Aston in seven heaven...
By Philip Caswell
...as Angel Austin shines brightest
The opening fixture always brings a sense of optimism and this season was no different and maybe optimism was more founded than ever before. Four players made their Aston debuts and gaffer Dunstan had a new found sensation of a squad of twenty to pick from, the whiteboard had never seen so many amendments in its brief history.
The vocal Matt Helmsley made his debut in goal and Dunstan opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation that had served him so well in the back end of last season, the difference on the face of it was the strength in depth. Dan Moloney an Aston target of the last decade made his highly anticipated debut at right back, comparisons to Cafu were to follow for the next ninety minutes. Mike Hedges made his debut at the heart of the defence with club captain Ryan Hewer alongside him and veteran Matt Wood at left back who passed a late fitness test in which he had to see if he could beat the gaffer in a race between the new and old changing rooms.
James Fleming made his first appearance for Aston since 11th March 2006, Twitter was invented this month long ago. A total of 3,465 days had passed and this second coming for Fleming was somewhat unexpected by close friends who had pursued his signature for all of this timeframe. Fleming was playing in a deep lying quarterback role alongside the man from Cathedral City Chris Allinson. In front of them the maverick Ryan Oliver with Ian Peedle wide right the fourth debutant. Warren ‘I rate myself’ Austin wide left and Benji Sundblad the lone striker who looked rather worse for wear at kickoff.
Optimism reached fever pitch when the opposition could only muster ten men for the first fifteen minutes. Aston needed to take advantage.
Good work down the right by Fleming saw him beat two men despite his quiff consistently fighting his equilibrium, he laid back to Moloney who swung in a Rio carnival style cross for Austin to jig a samba at and force home with the outside of his boot, 1-0 Aston.
It was soon to be 2-0 as Sundblad was literally gifted a birthday present or maybe a hangover helper would be a more apt description in this situation as the rather slow looking Carterton Rangers player passed the ball straight to Sundblad who made especially sure and smashed home against both posts despite celebrating rather early it was a cool finish. It was rumoured the Carterton centre back had been on the ‘session’ with Sundblad and maybe explained his poor distribution for the entirety of the match.
Two soon become three in the move of the match as Peedle released Sundblad down the right who pulled back for Fleming to smash home with his left foot as he hit across the ball and into the roof of the net. What a goal. 3-0.
Aston continued to play a high pressing game and the Carterton Rangers goalkeeper continued to have the touch of a baby elephant. Talking of poor touches Fleming then showed exactly what he hasnt been missing in those 3,465 days, the dreaded attack of the molehill as Fleming sliced rather embarrassingly into the nearest hedge. Cue much laughter from all and sundry on the side lines.
Oliver started to see more of the ball and picked it up just inside the Carterton half, he beat a man and then played a delicious reverse pass for the agile looking Austin who was through on goal and made no mistake in passing into the far right corner of the net. 4-0 Aston. Austin had his second.
Half time was just approaching but there was still time for the exceedingly talented Oliver to try an audacious lob from 30 yards as the baby elephant back pedalled very slowly.
Dunstan delivered a delectable display of deliberate tactical exploration at half time by pointing out how well Aston were playing and to stay focused. Matt Wood looking particularly focused and raring to go for the second half.
Within thirty seconds Aston were awarded a penalty, a cheeky dink from Hewer saw Sundblad use his pace to round the goalkeeper who stuck out a paw and bring him down in dramatic fashion. Self-appointed vice-captain Austin or VC for short as it has been rumoured he would like to be referred to by playing peers stepped up and softly hit home for his hat-trick. 5-0 Aston.
The focused Wood was soon withdrawn and after showing dissent to the gaffer realised he had rather enjoyed his sixty second foray in the second half and trotted off to be the clubman that he is. Gareth Preston replaced him for his 194th Aston career appearance. Dunstan aware of his protuberant squad now went substitute crazy and five minutes later had put the young but technically superb Joe Allinson on in place of the slightly quiet Peedle.
Oliver continued to be the joker in the pack, the little bit of something different and released Sundblad for a one on one down the middle, Sundblad stuttered, stumbled and succumbed to the goalkeeper and tamely hit into his paw. Another five minutes passed and Dunstan made another substitution, 16 year old Reece Wain was introduced into the action for his debut replacing Chris ‘Rauchkase’ Allinson who had gone about his work with German efficiency.
Austin went into the middle and Wain to the right side, the right side now had a massive contrast in pace. Wain is unbelievably quick, Moloney in some parts of Ducklington has been described as lightning slow. Aston were grateful for his registration. Other than a flurry of substitutions the second half had been rather quiet until Moloney woke the 27 strong crowd with a crazed dribble which just needed a finish but a pass to Sundblad was the option who passed to Wain who then passed back to Moloney only for the danger to be snuffed out.
There was time for the weekly Hewer ‘Widowmaker’ and to all concerned looked like a booking but was apparently not documented. Austin fancied a fourth as he fizzed a long range drive just past the post. A corner from Wain was met by Hedges who headed into his toes and into the net for a debut goal, 6-0 Aston and at that moment Dunstan packed away the whiteboard for another week.
There was still time for Allinson to side foot volley home sweetly after trickery from hero Austin to make it an incredible 7-0 against a Carterton team many fancied to be promotion contenders. The goalkeeper seemed to move when he heard the ball hiss against the net. A late torpedo from a Carterton midfielder sunk Helmsley in the Aston goal and his hopes of a debut clean sheet. Final score 7-1.
The aftermath saw that not only does Austin like to shop at Iceland he also holidays there judging by the lack of colour in his legs and the backhanded compliment that Oliver would be an international player if he was of Sanmarinese origin.
In conclusion an extremely convincing victory and if you consider that Sam ‘Lovejoy’ Rowe, Ross Fleming, Matt ‘Lombardo’ Smith, Ashley ‘gamechanger’ Edwards, Phil Isle and Nick Angus didn’t even make the squad as well as rumours of Premier division standard players turning out for the reserves then Dunstan has an extremely strong squad to pick from. He may start tearing his hair out, a total transformation from last season.