The come-back kings
Larks win first game of the season
The Larks came back from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 away at Bridport in the first competitive game of the season.
Goals from man of the match Jamie Lyons (2), a Tyler Sibbick penalty and an own goal from the home side. This was a gutsy performance in difficult circumstances.
Up the Larks!
The Larks' first competitive league fixture ended in a win, but we had to pull ourselves back from a disadvantage three times to get there.
In the absence of our manager Wayne Thorne, Lee Collier picked up the reins and the squad responded magnificently to the bad news we had recently received. A few players were absent due to injury or suspension but it was still a strong group that made the trip down to Dorset to play in sultry summer conditions.
The game took a while to settle down. Plenty of free kicks were awarded in the first quarter of an hour, though hardly any to the Larks, and at that stage both sides had their chances. Bridport fired over the bar and then Tyler Sibbick picked up an excellent cross from the impressive Ross Lye: the opposing keeper did well to save the shot on goal. Bridport then took the lead with a freakish goal: Chris Snoddy caught the ball and it appeared all was well; however, the catch was just over the line and the goal was awarded.
With a relatively early lead under their belt Bridport pressed their advantage and we struggled to keep possession for a spell. A couple of threatening free kicks were awarded - this time one for each side - and Nat Auckland's attempt fired through the Bridport defence, requiring their keeper to make good save. Eventually, on the half-hour mark, we equalised. Once again Ross set up a cross from the right and Jamie Lyons tucked it in from close range. The Larks then dominated for a spell and it was against the run of play somewhat, with only a couple of minutes of the first half remaining, that the home side took the lead again. One of their forwards rounded our defence and Snods was unable to stop the shot.
With only a goal between the sides it looked like we were still in it, and Nat almost immediately forced a great save from the Bridport keeper when he was clear on goal. Then disaster struck: Snods got to a Bridport strike but couldn't quite tip it over the bar and we were 3-1 down. This breathless game wasn't done with us yet, though. Only 2 minutes later Nat pressed forward again, picked up a pinpoint ball into the box from our captain Matt Ralph, and was upended by a Bridport defender. Tyler scored an almost casual penalty and we were back in the game.
The Larks now had some real momentum and our forward line caused some consternation in the opposing defence, who made a number of unforced errors. Steve Casey forced a save from the keeper and Nat launched a firecracker of a free kick which again was saved. The Larks' enthusiastic attacking play led to our equaliser, a belter of an own goal assisted by Rob Hobbs, who played effectively in midfield for 90 minutes.
The game still had half an hour to run and both sides began to battle for the victory. Tyler had a fantastic chance when clear on goal with only the keeper to beat but he lobbed it over the bar. Bridport forced us to play a bit too deep thereafter, and it took a red card for their number 9 for a harsh tackle on Ralphy to give us the space we needed to seal the win. Tyler came close with a header, but it was man of the match Lyno who headed home from another fine Ross assist to finally put us ahead. The game ended with a valedictory flourish from Bridport which promoted a fine save from Snods.
This was a hard-fought win that testified to the character and the team spirit of the squad. We did it for Thorney.
Bridport's report on the match is here: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/bridportfc/s/match-report-55287.html?official=1&fixture_id=803484