Round 1 First Team

14 APR 2014 | BY PARA HILLS EAST

First Team

The opening game of the season was a sure case of good news and bad news.

Bad news was that the pitch was a shocker and, in the case of the Blue Eagles, bad news to catch an Easties side that displayed their intentions for the season. Coach Ryan ‘Alby’ Bastable encouraged the team to ignore the pitch conditions and keep to the game plan of playing to feet and holding possession and then see how the team were doing at half time. . . .

With a number of new players both in and out (for various reasons) the depth of the team was displayed in an amazing start that had most on the sidelines counting the shirts as the East took total control from the whistle. The first time the Eagles got to touch the ball was picking it out of the net after just 42 seconds when Aaron Smith – aka ‘smudger’ got onto the end of a cross to drill home from close range but any thoughts the home side had of re-grouping to find an equaliser were to be in vain as the team moved the ball quickly and outplayed them in all areas of the park. Shane Winter was wreaking havoc on the left with some great skills and supplied a superb cross for ‘smudgers’ second, a header back across the ‘keeper, then with the constant pressure Brad Smith drilled the ball home from inside the box for 3-0 on just 20 minutes.

Most would of thought at this point the game was done and dusted but with Winter on the left and Aaron Walters (Wally) back on the right there was to be no respite for the Eagles as smudger was holding the ball up well and getting shots off; it was no surprise when he completed an amazing hat-trick on the 30 minute mark courtesy of Drodgy. Shortly before half time with Wally making several runs and playing one-two’s with the midfielders, the size of the pitch was irrelevant as time and again the Easties stormed to what must be one of their best starts to a season in years. In what seemed to be an amazing decision Wally was literally rear ended in the box only to see the referee wave play on, judging by the smile on Wally’s face you could see it was a very ‘close’ encounter J

At half time the coach took the team into the changing rooms and the coach heaped on the praise to all and then the bad news, he wanted to reset and do it all again in the second half. There were no moans, or groans just a pumped up Easties team itching to get out and carry on their job.

Shortly after the start of the second half Brad Smith overstretched and went down on 58 minutes and was replaced by Craig Gibbons who grabbed the reigns and took up the position after playing in most of the ressies game earlier. Wally got his reward on 60 minutes when he nailed the Easties 5th only to see the Eagles midfielder Dodaj lace a brilliant free kick from 25 mtrs out over the wall into ‘keeper Plowmans’ top left hand corner via his fingertips. Credit to the Blue Eagles, it was a sublime dead ball strike to give the home team supporters something to cheer about. Let’s face it there was not much else up until this point for them.

Ed Kittle came on for Walters on 67 minutes and Briggo moved from left back to left midfield and promptly thanked the coach by scoring the Easties 6th in the 70th minute. Adam Ratley made several overlapping runs from right back whilst Mark Aldridge and

Chris Saggs were looking solid in defence; on the rare occasion’s the Eagles got through the Easties custodian was out quick to take away any scoring opportunity. The final substitution came on 75 minutes when Ryan Thurston (Mozzie) replaced the hat-trick hero Aaron Smith to keep up the pressure on the home team. On 80 minutes Mozzie was taken down in the box for a clear cut penalty which was duly put over the bar to the relief of the home team. This relief was short lived as Drodgy finally got his reward for his constant efforts when he put away the final goal on 86 minutes.

The final whistle was the start of the Easties song that was sung with pride and passion and 3-points in what most would view as an outstanding display for the first game of the season.

Still early days yet and the next game will be home to Macedonia where the challenge will be to maintain the same dominance shown today but this time on a decent wicket pitch.