Match Report: RFC v Gosforth Bohemians - Rothbury Football Club
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MATCH Report: Rothbury v Gosforth Bohemians


Some people seem to think that the wing-back is a relatively new addition to the game, a tactical innovation brought in by suave European coaches with designer stubble and Italian suits and much greater tactical genius and nous than old-school managers in scruffy club bench coats, chewing on gum with faces reddened by heightened blood pressure. But it isn’t.

Overlapping has always been a part of football. Getting beyond the pretty-boy winger with his silky skills, long hair that has a faint scent of Vidal Sassoon and mud-less kit while screaming: “cover me!” to a tutting and eye-rolling midfielder and lumping a cross in is an art that’s been around for as long as people have been handed the number two or three (or whatever number they like now) shirt in the changing rooms.

And I’ll tell you why full-backs have always loved to bomb forward – it’s a boring position. Simple as that. Sure, you have to scurry back and block the odd ball into the box, or kick the shins of a ‘fancy Dan’ as he tries to turn you inside out now and then. 

But knocking the ball with your instep down the line to a more technically gifted player is easy. Hell, Gary Neville made his whole career of it at Manchester United in the Premier League. You don’t have to win many headers, you don’t have to beat a man. Just shepherd a player into the corner flag and be careful he doesn’t nutmeg you. No-one wants to be a full-back. It’s the equivalent of being the bass player in a band. Pedestrian, steady, middle of the road. 

So if a full back gets the odd rush of blood to the head and ends up in unfamiliar territory around the opposition box, you can’t really blame him. I once took a fair bit of stick for putting the Danish defender Johnny Sivebaek at right back in a Dream Team selection while working at a side in Scotland. Of course, most folk plumped for Brazilians – the South American’s defenders also being noted for getting over the half way line.

But how many right backs have you seen charging like a rhino on amphetamines from their own half before ending up on the left edge of the opponent’s box and scoring with a lofted left-footed shot? In the amateur Leagues, maybe, but in a World Cup qualifying game? It was as if Sivebaek had embarked on a one-man Viking raid.

Note how Sivebaek also assists in two goals with crosses in that clip against the Republic of Ireland in 1985. The former Vejle BK and Manchester United full back also famously scored the goal that kept a struggling Alex Ferguson his job at Old Trafford with a stunning free kick against QPR a year later.

So when it comes to the question of wing backs, I’ll stick with a traditional attacking full back, thank you very much, and keep an eye on the kid Josh Blakey and the more experienced Chris Laidlaw who have impressed at right back for Rothbury in recent weeks, and the 18-year-old Euan Gibson who has shone on the left. It’s not the easiest position to make an impact from, so you have to give the lads credit.

Another youngster that has captured the imagination at Armstrong Park since coming in has been the youngster Lewis Leveny – out on the wing, of course, and boss Tom Macpherson heaped praise on his performance during last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Bohemians.

“I thought we were excellent in the first half, dominated possession and looked a real threat throughout. Young Lewis Leveny has been a class act since signing in preseason and showed some real glimpses of brilliance, especially finishing off a great team move for our second goal,” said Tom.

Big striker Paul Dunn opened his account for the season by heading in from a corner and just a couple of minutes later the stylish Laveny lashed into the roof of the net.

“Second half, I was a little disappointed to be honest, we let them back into it a little and stopped playing our football. That said, we never really looked in any real danger of losing it,” continued the gaffer, as James Jackson fired a third low into the corner from 22 yards before Jack Robson pulled one back for Gosforth late on.

The Reds went down to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Cramlington United in mid-week but were disappointed not to have taken anything from the fixture and Macpherson couldn’t fault his players.

“Despite the result, I was actually more pleased with the performance – I thought Chris Coe and Kyle Smith were both excellent on the night. Every one of the lads more than matched one of the title favourites and if we had took our chances at 0-0 it might have been a different story. Overriding theme of the week was to be more ruthless,” he concluded.

Big Dunny notched his second of the season late on but United had struck twice in four minutes with 15 to go through Trae Rowlandson and Andrew Anderson to win it.

Rothbury sit in sixth spot with a healthy return of nine points from their opening six games, so there’ll be few complaints in the Armstrong Park dressing room. Well, until it comes to sticking someone in at full back, that is. Grumble, grumble.

Words: Jon Tait Images: Susan Aynsley