Post Lockdown Tournament
Punjab United 4-4 Lordswood
Peter Parry reports for Non League Chronicles
On a glorious mid summers day it was time for another dose of non league football. Rather than watch the Welsh in the European championships I decided on a visit to the Steve Cook stadium.
Punjab fielded a fairly settled side and are beginning to look the part as they prepare for next season. In the first fixture Punjab beat Lordswood 8-0. So Neil Hunters young side would be looking to restore some pride today.
Lordswood had two players in the match day squad from their under 16s side. So much progress is being made from Lordswoods youth structure. So the experience that wide man Chandler Kasai brought to the team would be invaluable.
The game was less than two minutes old when Punjab danger man Will Johnson-Cole got away from his marker and had the games first shot. Keeper Alfie Lapper saved for his first feel of the match ball.
Lordswood returned fire immediately when Jacob Gilbert lifted a free kick over the wall but just over the bar.
Four minutes in and a whirlwind start from both sides brought the first goal when a sweeping move from Punjab United saw them take the lead. Will Johnson-Cole collected the ball on the halfway line held off his marker and played a pass infield to George Goodwin who travelled through the middle before finding Adams. In turn Adams laid the ball back to Suman about 20 yards from goal. With very little back lift Suman curled the ball high and away from the keeper into his top right hand corner. 1-0
When Surman, Goodwin and Johnson-Cole are on song for Punjab they usually play well. And the next few minutes shots from all of the above happened keeping Alfie Lapper busy in the Lordswood goal.
20 minutes in and against the run of play Lordswood found themselves back on level terms when former Fisher man Chandler Kasai found himself clear of the Punjab back four after a neat dinked through ball found him clean through – he wasted no time finishing from a wide angle into the side netting. 1-1
A period of play where neither team could get themselves on top followed as Punjab looked far too casual most of the time and the way that Lordswood rolled up their sleeves and battled away kept things fairly even.
Will Johnson-Cole fired a dangerous looking corner over in the 31st minute that Goodwin just missed connecting with. Moments later it was the same combination that set left-back Reed Wilson away. Wilson cut inside onto his right foot and his curled effort looked on target until giant centre-back Kieran Sharpe got his head in the way and nodded the ball away for another corner.
The corner appeared to have been cleared but not far enough as the ball dropped to Surman in the box. A neat turn and low shot into the corner saw Punjab retake the lead and give Suman his second of the game. 2-1
Jayden Gildea got away down the right and his excellent low cross saw Johnson-Cole put his effort over the bar when really he
Should have extended the Punjab lead.
Chandler Kasai picked the ball up in the middle of the park and first time his through ball found the Punjab back four square and to high up the field. A trialist wearing 11 squared up to Ovenden and slotted home Cooly to equalise for Lordswood once again in an entertaining first half. 2-2
Within 40 seconds of the restart Lordswood had earned a penalty after Kasai burst down the right and cut across the touchline before being upended for a penalty.
Sharpe stepped up from the back and dispatched comfortably to give wood a shock lead. 2-3
Arun Suman was having a fine game in midfield and a neat chest down and half volley from 40 yards had Lapper on his toes to tip over the bar.
Steve “Seamus” Ratcliffe got his head to the incoming corner but his header was off target.
Swashbuckling midfielder George Goodwin was having his usual game in midfield. His turn and shot from distance was food & drink for Lapper.
Arun Surman had not been in the action for a while and it was Punjab’s version of the three musketeers that got them back on level terms.
Goodwin found Johnson-Cole stationed on the left and his brilliant pull back found Suman who’s shot wasn’t his best of the day but still found the back of the net after Lapper failed to deal with it. 3-3
Punjab’s defence had looked vulnerable all day as both Diljit and Ratcliffe got caught on the ball too often and spent time overplaying when an old fashioned clear and regroup was needed to restore some order.
Lordswood once again went in front when the Punjab back four gave it the full monty (offside call) as Harley Gorse who had a busy game jinked past one man before finding himself in a one on one duel with Ovenden. Gorse won the duel with a neat finish to put Lordswood into the lead. 3-4
Shortly after things got worse for Punjab as talismanic skipper Goodwin was carried from the field with an injury.
Lordswood could have found themselves even further in front as that man Kasai gets away down the right. His pass finds Jakubowski who’s low cross finds Gorse between the posts but he fires clean over when it was easier to score. If Danny Baker needs any bloopers for the next own goals & gaffs look no further than that miss.
Lordswood were punished for missing chances when Punjab were given a penalty. Up stepped Luke Adam’s who drove his effort straight down the middle. 4-4
This game had something for everyone as the game ebbed and flowed backwards and forwards. Neil Hunter must have been pleased with his young side made up of youth team players and trialists in the main.
Wood got on the front foot again when a long ball over the top found the 11, a Trialist, and Punjab keeper Ovenden come together just outside the box. Both players collided and both need some treatment. To add insult to injury Ovenden earned himself a booking for the challenge.
The resulting free kick saw some nice invention as what looked like a position to take a shot at goal. Lordswood played a neat pass down the side of the Punjab wall. The 11 turned and got his shot away that went inches wide. A move that clearly came from the training ground.
With time running out Lordswood had one last chance to win the game. Gilbert raced clean through from inside his own half as Punjab appealed for offside. Gilbert wasn’t waiting about to be pulled up he bore down on goal but this time Ovenden saves well.
Seamus Ratcliffe then picked up a late booking as a neat one-two caught him out. He brought the player down on the halfway line.
With no further action the final whistle was blown on a cracking game for all concerned.
Punjab United 4-4 Lordswood
NLC MOM – Arun Suman (Punjab United) Hat trick hero.
As the players left the field a guard of honour was set for Arun Suman. Not for his display today which was superb but because it was his last game for Punjab United. On Tuesday Arun begins chemotherapy for blood cancer. God willing it has been caught early enough that Arun can make a full recovery from. All the very best moving forward Arun as you begin your fight against cancer.
Many thanks to Lordswood in helping out with the guard of honour today for Arun Suman.
Everyone at the NLC would like to extend the hand of friendship to Arun Suman and wish him all the best.
Main Photo Credit: Russell Cox – Read his Match BLOG here
Stuart Fuller – The Ball Is Round BLOG
Match VLOG – Mark Davison
Match VLOG – Ben Brown