Alstonville Premier League football team have had some indifferent results in their last 6 outings. Before their match with the undefeated “Park Hotel” Byron Rams last Tuesday night, their coach Troy Taylor was philosophical. “Our squad is bursting with young quality and enthusiasm. Villa always seem to lift at Byron - we like playing against the Bay with its good pitch and good players who are fast and smart. Its going to be physically demanding but our preparation was sound and seamless and we have a plan to cater for Byron's long diagonal balls and quick forward passing” He said. Rams coach Peter Ware was cautious before the match saying “We will be wary of Villa’s structure; they are a good young side and have given the top teams a lot of trouble.”
Byron’s warm-up had been a bit lackadaisical even considering the mid week encounter and they seemed a little slow to get going after the whistle. With just 7 minutes gone Villa’s Danny Chatterton scored from a quick counterattack leaving the Rams outnumbered with just 1 defender to try and stop their attack. That fired Villa up and the young guys now brimming with confidence, kept attacking constantly. At 20 minutes Ram’s Layton Barton flicked a pass to wing-back Sam Robson. He charged at the Villa defence and forced his way through two bruising tackles, and hammered the ball in the net 1-1.
10 minutes later Ram’s keeper Pierce Essery backing up in his 2nd game of the night, skewed a kick and it found Villa’s Jared Mortison 30 metres out. Without hesitation he volleyed a scorcher back past Essery for Villa to hit the front again. It rattled the normally cool headed Byron players and they started playing panic football. Soon after the Rams lost central defender Ian Lennie who was carried off with a serious knee injury and then a little later flanker Tim Knight with a recurring ankle injury.
The Rams settled at ½ time but were having real trouble containing the passionate and relentless Villa young guns. With just 1 minute gone Byron were playing the offside trap however the linesman kept his flag down and Villa’s Josh Cole shot past the Ram’s defence leaving Essery no hope to defend the “one on one” with Cole. 3-1. Villa couldn’t believe their luck and were waiting for the more experienced Rams to “flick the switch” and bury them.
It seemed like forever before Rams’ Victor Pires got a brilliant 35metre pass to Sammy Owens and he scored with a beautiful header 3-2. At 70 minutes the Rams lost the ball in the midfield and Villa sped down their right flank evading 2 defenders. Nathan Alley’s shot was deflected twice before keeper - Essery got a finger to it, but that wasn’t enough to put it over the bar and Alley had scored his first goal of the season 4-2.
The Rams fought on but couldn’t convert some brilliant shots on goal. They also found it impossible to contain the young Villa player’s passion and total commitment in every tackle and challenge. With the final whistle came jubilant roars from the Villa fans and huge disappointment for the Rams.
After the game Villa coach Troy Taylor commented “Byron always give us a fair and challenging battle and I have long admired some Byron players: Jon Pearce, Tom Ruhl, Tim Knight, Aaron Richter-Steers and Layton Barton, with intelligent football brains who look for a solution.” He went on to say “I did notice Byron's slow warm-up, and it concerned me. I thought, here we go, they're full of confidence, we could be in for a tough match, but our guys stepped right up. It’s unfortunate that Byron lost Ian Lennie and Tim Knight to injury and their goalkeeper Pierce Essery had to play 2 games on the night and that was a factor. However we had a plan that slightly deviated from our usual approach and it paid off tonight.”