After what has seemed like an age, we finally returned to League action this Saturday with the visit of early season pacesetters Living Hope Church United on what was a perfect morning for football.
Showing a couple of enforced changes from our opening fixture, we started the game on the front foot, passing the ball quickly and crisply. It didn’t take long for us to take the lead and what a sweet strike it was from midfield schemer Nathan Hathaway. Some trickery on the edge of the box before shifting the ball onto his ‘weaker’ left foot and rifling home with the aid of a deflection.
Veteran forward Kevin Humpage then gave us a cushion with 2 quickfire goals. His first was after a mistake from the Living Hope goalkeeper who failed to deal with an overhit long ball, leaving Humpage to tap into an empty net. His second was a much better effort, belying his diminutive frame to climb over his marker and power home a header at the back post after a sumptuous cross from Hathaway. Shortly afterwards, captain Andy Rowley was forced off after jarring his knee in a fair challenge with a Living Hope player. Hopefully it doesn’t keep him out for too long.
Living Hope tried to get back into the game but our great use of possession restricted them to very few chances. They forced a couple of corners but these came to nothing and just before half time, we almost finished the game as a contest as Humpage won a penalty under a challenge from the goalkeeper and Aaron Muffett scored from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Half time 4-0.
The second half started in the same vein as the first with wave after wave of St Matthews pressure but it was actually Living Hope who got the next goal after a swift counter attack from a St Matthews corner ended in a shot which goalkeeper Ben Scragg could only parry straight to the feet of the Living Hope striker Beardsmore who made it 4-1.
Any hope of a Living Hope fightback was quickly put to bed when James Scragg broke from midfield to finish well and restore our 4 goal advantage before that little rascal Humpage completed his hat-trick for 6-1 with his fifth in 2 games. A man very much in form.
The next goal was arguably the goal of the game. A long ball from Scragg was well controlled by Jack Nixon who spotted the goalkeeper off his line and hit a half volley at goal from no more than 10 yards into the Living Hope half which sailed into the net.
The goalscoring was complete in the closing minutes, another penalty awarded to us after the goalkeeper was penalised for another foul on Humpage. On this occasion it was defensive stalwart Daniel Holmes who stepped up to finish with aplomb from the spot.
Full time 8-1.
Fair play to Living Hope who kept going right until the end. All the best for the rest of the season, apart from the return fixture of course! Good performance from the officials too although it was quite an easy game to take care of.
County cup action for us next week so another chance for teams to put some points between us and themselves. Hopefully a positive result from us to reflect well on the League.