JC MSFL DIVISION FOUR
SPEC FC 1 TEMPLE FORTUNE B 0
The Bananas continued their title surge with a hard fought 1-0 win over a lacklustre Fortune side, courtesy of a penalty from James Lesner.
The first half saw Fortune have the best of a rampant first 10 minutes, testing the SPEC defence by pumping high balls into the area.
Debutant keeper Lee Duskwick dealt with the crosses well, despite blustery conditions, and this gave SPEC the foundations on which to build.
And much like the fictional children’s TV character Bob, build they did. The midfield triumvirate of Doug Berlin, Ricky Lawrence and Ashley Burns were tidy and spread play to the wings consistently which is where the home side enjoyed most of their success.
Lesner and Adam Lenz attacked with craft and guile down the left, whilst Nick Wallis and Craig Cohen down the right tested the Fortune defence with their electric pace.
Whilst the Bananas enjoyed the majority of possession, they only managed to carve out a few real chances - the best of which, a ferocious Lawrence drive, cannoned off the bar.
Fortune's best opportunity saw a counter-attack only thwarted by the magnificence of a Wallis sliding tackle.
This did indeed lead Jeremy Lawrence (Club sponsor and father to SPEC’s Ricky and Ashley) to say: "I actually prefer Nick Wallis to Ricky."
The second half saw SPEC continue to play some impressive passing football whilst Fortune opted for more of a long ball game.
Despite giving the Bananas neck-ache, they did little else to hurt the sturdy defence marshalled by the imperious Mark Hecht and his centre back partner Laurence Rosenthal.
SPEC finally made the breakthrough after a powerful run from Lawrence was ended prematurely by a trip in the box. Ricky has been quick to refute all allegations of diving, whilst an anonymous SPEC insider described Fortune’s pleas of innocence as ‘as misguided as their long balls’.
Lesner, playing his last game of the season before going under the knife for an operation to fix a long-term shoulder injury, coolly dispatched his, and SPEC's first spot kick of the season.
The rest of the half saw the Bananas deal with anything and everything that Fortune threw at them, with Duskwick not needing to make another save.
Ashley Lawrence, having recently celebrated his 27th birthday, used all of his experience in an intelligent lone striker stint before being replaced by Jacky Bookatz who provided SPEC with a much-needed outlet.
Dan Cohen also came off the bench to great effect as he ramped up his recovery from a long-term ‘phantom’ knee injury, whilst Rob Murray, SPEC's final substitute, used some clever hold up play by the corner flag to ensure SPEC won all three points on wet and windy Sunday morning.
Rumours that Laurence Rosenthal was arrested on suspicion of kidnap after the game have yet to be confirmed, although there has been several reported sightings of Terry Jeffries still inside the centre backs back-pocket.
SPEC manager Laurence Conway told JC Sport: "It was a hard-fought win, against a talented and experienced side.
"The conditions made it difficult, but when we got the ball down on the deck we played some superb stuff.
"Admittedly, we would have liked to have put another couple of chances away, so we didn't have the nervousness at the end, but our defence was superb all morning and they stood strong.
"Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying that a hard-fought gritty 1-0 win.
"It is all the more important with a few of our rivals dropping points. Onwards and upwards."
Fortune No. 2 Adam Glekin told JC Sport: "It was disappointing to lose the game in that fashion; we felt their player played for the penalty and Adam Field insists there was little or no contact.
"It certainly wasn't one of our better performances of the season but it also wasn't easy in the blustery conditions.
"They probably shaded the game but I felt a draw would've been a fair result."