Round 3 of EFL action saw Norwoods senior team once again fail to register a win, losing to Doncaster at Doncaster by 15 points.  The game never reached any great heights, with both sides gifting the other side several goals through sloppy turnovers in defence as the day wore on.  We commenced in reasonable style, kicking downhill with the aid of a breeze and did all the attacking.  Ben Trend notched the first for us after a neat pass from Leroy after 7 minutes, but we were not capitalizing on a general dominance around the ground and several miskicks from Doncaster.  Mid quarter Trent Shinners attacked a long kick forward with great purpose and was rewarded with a strong mark and goal.  We continued to attack but could not muster a third goal until a terrible kick-in from Doncaster hit Writter 20m out on a slight angle and he sent it straight back over the umpires hat.  At 1/4T we led 3.4 to just 2 points, would it be enough of a lead?  After just 30 seconds when we gifted Doncaster their first goal it appeared not, but we maintained parity for about 8 minutes, during which time Skave, who had begun playing with his old flair and courage marked strongly and slotted an excellent goal to restore our 3 goal advantage.   From then on, however, the quarter turned very ugly for Norwood supporters as Doncaster took control.  Old wounds re-opened as we were beaten comprehensively at the clearance and Doncaster surged forward.  Goal after goal came their way, our plight exacerbated when skipper Stuey Hill, playing a great game at half-back, repelled another surge forward with a strong defensive grab but went in-board to an iffy option, the resultant turnover paving the way for another easy Doncaster goal. Several times Doncaster got ‘out the back’ and forwards waltzed into open goals, their ball usage with the wind a lesson to our team, whose chronic overuse under pressure is consistently giving our forwards little chance.  By half-time our lead had turned into a rather ugly 14 point deficit.   We would need a huge 3rd quarter to wrest back control of the game.

Sadly, our 3rd quarter was probably our worst of the year and sowed the seeds of this loss.  We conceded the first two goals of the quarter into the breeze, and for 20 minutes showed very little endeavour or commitment to the cause.  Our on-ball division was continuing to lower its colours, and when we did win the ball back we were fiddling about with it by hand, refusing to get the ball in quickly to the key forwards.  Late in the quarter we kicked two quick ones – both to Darin Stewart, as doctors found a faint pulse in the Norwood heart, and a dashing run down the wing from Lochie Dickson appeared set to reward us with another major, but a third bounce failed to return to him when an open forward line and one-on one forwards yearned for the ball, the opportunity lost.  At 3/4T we had made no inroads, still trailing by 14 points 6.6 – 8.8.

With the game just about beyond reach at the start of the last quarter we began to release the shackles of self-doubt and play the sort of footy that we know we can.  The breeze seemed to play little part as we took control and looked dangerous.  Shinners marked and goalled to keep faint hopes alive.  Doncaster responded, but we did not give in.  Rej marked in the middle of the ground and to the cheers of the crowd bucked the trend of the day by refusing to fiddle about, turning directly towards goal and thumping it straight into the goalsquare where Leroy read it best and banged one through from point blank range.  Frustrated Norwood supporters shook their heads at the footballing simplicity of this goal, exasperated as to why this “Football 101’ methodology is not used more.  Sam Blease, playing his first game for the club in years surged down the wing using his renowned pace and delivered to Leroy.  Continuing on, he got the ball back in the pocket but his on the run check-side went narrow. Skave marked at the 20 minute mark and slotted an excellent goal from 35, and just like last week against Noble we were back within a goal, despite being the lesser team for the majority of the day.  Sadly, we were just one mistake from oblivion, and when the turnover came at half-forward Doncaster pounced and slotted the winning goal, then added another for good measure.  When the siren rang out we had fallen short by 15 points, and in truth, after awful 2nd and 3rd quarters we did not deserve to win.

This team is a truly ‘blue-collar’ group, not blessed with a surfeit of exquisite skills, but more than enough grunt to get the job done if it applies itself.  On this day the effort was patchy, and this is simply not enough if we are to win our share of games.  Our best players included Skayve, whose return to form must surely be a boost for everyone at the club, Stuey Hill, Matt Aver again in defence, Darin Stewart and Lochie Dickson.  Leroy and Trent Shinners threatened to be dangerous up forward but were given insufficient supply to make their mark on the game.  Notably, our on-ball division could not produce a single winner on the day, and here-in lies a significant problem

We host Nth Ringwood on Saturday in a game that is simply non-negotiable.  We HAVE to win.  In better news the 2nds notched a win while the colts went down in a low scoring affair by 11 points.

Go Wooders