With the season starting this Sunday I thought I would select three of my favourite games from previous opening days.
My first game as manager. I left myself on the bench opting for new signing Jason Dunnage at right back, I also gave a debut to Jon Guest meaning that Simon Goldsmith joined Ross Leeks and I as the substitutes.
The game proved to be a close one but Adam Wilson gave us the lead in the first half. Jason withdrew at half-time due to an injury. I replaced him with Ross, Jem Vince dropping back into the defence and Ross going on the wing.
But it was with 30 minutes to go I came on replacing James Holland in a straight swap, I bravely left 133-goal striker Ross on the wing opting to keep our good shape. It led to our second goal. Ross made a run through the centre and played a ball to me on the corner of the penalty area. I didn’t even take a touch and hit the shot first time, the shot stayed low and shot across the ‘keeper into the bottom corner of the goal. 2-0.
I enjoyed this game because I was picking the team, certainly an ego thing that I think plenty of people could relate to and because I effectively settle the match with my goal. Securing the win for my first game charge, very satisfying.
The 200-098 season’s opener proved to be a novelty, in that this is the only time we have kicked off the season with the County Cup as the first game. We faced off against Mendlesham Albion a club that we inexplicably lost 7-2 to in 2006. Of the 11 players in the starting line-up only three didn’t play in the previous defeat, only this time we romped it. Scoring nine goals. Here is the match report from the End of Season book:
Playford started the most lively and were soon ahead, an excellent Jem Vince cross from the left was met superbly by Mark Lillistone.
Chris Jones capitalised on a defensive muddle, with neither the 'keeper nor defender wanting to claim the ball, Jones nipped in and lobbed the ball over the keeper into the far corner of the net.
The referee gave Albion a spot kick when Greg Songer was harshly adjudged to have handled. The ball struck his upper body in what looked like a position well outside the box. Another Albion defensive mistake allowed in Stuart Goldsmith to cross for James Holland to finish.
Playford could have conceded a second penalty as Lukas Zimcik appeared to handle the ball in the box when controlling a cross from the left, whilst Albion players appealed wildly, Zimcik had fired a probing cross field pass to Holland who took the ball on and duly finished. Holland completed his hat trick in the second half, firing across the keeper from the left. Lillistone fired under the keeper from just inside the box for his second and Playford’s sixth.
Holland then turned provider, an excellent cross from the left found Mark Bulstrode’s surging run into the box and he brought the ball down and fired under the keeper. Bulstrode made it nine when the Albion keeper, who had gone up for a corner, could not get back in time to save his long distance shot from just inside his own half. Sandwiched between Bulstrode’s goals was Zimcik’s tap in, having run the full length of the pitch to meet a cross.
An usual way to start the season combined with a thumping win and a goal for me.
The first match played ever by the new Reserve team. At 31 I was the only player on the pitch over the age of 21 we were playing Suffolk Punch who would lose only once all season and finish in second place. We played a great game, albeit for large parts very much under the cosh. Sam Reach was awesome in goal and made numerous close range saves to keep us in the game. Hayden Ellis and Sam Burman put everything on the line when it came to defending our penalty area. We held out for a 0-0 draw and it proved to be a great starting point for the brand new reserves.