Crusaders Grab first win of season
Tim Brought on at half-time to end visitor's hopes.
A stronger looking Crusaders team went into their first home game of the season confident of picking up their first victory. They started brightly the midfield trio of Jon Vowles, Andy Chainey and Andrew Sanders instigating some fine passing moves to test the visiting defence. However, with the pitch playing slow due to the long grass, the final ball and finish were not matching the build up play.
With Crusaders retaining possession so comfortably and it seeming only a matter of time before they took the lead, lethargy began to creep into their game and they paid for their relaxed attitude when a missed header from a goal kick somehow resulted in the visiting striker being left one on one with Paul Findlay in the Crusaders goal. He slotted home with minimal fuss to leave Crusaders shell shocked.
As with any team, now they had dropped down a couple of gears, Crusaders were finding it difficult to raise their game again. A number of chances were missed to equalise, but the visitors were also creating problems from their attacks on a creaky looking Crusaders rear guard and should have gone two up when a near open goal was inexplicably missed from 5 yards out.
Crusaders eventually came to life just after the half hour mark when some good play from Jon Vowles gave Gav Flye space to shoot from the edge of the box and he clinically drove the ball passed the keeper for the equaliser. Things got even better for Crusaders five minutes later when Gav Flye launched a high cross that bamboozled the Broughton keeper (who seemed to think it was going out) leaving Guy Bewick free to tap in from a yard.
Instead of being the catalyst to kick on and control the game, Crusaders continued to be sloppy and paid for it on the stroke of half-time when Broughton equalised via a header from a corner. A disappointing half therefore ended with the score at 2-2.
With a strong bench available and roll on roll off in place, Crusaders made two substitutions at half time, bringing on Tim Grabham and Gareth Taylor, who could both feel unfortunate not to have started the game. Again, Crusaders passing game started to control the half without providing the end product, but that changed just before the hour mark when Guy Bewick got to the by-line, pulled the ball back to Andrew Sanders who in turn helped the ball on for Tim Grabham to coolly slot home.
Yet again the tenacious visitors got back into the game. This time Jon Vowles showed that age does not dim reaction times by incredibly managing to move his hand towards a ball drilled at him by a fellow defender from 3 yards, thereby conceding a free kick on the edge of the box. Despite his protests, Jon must learn that reaction times like his are a curse as well as a gift and a smart referee will always recognise his skills and punish him accordingly. The free kick deflected off the wall and into the back of the net.
Crusaders were in serious danger of letting the 3 points slip away in this ding dong battle, but the final 25 minutes eventually saw them take control of the score line as well as the game. Firstly, a lovely chipped ball from Gareth Taylor released Guy Bewick, whose attempted lob confused the Broughton keeper and dropped into the net. Soon after Tim Graham picked up a loose ball and showed wonderful composure to bend his second of the afternoon into the corner.
This double salvo eventually broke Broughton's resistance and looking leggy after spending much of the game chasing the ball, they conceded another as good work from Lee Huckson released Tim Grabham to complete his hat-trick and cap a remarkable individual performance afer coming on at half time.
Crusaders know that they will need to up their game in the weeks to come, but also have the confidence that there is much more in the locker. Next week's tough cup tie at Hook will show if they still have the key to the locker.