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  • Writer's pictureNorth Camp

Chorley Crespo delivers the final shot after a Butler bullet to keep North Camp unbeaten!

Steven Schofield’s 89th-minute winner sparked wild celebrations on Sunday as North Camp maintained their perfect start to the season, beating Southwood Royals 2-1 at Frimley Lodge.

The Chorley Crespo popped up with his fourth goal in four games, slotting into the corner after intricate work from man-of-the-match Alex Barnett. This came after Matt Butler’s bullet finish had been cancelled out by a very fortunate Royals penalty, which hit both posts before going in off Bogdan Chitu’s backside.

After a two weekends without a game, and with gaffer Dan Knight absent due to work commitments, North Camp took to the field with the rallying cries of captain fantastic Tom Dallison ringing in their ears.

The visitors quickly settled into the game, moving it around nicely and dominating possession, particularly at the back as Joe Schoenwerth and Ben Simpson calmly moved it from side to side. The adaptable duo of Luke Gurney and Ed Simpkin probed away down the left flank, but for the majority of the first half the Royals remained resolute.

In general, the first period lacked much real goal threat, with the Sky Sports action areas showing an 10/80/10 split as both teams continued to feel their way into the game. The only real scare for the away side came as the Southwood had a goal disallowed for offside, much to the dismay of their coach and his missus standing one hundred yards away on the touchline. Did they complain multiple times? Yes. Did it work? No.

At the other end of the field chances were again at a premium, although Gurney did find enough space to launch a trademark rocket into the sky, almost clearing the trees as it went. Sorry did I say Gurney? I meant Butler.

But that ambitious effort proved to be the sighter Butler needed, as moments later the visitors took a deserved lead. A fine passing move started on the left, moved through the middle and out to Peter Jarmyn on the right, and his through ball found Butler in space on the right side of the box. The striker’s cross was cut out, but the attempted clearance ricocheted straight back into his path and he wasted no time in hammering a left-footed half volley past a helpless Royals keeper. 1-0 to the boys.

As the half wore on play began to get a bit more broken, with niggly fouls committed by both teams. A robust challenge here and a tug of the shirt there earnt Josh King and Butler yellow cards. £12 please.

At the other end, a free kick gave Barnett the chance to have a shot on goal, however he elected to gently pass the ball to the keeper instead, and the score stayed at one.

After the break, North Camp continued on the front foot, with Chris Pike, making his first appearance in the fresh new blue and white colours, getting in down the right side on a few occasions. But his crosses came to nought, the game remained tight and eventually the visitors were caught cold.

Connor Garnett, featuring alongside Alex Jones, Momodou Ceesay, Nathan Davis and Steven Schofield as one fifth of possibly the strongest bench the ACSFL has ever seen, made his mark on the game and on the ankle of the Southwood right midfielder, booting the lad inside the box. Penalty kick.

Now it’s at this point in proceedings where your reporter had to leave the game to go to work, however he did stick around just long enough to see one of the luckiest penalties ever. Technically an own goal for our beloved Boggy after the ball hit both posts and came out. I wasn’t there to witness the aftermath but I’m sure the post took a good beating.

As the game drew to a close Southwood sensed a sensational come-from-behind victory, showing signs that they’re a much improved side since the first game of the season. Davis, best known for his attacking exploits over the past ten years, twice denied the Royals a winner, first with a clearance off the line, and then with a last ditch tackle. They’re the sort of plays that have been rarely seen from the forward in previous years, but serve as proof that everyone is buying into the club culture this season.

And just when the game appeared to be petering out into draw, up stepped Schofield to send the visitors into delirium. Barnett received the ball on the half turn, weaved his usual magic and fed the ball through to the blond bomber. Schofield beat his man and buried the chance, leading to scenes the likes of which haven’t been seen for many a year.

Butler said it was better than a hole in one, King said the winner meant he’d happily sacrifice an old firm game to the lot from Ibrox, Gurney was seen benchpressing the linesman, and even the normally emotionless Dallison said, ‘well done Steve lad.’

In previous years the Queens Road side would perhaps have drawn or even lost this game, but winning is a habit and they dug deep to grind out the result. And with Jones completely skinning a lad late on with a trick known as the roulette, North Camp proved that skill, effort, attitude and a little bit of luck will see them go a long way this season and beyond.

Next week sees the first cup game of the season, at home to Old Kingstunions.

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