Aston win on wet day in the Marsh...
...as the "Evans" open.
On a muggy but drizzly day Aston kicked off their 2016/17 season, it was billed as an enormous away day into the far depths of Gloucestershire. Aston were Sporting a new kit in snazzy lambretta colours kindly picked up by longest serving player and ultimate clubman Preston on a morning shopping jaunt in Oxford.
Unfortunately for rotund gaffer Edwards, his worst nightmare had been realised when he tried on the goalkeeper top and was immediately aware that it had come in a size too small added in with the high rainfall and this was looking like the ultimate skinny fit, his crown jewels were crammed into his shorts tighter than Mike Ashley has fifty pound notes in his pockets. The changing room carpet made the experience all the more surreal with numerous players whining about the length of the new shorts. What had Edwards got himself into with this managers job? At least he did eventually slide into his shorts.
Aston lined up with an extremely strong looking eleven boasting four debutants, Ryan Colleton, Vince Evans, Adam Clarke and Jamie Kennedy. Three of the debutants from old rivals Witney Royals and Vince Evans making the transfer from Witney Wanderers.
Aston are renowned for a low key warm up, something the new gaffer was aware of and demanded his assistant Molony shake this poor culture out of the club. Molony abided and led a run across the pitch followed by some rather low key passing in a circle. Not so different from the last decade it would seem.
Despite the not so intense warm up Aston started well with lively wing play from Smith and Colleton, they were the stand out performers in the opening exchanges. Aston soon took the lead with a returning James Fleming who was happy and not his usual sulky self on the football pitch cut back from the left for Molony to pass home into the net, 1-0 Aston.
Possession domination for next twenty five minutes followed with Aston passing it across the back from left to right, right to left making full use of the large pitch and making those Moreton players strain every sinew to even gain a touch of the ball. A slick move handily recorded by the on watching misery that is Chris Allinson saw another excellent build up from Aston with the ball passed across to the energetic looking James Fleming who ran forwards and then passed to brother Ross who dummied for Preston to pass to Hedges who passed to Clarkey. Clarke a more direct sort of guy went long with a purpose and found Jamie Kennedy who is a distant relation of the occupants of 28 Ramsay Street, Kennedy found himself inside his man with a ricochet that Smith would have been proud of, the ball fell to Evans who produced a dreamy turn and fired at the goal only for the inch-high goalkeeper to save well.
The last quarter of an hour of the first half was less than impressive for Aston as Moreton gained a real foothold in the game and twice went close, a fizzing drive from twenty yards saw Edwards get down well and parry with strong wrists despite the chaffing from the tight fitting goalkeeper kit. Moments later the tricky and very pace number 11 for Moreton shot from the right edge of the box after decent Moreton play and saw his effort just go over the cross bar with Edwards beaten all ends up. The thirty-four-year-old Preston playing left back was enjoying his tussle with the lively young and pacey Moreton winger.
Half time came as the players trudged into the dressing room for Edwards to give his most important team talk of his Aston managerial stint to date. Edwards encouraged the team to take the game to the opposition in in the idyllic setting of the Budgens Stand.
The Red Lions of Aston came out like the proverbial train and steamed all over Moreton. Colleton was soon released down the right by Molony and the “Fish” stuck a ball up for Vince Evans to head home for a debut goal. Evans managed to push Molony out of the way and thundered it into the roof of the net, a quality goal. 2-0 Aston.
The Moreton Manager seemed disgusted with the effort from his players and especially his substitutes for not retrieving the ball when it went off the pitch, “don’t you know we are losing”. Moments later the ball came within a metre of him only for him not to retrieve the ball for Aston. The irony of it was not lost on the substitutes.
Ryan “Fish” Colleton seemed to be thriving off the constant supply of water and being a constant threat down the right side of the tank. Fish or “piranha” as he may soon be known due to his bright white chemically enhanced teeth was looking every inch the high class traditional winger that Aston need. An excellent touch and instant dangerous delivery should leave the Aston forward players licking their lips at the season ahead.
Astons defence had pressed up to the half way line and Moreton could not find a way out of their half as it fast became attack against defence. A goal mouth scramble from one of numerous corners with Ross Fleming putting in a beautiful flat ball saw Matt Smith excited as the ball fell to him it was as if he was in a premium wig shop with a £1000 voucher and somehow couldn’t concentrate, he fluffed his lines in the six and totally missed the ball apart from the slight scrapping of one of his studs on the ball.
Smith was to have the last laugh though as he atoned moments later with a tremendous finish running onto an inch perfect Evans through ball taking a touch and drilling home low to the goalies right with a left footed drive. An extremely classy goal and his thirty-second for the club. 3-0, “up the Aston”.
Sam Rowe soon came on for Preston and was to instantly witness the marauding Molony cross to front post for "Drifter" to also score on debut as he headed into the near post from around half an inch. Edwards acted instantly putting petit Jamie Austin on for the most recent goalscorer Jamie Kennedy. Austin just about managing to climb out and over the steep dugout for a little guy and to drag himself away from his girlfriend who had been in the dugout for the duration of the game, something this reporter had never seen in his time as an Aston player, the modern day footballers are quite something.
Chris “grumpy old man” Allinson soon replaced the leggy looking Ross Fleming who had played a very disciplined role but looked like he was much in need of a weekend pamper and sauna at Center-parcs, luckily this was in the offing much to his disgust.
There was still time for a miss-hit cross from the Moreton right as Edwards back pedaled in possible quicksand or was it the tightness of the kit. A combination of Edwards a post, a Moreton attacker and a Dan Molony Ear lobe keeping the ball out. Molony felt he had been pushed and told the referee so, “ref he pushed me into the post, if it’s not a goal kick then it’s a free kick” he barked.
There was also time for Joe Mangel, Lovejoy, or even Johnathan Creek look alike Sam Rowe to be completely outfoxed by the Moreton number 11 who it has to be said was the stand out player. He nutmegged Sam supremely only for Rowe to chop him down in embarrassment.
Full time and a comprehensive win for the lions of Aston to start what is hoped to be a successful campaign. The day was improved further by the offer of Lamb at the Moreton pub, Lamb is something that some men cant resist, Gareth Preston clearly being one of these, a man that in his previous twelve years for the club had only made it for one post match alcoholic beverage, was this the Lamb or was this the Edwards effect? The lamb warmed the hearts of the players as they traversed back across the country to their homes and looked forward to next weeks local derby.