Republic of Mancunia maintained their excellent start to the JC MJSL season with a 3-1 victory over defending champions Haroldeans.
ROM went into the match with a 16-man squad ready to face the tough challenge in Liverpool which historically is a difficult fixture for all teams in the MJSL. The management and captain made their intentions clear before the Kick Off, with the match plan worked perfectly.
After a difficult and scrappy start to the match, Republic slowly started to dominate with a lot of success coming down both flanks. Stark and Alexander continued to build on their budding partnership, and Paul Basger and Simon were devastating down the left in the first half.
The first goal of the game came from a Zorno long throw from the right hand side. The throw was met by the head of Dave Eden, who climbed to flick the ball towards goal. Many bodies were thrown into the mix by both teams, somehow the ball found the back of the net with Mike Gastwirth forcing the defender to put the goal into his own net.
Republic continued to dominate with some flowing football, which player-coach, captain Johnny Lewis will be proud of. The ball was played on the ground to feet, and players were working for each other forcing the opposition into mistakes.
The break for Haroldeans came at the start of the second half when the referee gave a free-kick to team from Liverpool after an innocuous challenge by Lewis on the edge of the box. The resulting goal was an unstoppable shot from a dangerous position. The challenge now was for Republic to show character and re-establish a lead in the match.
Gradually Republic did regain control of the ball, and started to create numerous chances, constantly splitting the Haroldeans defence. The second goal from Republic is contender for goal of the season, purely for its simplicity. A perfect diagonal lofted ball by Eden found the intelligent run of Lee Goldwater, with a calm accomplished finish, substitute Goldwater put Republic back in front.
At 2-1 up more chances fell to Republic, with Haroldeans rarely causing any problems for the defensive lineup of Stark, Kaye and Zorno. The position of left-back was a little cursed for ROM on the day. Dave Simon put in another very solid performance before tweaking a hamstring, leading to him being substituted and Paul Basger dropping into left back. Shortly after, Basger also suffered a niggle and also had to be withdrawn from the match. Finally ROM pulled Lyons into left back, and moved Eden into the engine room at for the final 10 minutes of the match.
With five minutes remaining on the clock, substitute Darren Loofe demonstrated why he is considered to be one of ROM's most technical players. Lee Goldwater played Loofe in with an incisive through ball, but Loofe still had a lot of work to do. From a seemingly impossible angle, Loofe proved his class by taking his time and curling the ball around the keeper low and hard to the far post. Republic were 3-1 up.
ROM have now recorded three successive victories, and now sit towards the top of the MJSL league table. One of the most encouraging aspects of the match, was the strength that ROM were able to pull off the bench. Goldwater and Loofe both proved their value by scoring brilliant goals, Bloch's introduction was typically dogged, and perfect at the end of a hard battle.
Finally a quick acknowledgment must go to Ben Blackston who was on the bench, but unfortunately did not make the field today. As the youngest member of our squad Blackston has progressed brilliantly during his time at the club. If he continues to show commitment and talent it will not be long before he is scoring goals every week.