"Easton Monday knew they had arrived to play with the ‘big boys’ as their opponents turned up with shirts all on hangers, water bottles and first aid kit all organised like a proper football team.
Having being promoted as Division 2 champions last season, this opening game of the new season saw the Monday return to the top flight since they were relegated in 2015.
Co-player manager Maldini commented before kick off that today's opponents were...'one of the best teams from Division One as the newly merged teams of Cilycoed and Undy who won the cup in both 2016/17 & 2015/16.
Monday started out with what can only be described as some rather lax passing and struggled to get a foothold in the oppositions half for much of the first period. Early season rustiness evident.
CUC started brightly, looking comfortable on the ball they controlled possession better than the Monday for much of the first half.
The visitors were setup to try and pull the Easton Monday midfield apart vertically. Their No.15 dropping into the hole in front of Monday centre backs Maldini and Vinny Jones, and then their centre backs stepping out with the ball. This left Modric and Iniesta chasing the game that gave them an easy ball to feet or into the channel.
It was also clear early on they had pace up front who would be their targets for most of the match.
After only 15 mins, new boy Dudley clashed heads with Modric, which resulted in him going off for treatment but soon returned with a Butcher/Ince styled blood soaked headband.
CUC’s early dominance was eventually rewarded with a finely taken goal by their nippy, skilful striker, and best player, who managed to beat the offside trap and from about 25 yards to shoot over the diving Pickford to go one up.
Despite the pressure CUC applied, the Monday’s defence coped well, playing a high line which caught the opposition offside on several occasions and when called on Pickford in goal made some fine saves.
The only other notable incident of the first half was a rather unsavoury one.
A rather clumsy, late challenge in midfield by the 44 yr old Charlton was a clear foul, given by the ref. Unfortunately as Charlton tried to get to his feet, he was shoved to the ground with some force by an opponent using both hands.
This was followed by several of the opposition surrounding the ref
(a 17 year old, reffing only his second adult game) and urging him to send Charlton off using a lot of foul and abusive language aimed at the Easton Monday player, his team mates and the match officials.
A theme that would continue throughout the game.
Half time saw Beckenbauer coming on for Dudley at left back as Baresi moved to left midfileld and Stanley Mathews coming on for Stuart Pearce at right back.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were even but Monday began push on and saw a long period of more possession, better distribution and movement off the ball.
The Blues started to dominate with their pace and fitness beginning to have an impact on the game.
Rooney drifted out from the centre to the right wing where his pace caused concern for the CUC defence and began to provide some dangerous crosses, unfortunately he (or anyone else) was on the end of them.
Baresi's moved up from left back to left midfield also cause the CUC defence concern where his determination and tenacity was proving to be a threat.
This phase eventually resulted in a fantastic solo effort from Modric…a Cruyff turn, swivelling, and curling in to the far post beyond the keeper’s fingers from just inside the box. Another early contender for goal of the season?
Soon after Iniesta had a clear chance on goal that was denied by a brilliant last ditch tackle, and as the second half wore on the momentum of the match had shifted in the Monday’s favour and were looking the likelier team to snatch the three points.
The blood-soaked Dudley came back on for the tiring Milner having put in a tough shift on his full debut.
Piling on the pressure for the winner Monday were caught with a sucker-punch, route one over the top long ball clearance from their keeper (who had a strong kick) where their main threat managed to beat the offside trap to go clear through.
Pickford came racing off his line and made a fine save from the first effort but the rebound fell kindly for the striker who dinked it over a stretching Vinny Jones on the goal line to make it 2-1.
His celebration was a little over the top and rather ungentlemanly, taunting and abusing the linesman.
Monday continued to press for an equaliser but their ability to finish wasn’t there on the day.
Overall CUC won the first half, and Monday edged the second and may have deserved a draw, but two goals given away against a good team cost them, along with some weak final passes and lack of lack of shooting boots.
In his post match interview player manager Maldini encouraged his team mates…'Heads up after today, it was no mean effort, we should be encouraged.’
Special mention for effort goes to Monday midfielder Modric for dragging the wife and family away from a wedding very early on a Sunday morning so that he could play and was quoted after the game that the match was…’a pretty tough introduction to div 1, having said that a draw would have been a fair result.’
Also respect to new comer Tom Dudley who after his nasty head clash, cycled himself to A&E after the game to be glued.
Co-player manager Rooney summed it up after the game...'Overall the team still played well and there was a huge effort put in by all that should of seen us at least share the points.'
MOM – Franco Baresi for his tireless effort both at full back and left midfield.
Having played in this league for 23 years since it was formed (we were one of the eight founding teams), it saddened us to have to give a six on the Corinthian scorecard.
In the true spirit of the league and the reason it was formed, we are a bunch of mates who have a kick-around every Thursday and turn up for a competitive, fair and more importantly gentlemanly, Corinthian spirited game one Sunday a month.
We are not affiliated with other teams, apparently CUC have 40 players to choose from as many of their guys still play Saturday and Sunday league.
This was a good, competitive game of football marred only by the sort of behaviour this league cannot tolerate. The sort of ungentlemanly conduct demonstrated by several (not all) of the CUC players.
It may be commonplace in other leagues to harass, undermine and abuse the officials in order to gain an (unfair) advantage but it has no place in the Bristol Corinthian League. As mentioned in the League Rules…
1e. Referees and match official should be treated with the highest degree of respect. Officiating a BCL game should be a pleasure for any official, not a chore.
It also saddens us that we received at Corinthian score of 6 (considering last season we averaged 9.3) when the reason for this being heavy challenges and the ‘linesman was not good’. Even if the linesman was wrong he should never be accused of being a cheat (see rule 1e).
We appreciate that the first division these days is a lot more competitive than it was 23 years ago and games will be keenly contended but as co-founders and strong believers in the Corinthian spirit of this league, we hope our future fixtures respect that spirit and this was just a one-off.
Cilycoed Undy Celts Report:
" First game of the season for Cilycoed Vets, we travelled to Bristol in high sprits due to a unbeaten pre-season and a good win in the cup last weekend, Cpation for today’s game was Mark Davidson aka “Dabs” - Cilycoed changed formation today starting with a 3.5.2 this was really down to the players available on the day. Cilycoed started well with some very good passing movement and were unlucky not to take the lead early on. Easton Mondays gained more confidence and come more into the game, and created some panic in the Cilycoad defence, without really troubling Dave harwood in the cilycoed goal. Both Ashley Edingbrough and Gareth Huntly saw goal line clearances before Cilycoed finally deadlock was broken when “Babsey” scored a screamer from the edge of the area.
No changes at break Cilycoed took foot of the peddle and started very slow at a walking place which allow Easton Monday to build up a little bit of pressure which resulted in a really nice worked and taken goal to make it 1.1.. This seemed to spark Cilycoed back into action and with manager Michael Panacci re-shuffling players around in a bid to regain control of game. Bit of a scrappy 2nd half saw Cilycoed try and take advantage of Easton Mondays high defence line, which seemed to happen more them once before the linesman gave offsides. But finally Cliycoed got a chance and again Babsey beating the offside trap from a lovely ball calmly rounding the keeper and slotting it home to make it 1.2 to Away team A few chances were created again but game seemed to drop in pace towards the end with Cilycoed trying to keep the ball and control match.
Man of Match for CilyCoed was Babsey for never stopping running and for his Two Gaols.
Was a good game to watch – Good Luck to Easton Mondays for rest of season.
There was a few negatives from game that I suspect is reason for low score on the Corinthian Sore
Few late challenges in first half caused some arguments
Linesman was not good and caused a few issues."