With Coronavirus cutting short last season it was a huge positive to see the return of competitive football and an opportunity to demonstrate the effects of a tough pre-season. Double training sessions, hill sprints and six friendlies had certainly given us an opportunity to be in great shape going into the curtain raiser of a new campaign. It was a ruthless start as we had Mersey Boys camped in their own half with a fast tempo and high energy levels throughout the team. It was a strong and offensive starting 11 which saw Ben deputising for the injured Jude at left back and debuts for the triple signings Joe in goal, Dan partnering Sam at centre back and Kaleb making up at three man midfield alongside skipper Paddy and Anthony controlling in the holding role. It was the front three however who Mersey Boys just couldn’t live with. Before we eventually opening the scoring after 9 minutes we could and should have raced into a lead. The breakthrough come however when Zico’s rebounded header came to Anthony who nodded home to open our account for the season. Bens quick throw in found Alex who slotted into the far corner a minute later and Zico put in a superb cross for Gift who dispatched with a bullet of a header to make it 3-0 after just 12 minutes, it was our number 11’s 50th goal for the club since his arrival in 2017. Paddy should have added a 4th when the ball came to him on the edge of the box but his effort failed to hit the target. Number four finally came after 15 minutes when Zico yet again set up Gift who finished superbly with his left foot. Zico’s hard work paid off when he also got in on the action following a quick throw in by Alex who then scored an early contender for goal of the season with a stunning volley from a magnificent cross by Gift. His right foot finish flew past the helpless keeper. Alex then completed his hat trick (his second in a week following Thursday’s friendly vs Custy’s) after a great team move involving Paddy, Gift & Kaleb who put the ball on a plate for our number 15. Gift then scored a second header of the game to seal a hat trick of his own. Ben whipped the ball in with pace and the connection was enough to divert the ball past the keeper who was having to pick the ball out of his net for the 8th time. It was a ruthless first half performance but it could have easily have been double figures, Ben saw another great cross diverted just past the post by Paddy who’d done well to get into the box and Samson had a great effort which rattled the cross bar (half time 8-0).
The pack was shuffled at half time with Ethan, George, Jamie and Ruben all coming on. We started poorly and began to loose or discipline and shape. This wasn’t helped when the referee awarded Mersey Boys a penalty for what he deemed was a push by Sam. It was very harsh as our number 4 had just used his strength to block the forward getting ahead of him. It denied us a clean sheet as the resulting spot kick was smashed home. Mersey Boys then added a second scoring a header from a well taken free kick. After a tense opening period we began to settle again and looked threatening going forward. Ethan showed his value yet again as an impact sub with a great right foot effort which he smashed home and Ruben also got his name on the scoresheet flicking Zico’s cross past the keeper. George then played a well timed through ball into the path of Zico who arrowed a clinical finish to cap off a superb victory. It was a marker put down but also a performance that still left us demanding more which is testament to the mentality we have at the moment.