Rochdale Online Alliance League Round Up
Date published: 11 May 2012
As the ROAFL season enters its final week the title races in the LRO Insurance Premier Division and the Matterson Cranes First Division remain undecided.
Fothergill & Whittles met Weavers for the second time in four days at Whittles Park and this time it was Weavers turn to triumph 2-0, thus ensuring the identity of this season’s champions will not be known until Wednesday 16 May when Wardle travel to Whittles Park needing a win to clinch the title (subject to appeal at the time of publication).
Having beaten the same opposition earlier in the week Fothergills dominated the opening half and only a combination of top class goalkeeping and sub standard finishing prevented them from a match winning lead inside forty five minutes.
The second half saw Weavers grow into the game and when a half cleared corner was returned with interest past Whitelaw in the Fothergills goal the pattern of the game changed irrevocably. Weavers added a second twelve minutes later and could have extended the lead though the home side had a goal ruled out for offside and remained frustrated by the agility of the away keeper.
When Whitworth Valley met Asia at Rawstron Street back in October a last minute equaliser gave Asia a 3-3 draw so there was a degree of irony on Wednesday night when a ninetieth minute goal gave Valley a 3-3 draw against the same opposition. The point means Valley will finish third unless Fothergills overcome Wardle whilst Asia finish the season outside of the bottom two places after Jacks House failed their final fixture against already relegated FC Bury Town.
Wardle 2nds midweek away win at Fothergill & Whittles 2nds means that they return to the top of Division 1 having completed their fixtures. Balderstone have two games to play and require two points from those games to secure a second successive league title. Sadly they will have to do so without the services of Martin Shaw who broke his leg after six minutes of the subsequently abandoned game against Castleton. Everyone connected with the league wish Martin a full and speedy recovery.
At the bottom Whitworth Valley 2nds lost 4-1 at Wardle 2nds, their fourth successive defeat meaning they have to beat Balderstone in their final game to avoid relegation and send Hargreaves down in their place.
And so attention turns this weekend to cup final action with Matthew Montgomery & Co Division 2 champions Bridge meeting Premier Division Fothergill & Whittles in the President’s Cup Final at Heywood St James, kick off at 4pm.
Unbeaten since the end of November Bridge have had to reach the final the hard way following up a quarter final win over Weavers by knocking out the holders Wardle 3-2 in the semi final. Fothergills, beaten semi finalists last season, were comfortable winners over Hargreaves and Asia in earlier rounds before launching that stunning comeback to turn a four goal deficit into victory over Whitworth Valley.
A hard one to call this as Bridge’s youngsters play with the confident assurance of youth and a great deal of quality whilst Fothergills have developed into a skilful and competitive outfit who also like to get the ball down and play.
The game has all the makings of a classic on a playing surface large enough to allow both teams to express themselves.
A 1pm kick off at the same venue sees Weavers 2nds and Rochdale Asia contest the final of the Alletson & Mitchell Memorial Trophy. In the first round Rochdale Asia gave Moorcock a taste of first division football with a 4-2 win whilst Weavers needed penalties to see off a spirited Rochdale Sacred Heart outfit. Rochdale Asia then thrashed Waggon Athletic to earn a semi final place against a much improved Woodbank outfit and a 4-2 win saw them through to a final against a Weavers side that edged a much tighter semi final with a last minute winner over arch rivals Wardle 2nds.
League form points to Rochdale Asia, who followed up a 3-1 home win with a draw in the away fixture, but there is nothing to separate the two sides on the evidence of the league table and it is to be hoped both sides play to their potential and provide what is bound to be a decent crowd with an entertaining contest.
And finally, to the men in black, and congratulations to Joe Lowther and Andrew Perrin on their cup final appointments. Well deserved after a season of considered judgment and honest decision making, whatever some readers might think!
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