Match Report

500 Words From The Wham

Sunday, 9 July 2023

A return to my old hometown, to watch my favourite team start preparations for the 2023/24 season proved irresistible- despite the weather forecast - resulting in a trip over the Pennines to watch a couple of short-format pre-season friendlies. 

This, on a day that the armchair sporting aficionado could have consumed on TV; a test match at Headingley, tennis at Wimbledon and Grand Prix preparations from Silverstone - assuming they had the right subscriptions or know “Big Dave” down the pub who has some excellent hardware…

Football now really is a 12 month-round experience it seems.

The Wham stadium improves upon every visit. The infrastructure is modest by Football League standards but I remember the days of Stanley playing in the Cheshire League on the original pitch, surrounded by a basic metal barrier and not much in the way of shelter. The club has come on leaps and bounds since then and especially from the relatively recent involvement of Andy Holt. They are a credit to common-sense and I begrudge not a pound I spend when in their ground.

Drawing conclusions from a pre-season friendly - or to be precise two friendlies in this case - would be fraught with danger and bordering on the foolhardy, let us indulge in some preparatory pencil sketches in that case ? 

Rovers arrived without new signings Arnór Sigurðsson and Niall Ennis in their ranks. Pre-match announcements alerted us to the absence of Adam Wharton and pre-kick off, a late Tweet indicated that skipper Lewis Travis would also be absent due to “family issues”. Obviously all our thoughts are with Lewis whilst he handles whatever is transpiring.

Excitement about the new kit as the players emerged - still not sure about that sky blue collar & the lack of reversed halves on the rear grates, but not the worst Rovers have ever worn. The first match was notable, much like a teetotal stag night, for a lack of shots. Stanley had the best chances, Rovers seemed content to play possession football in the middle third - in truth not much to report. 

Debutant Sondre Tronstad impressed - tidy, efficient, effective; first impressions very good. Of the others on show, Ashley Phillips added to his burgeoning reputation, Kaminski was the busier and impressive keeper, but the rest was pretty unremarkable. It finished nil-nil for the record.

The second game saw some goals…eventually. Much lateral passing from Rovers once more led to few actual goal attempts and Pears will not be best pleased with the Stanley opener; a low shot he got a hand to but couldn’t keep out. The second Stanley goal was a Scott Wharton double-aberration. An attempt to intercept miscalculated and an attempted recovery tackle mistimed - the resulting penalty slotted home. It looked like a miserable ending to the afternoon was in store but this jerked Rovers out of their lethargy and two late goals from Hedges and Dolan spared blushes as Rovers ended the stronger, threatening a late “Dick Turpin” job. 

Two short games, two draws, two demonstrations as to why pre-season friendlies should be taken lightly, but enough evidence to point to a lack of creativity and cutting edge that hopefully Sigurðsson and Ennis can resolve.


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