Smithswood started their first ever Premier game away at Silhill A in Solihull. It was always going to be a tough test against a team that finished 3rd in last years Premier Division only 6 points behind the Champions.
Paul Ryder had a few players missing for his first team selection with Luke Booth, Peter Marshall, Lee Morris and Russell Treadwell all unavailable.
Craig Evans (Capt)
If anyone was thinking that Smithswood would be overawed by their first game in the Premier Division, they quickly put this idea to bed within the first minute. Craig Evans picked the ball up in midfield and played in Aaron Anderson who buried his shot hard and low across the keeper to put Smithswood 1-0 up.
The game settled down after this with both teams battling to win possession. Smithswood tried hitting the flanks with Curtis Thomas, Aaron Anderson and Simon Hession all involved but they couldn't create any clear cut chances. Silhill managed a few breakaways but were thwarted by Adam Rooke and Mark Harber who were both sweeping up at the back.
Smithswood were struggling with the final ball and were finding themselves in control in the middle of the pitch but the final ball was constantly finding players in an off-side position as they struggled to break Silhill down and find that final probing ball.
Craig Evans had their next chance following some great football between Curtis Thomas and Chris Else who played some neat one-two's and opened up the Silhill defence. Else crossed the ball to Craig Evans who shot with the outside of his boot narrowly over the bar. Evans went close again a minute later as Chris Else looped a ball over the defence to Simon Hession. The ball bounced to Craig Evans whose shot went wide and high of the goal.
Smithswood had the next chance too as Andrew Glenn collected the ball at the back and passed it into Anthony Short who dummied the ball to Craig Evans. He sprayed a long ball wide to Curtis Thomas who drilled his cross into the box but nobody was there to put the finish on it.
Ten minutes before the half Silhill were level. They worked the ball down the left and into the middle where they had too much time and space on the ball. They lobbed the keeper from about 22 yards making the score 1-1.
Silhill almost took the lead as Wayne Wilkins back pass was a little short but Mark Harber was quick off his line to make an excellent tackle outside his box to clear the danger. A minute later they attacked down the right and crossed the ball in only for their striker to drill high and wide.
Paul Ryder was animated at half-time as he got into his team. He wanted to hear more talking from them and told them they were not passing the ball or getting into space like they had been in pre-season games. He told them to take their time and stop rushing and to make the easy pass everytime.
Following their managers team talk, Smithswood got straight into their stride. Curtis Thomas had a long shot after some good work from Craig Evans and Andrew Glenn which was easily saved by the keeper. Shortly after Craig Evans showed quick feet in the centre of midfield going past two players and spreading the ball putting Aaron Anderson in the clear. He drilled his shot hard but it was saved by the keeper for a corner. Anthony Shorts corner fell for Adam Rooke who volleyed just wide.
Smithswood continued to press and got their rewards in the 54th minute. Aaron Anderson broke down the left and turned the defender inside out. He whipped his cross in hard and low and Simon Hession beat the defender to tap the ball in the bottom corner. 2-1 to Smithswood.
Anthony Short had an ongoing battle with the referee all game who had told him if he kept up his antics he had a yellow card with his name on. He proved this was the case on 64 minutes when he booked Short for standing over the ball as Silhill tried to take a free-kick.
Silhill had a few chances and attacked Smithswood but ran into Chris Else who tracked the ball and player across the pitch to the left back position to block the ball for a corner. From the corner Mark Harber came off his line to punch the ball clear.
Curtis Thomas and Craig Evans linked well in midfield allowing Evans to swing a cross into the box. Daniel Wall was clearly in an off-side position but walking back and not interfering with play. The cross came to Lee Harris who sublimely curled the ball into the top right corner. The linesmans flag was up but the referee allowed the goal as Wall wasn't interfering with play. The correct decision but that wasn't the thought of Silhill's players. 3-1 to Smithswood.
Silhill were back in the game a few minutes later as a cross was met by the head of their striker as Mark Harber tried to punch the ball clear. Silhill 2 Smithswood 3
Craig Evans picked the ball up in the middle and played it wide to Lee Harris. Harris whipped his cross in to Daniel Wall who attempted an overhead kick which didn't come off. Aaron Anderson didn't give up and won the ball back and managed to win a corner for his team. The ball was cleared but Smithswood won it straight back and crossed again only for their defender to head narrowly over his own goal. Anthony Short whipped the corner in to the six yard box and Adam Rooke towered above everyone else to power his header past the keeper and give Smithswood a 4-2 lead.
As the game went into the last ten minutes, Silhill had a long range effort which was watched wide by the diving Mark Harber as it narrowly missed the post. Smithswood then attacked as Craig Evans put a high ball in to Chris Else who glanced the ball on with his head behind the defence. Anthony Short ran on to it and crossed for Daniel Wall who got his shot off forcing a good save out of the keeper.
Controversy struck the game on the 84th minute. Silhill's number 2 went in with a high two footed challenge on Andrew Glenn. It looked like a diabolical tackle which got all the Smithswood team up in arms and the manager on the pitch as Andrew Glenn struggled in agony on the ground. Glenn had to be helped off the pitch and couldn't continue, the referee deemed the challenge as a yellow card offence.
A minute later Anthony Short forced a save from the keeper after a neat one-two with Curtis Thomas. Four minutes from time Smithswood sealed the points. Lee Harris played the ball into Renaldo Mayers on the edge of the area who spun away from the defender and powered a shot low past the keeper. Smithswood led 5-2
Carl Thompson put in the challenge of the match after as he won a 50/50 challenge with a booming tackle that echoed around the pitch.
The referee blew up at the end of an exciting game with the final result Silhill A 2 Smithswood Firs 5