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2003/04 Season

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

Ripon City Magnets 2 Rothwell Town 3 (LG)

Saturday 6th September 2003


Town began the game without 4 regulars. Jamie Kime and Neil Doyle were missing through injury and the Parker brothers had a family function to attend. The depth of the squad was put to the test as Jon Ford, Carl Thorp, Michael Ramsden and David Everall stepped in. Town started slowly as Ripon played some lovely passing football on what has to be the best pitch in the league. However it was Town who broke the deadlock as Bennett was sent in one on one and he calmly slotted passed the advancing keeper with a cool finish. Ripon rallied and drew level as their nippy forward beat three men and drove home for 1-1. The game looked set for 1-1 at half time as Chris Pennington rattled the Ripon bar with a 25 yard screamer but Ripon had other plans. Town again capitulated from a corner as the otherwise brilliant Matty Otley punched weakly to the edge of the box where Ripon's centre half drilled one in for 2-1 Ripon. Half Time.

      Where Ripon had dominated the first half Town took hold of the second. Early on Jake Bennett beat the Ripon keeper with an exquisite lob from the corner of the box and from then on Ripon's heads dropped and Town were first to every ball and won every 50-50 tackle. Purcell and Kitching were excellent in their man marking jobs and Pennington worked hard in the midfield, whilst Bennett was again tireless up front. Bennett's persistence paid off as he hit his first hat trick of the season with twenty minutes to go placing the ball in the bottom corner from the edge of the box. A hard fought win for Town but Ripon's football in the first half belied their lowly league position.


Team: Otley, Rigg, Newbould, Pennington, Kitching, Purcell, Thorp, Thirkell (Ramsden), Bennett 3, Clark (Everall), Ford .

Man of the Match: Jake Bennett




Pool 0 Rothwell Town 4 (League)

Saturday 13th September 2003


Town were again without several key players for a potentially tricky trip to 'bogey team' Pool. After beating us 3 times last year Town had a score to settle. The first half was an extremely even contest with both sides playing good football on another good playing surface. Chris Pennington, playing up front for the first time this season tested the Pool keeper with several long range efforts. Pool also had chances and forced good saves from deputising keeper Lee Briggs. However it was the in form Jake Bennett who broke the deadlock with a trademark lob over the advancing keeper. the ball bounced on the line and up onto the stansion and out again. Pool protested but the referee rightly gave it.

The second half was again a well contested affair and the game could have gone either way until 20 minutes from the end when Bennett took a fortunate bounce into his path and hammered home from close range. It was the cushion Town had craved and it took the sting out of Pool who had looked like equalising. Chances were now being created more frequently. Bennett had a brilliant long range curler go narrowly passed the post and Ben Parker should have scored with a free header from a corner. Neil Doyle also hit the bar with a 20 yard lob. Town did eventually get the third as Thirkell headed in at the near post from a Bennett corner for his first goal of the season. Town then wrapped it up just before the end as Richie Marshall hit a defence splitting long ball and Jake Bennett raced on to it and fired low into the far corner for his second successive hat trick and his 10th in 8 games. A hard fought win that keeps Town's 100% away record in tact.


Team: Briggs, Marshall, Newbould, Doyle, Kitching, B.Parker, Thorp (Ramsden), Thirkell, Bennett 3, Pennington (Everall), Ford.

Man of the Match: Jake Bennett


Rothwell town 1 Sandy Lane 2 (LG)

Saturday September 20th 2003

The Summer is officially over and the temperatures were lower but the rivalry with Sandy Lane heated up the atmosphere as Town looked to stay at the top of the pile in Division 1. Sandy Lane have been Town's bogey team in recent seasons and were looking to make it 7 games in a row unbeaten against Rothwell.

As the game kicked off both teams were looking at counter-attacking with the odd clear chance being created, however it was Sandy Lane who took the upper hand when the ball was played int the box and caught the Town defence napping. A looping header dropped into the far post giving the away team a 1-0 lead and only 15 minutes on the clock. This early set back spurred Town on who began to look threatening and just 5 minutes later the ball was played into the path of the in-form Bennett who cooly slotted the ball past the on-coming Lane 'keeper, leveling the game at 1-1. Town continued to dominate the 1st half possession and deserved to go ahead after 30 minutes when a ball from Neil Doyle found it's way to Bennett again who lobbed the goalkeeper but could only watch along with the Sandy Lane defence as an unfortunate bounce took the ball agonisingly wide. Half time came without anyone adding to the scoreline but the initiative was with Town. The second half saw Sandy Lane quickly out of the blocks and were awarded a penalty just 2 minutes after the re-start after a foul by Kitching. It appeared that initial contact came outside the box but the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Sandy Lane's striker converted the spot kick sending Briggs the wrong way. 2-1 to Lane. Town began to get back into the game and started to create chances, Jamie Kime had a left foot shot well saved and saw a header crash against the bar. Sandy Lane continued to show signs that they were not settling for a single goal lead and continued to look threatening on the counter forcing Briggs into several fine saves. Openings continued to be made by Town, a long range Bennett shot caught the 'keeper slightly off-guard but was still able to get a toe to the ball forcing a corner. The last kicks of the game came from the resulting corner where a weak punch landed at the feet of Purcell who shot goalwards only to see the ball cleared from the line to Ben Parker who's shot was again blocked.

The final whistle went and condemed Town to only their second defeat this season, again losing by a single goal. A good performance by Town who battled to the last minute and were unlucky to come away without a point to show for their efforts. Unlucky lads, lets make it a winning return in the cup.

Team: Briggs, Kitching, Marshall, Kime (Thorp), B.Parker, Purcell, Doyle (Hawkins), Thirkell, Bennett, Pennington, Ford (K.Parker).

Man of The Match: Lee Briggs

Kelbrook FC 2 Rothwell Town 5 (CC)

The long journey to the Lancashire border proved fruitful for Town in this hard fought Challenge Cup encounter. Town began brightly and were soon ahead. Bennett cut in from the left and squared to Kris Parker who placed a delightful shot into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the box. There was very little in it but Town were unlucky not to double their lead when Kris Parker burst through before being cynically hacked down from behind by the last man. The ref didn't even book the player and Bennett forced a save from the resultant free kick. Town did double their lead before half time when Ben Parker struck a free kick into the area and the Kelbrook centre half, stretching nodded back over his own keeper. 2-0 at half time. The second half saw Town start with a silly 10 minute spell strewn with errors but it looked like the game was dead when Thirkell made it 3-0 with a fine header from a Bennett corner. However things are never that simple and Town managed to hand Kelbrook a lifeline with two goals conceded in a frustrating 5 minute spell. Instead of dropping heads though, Town responded with a flurry of chances. Bennet beat the offside trap and was just about to release his shot when the same centre half, again the last man, hacked him down for a blatant penalty. Again no sending off but Ben Parker stepped up to hit his openalty just underneath the Kelbrook keeper. With that extra cushion Town began to carve up the Kelbrook back 4 with alarming ease and it was only a matter of time before they added a fifth. Thirkell won a header in midfield and as the second ball bounced back to him he slotted a through ball for Bennett to run onto and slot home his 12th of the season in just 10 games. 5-2 Town and into the draw for the second round.

Team: Briggs, Rigg (Newbould), Marshall, Kime, B.Parker 2 (Kitching), Purcell, Doyle (Ford), Thirkell, Bennett, K.Parker, Pennington.

Man of The Match: Jody Thirkell

Robin Hood 1 Rothwell Town 1 (LG) Sat 11.10.03

Town came up against a very stubborn Robin Hood side who played much the better football in the first half. Hood packed the midfield and Town struggled to get on top. Hood, however were struggling to break down Town's rigid defence and only a mistake let Hood in for the lead. A weak looking cross came in to the box and looked to be heading straight into keeper Otley's hands. However Ben Parker stuck his foot out to cut the ball out and stabbed into an unguarded net. Rumours that he will be claiming this as his 3rd in 2 games have proved untrue. Town rallied and Bennett and Parker both carved openings only for the keeper to make good saves. At the other end Otley tipped a couple of Hood efforts acrobatically over the bar. Half time Town were still trailing. Midway into the second half Town's leading scorer Bennett hobbled off after what looked like a clear penalty when he was hacked down as he shot. This forced a tactical change as Jon Ford came on and then soon after Andy Kitching replaced Stephen Rigg. Town began to dominate and penned Hood in in search of an equaliser. It came in the unlikely shape of Paul Newbould. An excellent move that started with a perfect Ben Parker tackle in the right back slot ended with Chris Pennington deftly nodding a cross back across the goal for Newbould to finish calmly with his left foot. Town pressed for the winner but Otley was called into action again to deny Hood on the break with a terrific double save at the death. A fair result and a valuable point for both sides in Town's first derby of the season.

Team: Otley, Rigg (Kitching), Newbould, Kime, B.Parker, Purcell, Doyle, Thirkell, Bennett (Ford), K.Parker, Pennington.

Man of the Match: Matthew Otley

Churwell 3 Rothwell Town 1 (LG) Sat 18.10.03

Town's slow starts in the last two games have cost them dear. Here Town were missing 4 first team regulars but still managed to put out a strong XI. However Churwell began much the brighter and despite some pressure in patches it was mainly Churwell who looked the brighter. Two defensive errors saw Town 2-0 down at half time after two James Duvall strikes and it was always going to be an uphill struggle. Town had chances in the first half as Jamie Kime had a series of headers from well executed Ben Parker set pieces but it was not his day in front of goal and Town remained without a goal. Town brightened in the second half and began to keep posession. A trait that was sorely lacking in the first half. After a spell of Town pressure the break finally came. Ben Parker hit another great set piece from near the half way line, Jamie Kime flicked on from the edge of the box and Thirkell turned and hit a right foot volley from 10 yards. At 2-1 Town began to dominate and it looked like Churwell were hanging on for dear life. However as Town committed men forward Churwell struck on the break and scored from a 2 on 2 situation. Town had not deserved to lose another goal but the poor first half display had left them too much to do. Generally a game to forget for Town.

Team: Otley, Kitching, Purcell, B.Parker, Newbould, Kime, Doyle, Thirkell, Haresign (Antcliff), Bennett, K.Parker.

Man of the Match: Jody Thirkell

Rothwell Town 0 Howden Clough 2 (League Cup 1st Round) 25.10.03

Howden Clough successfully avenged their league defeat with a stubborn display in a very scrappy cup game. Town again started dismally conceding far too easily when a mix up at the back in the first few minutes saw Town fail to clear their lines and the ball bobble kindly into the Clough strikers path who finished calmly under the advancing Otley for a soft opener from Town's point of view. Town rallied and dominated most of the posession for the rest of the first half but did not create a single clear cut chance. The closest to an equaliser was when Jamie Kime's header from a corner was blocked on the line, the ball bounced out to Thirkell who hit a volley that was again blocked but seemingly over the line this time. The ref waived away the appeals and the scorleine remained. Much of the same was served up in the second half. Town plugged away without really creating and Clough played on the break. They hit a second in this manner when a hopeful long ball was latched onto by Clough's left winger who struck a thunderous 25 yard volley into the far corner giving Otley no chance. The game fizzled out with Town not really believing they could get back into it and the game drew to a fair conclusion. Town will have to show more passion if they are to maintain the early season standards and holt the drop in form.

Team: Otley, Newbould, Kitching, B.Parker, Purcell, Pennington, Thirkell, Kime, Doyle (Marshall), K.Parker, Bennett. Sub not used: Rigg

Man of The Match: Andrew Kitching

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