Colwyn Bay and Ossett Albion shared the spoils on a crisp Saturday afternoon at the Four Crosses Construction Arena as Aiden Chippendale’s 78th-minute strike cancelled out the opener by the Colwyn Bay’s Danny Bartle.
The first half was dominated by the visitors but the end product was lacking from Mark Robertson’s side who squandered the chances afforded to them by their excellent ball movement and tenacious, high tempo pressing style.
— The Unicorns (@OssettAlbion) December 23, 2017
Albion’s central midfielder Lebrun Mbeka, who would go on to be the man of the match, was a dominant force in the game from the opening minutes, using his height and reach to great advantage winning ariel tussles and perfectly timed slide challenges.
His Bay counterpart, Will Booth, tried his best to match Mbeka and was one of the Bay’s better players early on with composed play on the ball and an attempt at all times to get the ball to feet and feed his wide players.
— Elfyn Jones (@Elfyn66) December 23, 2017
Colwyn Bay played a very solid back four and they were not to be defeated in the air, but they struggled for pace whenever the ball was put past them on the deck by the visitor’s tricky wide players. The relative lack of pace of the Bay back four, save for the explosive speed of Right Back Kyle Jacobs, was compensated by the proactive sweeper keeping of Matt Cooper, who was quick off his line to clear up.
Alen Morgan’s side was on the back foot for most of the first half and this wasn’t helped by striker Danny Bartle’s seeming disinterest in the game in the opening term. Bartle was fortunate to stay out of the referee’s book on a number of occasions, including sprinting full pace into an Albion defender whilst attacking a free kick (an impact that could be heard at half way) and clattering into the back of two Albion players as they went up to contest a header. Bartle would eventually find his way into the referee’s book in the second half for dragging back young full-back Declan Dawson as Albion looked to break.
Robertson spent the game coaching Dawson through the encounter. He spoke about the young full-back post game, “Declan is obviously a talent and he’s fit. He can get up and down the field, he just needs to have a little bit more composure which I’m sure I’ll give to him throughout the time and I’m sure he’ll be a real asset to us as a football club.”
The second half started much better for Colwyn Bay as they had a renewed energy about them, especially in attack with a high tempo pressing style and a re-engagement of Bartle and a great shift put in by Jacobs. The two linked up in the 50th minute to secure the Bay’s opener as a terrific cross from Jacobs was rifled into the net by Bartle.
Morgan brought off Bartle and replaced him with holding midfielder Luke Horrocks to sure up the win, but with a reduced attacking presence his side struggled to contain Robertson’s side who had regained a grip on the game.
Albion were gifted the chance to equalise as Horrocks needlessly fouled forward Adam Priestly. Horrocks rightly received a yellow card but cost his side the win despite the ball being initially cleared, an incredible ball played by Ross Hardaker was eventually turned in after a goalmouth scramble by Chippendale, who had threatened all day.
Albion nearly stole a deserved winner in the dying moments as Adam Priestley’s header was acrobatically saved by Cooper who clawed Priestley’s bullet header out of the goalmouth in the last meaningful moment of the game.
Robertson’s approach to coaching his side throughout the game was refreshing at this level for its calmness and clarity of instruction. Robertson, a native Australian, credited his calm nature to the sunny weather of his homeland and was in philosophical mood despite the game being two points dropped rather than one point gained. “Footballs a funny game, unfortunately, and it doesn’t matter what side of the planet you come from, I’ve seen many games in my time where the better side doesn’t win, I guess we were on the tail end of that today.”
Great point for @OssettAlbion away at Colwyn Bay today. Better side for the majority and deserved all three points. I’m still not sure how the keeper kept that header out in the 90th min. #uta pic.twitter.com/60OEXT9vg7
— Luke Swinden (@LukeSwinden) December 23, 2017
Robertson has belief in himself and his players that they will kick on up the table. “I’ve only been at the club for ten days but from what I’ve seen so far with the squad we’ve got we’re more than capable of competing at this level and it’s disappointing to see where we sit in the table.”
When asked how far he could take the side “With a bit of help from everybody else, first and foremost, I want to see us step up the table. To the end of this season, give a real good account of ourselves and hopefully, the boys can be as professional as I what I would like to take my job as serious as I can”
Ossett Albion finds themselves in the 21st position, whilst Colwyn Bay are comfortable in midtable in 9th position with hopes of a playoff place still within their reach.
It is a surprise, given how well they played and controlled large stretches of this game, that Albion is in a relegation fight, but the calm and measured approach of Robertson will be sure to take them to safety.
— The Unicorns (@OssettAlbion) December 23, 2017