Emlyn John is about to take a corner

Galvanised into action NCC moved up a gear, and spent some time in the top half of the field. Martin Cookson sent in a shot, comfortably saved, and both Ian Jones and Andrew Murton troubled the defence, ably supported by the NCC midfield players. Emlyn John took a corner, which Diamonds quickly sent down the field, but determined work from Adam Hitchman prevented any further calamity, allowing the visitors to make another attack. The NCC players continually worried their hosts, who were never allowed time to settle; Peter Vaughan-Shaw and Martin Cookson were adept at this. Ian Jones saw the Diamonds keeper coolly dive to take the ball as he approached, but wisely the home side had a player guarding the goal as their keeper came out. NCC was playing well, and individuals were reading the game fluently, and so filling many empty spaces as they appeared, and continually tormenting the opposition players. The half ended with further attacks at each end; Diamonds finishing with a corner and another wasted free kick.


Martin Cookson heads the ball, while captain Martin Eccles looks on

Diamonds began the second half in a dazzling mood, and during these opening five minutes NCC was fortunate not to concede another goal. However, they did concede three free-kicks, all close to goal. From the first Ryan Adams caught the ball, as he reached up, but the second was of prime quality, and he made a match-winning save as this was sent over the bar, for an unsuccessful corner. Then Diamonds had a shot, and the ball sped eagerly along the turf, to graze the base of the left-hand post, before rolling behind for a goal-kick; a very close call! The third free kick followed one taken by NCC; both going wide.


A free kick from Diamonds is saved by Ryan Adams as he jumps up and pushes it over the bar for a corner

The next attack saw Andy Macauly clear for the NCC defence, who then mounted a series of dominating runs down their right wing, and quickly controlled the midfield, penning Diamonds in their half of the field. As the hour mark approached so NCC burst into action, and for the next ten minutes were in total control as they scored three glorious goals. The first came following a throw-on, as Ian Jones sped towards the goal, hotly pursued by a brace of opposition players. The dazzling efforts of the brave keeper resulted in a corner. Emlyn John delivered a dipping cross, just in front of the goal. As the ball came over so Martin Eccles rose and sent a thunderous header through the narrow gap left between the keeper and his unguarded post; all square, and no more than NCC deserved. Eight minutes later Diamonds had a free kick. This was saved by Ryan Adams, who quickly sent the ball down-field, beyond the defensive wall, which had come up too far. Waiting on the right, out from the post, was Peter Vaughan-Shaw. As a defender rushed in he lifted the ball over the advancing keeper, to send a magnificent hit into the back of the net. NCC was in the lead, and Peter had opened his account for the team, well done. Within a minute Diamonds had another free kick, on their left, and level with the half-way line. As the ball came over it was met by Emlyn John, who sent a powerful return down the middle of the field. The ball was quickly gathered by Andrew Murton, who saw that the keeper was off his line. With great composure he sent a delicate chip over the head of the last man, which descended into the net; beautiful!


Martin Eccles sends a thunderous header through the narrow gap left between the keeper and his post; 1-1

With twenty minutes remaining Karl Hemming, who had run the line so reliably, came on to participate in the unfolding drama. The excitement continued in this thrilling match, with another Diamonds free-kick passing wide of the right-hand post. However they were running out of steam as they came up the slope, their efforts reminiscent of the horses running up the hill at nearby Prestbury Park in this week’s festival. At the other end Peter Vaughan-Shaw had his attempt denied when the keeper plucked the ball out of the air, as both players jumped simultaneously; he was denied again moments later. Each keeper made a safe catch, not easy at this stage of this pulsating game. Suddenly, but almost too late, Diamonds found new energy, and mounted a series of attacks, mainly up their right wing. Here Ryan Adams, running to the edge of his goal-area, took a catch as he jumped up. At the other end Martin Eccles had the ball saved from under his feet. Without more ado the keeper booted it up-field. This time it passed behind the NCC defence, waiting on the edge of their area, and an alert forward sent a volley beyond Ryan Adams, who was injured in the process. With the score at 2-3 a nail-biting final two minutes, plus time-added on, awaited us all.

Play flowed at an even faster pace, from one end of the field to the other, as each side made a desperate attempt to score. For NCC Ryan Adams took another great catch, as the ball descended, with opposition forwards all around him, and almost immediately he smothered a shot as the hosts approached; Andy Murton and Karl Hemming closed down further efforts. At the bottom of the slope Emlyn John saw his lob cross over the bar, and Peter Vaughan-Shaw was also denied. It was a red-letter day as NCC starved their hosts, to record their first-ever win over Diamonds in a league match, although they had gained five league draws and won a cup match. This was one of the best-ever efforts from NCC, the entire side played above themselves throughout the game, and deserved the man of the match award being given to the whole team, the men of the match.

An enthralled Michael Wyatt reporting from a triumphant Naunton Park.


The winning team
BACK, L to R: Lee Bradley, Martin Cookson, Ian Jones, Emlyn John, Karl Hemming, Martin Eccles, Adam Hitchman
FRONT, L to R: Ryan Adams, Peter Vaughan-Shaw, Andy Macauly, Simon Trew, Andrew Murton

 


Game 19 : League Match : 10 March 2012 :
St Matthews  3 - 3  North Cheltenham Churches

On a pleasant spring morning St Matthews kicked off this local derby. NCC, the visitors, had an early attack, which saw the ball safely gathered by Tim Aldred, before the home side went up their right wing. They sent a long throw into the penalty area, where it bobbled about before an attacker tried to back-heel the ball into net; instead it was gobbled up by Ryan Adams. Immediately he sent a massive kick deep into the opposition penalty area. Following a mix up, between the St Matthews keeper and a defender, the latter gently nodded the descending ball towards his keeper, but made an error in his judgement. An alert Ian Jones was presented with a great opportunity, and deftly sent his low strike into the empty net, to give NCC a great start in only the second minute of the game. The home side created the greater pressure and gained two corners, and forced Ryan Adams to take a couple of catches. However St Matthews conceded several free kicks, but these posed no real threat. Mark Broekman had a run down his right, but was stopped in spectacular style. After fifteen minutes the home side again came up their right. As the cross came over the NCC keeper appeared to slip, gifting the ball to an unmarked player, who was able to guide it into an empty net, and so tie the score.


Ian Jones led a charge along route one ended up flat on the turf with the ball collected by the home keeper.

Play flowed up and down the pitch before Ian Jones led a charge along route one. Sadly his attempt saw him end up flat on the turf as the ball was eagerly collected by the home keeper. St Matthews tried a long range effort which sped past the goal, as well as a diagonal shot from the left, which was easily held by Ryan Adams. NCC was awarded another free kick, from just outside the box. This was directed to the far side, whence a Martin Eccles header went straight into the hands of Tim Aldred. With just over ten minutes of the half left, and following a series of NCC forays to the far end, St Matthews charged up the field. They gained a corner, on their right, and sent a high ball into an area packed with Red defenders. As the ball descended, just outside of the goal-area, so it was volleyed through these assembled players, to continue between the keeper and a post-defender, and bulge the far corner of the net. This gave the hosts the lead for the first, and only, time in the match. During the final minutes of this opening half St Matthews increased their pressure with a series of threatening attacks. Ryan Adams made a brilliant save as he jumped up to take the ball above his head, and from off the nose of an attacking forward; moments later he jumped again to grab the ball, and shortly after this a long range effort passed high over his bar. St Matthews wasted a free kick, awarded on the edge of the box, and another great chance as a brace of Blues came into the goal-area, before Ryan Adams gathered the ball, rather fortuitously. Mark Broekman had a great effort following a solo run down the middle.


Ryan Adams makes a brilliant save as he jumps up to take the ball from the nose of an attacking forward

The opening few minutes of the second half got NCC off to a perfect start, with a bonus, as they scored two goals. From deep inside his half Adam Cox sent a free kick up the left wing. There it was collected by Jon Craxford, who crossed a high ball towards goal. Waiting eagerly was Ian Jones, who out-jumped the keeper, and headed the ball down. As Tim Aldred sat on the ground, and Ian Jones rolled head-over-heels, so the ball rolled into the back of the net. Two minutes later, following attacks at either end, another foray from the Reds saw Ian Jones pass the ball to Mark Broekman, waiting just outside the penalty area. His low shot sped past the desperate dive of the keeper and hit the bottom corner of the net, to give NCC the lead again. Spectacular stuff!

For the next twenty minutes there was some lively football, as play alternated from end to end. Adam Hitchman made a solo run but the ball was gathered by the keeper as he himself was closed down by returning defenders. Then man of the match Emlyn John fired one of his long range specials, which saw the ball heading towards the top corner of the net. However Tim Aldred got a hand to the ball, and pushed it out, but it spun tantalisingly across the empty goalmouth. Ian Jones, rushing in, was faced with a difficult angle, and could only send the ball behind the goal. NCC continued their pressure, and had further shots going wide. The home side had several attacks but good defending from NCC cleared their line. Another long range free kick from NCC descended steeply, but fell behind the bar. Mark Broekman had a shot parried by the keeper and gained the Reds their first corner of the game. Taken from the right a high ball crossed the field of play, out of everyone’s reach.

Approaching the final fifteen minutes saw St Matthews attack down the left, which gained them a corner. Another high ball descended into the goal area, where a bevy of Blues waited, free from any markers; they were positioned either side of them. The result was an equalising goal, with the St Matthews players jubilant and the visitors stunned. As play continued NCC conceded three further free kicks, and had two players booked; all in very quick time. NCC continued to cause trouble at the other end, and a Mark Broekman effort was parried as the keeper jumped, and used his right hand to push the ball over the bar, for a corner. From this a wonderful ball sped through the players, where Mark Broekman made a valiant diving effort to head it home. The game finished with a series of attacks from the hosts, from one the ball entered the net but the effort was ruled out for dangerous play. NCC managed to hold on in this thrilling game, from a spectator’s point of view, and a draw was a very fair result. It was delightful to see the players shaking hands following a tough, and, at times, recalcitrant match.


Ian Jones out jumps the St Matts keeper, Tim Aldred, and scores an equalising goal, 2-2

Games between these two teams result in the award of the Grant Bayliss Cup, in recognition of Father Grant and his work in the creation of NCC. This was awarded to St Matthews, who regained the cup by winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2.

An effervescent Michael Wyatt reporting from a sunny Stade de Prestbury


Game 18 : League Match : 3 March 2012 :
C3 Dons  3 - 4  North Cheltenham Churches


Martin Eccles is about to head the ball to put NCC 2 goals up after 7 minutes

On a sunny morning, an interlude between periods of rain, the Dons kicked off this rearranged game. In the first ten minutes NCC got off to a dream start as they scored two quick goals. During the third minute Simon Trew made a good solo run down the right wing and passed the ball across goal. Here it was gathered by Andrew Murton, who squeezed a low shot past the prone body of the keeper. This success was his fiftieth goal for NCC, and enabled him to maintain scoring against each team, this being the Don’s first season. Following an attack from the hosts NCC created two chances when Ian Jones sent an effort over the bar and Peter Vaughan-Shaw fired wide. Then, in the seventh minute, NCC gained a corner. Emlyn John floated over a beauty, close to the bar, which was forcefully headed home by Martin Eccles. In the next few minutes the visitors could have scored more, with chances from James Stevens and Peter Vaughan-Shaw going wide, and another from Andrew Murton being pushed behind for a corner. Again taken by Emlyn John the ball was met by Simon Trew, who headed a fierce effort straight into the arms of the keeper, well positioned in the middle of the target. The Dons created a couple of opportunities, but they went wide or were caught with ease by Karl Hemming, on duty for the day. Having been denied an earlier scoring opportunity, when well-placed in front of goal, Andrew Murton found himself with another. Following a pass from Simon Trew the ball came to his feet, nicely positioned in front of the right-hand post, and surrounded by four of the opposition players. As they came closer to him so he coolly lifted the ball over the head of the keeper, to put his side three up, with half an hour gone.


Simon Trew heads the ball towards the goal

With NCC still pressing Emlyn John hit a free kick over the bar and Peter Vaughan-Shaw had two chances, one was saved by the keeper and the other also went over. Then, six minutes before half time, the home side had an attack up the slope. From twenty yards they unleashed a wonderful stunning long range volley, which saw the ball speed past the desperately arched-shape body of Karl Hemming, and continue into the top corner of the net, for the best goal of the game. After another attack from the Dons it was the turn of NCC to come down the right wing. A good cross failed to reach Ian Jones but the ball fell kindly for James Stevens, who forced it into the corner of the net as the diving keeper got his fingers to the ball in a desperate effort to deny the strike. There was just time before the interval for Martin Eccles to send a header over the bar, as he attempted to score into the far corner.


Karl Hemming takes his eyes off the Eagle Star building whilst guarding his goal

During the opening minutes of the second half both Martin Eccles and Ian Jones sent the ball wide, and Andrew Murton make another of his solo runs. However, it was a very different side which NCC was now facing; they had more commitment and began to string together a series of threatening moves. The first saw a forward overrun the ball, before it was tidied up by Declan Walker, an act he repeated moments later. Then the home side gained a free kick, which was wasted as it was sent well wide. Andrew Murton made two dashing runs up the left wing, one hit the side netting and the other saw the keeper gather a brilliant take at the post, one of a series of well-taken saves made hereafter, including catching an Ian Jones overhead kick and blocking fierce shots from both Andrew Murton and Martin Eccles. At the other end Karl Hemming made an important save when he pushed the ball over the bar. This resulted in successive corners from each side of the field.

With just under twenty minutes remaining Lee Bradley came on. Immediately NCC had a corner, where he fired a long range shot which was cleared off the goal line. Then, with less than ten minutes left, the Dons came down their left wing. As the NCC defence rushed back a forward coolly picked his spot, before unleashing a fierce right-footed drive into the corner of the net. A minute later, following an NCC defensive mix-up, a solo run replicate this, and again the ball was in the back of the net. Could the Dons, beaten in every game, create history, and salvage at least a point; we had an electrifying final seven minutes. NCC held out with Peter Vaughan-Shaw coming closest to scoring as he dashed up the right wing, where he was denied by a brave charge from the keeper, who flung his body to smother the ball. Karl Hemming was named man of the match for courageous goal keeping and his total commitment to the game. Well done to the home side who gave NCC a fright, but the scare was largely of their own making as so many chances went begging.


With 2 minutes to go James Stevens performs acrobatics for Martin Eccles(4) and Lee Bradley(8) to watch

A rumbustious Michael Wyatt reporting from Naunton Park, basking in warm spring sunshine.


Game 17 :  League Match :  25 February 2012 :
North Cheltenham Churches  2 - 3  St Andrews

On a beautiful spring-like morning NCC kicked off this league match. Straightaway St Andrews threatened down their left wing, where a lone forward had a great chance but was denied by James Stevens; then a free kick was successively dealt with and a high cross was headed away by Jon Craxford. NCC had a good chance to score when Jon Craxford found Martin Eccles, who headed goalwards, but the keeper made a good save and pushed the ball behind for a corner. NCC created another chance when a series of passes found Ian Jones, but his effort was denied by good goal-keeping. On ten minutes a quick young forward attacked down the left wing, outpacing the home defence. As Ryan Adams attempted to narrow the angle the forward sent in a neat side-footed stab, which entered the far corner of the net, as his companions arrived.


A young St Andrew's player attempts to score (all by himself)

In the next twenty minutes NCC tested their opposition with some good efforts, notably from Mark Broekman, Ian Jones and some classy runs up the wing from Pete Vaughan-Shaw. Ian Jones had a shot fired wide, Martin Eccles had his endeavour blocked by the defenders and James Stevens saw his attempt well caught by the keeper, as NCC played good dominating football, and spent some time in the top end of the pitch. So dominant was the NCC that it was a surprise when the visitors came down the field and worked a delightful pass across the goal mouth. Fortunately the player missed what was almost an open goal; the gift was spurned before Adam Cox tidied things up, but conceded the corner. The visitors managed to hit the post and also sent a lob over the bar.

On the half hour mark a run from Ian Jones saw him take the ball up the left wing, outpacing a couple of defenders. Then he sent over a delightfully weighted ball, flying parallel to, and just in front of, the goal line. This was met by the alert and agile Mark Broekman, who nodded it to his right. As he fell he was able to see the ball beat both keeper and defender, and enter an unguarded part of the net; a great effort from the lad home for the weekend. In the last fifteen minutes of the half NCC created further opportunities, including a tantalising half-chance by the post and a mesmerizing solo run from Adam Cox, but in his enthusiasm he over-ran the ball. The visitors made two penetrating runs which saw them outpace the defence, but on both occasions St Andrews sent the ball wide. Just before the end of the half both Mark Broekman and Jon Craxford fired over.


Mark Broekman heads the cross from Ian Jones into an empty part of the net, to tie the score at 1-1

The opening minutes of the second half saw play flow from one end to the other. NCC took the ball down their left and towards the centre where St Andrews regained possession. In turn they sped up their wing and it was left to Ryan Adams to make a sprawling save just outside his post. In the next few minutes NCC came down both wings, and looked a polished outfit as they enjoyed possession. Five minutes into the half Mark Broekman found himself on the edge of the area, with three defenders in front of him. As he rifled an unstoppable ball goalwards so the ball hit a defender, and took a big deflection as it lobbed up and over the unfortunate keeper, and descend into the net, to give NCC the lead. This success was short-lived. Following attacks at each end it was another lone opposition forward who easily outpaced the home defence, and score from a well-executed cross; setting up an exciting final half an hour.


NCC on the attack

NCC continued with their pressure; Mark Broekman sent a shot high over the bar and NCC gained a rare corner. At the other end Ryan Adams made another great sprawling save and again St Andrews hit the post; fortunately as the ball rebounded straight out no one was on hand. Now the hosts were leaving wide empty spaces in their defence as their team probed up-field. They were fortunate when a lone forward was denied as Ryan Adams came to the edge of his area; further similar threatening penetrating runs were denied by the heroics of the home keeper and the skills of Andrew Murton.

 
Ryan Adams stops the ball, following a corner

With a quarter of an hour to go another speedy attack outpaced the meagre home defence. A high cross was met by an attacker who headed the ball back to his unmarked team mate, who had the relatively simple task of finishing off from close range. It was a cruel way for the team to lose, but they had left unprotected, and continued to leave undefended, acres of territory. Apart from these final twenty minutes they had played very well, and demonstrated much commitment and skills. For his two goals, and outstanding work-load, Mark Broekman was made man of the match.


The last few kicks of the game

A frustrated Michael Wyatt reporting from a sunny Stade de Prestbury


Game 16 : League Match : 18 February 2012:
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 4  C3 Diamonds

After three weeks without a game, due to wintery weather, NCC hosted Diamonds. On a windy day, with the promise of rain, the visitors kicked off this game. Immediately they had an early attack, which saw Tim Rudge, back in goal, make a comfortable save. This was replicated at the other end following an individual effort from Chris Rudge. The opening twenty minutes saw the match played at a fast pace, especially from Diamonds, who impressed with pace and passion. They forced another early save from Tim Rudge, having sped down the right wing; another effort saw the ball deflected over the corner of the woodwork. However, Diamonds had the shine taken off their spit and polish by a combination of exemplary goal keeping from Tim Rudge, little wonder that he was named man of the match, and great defending from NCC, who manned the back in numbers. The NCC forwards worked mainly as individuals, wonderful when it works, but a lone predator is easier to stop than a pack. The hosts had their moments, one effort sped wide, with the keeper stranded, before Andrew Murton was denied and Martin Cookson was closed down, as he approached the goal area. Then the Diamonds keeper, sporting a bedazzling outfit of a carnation-pink top with tickle-me-pink socks, and resembling a flamboyant flamingo, made a brilliant save, as he flew upwards to hold onto another effort from Andrew Murton!


NCC fail to convert a corner

As we entered the second quarter of the match so came another potent Diamonds movement, a solo effort splitting the defence in front of goal. As the forward veered to his right, with help coming fast and the home defence lagging, the outcome rested on Tim Rudge. With disregard for himself he sprawled and grabbed the ball off the boots of the opposition player hoping to tap the ball in. Moments later Chris Rudge made another individual effort up the right wing. Approaching the goal-line he sent over a cross, which was pushed behind for a corner as Andrew Murton came rushing in. NCC gained successive corners, and the aerial ball appeared to cause some trouble to the visitors. Following a brief run to the other end it was the turn of Diamonds to be on the defensive, as they faced another corner. Despite having only three men up, against seven in the box, Martin Cookson saw his headed effort speed harmlessly past the far post. Play continued to flow from end to end, as Diamonds had an effort down the right wing contained before Martin Cookson had another attempt pouched.


Another great opportunity for NCC goes narrowly wide of the far post

Following corners at both ends Chris Rudge made another run up the left but his shot went wide of both the sprawling keeper and the vacant goalmouth. It seemed that by now NCC was leaving empty spaces, both up front and in defence. Then, on thirty-eight minutes, and following a tantalisingly close shot from Martin Cookson, it began to go wrong. A brace of Diamonds players sped down the right wing, easily outpacing a defensive trio. Tim Rudge came to the edge of his box to meet the cross, but changed direction, probably inhibiting the striker, who sent a cross towards the far corner. Now the fickle wind played its part, and prevented the ball from crossing the line. As it virtually stopped the only other Diamonds player around nipped in, and returned the ball from under the noses of five NCC defenders. A right-footed shot into the net ensured Diamonds took the lead; this was nearly doubled following a move of familiar fluency from five fast forwards. Almost immediately NCC’s hopes were raised as Andrew Murton made a dazzling solo run up the left wing. Outpacing a trio of defenders he sent over a long low drive, which bulged the far side of the net, a richly deserved equalizer. It was NCC who made the running during these final minutes before the interval, and had three close calls; how different things might have been.


Tim Rudge came to the edge of his box to meet the cross, but changed direction, probably inhibiting
the striker, who sent a cross towards the far corner to be momentarily saved by the wind.

As the second half began the wind increased and its sporadic blustery gusts created intermittent havoc with play. From the restart Diamonds forced a tremendous save, which went behind for a corner, following an attack up the left wing. Increasing their pressure Diamonds packed the box with half a dozen players. NCC had a good opportunity to score when Andrew Murton ran down the right wing. As the keeper approached so Andrew sent the ball past him, to Chris Rudge, waiting by the far post. Unfortunately the covering Diamonds defender was able to clear the ball, and thus a wonderful opportunity to score was lost. Diamonds gained a series of corners which took place in a crowded goal area. Even though NCC made a couple of visits to the other end little was gained, this was not where the action was. Tim Rudge made two more saves when, just past the hour, Diamonds came up again. With Tim on the deck the ball was sent out, for a corner. As the corner-ball came over it was met by a Diamonds player, waiting just inside the six-yard area, who headed an aerial shot towards goal. Gently but efficiently the ball looped over all, and continued past the two men rooted to the uprights, probably too near, as they were unable to move inward quickly enough, before the ball ended up in the net.


NCC defenders are kept busy as Diamonds attack

As NCC faced yet another corner again they packed ten players inside the box, all except Andrew Murton. Diamonds, brimming with belief, had half a dozen of their choosing. Once the danger was cleared Andrew Murton led from the front, and his run down the right created another half-chance which James Stevens might have put away on another day. As the game entered its final fifteen minutes so began a sequence of dramatic activity. It started when four Diamonds players matched four NCC defenders, including the keeper, as the visitors attacked in front of goal. The result was a brave save as Tim Rudge, resting against the post, pushed the ball behind, to concede a corner. On their next visit Diamonds sent in a low fierce drive which cannoned off the post with a heart-rending thwack, heard reverberating around the home defence. The drama continued as NCC conceded a penalty, for a pushing offence, which increased the deficit. Finally, three minutes later, came the best goal of the game, as the Diamonds number seven stormed up the field, outpacing all, before coolly selecting his spot to seal an emphatic victory. The score line may flatter the visitors, but they played better, both individually, and as a team; I feel that some of the NCC players need to reflect on the role they have, and how well they perform; during this game a few could have striven harder than they did.


Spot the Ball  (move your mouse over the picture to reveal the ball)

A disheartened Michael Wyatt reporting from a gusty Stade de Prestbury


Game 15 : League Match : 21 January 2012 :
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 1  Trinity

On a blustery day, which would test the players, NCC kicked off this game, with first advantage of the wind. At once Cheltenham Trinity was on the attack, and gained an early corner. Following a bit of a mix up NCC allowed their opposition a couple of stabs at goal before the ball was cleared, but then only as far as a throw-on. Trinity then threatened with several quick runs down their left wing, one led to an elevated shot being well held by Ryan Adams, by his near post. Slowly NCC was coming into the game, and launched a few strikes at the other end; one, from Emlyn John, just passed wide of goal and another was easily held by the keeper as it descended into his hands.

At the start of the second quarter of the game Trinity had a free kick, from way out, which was sent behind. Both sides had some players who made solo runs; for NCC this was Emlyn John. Ryan Adams was the busier keeper but his saves were not taxing events. Many of the home attempts saw them going up the right wing. From one NCC sent over a cross, which was well caught by jumping Jay Jackson, as he held the ball in front of Andrew Murton who was running in. A Trinity charge saw a player outstrip NCC, but, as they caught up, his delivery was sent wide of the post. Emlyn John lined up an effort, which sped through the visitors’ defence, but straight into the arms of their keeper. Minutes later Jay Jackson held onto a free kick just beyond the far post as Martin Eccles was coming in. Andrew Murton saw his shot sent behind for a corner, which resulted in Martin Eccles seeing his latest try blocked as the hosts applied pressure on Trinity. Then Lee Bradley was prevented from making a cross as the keeper snapped up the ball; not long after Lee was denied by several defenders as he tried to take the ball through them. The half ended with both teams exchanging attacks in their many efforts to score.


Cheltenham Trinity keeper, Jay Jackson, making a great save from off the head of one of our players

Cheltenham Trinity restarted the game with the advantage of the gusty wind. It was a poor start from the home side which allowed the visitors to switch from the centre to the right, where they regained the ball from an NCC throw on. Then a Trinity player sent over a diagonal aerial shot. As this neared the goal it appeared to hang in the air, completely deceiving Ryan Adams, who could only watch as the ball fell into the net, leaving him the ignominious task of retrieving it by the post. NCC was behind within one minute of the restart. During the next quarter of an hour Cheltenham Trinity made a series of penetrating progressions, as they endeavoured to stretch their advantage. As well as shooting wide of both posts they missed a great opportunity with a four-man attack when they shot over both the NCC defence and the bar. Their most threatening effort came following a corner, but Lee Bradley made a great block before another Trinity player chipped the ball, only to see it cross the bar. Then, on the hour, NCC got their act together, which began with a strong movement down their left. Jon Craxford delivered a great cross towards the far corner. Here it was missed by a Trinity defender, its keeper and Andrew Murton, but fell nicely for Lee Bradley, following up impeccably. His right-footed volley sped past all, and bulged the netting on the far side; to the casual onlooker a well-worked move.


Are the Trinity trio and our Declan Walker (yellow boots) dancing or is this a trick of the camera?

With half an hour remaining, and everything to play for, the match was set up for a thrilling finale. Shortly after this equalising goal Ryan Adams made two great saves within a minute. The first saw him smother the ball with his body as he raced out towards the corner, and the second followed a Trinity free kick. As the ball started to descend Ryan was able to get a hand to it as he too began to fall backwards. With great skill he pawed the ball upwards and outwards. As he sat on the ground he watched the tumbling ball being cleared with the unfortunate Declan Walker lying injured.


Following a Trinity free kick as the ball started to descend Ryan Adams was able to get a hand to it
as he began to fall backwards. With great skill he pawed the ball upwards and outwards,
before sitting on the ground to watch the ball being cleared.

 


Ryan Adams calmly awaiting the arrival of the ball, closely watched by the referee (beside the goal)
and Jon Craxford straddling the goal line

Ryan Adams made a couple more good saves, and during the game saw Trinity hit the woodwork on three occasions, once when the ball hit the bottom of a post and rose to cross the empty goal mouth unmolested. In between NCC had their moments, and finished the stronger, playing with surety and composure. NCC caused Jay Jackson to make a sprawling save from a cross, with an open goal beckoning the onrushing Adam Hitchman, and then he grabbed another drive from Andrew Murton; these were after the Trinity defence had done its work. Upon reflection there was more to this game than at first appeared, and during its length the mantle of authority moved from Trinity to NCC. It could be argued that NCC was fortunate to gain a draw, but, despite some great Trinity efforts, any other result would have been unjust. Both teams played well in the difficult conditions. Lee Bradley received the accolade as man of the match.

A mildly contented Michael Wyatt reporting from a
windswept Stade de Prestbury


The home team salutes the visitors by forming a tunnel through which the visitors pass


Game 14 : League Match : 14 January 2012 :
North Cheltenham Churches  2 - 1  Tewkesbury

Following a couple of days of frost this game was moved from Prestbury to the astroturf pitch at Winchcombe School. Playing in their original strip of green and white hoops NCC took centre and immediately lost the ball as the Tigers ran up their right wing. In turn NCC regained the ball, which was crossed to Andy Macauly, waiting deep in his half of the field. He delivered a beautiful low ball down the middle of the pitch, towards Andrew Murton. Collecting the ball Andrew continued goalwards, and sent in a low drive towards the far corner. It was almost a repeat of the previous meeting as the visiting keeper dived but could only parry the ball. With utter dejection he watched it loop over his body, and descend into the back of the net. NCC was in front after precisely twenty-three seconds, what a dream of a dream start, and what a nightmare for the visitors! Following a couple of attacks from the Tigers the next quarter of an hour saw NCC in complete control of the game; yet they failed to capitalise on their supremacy.


The delightful setting of NCC attacking, with glorious views towards the sheep-filled hills
in the distance. The ball has rebounded off the wire-mesh, no linesman is that quick!!


A bit of juggling going on here, by Andrew Murton, with Ian Jones (left) and Peter Vaughan-Shaw (right)

In this phase the Tigers’ keeper made a series of stunning saves and denied the hosts from increasing their score. He caught a couple of tantalising balls as they descended and parried others behind for a series of NCC corners. Another volley from Andrew Murton was saved as the keeper lay sprawled on the turf and then Ian Jones headed an attempt over the bar. In between Tewkesbury had one determined crack at goal, and wasted a great opportunity when the ball was sent wide with only Ryan Adams to beat.


The Tigers have a lucky let-off as Ian Jones heads over

The game progressed at a fast pace, and for a few minutes the Tigers were allowed to make a series of runs into the NCC half as they moved out of bottom gear. Martin Cookson denied them with several well-read defensive clearances. As the second quarter came NCC re-exerted their dominance, but again was denied by the opposition keeper. Ian Jones had a trio of opportunities stopped as the Tigers kept themselves in the game. Although NCC was denied it must be argued that they denied themselves often when the many opportunities presented themselves.

In the last fifteen minutes of the half NCC continued to press forward, and wasted another great chance when the keeper came out too far, forcing his defence to save the day. Ian Jones made further attempts but managed to miss an open goal. However, he made amends within minutes as he fired past the keeper, to give NCC a slight cushion; match-winning as events were to show. The Tigers made a few more sallies but again were denied by Martin Cookson. At the other end the half closed with NCC shooting wide, and man of the match Peter Vaughan-Shaw being kept out as he came down the right wing.


Martin Cookson making one of several great clearances, he was excellent in defence, solid.

Before the start of the second stage the Tigers changed their keeper following his ankle injury at the end of the opening period. It was a different team which took the field, and the visitors began in fine form. Rampant they created a series of threatening attacks, winning several corners. NCC was living dangerously with Andy Macauly making a great clearance as Ryan Adams lay injured, and from a corner the ball eluded all at the near post as it sped across the goalmouth. Tewkesbury gained a corner from the other side but this was cleared with NCC defending in numbers. Both Declan Walker and Andrew Murton were denied when in good positions, and the latter saw Ian Jones fail to connect with his well crossed delivery. Adam Cox made an exciting dash up the length of the left wing; his solo effort was only denied when he tried to take the ball towards the goal. The Tigers had another shot cross a busy NCC goal, but no one was able to make connect.


Andrew Murton with the ball as Jon Craxford (left) and Ian Jones (right) look on

With a quarter of an hour remaining the Tigers came down their right wing. The ball was lifted over the head of the advancing Ryan Adams, and as it descended a Tiger pounced. Before the goalie was able to retrieve the ball it had been bundled into the net, to set up a gripping final fifteen minutes.

The last five minutes showed the NCC dominance, as they mounted several strong attacks. The Tigers stand-in keeper made several great saves, one as he used his knees to deny Ian Jones, and his defence closed down efforts from both Andrew Murton and Karl Hemming. At the other end Tigers made their final threatening attack, as they came down their left wing. However with two against five this effort was denied, as was a draw. In the closing minutes NCC demonstrated their superiority as they made the ball work with an exhibition of passing rather than the dashing up and down which both teams had shown through much of the game. It was a thoroughly deserved win, even though its execution still left much on which to ponder.

A delighted Michael Wyatt reporting from the Astroturf at Winchcombe School.


Game 13 : League Match : 17 December 2011:
Tewkesbury 2 – 3 North Cheltenham Churches

NCC kicked off their last match before Christmas on a cold and bright morning, but looking straight into the low angle of the winter sun. A novel experience for both teams was the playing of this game on the new astroturf pitch, opened at the beginning of the season. Surrounded by the high fencing it was reminiscent of a gladiatorial contest! In the initial minutes both sides tested the surface as they created early attacks, but these were cleared with relative ease. Then, after just three minutes, Rob Green limped off, and NCC had to play the remainder of the game with ten men, as the team had been unable to find any substitutes. Two minutes later Lee Bradley led a run down the left wing, and sent the ball towards Andrew Murton. He continued the run before firing a low volley from an oblique angle, which entered the net with a gratifying thud.


NCC defend a corner

New boy Phil Collins made a great effort as he denied a persistent Tiger in front of the NCC goal. Following a Tewkesbury corner NCC delivered the ball down their right wing. On this fast surface Andrew Murton gave chase, and controlled the ball with great skill. Having eluded two defenders he sent it towards the keeper, who could only make a partial parry, and the ball ballooned over his prostrated body, to descend into the net. Although the result was a little fortuitous the NCC was playing with great commitment; evident by the ten-man team being two up after just ten minutes!

These goals seemed to spark the home team into making use of their extra man. They chased down both wings and rained some long-range attempts towards the NCC goal. One was well caught by Ryan Adams as he stretched to pluck the ball from the air; moments later this save was repeated. After further action from the visitors the Tigers were again on the prowl, and a determined effort saw the parried ball rise over Ryan Adams and descend into the net, and so allow the Tigers hunt to be successful as they pulled a goal back; the game had been going for just seventeen minutes.


All, including Stephen Murton, wait to see whether the ball goes out of play, and, who will have the throw on

Although no further goals were scored before half-time there was still plenty of action. The ball was moved rapidly from one end to the other, often travelling quicker than the players. This meant that the keepers had to be alert, and the home keeper was able to pounce on several long-range efforts before the advancing opposition arrived. Tewkesbury was awarded a free kick from just outside the box, but this was hit high and wide. Ten minutes before the interval a determined Tiger chase saw an equally determined NCC defence barring their approach. Despite this it took a great effort from an alert Ryan Adams to send the ball inches over the bar, and so concede a corner. At the other end the Tiger keeper took a very good catch from off the head of Andrew Murton, to save what could easily have been a goal. Soon after this NCC had a corner, which saw Martin Eccles head over the bar, and the hosts ended the half with yet another long-range shot.


Andrew Murton is denied a third goal

The second half started at a great pace, with the Tigers making the initial running but the NCC matched them. In the third minute of the new half a good ball found Andrew Murton up on the left, where he sent in a long lethal diagonal strike, to complete the fourth hat trick of his NCC career; little wonder that he was named as man of the match.


Man of the Match Andrew Murton makes it 1-3 and completes the fourth hat trick of his NCC career

For much of the next twenty minutes NCC balanced their opposition in both attack and defence, with each side in pursuit of further success. Tewkesbury looked most dangerous when they chased down their left wing, and made optimum use of the wide open spaces. Then dangerous crosses appeared, but Ryan Adams, using the whole of his goal area, was able to deal with these effectively. The Tigers switched the chase to the right wing, and gained a corner, which Simon Trew headed out to safety. This sea-saw game saw Jon Craxford send in a long-range shot, which went wide of goal. Then the Tigers reverted to their left wing, and delivered a diagonal ball into the box. An alert prowling Tiger sent in a hard volley, which thudded into the opposite corner of the net, giving Ryan Adams little chance, and so setting up a thrilling final twenty-five minutes.


With five minutes to go and leading 3-2 NCC are defending their goal

Gradually Tewkesbury were spending more time in the other half of the pitch, which gave the tiring NCC players some respite, in a strange sort of way. Their solid defence held firm, and the Tigers did not help themselves by getting off-side several times as they galloped over the level surface. The hosts tried more long-range attempts, and three narrowly missed their target, but their intense ten-minute pressure evaporated. In between these penetrating attacks NCC, mainly through their trio of James Stevens, Martin Eccles and Andrew Murton, kept probing the Tigers lair. Towards the end Simon Trew made a great solo effort, only to be denied when he was up-ended as he neared goal. Martin Eccles tried a long-range shot, which shaved the far post, and Andrew Murton saw his shot deflected, as he tried to beat both goalie and another defender. In the closing stages Tewkesbury had several more chances but good defending from the NCC decapods ensured their victory in this five-goal thriller. It was a fine effort from the team, their commitment saw each player give 110%.

A thrilled Michael Wyatt reporting from deep inside the Tigers’ den


Game 12 : League Match : 10 December 2011 :
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 3  Cornerstone

On a cold and frosty morning NCC, in their changed strip of green and white hoops, kicked off this match against Cornerstone, a team which has won every league game this season. In the opening ten minutes the visitors created several chances but their shots were either fired wide or saved by Ryan Adams. They favoured coming down the left wing, or just off centre, but were kept at bay by the staunch actions of Adam Hitchman. The hosts created several attacks, through Mark Broekman and James Stevens, but were denied by an alert defence and good catching from the visiting keeper.

Once the frost had gone Cornerstone moved up a gear, and used the width of the field to full advantage. One run, this time down the right wing, forced Ryan Adams to make a spectacular parry, as he put his body firmly in front of the approaching ball. He must have been very relieved when, as the ball was returned, it went into the side netting. Play flowed at a good pace, and the NCC players were holding their own. Mark Broekman had a fine solo run down the right wing, but was quickly closed down by three defenders. Man of the match Simon Trew cleared one Cornerstone attack with a deft header, which let the Hoops take the attack up to the other end. Soon after this Adam Hitchman and Andy Murton saw off the most potent threat thus far. Then, after twenty-six minutes, the home side came up their left wing and won a corner. A delicate placement, from Jon Craxford, saw the ball sent towards Simon Trew. Expertly he speared the strong Cornerstone defence with a well-directed effort, which sped past the keeper and ended up in the far corner of the net; his first-ever goal for the team; well done Simon! Interestingly NCC has scored two of the three goals which Cornerstone had conceded in six league matches.


NCC defending their goal

In the next twenty minutes the Cornerstone team increased their pressure, gained a corner and created several further chances, but the solid NCC defence held firm, and Ryan Adams made a couple of great saves. At the other end the keeper came out and took the ball high above James Stevens, as his attempted header was not high enough. Then, eight minutes before half time, the visitors were awarded a free kick, from the edge of the area. The ball was floated towards the centre where a Cornerstone player took route one, and performed an acrobatic overhead kick which saw the ball end up in the far corner of the net; all square, but a great disappointment to the home team. In the last few minutes the home side created further attacks, and had another corner, which was headed wide by Mark Broekman.


High ball as NCC on the attack just after a corner kick

NCC spent much of the opening minutes of the new half on the defensive. Then Simon Trew led an attack through the middle, and gained a free kick from just outside the penalty area. Andrew Murton took the kick, and sent it past the four-man wall, but straight into the arms of the waiting keeper, who had positioned his men to perfection. The visitors gained a corner, and then made a series of threatening passes near the corner flag before they were seen off. After fifty-six minutes Cornerstone had another attack, and sent over a high ball. This was missed by Ryan Adams, allowing an alert attacker to score an easy goal, and so propel his team into the lead.


Andy Murton takes a free kick, with all the gaps covered he misses the wall of 4 but the goalie is ready

At once the Hoops were up at the other end, but their shot was saved by the keeper, who finished on his knees. A Cornerstone forward pierced the home defence, and, as the ball fell nicely for him, his attempt erred off course. Another solo run saw James Stevens speed through, but without any support he was closed down by half a dozen rampant defenders. NCC increased their pressure, and spent much of the following five minutes near the opposition goal. Then they had an attack down the left wing, and gained a throw-on. This resulting throw led to the award of a penalty, following a push on Martin Eccles. Andrew Murton stepped up for the kick, which was well pushed out by the keeper as he dived to his left, but unfortunately the rebound was sent over the bar. This event proved to be debilitating for the home team, who were unable to capitalise on two separate bookings imposed on Cornerstone. NCC had another attack seen off by the keeper, before disaster struck again.


NCC defending a corner.  Martin Eccles jumps up, behind No. 29, Man of the Match, Simon Trew

Within minutes of the penalty-miss Cornerstone had an attack which left the hosts standing. A cross found an unmarked player, in acres of space, who whacked the ball past the keeper, and put the game out of reach of the NCC. In the last twenty minutes the visiting side created a series of chances, and won a brace of corners and free kicks. They were denied by a combination of good goal-keeping, shots off target and an alert home defence, which saw, for example, Simon Trew win the ball in front of a quick forward. NCC created a few chances but these were saved or sent wide. In the end the better organised side won the game, but it is to be hoped that their opposition gained from the experience.


Andrew Murton heads the ball away from the mass of Cornerstone players

A saddened Michael Wyatt reporting from a sunny Stade de Prestbury


Game 11 : Plate Match : 3 December 2011 :
St Andrews  1 - 2  North Cheltenham Churches

Saturday arrived with beautiful warm sunshine, despite a chilly wind. St Andrews kicked off this plate match, at Plock Court, the spacious location of their new home ground. Despite fielding a scratch team the NCC players produced a commendable performance throughout the game, with an unexpected result to endorse their determination, and to maintain the magic of one-off fixtures.


Ryan Adams makes a save from St Andrews

Following the home side’s initial run it was NCC who had the first period of dominance, when they spent several minutes deep inside their opponent’s territory. Here they gained a free kick, from just outside the box. Unfortunately the curling effort, taken by Jon Craxford, dipped the wrong side of the bar. Then St Andrews applied a period of pressure as they came up the wings. Defender, and man of the match Martin Cookson, put the ball behind for a corner; Jon Craxford also tidied up and Ryan Adams caught the ball from a straight drive. Some penetrating NCC runs saw the home keeper kept busy as he gathered one ball from just outside the post and pushed away another, following a diving save. Then St Andrews made their most threatening foray of the half. Well inside NCC territory they crossed the ball repeatedly, before the shot was well held by Ryan Adams. With the first quarter gone the visitors were playing very well, and having a slight edge following their greater fortitude in attack and better resolve in defence.


NCC on the attack

NCC continued to worry their opponents, which saw several attempts go wide and James Stevens being denied in front of goal. After a brief run from the hosts the visitors were up again, creating further pressure on St Andrews. Both Emiliano Cipriani and Tom Burgess had half-chances before NCC saw off another persistent attack. As the end of the half neared it was NCC again making the running. This resulted in a goal mouth melee with near misses from both James Stevens and Tom Burgess. As the half ended, goal-less, with NCC well in charge, there was still everything to play for after the resumption.


At the start of the second half NCC begin an attack from deep inside their own half

The second half got off to a dream-start. Having taken centre NCC found they were defending from well inside their own half. They conceded a free-kick which Ryan Adams coolly pouched, before returning the ball back up the field of play. Here NCC, through Tom Burgess, dribbled the ball up the left wing. Approaching the 18 yard box he passed to his right, where Andy Macauly continued this run. Outsmarting one defender Andy continued goalwards. As he approached the right-hand post he sent over a diagonal shot. This sped towards the far post, as five defenders rushed back. Chaos seemed to reign as the goalie dived, and missed the ball, but an alert James Stevens did not. His final tap was more than enough to guide the ball into the net, for the Reds to be in front after just five minutes of the half.


A diagonal cross from Andy Macauly is missed by the goalie and alert James Stevens taps it in :  0 - 1

For much of the next quarter of an hour NCC took the attack to the opposition, where the opposing keeper made a series of fine saves. Initially he ran out to grab the ball, later he grasped another save to his chest as he lay on the ground, with a defender shielding the ball from the encroaches of Andy Macauly. In another moment he caught a drive and later booted the approaching ball back down the field. Amongst all of this excitement James Stevens saw his chip cannon off the crossbar, and Andrew Murton sent a shot straight into the arms of the keeper; it was all exciting stuff. Ryan Adams had his patch invaded twice during this period of intense activity at the other end, albeit briefly; at least he was made to work to prevent St Andrews achieving any success.

Time was passing too quickly for the hosts, and their attacks increased in both frequency and determination. They won two successive free kicks, but the visitors were defending well, matching the opposition man for man. The nearest St Andrews came to a strike saw an attempt almost graze the bar as it sped over an unguarded part of the goal. Another chance came from the second of successive corners, which saw the ball go by the far post, with the forward unable to get a touch. For much of the next fifteen minutes it was St Andrews in charge, although NCC had two shots well saved by the home keeper.


The St Andrews keeper grabs the ball from an NCC corner

With some ten minutes to go NCC mounted a series of threatening attacks. Following a corner a shot sailed over the bar, and another attack saw Andrew Murton shoot wide. Then a combination of a poor goal kick, and an alert Andrew Murton, saw him intercept the punt and volley it back past the keeper; NCC were two up with ten minutes remaining!

It was difficult to see how the home side could increase their pressure, but they did. Within a minute they sent a well struck final ball past a static Ryan Adams, and enter the bottom corner of the net. What an intense closing period awaited both teams in this cup game. From the restart NCC went on the attack, bringing out two great parries from the home keeper; the second saw him jump to concede a corner as he pushed the ball behind. The final minutes saw the home side come down both wings, as they bombarded the NCC defence, but the gallant defenders saw them off. Following a final Red attack the match ended, with NCC winning a game in which they were dominant for long periods; well done to the whole team!

A rapturously cheerful Michael Wyatt reporting from a hectic Plock Court.


Game 10 : League Match :  26 November 2011:
Cheltenham Trinity  4 - 1  North Cheltenham Churches 

On a cold and incredibly dull day NCC kicked off, with the advantage of an extremely strong and gusty wind. During this opening phase play flowed up and down the pitch, and Ryan Adams was soon in action as he made the initial save, a tame volley which was pouched with apparent ease. Cheltenham Trinity had their moments; one saw them gain two corners in quick succession, and another brought a good diving save from the visiting keeper. Although NCC became the dominant side they failed to capitalise upon this early momentum, which would have a great bearing upon the result. They spent the majority of this period in their opponent’s half, especially in their left hand corner. From this base Jon Craxford sent a shot over the bar, other shots went by the goal post, one missing it by the width of the ball, or they were saved by Jay Jackson, as he honed his goal-keeping skills. After twenty minutes NCC again came up their left wing, and sent over a cross. This was caught by the keeper as Karl Hemming ran in, unmarked. A few minutes later déjà vu, a delicate chip was flighted goalwards by Jon Craxford. Passing over the head of the keeper, and missed by the solitary defender, it was left to the alert Karl Hemming to side-foot the ball. With immense delight he watched the futile efforts of a valiant defender, who, like the ball, ended up in the net. Well done to Karl, who scored his first-ever goal for the team!


NCC playing in green hoops, with autumn colours lingering on a windy day

NCC continued to apply their relentless pressure; even having ten players in their opponents’ half. Andy Murton saw his diagonal shot rebound off the post, and bounce back into play. By now Trinity had tightened up their game, and made several threatening runs down their left wing; one, following a good cross, was only denied by some intrepid defending by man of the match Jon Craxford. The hosts missed two great chances where many would consider it harder not to score. The Cheltenham Trinity keeper made a great diving save to grab the ball inches from the line after his defender had missed the cross. Later he sprawled to his right to push the ball away from a Martin Eccles header. As the period ended NCC would rue their missed opportunities and the spurning of the help from the strong wind in a half which they dominated.


NCC are defending, with the union flag flying high behind

From the restart play began at a furious pace, with alternate forays at each end. NCC created a brace of opportunities, through Martin Cookson and Andy Murton, but both were denied by expert keeping and good defensive work. At the other end Trinity saw their chances go wide. Then they gained a corner, which was sent to the back of the box. Not cleared it fell kindly to the Trinity number five, who fired a speculative long-range volley, which hit the back of the net. All square within five minutes of the restart, game on! For most of the next ten minutes it was Trinity who made the running. NCC had a moment of dominance when Martin Cookson led an attack, and gained a corner. A high ball was delivered, which was sent up field, where the hosts now spent much time in their top-right hand corner. As the ball crossed the goal-area another low volley was struck, and again the ball sped into the back of the NCC net; two hammer blows well taken by Cheltenham Trinity, who appeared to have done their half-time homework.


NCC are attacking, with Andy Murton in control watched eagerly by Emlyn John

Now we had an end to end game, in spite of the conditions. Trinity had a series of outings, which caused little trouble; more threatening were those from their visitors. Following a corner Peter Vaughan-Shaw had a great chance with a header, and Simon Trew had his shot blocked, before the ball was sent behind for an unsuccessful corner. The home side continued to create chances, which saw the ball speed past an empty goal, and from another shot it rebounded off a post. After more concentrated NCC pressure, which saw them gain a corner, it was Trinity who scored next.

 
The linesman has his flag up before the ball enters the net, so NCC failed to gain a goal!

Following an attack, which saw Ryan Adams dive to parry the shot, the ball ballooned up, before ending in the net. From the restart NCC gained a corner, only to see their hopes of a goal dashed as the linesman had his red flag up. As the sun came out it shone on a dominating Cheltenham Trinity; while they denied NCC at every opportunity they grew in stature, as, first, they hit the crossbar, and then piled the cream on their cake with another well-struck goal deep into time added on. It was a humbling experience for the NCC, and a flattering score line for their hosts, but credit to Trinity for seizing their chances and adapting better to the difficult conditions.


Ryan Adams saves deep into time-added on

A harrowed Michael Wyatt reporting from Newlands Park.


Game 09 : League Match :  12 November 2011:
North Cheltenham Churches  0 - 1   Cambray

On an overcast but spring-like day Cambray, the visitors, started this game with several attacks, all down their right wing. One of these movements resulted in a corner, which was headed wide. Then Cambray, the reigning league champions, had two free kicks; one caused Ryan Adams to pull off a save from off the nose of an attacking forward. In between Mark Broekman found himself in a good position from his solo effort, and later Ian Jones lifted his shot over the advancing keeper but it continued over the bar. Then, after twelve minutes, the visitors had the ball in the net, but the effort was ruled out for offside.


NCC ably defend their goal

Cambray continued to create attacks but were constantly denied by a dogged home defence. When they broke through this defence Ryan Adams came out to deny them success. The champions gained a corner on their right; a low ball was sent over but the shot rebounded off the post with a resounding thwack, the first of the four times that the visitors hit the woodwork! At the other end Ian Jones was prevented from finishing his cross, with Mark Broekman waiting in plenty of space. Two further forays in quick succession were also denied before the hosts were again on the rampage. The game was quite evenly matched despite the visitors more threatening attacks.


Team captain Martin Eccles taking the attack to Cambray

Then, approaching the twenty sixth minute, the visitors had two successive corners, both from the left. A high ball was missed by all, except Nathan Kiyaga, who nodded it past the outstretched arms of the keeper, to score the only goal of the match, enabling Cambray to maintain their undefeated start to the season. Cambray used both wings to great advantage, but were unable to apply the finishing touches. Most play occurred in mid-field, and the game of attrition was punctuated by goal-runs at each end. One saw Ryan Adams grab the ball as he lay sprawled on the grass; the hosts were the busier team in defence, but survived further catastrophe as half-time came.


In the second half Ryan Adams deflects the ball up to safety

The second half saw a more determined effort from NCC, and the game developed into one full of excitement, especially as a single goal was the difference in the score. Martin Eccles was denied when his individual effort was closed down by seven players as he attempted a diving header. When the Blues continued their attack the ball was well saved by man of the match Ryan Adams. Soon after he pushed the ball out of the goal-area and almost immediately made a wonderful save as he knocked the ball up, and over, the crossbar. Cambray were awarded a few kick from the edge of the box, but this was driven high, wide and erroneously off target.


NCC are on the attack, the ball is being chested (!) by Rob Green

Another attack led Cambray to win a corner, which saw the ball bounce off the top of the bar. With their two-man attack, sometimes three, NCC made things difficult as this shortage of manpower enabled Cambray to stem the flow with relative ease. It was asking rather a lot against a team of this quality! On their outings Cambray had a minimum of four up front, and posed problems for the mass of Reds, at times nine men in defence. On the hour Peter Vaughan-Shaw led a promising charge, but was forced to veer away from the target and the opportunity was gone. Shortly after this James Stevens missed what must have been NCC’s best chance. The team was showing a tremendous fighting spirit, and could be deemed to be unfortunate not to score. However, Cambray would respond with their many missed opportunities; more were to come in the last quarter.


Jon Craxford wins a tussle with a Cambray player,
watched by James Stevens (behind), Martin Eccles and Ian Jones

As the final five minutes came Cambray increased their pressure, forcing more outstanding saves from Ryan Adams, and again hitting the woodwork. With a couple of minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty, but this was sent wide of the left post, summing up the game for Cambray, but not to take anything away from NCC’s battling performance in the match.

A pained Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 09 : League Match :  12 November 2011:
North Cheltenham Churches  0 - 1   Cambray

On an overcast but spring-like day Cambray, the visitors, started this game with several attacks, all down their right wing. One of these movements resulted in a corner, which was headed wide. Then Cambray, the reigning league champions, had two free kicks; one caused Ryan Adams to pull off a save from off the nose of an attacking forward. In between Mark Broekman found himself in a good position from his solo effort, and later Ian Jones lifted his shot over the advancing keeper but it continued over the bar. Then, after twelve minutes, the visitors had the ball in the net, but the effort was ruled out for offside.


NCC ably defend their goal

Cambray continued to create attacks but were constantly denied by a dogged home defence. When they broke through this defence Ryan Adams came out to deny them success. The champions gained a corner on their right; a low ball was sent over but the shot rebounded off the post with a resounding thwack, the first of the four times that the visitors hit the woodwork! At the other end Ian Jones was prevented from finishing his cross, with Mark Broekman waiting in plenty of space. Two further forays in quick succession were also denied before the hosts were again on the rampage. The game was quite evenly matched despite the visitors more threatening attacks.


Team captain Martin Eccles taking the attack to Cambray

Then, approaching the twenty sixth minute, the visitors had two successive corners, both from the left. A high ball was missed by all, except Nathan Kiyaga, who nodded it past the outstretched arms of the keeper, to score the only goal of the match, enabling Cambray to maintain their undefeated start to the season. Cambray used both wings to great advantage, but were unable to apply the finishing touches. Most play occurred in mid-field, and the game of attrition was punctuated by goal-runs at each end. One saw Ryan Adams grab the ball as he lay sprawled on the grass; the hosts were the busier team in defence, but survived further catastrophe as half-time came.


In the second half Ryan Adams deflects the ball up to safety

The second half saw a more determined effort from NCC, and the game developed into one full of excitement, especially as a single goal was the difference in the score. Martin Eccles was denied when his individual effort was closed down by seven players as he attempted a diving header. When the Blues continued their attack the ball was well saved by man of the match Ryan Adams. Soon after he pushed the ball out of the goal-area and almost immediately made a wonderful save as he knocked the ball up, and over, the crossbar. Cambray were awarded a few kick from the edge of the box, but this was driven high, wide and erroneously off target.


NCC are on the attack, the ball is being chested (!) by Rob Green

Another attack led Cambray to win a corner, which saw the ball bounce off the top of the bar. With their two-man attack, sometimes three, NCC made things difficult as this shortage of manpower enabled Cambray to stem the flow with relative ease. It was asking rather a lot against a team of this quality! On their outings Cambray had a minimum of four up front, and posed problems for the mass of Reds, at times nine men in defence. On the hour Peter Vaughan-Shaw led a promising charge, but was forced to veer away from the target and the opportunity was gone. Shortly after this James Stevens missed what must have been NCC’s best chance. The team was showing a tremendous fighting spirit, and could be deemed to be unfortunate not to score. However, Cambray would respond with their many missed opportunities; more were to come in the last quarter.


Jon Craxford wins a tussle with a Cambray player,
watched by James Stevens (behind), Martin Eccles and Ian Jones

As the final five minutes came Cambray increased their pressure, forcing more outstanding saves from Ryan Adams, and again hitting the woodwork. With a couple of minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty, but this was sent wide of the left post, summing up the game for Cambray, but not to take anything away from NCC’s battling performance in the match.

A pained Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 07 : League Match : 29 October 2011 :
North Cheltenham Churches  1 - 6  Trinity & Quedgeley


Both teams settle down

On a windy but sunny day NCC kicked off this match, and the opening ten minutes were played at a fast pace. Initially the hosts enjoyed more possession but then the visitors announced their presence. On ten minutes they came up their right wing, and gained a throw-on. The ball was flicked on by an attacking player, and sped towards the edge of the six-yard box, where a volley pierced a packed goal area, to open the scoring. Almost immediately T&Q came up their left wing, outstripping the defence and sent in another shot, but Ryan Adams was able to save this, by his near post. Then NCC came down their right wing and delivered a cross towards the consistent Ian Jones. Unfortunately his jump did not coincide with that of the ball, and the shot was sent wide.


NCC defend a corner kick

In the next fifteen minutes play flowed the length of the pitch, with attacking positions at each end. NCC was devoid of players up front, and another Ian Jones effort, which saw him beat a trio of defenders, came to naught. The visitors attacked in greater numbers but some determined defending, notably from Adam Cox, kept them out. Then, after twenty-four minutes, a good pass from Ian Jones found Guy Speedie. His run, outstripping three defenders, saw him arrive in front of the goal. Despite the efforts of the last man, and the keeper, he was able to prod the ball into the net; all square; game on! For the next ten minutes most of the play centred on the middle of the field, although there were attacks at both ends. Those from T&Q posed the greater threat, especially two successive corners which NCC eventually cleared with their nine man defence unit.


NCC defend another corner kick five minutes later

Then, in the closing ten minutes of this opening half, it began to go wrong. First a home defender passed the ball back to his keeper, but somehow it continued to roll, beneath the foot of Ryan Adams, before ending in the back of the net; a gift to T&Q. This goal seemed to lift the visitors who nearly scored from a shot which Ryan Adams held well above his head, and another which sped across the goalmouth. NCC’s goal was under siege, but Ryan made two more saves and the ball was cleared more than once by man of the match Adam Hitchman. In the final minute of the half Trinity and Quedgeley created several further chances, one saw the ball clear the bar for a corner. Although this was cleared a T&Q forward, on the left, was able to drive a fierce shot into the net. Following an NCC attack, which was cleared, the leaders gained another corner, which was sent behind, to bring the half to a close.

In the second half the hosts held their own against the opposition, until the final five minutes of the game. T&Q made the initial forays of the new half, but soon it was the turn of their hosts, beginning with an Emlyn John free kick, and continuing with a save by the T&Q keeper, which saw him end up on the ground and the ball graze the bar. Then the keeper made a fantastic reflex save from an Ian Jones volley, almost at point-blank range, a real top-drawer effort. This could be considered the turning point in the game, as the NCC was mounting a series of dangerous runs. In the next fifteen minutes both teams made half a dozen attacks. The Reds had a good chance to score from another Emlyn John free kick, which the keeper saved with his feet, before his defence tidied up, and then he saw a shot cross his bar. NCC held their own with ease when the visitors won three successive corners.


An NCC shot narrowly goes over the bar

The game appeared to be slowing, and perhaps many were waiting for the end of the match; then came those final five disastrous minutes, which saw the visitors grab three quick goals, to endorse their better play throughout the game and bury NCC’s moments of glory. The first goal saw a lone forward run through the home defence before tapping the ball into the corner. Following three further attacks T&Q came down their right wing, and, as the end of normal time approached, a cross found two players, totally unmarked, waiting by the far post. One was able to score with complete ease, despite any suggestion of off-side. Then, into time added-on, this move was repeated, and another high cross came over. Although NCC now had two defenders they were unable to prevent another goal from being headed home, to rub salt into the team’s wounds.


In the 65th minute NCC are kept busy defending

A distraught Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 06 : League Match : 22 October 2011 :
North Cheltenham Churches  5 - 0  C3 Dons

On a sunny but cold autumnal day NCC played C3 Dons, another team in their first league season. In the opening minutes the new boys played well and created several threatening movements but the NCC defence denied them. In these attacks one shot went high over the goal line, and, from another, Ryan Adams pushed the ball behind for corner, which was easily cleared. Then, in the tenth minute, NCC came up their left wing, where the ball eventually fell to Emlyn John. His long range shot saw the ball travel across the pitch, and enter the far side of the net. This goal, against the current wooden-spoonists, gave NCC the cushion against any possible upset, and they began to play with increased confidence, and created further chances. From one of these a shot, made by man of the match Peter Vaughan-Shaw, cannoned off the woodwork, but the rebound was hit wide. The opposition’s lack of experience was visible when their free kick was hit straight at the goal keeper, something Emlyn John was to repeat with his later free kick.


NCC have a corner

In the next fifteen minutes NCC created many chances to increase their lead but the visiting goalkeeper made several good saves, and denied the efforts of both Ian Jones and James Stevens. Frequently these attacks were punctuated by the visitors speeding down the field of play. Although their forays appeared threatening they lacked the punch often exhibited in a youthful side. At the other end the tall and athletic keeper kept the Dons in the game with a series of saves, including a spectacular one where he jumped to push a shot from Ian Jones over the bar. As the final minutes of the half approached NCC created several powerful runs, from Jon Craxford and notably James Stevens, whose shot sped across the goal mouth and narrowly missed the far post. This pressure finally paid off when a good ball found Ian Jones, waiting inside the box. As the defence had come out too far he took the great opportunity to send the ball past the advancing keeper, to double his team’s lead. As the half was about to end Ian Jones, surrounded by four defenders, was able to pass the ball to his left, towards Alex Petitcolin. With a well-executed movement his left boot dispatched the ball goal-wards, and he saw it squeeze between the keeper and his right-hand post.


The Dons keeper makes a save with apparent ease!!

At the start of the second half each side had a series of attacks, as play alternated up and down the field. The Dons were living dangerously as their hosts created three or four quick runs on their goal. Approaching the hour mark Karl Hemming, just on as a substitute, sent the ball to Peter Vaughan-Shaw, waiting on the right wing. His high ball passed above the outstretched arm of the keeper as he jumped, before descending to the ground. There the ball bounced vertically, right in front of Ian Jones, who had the simplest of tasks to nod it into the empty net. Following further NCC pressure we now saw the best action from the Dons. Undaunted, they took the fight to the other end, and made several chances. Perhaps their closest opportunity came from a corner, where Ryan Adams, who had the ball well-covered, saved at his near-post despite the threat of three attacking players.


Another solo effort from Ian Jones, 1 against 5 + keeper is impossible odds!


C3 Dons have been awarded a free kick but the ball is about to go over

Although NCC was never in overdrive they relaxed more and more, and were content to coast towards the finishing line. The visitors had a near miss when a shot sped past the post, and they wasted a twice-taken free kick, from the edge of the box. With two minutes remaining NCC came down the left wing, and a melee occurred in front of the goal. Here the ball bounced around, as initially it was missed by all, including the keeper who could only parry it. Then, as it came back to the left, Jon Craxford was there, to stroke the ball between the players, and score his first-ever goal for the team. The match ended with the Dons having successive corners, where, in their determination, all players were up, including their keeper. Although it was not a polished NCC performance the result was a good morale-boosting win, and ended a dismal run of narrow defeats.


In the final kicks of the match the Dons take the first of two consecutive corners

A lyrical Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 05 : League Match : 15 October 2011 :
Cornerstone  5 - 1  North Cheltenham Churches

On a sunny autumnal morning NCC kicked off this match at Evesham, sporting their original green and white strip, and facing the low angle of the bright sun. Play rotated up and down the field in the opening minutes of the match, with most of the action taking place on the far side to me. Each team was awarded a free kick; that from the NCC was taken by Andrew Murton, but Ian Jones was unable to tap in the ball as it was fumbled by the Cornerstone keeper. Almost immediately the hosts were awarded a free kick on their left wing. The ball was floated towards the far post, where an unmarked player was able to stab it home; after just eight minutes the visitors were behind. Cornerstone increased their pressure with a series of penetrating runs, mainly up their right wing. Initially the NCC defence, although severely tested, was able to hold their line. NCC managed some attacks, but these lacked numbers, and thus were closed down quickly, although James Stevens had one close movement before he was denied. On twenty-four minutes, and following a couple of NCC attacks, Cornerstone mounted another determined run, up their left wing. A low shot, bobbling off the hard ground, deceived Tim Rudge, and sped by, goalwards.


NCC have a free kick, but Ian Jones is unable to tap the ball home

 
NCC defend a corner in the 13 minute

The rampant forwards of Cornerstone continued to run rings around the stretched NCC defence, where man of the match Martin Cookson was exemplary in his determination and success in keeping the opposition at bay. The hosts won a series of corners, and continued to advance up on both fronts, and in numbers. Just after the half-hour mark they came up their right wing. Unable to pass the NCC defence the ball was lobbed, and sped over the head of the advancing keeper, and into the net. Shortly after this goal NCC gained a corner. This was cleared by the daring keeper, as he punched the ball off the head of Guy Speedie, rising in an attempt to head home. Then Guy Speedie had a promising solo run before he was closed down by the well-positioned home defence. Just before half time a lone attacker came up the left wing, and, despite the best efforts of Martin Cookson, the only NCC player around, was able to shoot the ball past Tim Rudge, as help arrived too late. In the closing stages the visitors had a promising attack, down the right wing, before it was cleared.


Cornerstone keeper clears the ball, punching it from above the head of Guy Speedie

Although Cornerstone kicked-off the second half it was NCC, looking a different side, who made the running, especially during the third quarter which they totally dominated. The mid-field players showed their presence up front, and tested the home defence on several occasions. As the hour mark approached James Stevens, on the right wing, sent over a high cross. This was met by Ian Jones, who manoeuvred like a magician. In one decisive movement, which probably would score nil points in the Olympics, he leapt up beyond a home defender, and got his head to the ball. The Cornerstone keeper, sandwiched between his two defenders, could only watch in utter amazement as the ball sailed serenely over their heads, and continued into the back of the net, to score his first goal of the season. Soon after this Ian Jones led another attack up the left wing. His pass found James Stevens, waiting across the goal from the keeper, but his snatched header went over the bar. NCC kept up their attacks, and a snap-shot from Adam Cox was fired over. Although Cornerstone created a few attacks they were denied by a more efficient NCC defence, which seemed to have both time and numbers, and by Tim Rudge, who made two good saves, including one at his near post, which was pushed behind for a corner.


With amazing skill Ian Jones jumps and guides the ball home ...


... but is unable to repeat this amazing performance here!

As the final quarter began the hosts had a shot which rose tantalisingly over the bar. They came back into the game a little more, not enough to control it but enough to ensure parity. To some extent NCC encouraged this as their attacks became solo efforts. Andrew Murton made a sprawling slide to save one Cornerstone attack, and at the other end Ian Jones also ended up on the turf after his effort was denied by the keeper. Ian, now finding his rhythm, was showing the team how much he has been missed this season. With seven minutes remaining Cornerstone brought the ball down their left wing, for once out-stripping the NCC defence. Despite the efforts of Tim Rudge, and Andy Murton, who both found themselves on the ground, the ball rolled into the net, to conclude the scoring. Thereafter play continued apace, with each side alternately making and defending attacks. During these final frenetic minutes NCC gained two corners. They could be pleased with their second half showing, but suffered defeat following a below-par performance in the first quarter.

A mournful Michael Wyatt reporting from Evesham High School.


Game 04 : League Match : 8 October 2011 :
Trinity & Quedgeley  4 - 3  North Cheltenham Churches

On an overcast day, with the sun tantalisingly threatening to break through, NCC kicked of this fixture, in their changed-kit of green and white hoops. The initial quarter of the match was woeful, and would eventually cost NCC the game. The hosts attacked forthwith, creating a series of early chances, and winning a corner, before the ball eventually ended up in the side netting. Then T&Q gained another corner; although this was partially cleared their early pressure paid off when an attacker gently rolled the ball past Ryan Adams, alone in his six-yard box. Thus, after five minutes, NCC was behind, and had yet to trouble the opposition defence. During the following ten minutes the team managed to create some attacks, notably through the efforts of Guy Speedie and Alex Petitcolin. In this period they won a corner, which Ian Jones just failed to head home. After a threat at the other end this trio created another great opportunity which saw the ball fly across an open goal. After seventeen minutes a good pass found a T&Q player who only had to guide the ball past Ryan Adams, to double his side’s lead. Within a minute Trinity and Quedgeley had an apparent goal ruled out, for offside. NCC gained a free kick, which was met by Ian Jones, who fired the ball over the bar. Then, on 23 minutes, the home side had a free kick, which was headed against the crossbar, before the ball was put out for a corner. From this the ball was crossed, before it was returned to go behind for another corner. This time a high ball descended into the goal area, packed with thirteen players, and somehow ended up in the net.


Man of the match, Alex Petitcolin, in action as NCC begin to build an attack whilst trailing 1-0 after 5 minutes

For the remainder of this half NCC came into the game more, in fact they had the greater share of play. It was noticeable that a few more of their players became involved in attacking movements. From one such movement an Ian Jones shot hit the post, and another action saw the ball pass wide of the goal. The NCC defence had tightened up, and ably dealt with yet another high corner. With ten minutes to go Karl Hemming, on the right wing, sent a perfect ball past two opposition players. It was controlled by Ian Jones, who slipped it left, past another brace of players, towards Alex Petitcolin. Easing by these T&Q players he guided the ball sweetly beyond the desperate dive of the home keeper, for the visitors to pull back a deserved goal. In the remaining minutes NCC created several promising attacks, compared with only a couple from T&Q; although these were potentially more dangerous they were successfully dealt with by the NCC defence.


Alex Petitcolin guides the ball sweetly beyond the desperate dive of the home keeper : 3-1

As the second half began it was NCC who made the initial running. T&Q had a free kick and then a high corner. Although the ball reached an opposition forward, just beyond the far post, he was quickly closed down by three defenders before he could control it. An Emlyn John special was put behind, for the first of two successive corners. The Hoops played some good football with these corners, and were unlucky not to have benefitted. Over-enthusiastic play, mainly from the hosts, resulted in a further pep-talk from the referee. The visitors thought they had a goal but it was ruled out for offside, and then the home side hit a post as the ball went out for a goal kick, exciting action. NCC lived dangerously as T&Q made several testing runs up their left wing, the ball being fed frequently to Nathan Stephens, their speedy number seven. On 72 minutes he succeeded in sending a tremendous volley diagonally across the goal, passing inches from the outstretched hand of Ryan Adams, only for this to be prodded home by a forward running in.


All action at 54 minutes for the second of two successive corners for NCC

With fifteen minutes left NCC scored two goals in two minutes. The first saw man of the match Alex Petitcolin bring the ball down the left wing and send a well-taken bouncing shot past the advancing keeper. Then Guy Speedie threaded the ball through both the home defence and the keeper, to watch it enter the net, thus setting up an exciting finish.


Alex Petitcolin, running down the left wing, is about to shoot and score our, and his, second goal of the game

The visitors, geed up by their success, were rampant.  Ian Jones had a near miss on the left wing,  Emlyn John had a shot saved as it sped to the far post and further attempts were denied. At the other end T&Q missed a sitter, before the ball was bravely gathered by Ryan Adams, who made another brilliant save with his left boot shortly after. All to no avail, as NCC was destroyed by the opening twenty minutes, and came out on the wrong side of what became a seven-goal thriller.


A potential opportunity goes wide as NCC strive hard for that elusive equalising goal

A mournful Michael Wyatt reporting from Sandalwood Drive, Gloucester.


Game 03 : League Match : 1 October 2011 :
North Cheltenham Churches  2 - 3  St Matthews

On a sweltering morning, with unseasonal temperatures for the time of year, NCC kicked of this local derby. In the opening minutes both sides probed their opponents’ defence as early forays were created. NCC was the more threatening, and James Stevens made a couple of promising attacks, ably supported by Martin Cookson and Alex Petitcolin. St Matthews managed two shots, both going wide of the target. Then, after six minutes, the visitors were awarded a free kick, just outside of the penalty area. The well-struck kick saw the ball rise over the NCC wall, and carry on into the corner of the net, giving Tim Rudge no chance.

NCC continued to put pressure on their opponents, and Chris Rudge posed a constant threat on the left wing; one of his fine efforts was well saved by Tim Aldred. The Saints created several promising attacks but they were constantly denied by good defending, ably led by man of the match Andrew Murton. After twenty minutes NCC increased their pressure, and gained three free kicks. However, individual efforts from Martin Cookson and James Stevens all came to nothing. Now the hosts had successive corners, where Chris Rudge directed a powerful header goalwards, but straight into the arms of the keeper. Almost immediately St Matthews broke quickly up their left wing, and, outstripping the defence, fired a long low ball past the diving Tim Rudge, to give the visitors another goal, an increased advantage in that heat.


Chris Rudge directed a powerful header goalwards, but straight into the arms of the keeper

Having successfully dealt with more attacks from the Saints the NCC moved up a gear, and began to create a series of threatening forays, in what seemed to be one-way traffic. Several chances were created, initially from both James Stevens and Alex Petitcolin, but the opposition keeper was up to the task. With eight minutes of the half remaining Alex Petitcolin came down the right wing, and crossed a superb ball which found Chris Rudge. With a calm composure he volleyed the ball into the net, for a deserved NCC goal. The Blues now defended in depth, and conceded two successive free kicks. The second, beautifully flighted by Emlyn John, thudded against the cross bar, only to rebound downwards, where Chris Rudge headed over. In the final minute of the half, following a goalmouth mêlée, James Stevens forced the ball between the keeper and the post, for the NCC to equalise. This was no more than they deserved, and so it set up an exciting second half; a debilitating one, considering the extreme temperature.


James Stevens forced the ball between the keeper and the post, for the NCC to equalise.

In the opening minutes of this new half it was clear that St Matthews were looking more likely to score. Their defence was able to clear the NCC attacks with improved decisiveness, and gradually the hosts were being forced onto the back foot, as St Matthews controlled the midfield. Just beyond the hour mark St Matts cleared a free kick, and then a long ball was sent down field for an attacker to nip past two defenders and score the only goal of this half.


Tim Rudge clears defiantly

With two minutes remaining NCC was awarded a free kick. It was a well directed strike, taken by Emlyn John from the edge of the goal-area, almost from the same spot from which the opening goal was scored. Tim Aldred made the best save of the match, as he jumped and arched his back to tip the ball upwards. It missed the bar by a coat of paint, and went over for a corner. From this corner St Matthews broke quickly but the ball was sent wide. Showing increased commitment NCC created two more attacks which gained them corners. Great excitement was had when the second was taken because the hosts had all of their players up for this set piece. As the ball was headed wide so ended the game.


Tim Aldred made the best save of the match, as he jumped and arched his back to tip the ball upwards

This victory not only enabled St Matthews to regain the Grant Bayliss Cup, lost in March 2010, but it saw them top the league table. Full credit must be given to the NCC for their total commitment throughout the match. It could be argued that the lack of sufficient fresh substitutes made the difference, as did playing up the slope, but St Matthews were better organised throughout the second half. Their ability to pack their defence increased the difficulty for NCC to penetrate. Tim Rudge, ever-alert to the situation, made a series of saves throughout the half, one from the feet of an attacker, and another from a corner; this always kept the hosts within striking distance of a point.

A sombre Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


Game 02 : League Match : 17 September 2011 :
North Cheltenham Churches  3 - 1  Cirencester

On a cloudy day NCC, in their first home game of the season, were host to Cirencester. In the opening minutes each side made early forays as the teams settled on the hard ground. Cirencester created the more threatening attacks, and Ryan Adams had to make several saves, including one where he jumped to grab a teasing descending ball, and another, where the ball rebounded off his body, to be tidied up by Andy Murton. Although NCC did visit the other end it was the visitors who dominated, and several more shots sped wide of the home goal. Then, on the quarter of an hour, NCC conceded a free kick, just past the edge of the goal-area, and away to their left. The ball was directed towards the opposite post, where an unfortunate home player headed it into his own net, to gift the visitors the lead.


Andy Murton tussles for the ball, watched by,
from L to R: Chris Dagnall, Lee Bradley (at back) Chris Rudge (in front) and Andy Macauly

Cirencester threatened again and their forwards outnumbered the NCC defence, but the ball was sent wide. Aided by the breeze the visitors spent long periods in possession of both ball and their opponents’ half of the field. On several occasions a lone forward was clear, only to shoot wide. During this middle phase of play NCC started to string together a few more attacks, but the two-man force was contained, or their attempts were saved by the keeper or fired wide of goal.


Jon Craxford heads the ball out, following a Cirencester attack

In the final fifteen minutes of this half the home side created several more penetrating runs, through Chris Rudge and Mark Broekman, ably backed up by Guy Speedie and Chris Dagnall. In one sweet movement Chris Rudge, attacking down the left wing, found Karl Hemming who passed to Andy Macauly, only for his shot to be sent wide. Cirencester made one dangerous run up their left, only to see the ball roll well wide of an open goal; a couple of other forays were seen off by Andy Murton, once after a desperate chase back. As the half drew to a close the contest became more even, and NCC was beginning to show signs of hope and encouragement; and they would have the advantage of the breeze in the second half.

Man of the match Martin Eccles came on at half time, for his first outing of the new season. His presence in the middle enabled NCC to start the second half in a belligerent mood. They created at least five good chances in the opening five minutes, notably from Guy Speedie, Mark Broekman and Martin himself, whose shot went behind from off the top of the crossbar; shortly after this Mark saw his effort thud into the crossbar. Cirencester created few attacks, but one saw Ryan Adams push the ball behind for corner, as he kneeled on the turf. This heralded a period of play when each side sped up and down the pitch in their unrewarded endeavours to score. Then NCC pressed really hard, and had a series of chances saved, or sent wide; it seemed as if this would be one of those games when the ball would not go into the net for the team.


Martin Eccles watches as his shot sped past three defenders, and ends up in the back of the net

However, in the final fifteen minutes everything came right for the hosts, and their continued pressure finally paid off, but initially in a bizarre fashion. NCC was given an indirect free kick after the visiting keeper had held the ball too long. This free kick, taken from just inside the penalty area, bobbled about before it came to Martin Eccles. He was able to rocket the ball past a trio of defenders, and as Martin fell he saw it bulge the net. Four minutes later NCC took the lead when a good ball found Alex Petitcolin. He sent a low but well-taken volley past the keeper, who should have had it covered as he was standing by his near post. It was very much one-way traffic as NCC was becoming rampant. Mark Broekman had a good header parried by an alert keeper; soon after another attack found Guy Speedie. His effort took a wicked deflection off a defender, completely wrong-footing the unfortunate keeper, who dived too late to prevent the strike from entering the net. There was still time for excitement at each end, and Andy Murton hit the bar; the third time NCC had achieved this in this half. As the final whistle went the home side were relieved that they had won the match which seemed to be drifting away for much of the game.


Mark Broekman out-jumps everybody as he heads towards the goal

A pleased Michael Wyatt reporting from the Stade de Prestbury


After the final whistle each side shows its appreciation


Game 01 : League Match : 10 September 2011 :
St Andrews  6 - 2  North Cheltenham Churches

On an overcast day, which threatened both sunshine and showers, helped by a keen breeze, NCC played their opening match of the new season against St Andrews, a new team to the league, and at the new venue of Chosen Hill School. Although both sides had early attacks in the first fifteen minutes of the match the home side showed greater confidence with a series of skilful runs. These brought off a succession of saves from Ryan Adams, or else saw shots go wide of the goal. Mark Broekman and Ian Jones made a couple of penetrating attacks, and gained a corner. From this the home keeper made a great save as he blocked a downward header, to deny Ian at the near post. On ten minutes a lone St Andrews forward galloped past the slow NCC defence, but Ryan made a gritty save. Immediately the ball was sent up-field, where Ian Jones headed wide, with the home keeper well out of it. Then a blow hit the NCC as Ian Jones hobbled off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury, one player can make a difference to any team, as we shall see. The visitors, having survived a couple of solo attacks from Josh Dunn, saw it was third time lucky for him as his run, down the left wing, had only the keeper to beat. Thus after a quarter of an hour NCC, playing against the wind, and uphill, found themselves behind, and beginning to see a daunting task building.


Ian Jones (10) heads the ball low toward the corner of the net, only to be denied by a great save

The home side kept on with their relentless attack, and gained a couple of corners. These were wasted as they were fired wide of goal. NCC managed one real attempt, and this was a solo effort by Guy Speedie on the left wing. Then, just past the twenty minute mark, St Andrews, given acres of space, scored twice within a minute. The first goal came after a dribble down the right wing, followed by a shot from beyond the eighteen-yard box. Ryan Adams, who had left his area to meet it, was decisively beaten as the ball sped into the net. Immediately from the kick-off NCC lost the ball and their keeper came out, allowing an attacker, Jon Hills, almost a one-man team on his own, to dribble the ball around the prone keeper before shooting it into the net.

Mark Broekman strove hard as he attacked, but quite frequently he lacked support, and the dogged home defence was able to clear the ball. At the other end greater determination from the visitors saw off several forays from St Andrews, who could consider themselves unfortunate when they hit the crossbar. Ryan Adams made some great saves; one as he clutched the ball in front of a rampant forward, jumping in his attempt to head the ball home, and another save as he jumped and reached up to hold an aerial shot.


Mark Broekman (12) headed a fierce shot which sped through the crowded defence to finish in the net.

Ten minutes before the break NCC had an attack up their right wing, from which they gained a corner. Man of the match Emlyn John sent over a high ball, which was missed by a defender as he jumped in vain. Mark Broekman, alert to the situation, and straddling the six-yard box, headed a fierce shot which sped through the crowded defence, and continued past the upright, to finish in the net. For a few minutes NCC applied pressure, but they were soon on the back foot again, conceding two free kicks and allowing the hosts far too much space, as St Andrews continued to dominate the game. They finished the half by creating at least a dozen attacks, causing Ryan to bring off several fine saves.


Just before half time, Ryan Adams makes another fine save

Early in the second half Mark Broekman had a great scoring chance, which the keeper knocked over the bar for a corner; this Mark headed over for a goal kick. Then St Andrews came up the middle of the pitch and the redoubtable Jon Hills threaded a long shot through the NCC defence, and into the bottom corner of the net.

For the next thirty minutes play was more balanced, and at a reduced pace. Even so, it was still pulsating, and flowed from end to end a lot more. The hosts defended in numbers, often with seven or more players, who were able to absorb the NCC attacks. Emlyn John sent in a lob, which sped harmlessly over the bar. There was a brief period when the Reds were positioned well, and spaced across the opposition goal area, but the hosts, playing in their dazzling green tops, were able to control this with a dazzling display of ball skills. At the other end St Andrews saw the ball whizz past their right hand post; shortly after this Emlyn John took a free kick from the edge of the goal area. The ball rocketed towards a space in front of goal, but tantalisingly grazed the bar in its flight to safety.

At the start of the final fifteen minutes great excitement came as NCC missed a shot, and then saw Ryan Adams make a save at the other end. Immediately Ryan sent the ball down the left wing, where a good pass found Guy Speedie. The NCC player sent a diagonal ball past the advancing keeper, and watched as it entered the net, for him to score his first ever goal for the team. More end to end play saw the hosts miss, and their keeper to make an excellent save from the boots of Mark Broekman. Spurred on by success NCC was playing well. Awarded a free kick they could only send the ball over the bar. NCC again created a few more chances but the ball would not go into the net.


In the dying minutes Emlyn John's free kick goes over the bar

Then, with ten minutes to go, St Andrews came up again. This allowed Jon Hills to complete his hat trick, as the ball was sent between the keeper and two defenders, to finish in the bottom corner of the net, with Ryan Adams rooted to the spot. NCC was stunned. Undaunted, their next attack saw the home keeper make a good save, as he ended up on the ground; immediately this was replicated at the other end. Andy Murton foiled the next solo attack, but St Andrews were not finished yet. Having had a goal disallowed they absorbed several NCC attacks before they came up again. Deep into time added-on they rolled up the left-hand side of the field. As Ryan Adams came out to meet the ball, with the goal area devoid of players, the ball was coolly directed into the net, to hit NCC for six. The result was a surprise for the NCC, but they were outplayed by a side better in all departments.

A disappointed Michael Wyatt reporting from Chosen Hill School.


Match reports from 2010-11 season

Match reports from 2009-10 season

Match reports from 2008-09 season

Match reports from 2007-08 season

NCC win Cotswold Churches League 9-a-side Plate, 14 July 2007

Match reports from 2006-07 season

Match reports from 2005-06 season


Our Football Team

From humble beginnings under the care of Fr Grant Bayliss and Andy Macauly the Prestbury football team had its first game in December 2005 and now, officially registered with the FA as North Cheltenham Churches, plays in the Cotswolds Churches League

Results – you can follow the results from across the league and cup competitions at the FA website (impressive or what!). 

Good luck and come on NCC!

      

New players are always welcome


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