What a start to the season Saturday turned out to be against the reigning league champions and Woody’s favorite opponents!
After struggling to get 11 out in our pre-season games, competitive action thankfully proved much more attractive and we headed into the game with a strong 17 man squad, which presented the usual managerial selection headaches. As it was we went for a brave 3-5-2 formation with the intent to take the game to DB. Sam started in goal; back three of Eneko, Chris Colbourne & Woody; wing-backs Stu and Jim; Wozza, Pete and Chris Balka in the middle with Andy and Sam up top. This left a strong bench of Matt, Wiebe, Tom, Jack, Scott Wilkins & Steph.
The first 20 minutes or so was a tightly contested affair with both teams struggling to get the ball down and play, although it was very much 50/50 with it seeming like the day could go either way. Midway through the first half we conceded a free kick on the edge of the box which Jordan Brown stuck in the top corner having narrowly missed from a similar position moments earlier. The rest of the half saw Sam producing a couple of fine saves to keep us in it, although we were threatening from a number of dead ball positions with DB seemingly uncomfortable with our delivery and height in the box. On the stroke of half time, it was from such a set piece that we grabbed the equalizer: Pete swinging in a corner, Stu nodding it down and Woody stretching every inch of his 40 year old limbs to convert from close range.
After a positive half-time exchange we moved up a gear or two, with DB appearing to be slightly confused by changes in personnel and positions. Throughout the half we continued to threaten from set pieces and could have easily had another couple of goals prior to a long ball upfield from Eneko finding Chris B, who expertly swerved the desperate lunge of Rollinson Jnr, rounded the keeper and converted to send the Spartans faithful into raptures. DB had their chances to level and but some fantastic goalkeeping from Sam and resolute defending by the whole team, may have nicked one. However, all in all a hard fought and fair result on the balance of play which sets us up for a great season ahead.
All round it was a fantastic team performance with every man more than pulling his weight. Scotty Wilkins came on mid-way through the first half and was rock solid. Wiebe, Jack and Steph slotted in during the second half and held things firm. Special mention goes to Matt and Tom who unfortunately did not get on given how tight the game was, but who both showed true class to support the team to the end and join in the post match celebration in the Bar and Grill.
On the subject of the Bar and Grill, a typically hefty session ensued with a 19 man turnout at peak, including our new student fan club! The shots came out, Kim Jong Un was a lively discussion topic and we all now understand the meaning of the 3-0-0 formation!
Man of the Match: I think almost every player got a mention at some point, but Sam won it by a margin for his heroics between the sticks.
Mug of the Day: Size four football buying Steph.