Vale of Lune 12, Bowdon 14: Narrow defeat for Vale of Lune
The chime of wedding bells and work commitments caused a massive reconfiguration of Vale of Lune’s pack from the previous week’s fixture at Broughton Park.
The absence of some experienced players could be cited for a stilted Vale performance against a side that had yet to win a league game.
But Bowden were also struggling for players and they are having to cut their cloth accordingly, as was evident in their line up.
On a damp, grey afternoon Vale opened with a series of invigorating, sniping attacks, the ball was move swiftly which had Bowdon back pedalling and in some discomfort at the tempo being set.
Man of the match Scott Manning darted through with powerful runs, the offloads were working well but Vale could not apply the right combination to unlock Bowden’s defence.
The pack worked hard, Luke Kettlewell and Steve Tagg were in the thick of the action, and the foundations looked solid enough.
Gradually the Cheshire side, after riding the early blows, discovered their self belief and began to make life uneasy for Vale.
There was nothing complicated about Bowdon’s approach, keep possession and going forward, attempt nothing outside the comfort zone and eventually chances will be created.
One such situation happened when Vale were penalised in the 12th minute and Callum Ramsey lashed over a 40m straight penalty goal.
Suddenly, Vale’s promising opening evaporated, they started to look rattled, attacks petered out because the final pass was not precise enough.
Cool heads were required as the game became scrappy, it was very much stop-start which played into Bowdon’s hands.
Chris Ramwell and Scott Manning made a superb, combined break that unfortunately ground to halt because of lack of support and in the 36th minute Bowdon increased their lead as the Vale defence indulged in a cat nap.
An accurate cross kick from Ramsey found winger Matty Killcourse all alone and in acres of space, he easily pouched the ball to score the simplest of tries which Ramsey converted from wide out.
Suddenly Vale emerged from their shell and began to show more energy in particular from the highly talented Michael Forrest, who had come on as a replacement.
Sam Wallbank went deep into Bowdon’s 22m and from the resultant penalty Billy Swarbrick took a quick tap prior to Sam Wallbank who catapulted himself over for a much needed try which Chris Ramwell converted at the end of the half.
Sometimes the half-time can be beneficial to one side and certainly Bowdon appeared to profit from the break just as Vale had begun to play with purpose because they trapped Vale in their own half for the opening 18 minutes of the third quarter.
No matter how Vale wriggled, they could not free themselves from the tentacles and although they did not leak any points they could not crab their way out using any option.
When they did begin to probe Bowdon territory they made a few tactical errors choosing to thump the ball into touch or opting for a scrum when the touchline pundits urged a kick at goal because any one of these opportunities if they had found the target would have levelled the score.
Michael Forrest and Jack Turton combined in a dangerous attack and in the 70th minute Ramwell pulled off a try saving tackle as the Vale defence melted.
But with time running out and Vale at last starting to fire, a repeat of the outcome of the Douglas fixture could not be ruled out, alas the outcome was made more difficult when Ramsey kicked a penalty goal at the end of proper time.
A glance at the scoreboard confirmed that a seven-pointer would tie the game and obviously this was upper most in Sam Wallbank’s and Jack Ayrton’s minds when they tore into Bowdon’s defence.
A couple of penalties came Vale’s way and from the second Alex Briggs unleashed an accurate cross kick into the waiting hands of Harry Finan out on the right wing who skipped over for the try.
Alex Briggs’ conversion, from a difficult angle flashed across the front of the posts, referee Pearson’s whistle followed to signal no side as a relieved Bowdon side roared their delight which echoed all around the ground.
On a week that had been dominated by Bond mania and a shortage of petrol ,Vale had experienced their own “Skyfall” as their Aston Martin struggled to pump sufficient fuel to an engine which only occasionally thundered into life, while for Bowdon it was a case of “From Powder House Lane With Love.”
Vale have a blank Saturday this weekend.
Vale of Lune: M Mount, O Branford, R O’Heihir; L Kettlewell, S Tagg; T Nicholson, J Ayrton ©, S Wallbank; B Swarbrick, H Finan; M Humpage, JTurton, S Manning, M Cross; C Ramwell. Reps: A Crookall, M Forrest, A Briggs..