Report: St Martins 0-7 West


Saturday 13th November 2021, NWCFL First Division South

St Martins 0
West 7 (Delaney 11, 25, Gabidon 43, 53, Swift 68, Own Goal 81, Elliott 86)
Att: 69

Words by Matthew Durrant:

On a brisk autumn afternoon in Shropshire, West put together a solid performance to defeat bottom of the table St Martins, and maintain their lead at the top of the league.

Expectations were high as Chris Rowley’s side – third highest goalscorers in the division, and with the best goal difference – headed to face a team who had recently parted with their second manager in as many months and had conceded an average of almost 5 per game before kick off. St Martins’ previous 5 games alone had seen promotion rivals Isle of Man and Abbey Hey each run up double figures against the beleaguered Oswestry outfit.

With that in mind, it took longer than some may have hoped for before the scoring was opened: Liam Delaney emphatically heading home from a corner just after 10 minutes. Nearly a quarter of an hour later, Delaney – a dynamo throughout – doubled both his own tally and the lead when St Martins were unable to clear their lines following a set piece, and he struck upon the loose ball with real conviction.

Just before half-time, Dontai Gabidon provided perhaps the game’s main moment of magic. Slipped through by that man Delaney, the winger ghosted past a defender before selling the onrushing keeper the deftest of dummies and sliding home to an empty net from an angle to make it three.

8 minutes into the second half, the Delaney/Dontai axis struck once more – this time more through accident than design. Searching for his own hat-trick, Liam attempted one from the edge of the box, with the block falling to an unmarked Gabidon who slipped it home inside the near post.

The result all but confirmed, Rowley shuffled his pack, with Matthews, Eme, and – of the most note – Joel Swift entering the fray. Talk before the match had been whether Swift would be able to break his duck almost 2 years since his name first appeared on a West team sheet.

Having had a contentious effort ruled out last month against Rocester, he was not to be denied here: in the 68th minute, a looping Heathcote header could only be palmed away and Swift, with the ball going away from goal and still with a lot to do, turned and flicked it home from the tightest of angles. The celebrations were well outside what may have been expected in context of the game, but the fact that goalkeeper Andrew Jones – a spectator for much of the rest of the 90 – felt compelled to run the length of the pitch to join in with the rest of squad (some subs included) to congratulate the goalscorer is a mark of Joel’s status in the squad, and how much his efforts have warranted greater returns.

The St Martins keeper had been excellent all game, and was responsible for enough against-the-odds stops to keep the score from being double the final total, but still found himself picking the ball out of the net another 2 times before the final whistle blew. First, Gabidon danced and weaved down the left to find some space before whipping it across goal for Ben Elliott (or, it has some suggested, the defender beside him) to sweep home. Then, with 86 minutes on the clock, an innocuous ball to the edge of the area saw an attempted clearance put through the defender’s own net to clock up a seventh and finish the scoring.

West: A. Jones, Cook (Eme 63’), Westall, Delaney, Tinker, Heathcote, Grewal (Matthew 55’), Graham (Swift 63’), Elliott, Davis, Gabidon

Unused subs: Hancock, C. Jones