Scorers: Wood (pen), Janecce

Team: O’Donnell, Wootten, Simpson (c), Jeater, Soloman, J.Morris, Janecce, Wood, Carter, Wilding, Manu. Subs (rolling): Saunders, Childs, Harvey

A successful afternoon as the 2nd XI got their pre-season programme underway and Alexandra Park made their debut at the Fred Knight Sports Centre (FKSC). Both pitches used were of a high standard, we swapped at half time due to two balls being deposited onto the rail line (Fabb assures me this will not be a problem during the season, as part of the service is a groundsman who retrieves lost balls)!

On the pitch, AP made a bright start with some neat interplay between the likes of Soloman and Carter down the left flank, with Wood linking up play well through the middle and Wilding showing some neat touches. However, from around the 15 minute mark we lost our way somewhat, not retaining possession as well as we had been, causing us to come under fairly sustained pressure. The positive from the rest of the first half was the resoluteness of our defending. Mike O’Donnell, who had an excellent game, made a couple of very good 1 on 1 saves, while Jeater and Simpson were solid in the middle of defence. It was good to see the whole team working hard, epitomised by Jack Morris’s desire to work back and support full back Wootten when required.

Half time saw a number of changes, with a slight tactical switch bolstering numbers in midfield. Simpson was forced off with a cut to the face, replaced by Steve Saunders, who showed versatility by performing well in a number of roles across the back line. Karnel Harvey was also introduced down the left and it was his pace and power that created AP’s first goal, when he was fouled inside the area. Harvey did well to stay on his feet but there was no doubt a foul had been committed. Wood stepped up calmly to stroke home the penalty.

AP dominated the rest of the second half with some really good football. There were some good runs from Les Manu and Les Childs up front, who were really worrying the Lloyds defence, while the midfield duo of Janecce and Wood retained and distributed the ball excellently. It was the former who put the result beyond doubt when a surging run into the box culminated in a powerful, left-footed finish inside the near post.

There was still time for O’Donnell to make a couple of good saves from long-range strikes (as well as take out a Lloyds striker and Jeater with an attempted punched clearance of which David Haye would have been proud). However, there were no real alarms as AP played out the final 10 minutes in composed fashion.

An enjoyable first outing in the pouring rain / gorgeous sunshine and something on which to build for the rest of the season.

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