SSML Div 2 - St Neots Town Reserves v Loughton Manor - 6th August 2016, 3pm KO
On a glorious day, the season finally began at home against tough opposition in an experienced Loughton Manor side. Saints started brightly keeping the ball well and looked to capitalise on early pressure. Andrew Sincock and Jamie Osborne both went close in the early passages, but found the goalkeeper equal to their efforts. Ollie Reynolds was causing problems down the right, but the final ball was eluding his team mates. After 15 minutes a free kick from Junior Muya was met well by Nathan Gillespie, beating the keeper, but agonisingly finding the crossbar. Ant Brolia then had two long range efforts go close, the first was a whisker high and the second produced an outstanding diving save from the goalkeeper. Saints kept up the pressure, with only a couple for chances created by Loughton. One went narrowly passed the post, and the other was stopped by a full stretched Scott Stanford, who managed to get a finger on a shot he had no right to save. The last 10 minutes became a bit more end to end, with the defence holding firm until Loughton nicked the opener against the run of play. In a half the Saints dominated, they had every right to feel aggrieved going in 1-0 down at half time.
The half time team talk by Alex Bishop and Paul Dodson clearly did the trick as the Saints came flying out the blocks in the second half. It only took 5 minutes before the Saints were level through Laurie Bambridge. The first goal of the season could well be the goal of the season. 30 yards out, with no passing options Laurie decided to take things into his own hands and unleashed a thunderbolt over the keeper and into the top corner. With this the Saints were buoyed and kept the pressure on. Chance after chance came with Ollie Reynolds coming the closest firing just past the post. A slight knock to Junior Muya meant he was replaced by Reece Bevis, who stepped into the game without missing a beat. Bish then sent on Josh Maltby for Jamie Osborne to freshen things up in attack. Josh immediately had an effort from range go just over. Loughton started to drop deeper, trying to protect the away draw from a rampant Saints side. Phil Pelling entered the fray for a tiring Ant Bolia and was immediately involved in the winner. His ball into the box found its way to fellow substitute Josh Maltby, who’s tight control enabled him to turn and fire home into the bottom corner. Loughton then pushed to find an equaliser, but were no match for the duo of Luke Partridge and Rob Fitzgerald who stood firm. Scott Stanford saved well late on by staying big, and Saints almost got a third when Aldo Walsh looked like he was going through on goal. The final whistle went and there were cheers all round, as this new team registered 3 points at the first time of asking.
After the match, Joint Manager Alex Bishop was asked for his thoughts, ‘Couldn’t have asked for more today, the 3 points were all that mattered. I think there is a lot more to come from this team, but to get the win is fantastic. Loughton are a very good team, they will cause a lot of teams problems this season and I’m sure the return fixture will be a cracker. We can’t rest back now though, we need to take this as a baseline and push on from here. It’s a long season, but I’m proud of the way the boys reacted today in being one down. We look forward to our first away fixture next Saturday which will bring us a new range of challenges.’
Final Score: 2 - 1
Squad: Scott Stanford, Junior Muya, Luke Partridge, Rob Fitzgerald, Laurie Bambridge, Nathan Gillespie, Ant Brolia, Aldo Walsh, Ollie Reynolds, Andrew Sincock, Jamie Osborne, Phil Pelling, Reece Bevis, Josh Maltby, Ryan Gregory, Luke Taylor
Player’s MoM: Laurie Bambridge
Manager’s MoM: Laurie Bambridge