Featherstone Colliery FC 1 Vs Rothwell Town FC 2 (League)
Saturday 16th August 2003
The Seasons opener saw a warm day and a lovely pitch at Featherstone. A strong squad of 14 made a welcome change to last season and with everyone playing for places it was Town who made all the early running. Liam Clark making his debut on the left was a constant thorn in the full backs side and he nearly opened the scoring with a mazy run and shot. Thirkell also went close with a half volley from range after a Bennett knock down. However it was Craig Purcell who broke the deadlock with a fine chest and volley from the edge of the box after the ball was headed out to him from a corner. Half time 1-0 to Town.
The second half saw much the same pattern as the first. Stephen Rigg making his debut at right back was having a fine game and Jamie Kime was running the midfield. Soon after Pennington replaced Thirkell, Neil Doyle broke with pace past the last defender and poked the ball passed the keeper for 2-0. Town were coasting but Featherstone rallied and the last 20 minutes were scrappy and niggly. Featherstone grabbed a late consolation with a low drive into the corner from 20 yards but frankly the narrow scoreline flattered the hosts after not testing Otley all game. A fine winning start to the season the Town squad so needed.
Otley, Rigg (B.Parker), Newbould, Kime, Kitching, Purcell, Doyle, Thirkell (Pennington), Bennett (Bjelic), K Parker, Clark.
Man of the Match: Jamie Kime
Rothwell Town 1 Howden Clough 0 (League)
Wednesday 20th August 2003
Howden Clough arrived at Town with a strong side and as strong favourites after a 4th place finish last year and an opening day win against Ripon. Town were forced into a couple of changes from the opening day win at Featherstone with Laim Clark absent and Stephen Rigg forced to sub as he couldn't make the early kick off. Clough started the brighter and overran the Town midfield in the first twenty minutes by playing 3 in the centre. Manager Pennington quickly changed the Town formation to 3-5-2 to match Clough man for man and it worked a treat. Town began harassing and battling for every ball and gradually got on top of Clough. On 40 minutes Town took a priceless lead. A Pennington free kick from the right swung close to the Clough keeper. He came out to catch but amid a cluster of players the impressive Bennett flicked on and Ben Parker, up from the back slid in to poke the ball goalwards. As it trickled over the line Clough's centre half tried to clear but smacked the ball into the roof of his own net. Parkers goal. Half time 1-0.
The second half took much the same pattern as the first with Town playing deep and hitting Clough on the break. Jamie Kime had another excellent game in a man marking role and Bennett and Parker and then Bjelic worked their socks off up front. To a man Town worked really hard and battled for every ball. A trait that was lacking last year. Such was the performance that Clough's heads were forced down and they didn't really test Otley other than with the odd set piece. Clough began debating every refereeing decision but it was Thirkell who received Town's first booking of the season for a late hack at Clough's tricky right winger. Town continued defending and battling until the last whistle and a fantastic 1-0 win. 100% so far. Bring on Barwick.
Team: Otley, B.Parker, Newbould, Thirkell (Whiteley), Kitching (Rigg), Purcell, Doyle, Kime, K.Parker (Bjelic), Bennett, Pennington.
Man of the Match: Jamie Kime
Rothwell Town 2 Barwick 1 (League)
Saturday 23rd August 2003
On a sweltering day manager Paul Pennington was forced to make changes. Jamie Kime, so influential in the last two games was missing as were Chris Pennington and Paul Bjelic. Jon Ford returned to the squad along with Carl Thorp to deputise. Town could not have started the game better than they did. Liam Clark starting on the right flew down his wing at pace, skipping passed a few Barwick defenders as if they weren't there before intelligently pulling the ball back to Bennett who fired a low first time drive into the bottom corner. 1-0 to Town with only a minute or so on the clock. The early goal served only as a wake up call for Barwick who took control and caused Town all sorts of problems with their defenders pushing into midfield and creating extra men. Neil Doyle was booked for a foul whilst Town chased the game. Midway through the first half Barwick won a free kick 25 yards out and left winger Yanni Methinitis fired a superb curling shot over the wall and into Otley's top left corner, 1-1. The game remained the same until half time.
Following a half time inquest into the lacklustre performance Town played much better in the 2nd half. Doyle and Thirkell got to grips in central midfield and Parker and Purcell organised at the back. The game was again scrappy but just the type that Town were losing last season, however it was Barwick who tired first. Town created several half chances and had a blatant penalty waved away after Doyle was clattered by Dave Dickinson while looking to control a bouncing ball in the area. The game appeared destined for a hard fought 1-1 draw. With only a minute remaining a loose ball was fired clear by Ben Parker. It caught the Barwick defence on the hop and the energetic Jake Bennett raced clear of the offside trap and beat the keeper with an angled shot across goal. 2-1 to Town and no time to respond. Bennett bagged in the first and last minutes to ensure Town's 100% record remains intact.
Team: Otley, B.Parker, Newbould, Doyle, Kitching, Purcell, Clark, Thirkell, K.Parker, Bennett 2, Ford (Rigg). Subs not used; C.Thorp, Whiteley.
Man of the Match; Neil Doyle
Rothwell Town 2 Churwell Lions 2 (League)
Wednesday 27th August 2003
Town were out of the blocks quickly again in what turned out to be a game of two halves against Churwell. Town were missing Craig Purcell & Jon Ford from the previous starting line up but equally important was the fact James Duval the leagues top scorer last season was absent for Churwell. Town began brightly and were creating most of the play. On twenty minutes Thirkell beat his man and slotted a through ball between defenders for Kris Parker who hit the keeper with his finish, the ball rebounded to Jake Bennett to poke home for his third in two games. 1-0 Town and it wasnt long before the second came. Thirkell again slotted a delightful ball between defenders this time for Neil Doyle to run on to and side foot passed the keeper with a lovely finish and his second goal of the campaign. 2-0 to Town at half time. In the second half Town took to defending deep and playing on the break. It was a big mistake as Churwell took hold of the game and began keeping the ball. It was tiring stuff but Town held on until around 70 minutes when Churwells left back finished well in the area after the ball broke to him from a challenge. Town were not helped by some terrible refereeing decisions and that trend continued with the Churwell equaliser 10 minutes from time. Churwells number 9 appeared to block a tackle from Kime unfairly but the referee looked away and the centre forward turned and volleyed into the far corner for 2-2. It was a deserved equaliser and the game ended in a fair draw after Town dominated the 1st half and Churwell the second. Although disappointing to lose a two goal lead in any game the point took Town to the top of Division 1 for the first time in their history and they we will play a lot worse teams than Churwell this season.
Team: Otley, B.Parker, Newbould, Doyle (Marshall), Kitching, Kime, Rigg (C.Thorp), Thirkell, K.Parker, Bennett, Clark Sub not used : Pennington
Man of the Match: Jamie Kime
Rothwell Town 6 Upper Armley Old Boys 0 (LG)
Saturday 30th August 2003
Town secured their biggest win since 2001 with a superb attacking display against a weak Armley side. Town had been forced to defend a fair bit in their previous three games against quality opposition and today Armley felt the full force of Towns frustrated attackers who had fed on scraps for three games. Armleys defence was static when Ben Parker curled a free kick to the far stick for Jamie Kime to head his first of the campaign. Then 5 minutes later an identical move saw Kime this time nod the free kick back across goal for Kris Parker to volley home unmarked from 5 yards. The Armley back four did not learn their lesson and were once again stood to watch as Bennett beat the offside trap and improvise by kneeing the ball over the keeper for 3-0. Half time and Town were coasting. In the second half Armley tried to spoil the game. However there was no stopping the in form Kris Parker who ghosted in behind the Armley centre halves and cooly finished for 4-0. A succession of quality Bennett corners led to one being fumbled in off Neil Doyle's back for a scrappy 5th. Kris Parker rounded up a fantastic game both personally for him and for the Club with a long range lob for 6-0. The game could quite easily have finished in double figures as Town dominated from start to finish but Matty Otley was forced to pull off a tremendous double save at point blank range to keep an impressive clean sheet. Town remain top with a much more impressive goal difference.
Team: Otley, B.Parker (Marshall), Newbould, Kime, Kitching, Purcell, Doyle (Rigg), Thirkell, Bennett, K.Parker 3, Clark (Ford).
Man of the Match: Kris Parker
Rothwell Town 0 Mt St Mary's 1 (LG)
Wednesday September 3rd 2003
A first defeat of the season for Town in their 6th game. Town were up against it early doors when goalscoring midfielder Neil Doyle went over on his ankle on a very bobbly and hard pitch. Soon after Jamie Kime suffered a similar fate and as Town only had one sub (the other being stuck in traffic) We played with effectively 10 men as Kime hobbled about up front. Mary's took the lead when Thirkell left his man from the corner and he volleyed home superbly. Town had a great chance to level with a Bennett lob that went narrowly wide. In the second half Town turned the screw and had many a chance. Bennett missed with two headers from fine Pennington crosses, Carl Thorp, on as a sub hit a marvellous volley from the edge of the area after a corner only to see their left back head off the line. Kris Parker struck the crossbar and Thirkell had an effort just over. Town unlucky to lose as a draw may have been a fairer result but credit where it is due, Mary's dug in and got a very good result.
Team: Otley, B.Parker, Newbould, Kime (Rigg), Kitching, Purcell, Doyle (Thorp), Thirkell, Bennett, K.Parker, Pennington.
Man of the Match: Paul Newbould