Conditions: Sunny/Firm ground
The new season is always a great occasion. Optimism, freshly cut grass, new nets, shiny goal posts, field barriers, newly painted lines and this season we were welcomed into our new dressing rooms (hats off to the club members who worked tirelessly on Thursday and Friday to get the place ready).
Portslade welcomed newly promoted Felbridge to the Theatre of Wet Dreams. No new big money signings made the first team squad as Slade looked to build on the solid foundations from last season (plus there was very little in the budget after the management team were given huge salary rises)
Slade started off in blistering fashion and could have been 3 goals up within the first few minutes. In the fourth minute Slade finally took the lead after Nathan Cook fed Jacob Everett on the half-way line. He dribbled on the outside before cutting in and curling a right footed shot into the bottom corner from 23 yards. 1-0 !
In the 30th minute Rich Smith, Dave Goffin and Jamel Hanson started off a move from the back that eventually found its way to Jack Larkham just in the opposition half. He proceeded to take on 3 players - in a body swiveling movement reminiscent of Ricky Villa in the 1981 FA Cup - before stabbing the ball goal wards. As the ball dribbled towards the line, last seasons top goalscorer Karl Boffey poked home. Great wing wizardry from the former winger and possibly the easiest goal The Boff will score this season, despite being a prolific 6 yard box predator! 2-0
Two minutes later and Slade went three ahead. Nathan Cook cut in the from the left and slipped the ball to his fellow wing-partner Jacob Everett. The Whippet advanced behind the defence and coolly slotted home with another right footed finish. Jacob has clearly been spending his time off over the summer turning his swinger into a diamond cutter! 3-0.
The second half started off sluggishly with Slade giving away position sloppily and not pressing as intensely as in the first period. Chances were wasted with hilarious regulatory with guilt edged opportunities going begging from Sean Trend (x2), Karl Boffey (x1) and Nathan Cook (x17). On another day it could have been double figures.
The scoring was completed in the 87 minute when Nathan Cook *finally* got on the score sheet. Sub Craig Beckwith played a delightful inch-perfect pass from the centre-circle through to the managers favourite. Nathan burst past the defence and slotted home into the corner of the net. 4-0.
The real drama was yet to come though. With the result tied up and Slade seemingly sauntering a long to that cherished clean sheet, disaster struck! Mad Dog Marc Sutton was alleged to have taken down the Felbridge striker although TV replays suggest he got the ball cleanly before clipping the player. The referee pointed to the spot with 90 minutes on the clock. Up stepped the Felbridge midfielder and with shouts of "Come on Rich. You can do it" from Matt Collins, Rich Smith dived expertly low to his left to save the spot kick! Jubilation!
To sum up; the first half was a genuine pleasure to watch with silky football all over the pitch. The mutual confidence shown amongst the players when in control of the ball allows the team to be more expressive and expansive when in possession. The second half was slightly less professional but the game was already won. If we play like we did in the first half all season then we'll have no problems. A great foundation to start the season on.
Man of the Match was Jamel Hanson who pipped his central defensive partner Dave Goffin to the accolade. Jamel who is basing his game on David Luiz this year said in a post match press conference: "The fixture list gave us a great opportunity to get off to a winning start this season. We made sure we made no mistakes with regards to the result as throughout the game it always looked to be a comfortable win, but the clean sheet was the added bonus. To be fair though we would have done something disastrous to let them score, sutts probably had the best disaster shout when he gave away a penalty in the last ten mins with a last ditch tackle. Rich pulled off a save from the spot most outfield players could have dealt with but other than that, the defence made lightwork of a very mute team. They were a nice bunch of lads, very polite. The full back introduced himself to nick, and gave complements about our players throughout the game, they just didn't talk much to each other and Nat could have won the golden boot after one game but decided 1 goal was enough. Lets continue that next week boys!!"
TEAM: 1. Smith 2. Hanson 3. Larkham 4. Collins 5. Goffin 6. Trend © 7. Cook 8. Shelley 9. Boffey 10. Sutton 11. Everett SUBS: 12 Beckwith, 14 Samuels 15. Munsarum