Bucks CC opened their 2014/15 ADL Premier league campaign with a convincing 6-1 win away to Berko Sports. With manager David Green and his assistant Rikki Sinfield both away on holiday, it was down to club captain Matt Moran and vice captain Scott Bannister to organise the new look squad for the game. A number of players were unavailable due to holiday, injuries and suspension but this did not prevent Bucks from fielding a strong, attack minded team.
With Berko Sports moving to a new home venue, it was disappointing to arrive to see a considerate slope across the pitch and grass that looked like it had evaded the blades of the mower since the end of the last season. Despite the disappointing pitch conditions, the game plan for Bucks did not change and they set about their passing game from the outset with everyone, from keeper Matt Moran to the strikers Ray Long and Carl Moreton, involved with early touches. A new look back line consisting of Mike Ainger, Joe Oxley and Scott Bannister looked very comfortable as a unit and the ball was moved about sharply between them which enabled the midfield 3 of Troy Bailey-Goss, Daniel Jones and Lewis Creser to get on the ball nice and early. The ball was moving with good fluidity as the new formation began to settle and it wasn't long before Carl Moreton had peeled off his marker to enable a through ball which, due to the pitch, held up just enough for a Berko defender to intercept.
Bucks kept the passing going and chances were beginning to be created through the middle and through the wide outlets of Vinny Grecco and Carl Clay. Constant pressure in the opening period led to a number of early corners for the away side and it was from one of these corners in the 20th minute that the deadlock was broken. A near post corner from the right was cleared by a Berko player, only for Troy Bailey-Goss to head back out to the corner taker Vinny Grecco from the edge of the box. Vinny then hit a well uted long range ping to Lewis Creser who had evaded his marker and then rounded the keeper to slot home, despite a sliding effort from the defender to clear the ball.
Berko seemed to be awoken by the goal and mounted a good spell of pressure of their own, largely through their aerial threat. Resolute defending from the back 3 reduced Berko to half chances and it was only when a Berko midfielder lost his marker that keeper Matt Moran was called in to action. A speculative effort from 25 yards looked as though it would be a comfortable save for the Bucks keeper until a deflection from Joe Oxley sent the ball flying towards the top left hand corner, which called for a good flying save from Moran to tip the ball round the post for a Berko corner. The resulting corner was won well in the air by Mike Ainger and picked up wide right by Vinny Grecco, who spotted the run on the opposite flank from Lewis Creser. A pin point 40 yard diagonal ball was met on the run by Lewis Creser who passed the ball past the on rushing keeper with his first touch to put Bucks 2-0 up after 27 minutes.
The next 10 minutes saw good possession from both teams although few chances were carved out at either end until Bucks won another corner. Carl Clay took the corner right footed from the right, which evaded everyone apart from Vinny Grecco at the back post. An instant first touch on the chest allowed for a sweet left foot finish back across the goalkeeper and gave Bucks a 3-0 half time lead that they deserved.
Shortly after the break Bucks made a double change to see the impressive duo of Carl Clay and Carl Moreton replaced by Mark Swiecynski and Tony Castielli. The game ebbed and flowed with half chances at both ends but again it was bucks who would score next. With just under an hour gone in the game, a Berko cross was plucked out of the air by keeper Matt Moran who then quickly threw the ball out to Daniel Jones. A loose first touch from Jones allowed the Berko defender to attempt a clearance down field, only to be blocked by the ever alert Lewis Creser who then had a clear run to goal and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner for 4-0 and his hat-trick.
At this stage it seemed as though the home team had got a second wind and the Bucks defence were put under lots of pressure but timely interceptions from Scott Bannister and Joe Oxley prevented the keeper from being called in to action. As Berko pushed forward looking to get a goal they were leaving more gaps at the back which Bucks duly exposed. In the 72nd minute a good interception from Vinny Grecco was followed by a nice bit of skill to beat another midfielder before slotting the ball down the line to the industrious Lewis Creser. Creser then beat the full back and flashed an inviting ball across the six yard box for Mark Swiercynski to tap home at the back post. Bucks continued to create chances with Tony Castielli and Ray Long both having half chances saved but gaps were also being left in front of the Bucks back line as a bit of complacency crept in. This again put pressure on the back 3 of Ainger, Oxley and Bannister who all coped admirably against the 6ft+ centre forwards. One slip up by Oxley did however lead to the home team getting a consolation goal. A long ball into the corner was tracked well by Joe Oxley but he was beaten to the ball by the busy Berko forward who then managed to evade the defender to square the ball long the 6 yard box. A sliding effort from Mike Ainger was in vain as the Berko midfielder finished to make the score line 5-1 with 10 minutes to go.
As Berko went in search for another goal, in the 86th minute Matt Moran was called in to action when their forward rose above Scott Bannister to head goal-wards. Moran held the close range headed effort and allowed the back 3 a breather before dropping the ball to his feet. From there, a long kick down field was directed at Tony Castielli, to flick on to Ray Long who turned his defender to strike a sweet left foot shot across the keeper and into the bottom right hand corner.
The final minutes were played out with the majority of possession being held in midfield and when referee Paul Jenkins blew the final whistle, it was clear that the better team had won.
There were many impressive performances for Bucks with the new look squad forming a good understanding in their first competitive game together but Man Of The Match went to Lewis Creser most notably for his 3 goals but also the hard work he showed throughout the game.
Next up for Bucks is a home game against newly promoted Pond Park Rangers.