!AUDACIOUS 3–5 KSB UNITED – SMCCFL Division 3 – 9th September 2017 – Buckthorne Lane, Eccles

KSB United’s first match of the season, and Brett Aspden’s first competitive match as manager, was a tricky looking trip to !Audacious. Things weren’t helped by the seemingly endless rain throughout the week, and it was only getting worse as kickoff neared. With most expecting the match to be called off, !Audacious manager Ian Wraight was confident it would go ahead. Indeed, after a pitch inspection from the referee, the green light was given.

Unfortunately for Aspden, he would be without Josh Guest, who had been drafted in for KSB in place of Matt Ashworth. Scott Dew failed to turn up which meant numbers were thin. Thankfully Matt Jones answered the call and took a break from work to help out the lads. This altered Aspden’s selection decisions throughout the week, but he was still confident United had enough to win.

Matt Gosnell continued in goal, with a familiar looking back four of Aspden, Ste Evans, Tom Pickup and Johnny English. Brother Rob was offered the chance in midfield alongside Jones, with Matthew Painter just ahead. Wayne Archer and captain Joel Brown took up the flanks, with Jonathan Rigby up front.

The long, long grass might have meant the pitch wasn’t as muddy as expected, but this meant the ball barely travelled and the lines were difficult to see. The home side were familiar from the two games at the back end of last season, with several skilled and powerful players.

But it was United dictating play and managing to put together some eye–catching football. But it became clear that that final finish was still missing. Archer and Jones blasted wide, and Painter had a curling effort saved. But eventually the pressure told and a Painter free-kick found Rob on the line to steer home.

The dominance continued and soon the lead was deservedly doubled. Brown squared neatly for Archer who looked set to score, but his shot was brilliantly saved. The rebound fell to Painter, who looked set to score, but his finish was again gathered by Wraight. Thankfully it was only gathered when it had crossed the line and the ball ended up tangled in the netting.

However, the referee still hadn’t blown for the goal, leading to near riots from Messrs Painter and Evans. Despite no !Audacious player disputing that it had crossed the line, there were rumours of a shove on the ‘keeper and the referee seemed more concerned with the netting. Eventually the goal was given and play could continue.

!Audacious had their moments, with the little and large central midfielders finding space. ‘Mahrez’ had plenty of skill, but chances were few and far between. Gosnell was up to the challenge, blocking some near shots and sweeping up well. The game could have been over when Archer had acres of space to score, but his first–time effort was screwed wide, much to the annoyance of the onlooking outspoken Streeters.

New signing Max Beswick replaced Rigby at half time. Aspden also took a break, allowing Jones to move into defence, Painter to drop and Archer to move just behind the striker. This prompted Nathan Mulrooney (in his first game in months) to go on the left wing.

United continued their control of the game in the second half and it didn’t take long before they had a third goal. Another Archer corner was shinned in by Jones for his first KSB goal. Mulrooney enjoyed his cameo, beating every man until he was fouled, eventually being replaced with Rigby.

Then the game turned in a flicker. A cross from the right found a forward at the edge of the area, who brilliantly turned his finish into the bottom corner leaving Gosnell with no chance. Thankfully the response was more or less instant, with Beswick beating his man before firing a ferocious drive into the top corner. Another debut goal. Beswick very nearly had another when he raced clear and rounded the goalkeeper, only to see his finish lose pace in the long grass and get cleared off the line just in time.

But it would not be smooth–sailing when !Audacious pulled another goal back. Pickup was pulled back on the byeline, but the referee ignored it and play continued. This led to the forward smacking the ball past Gosnell from the edge of the area, despite the goalkeeper’s protests for handball.

Panic set in a little and silly decision making led to unnecessary free–kicks and general risk–taking. Another attack from the left carved open the defence and the hosts had a third. Players lost their heads a little and !Audacious moved to a 3–4–3 formation in an attempt to get something from a game they were never truly in.

Aspden returned to shore up the defence and limited the home side to few opportunities. Justice was delivered deep into injury time when a left–footed cross from Brown sailed over Wraight and into the goal. Fortuitous perhaps, but exactly what Brown’s tireless display deserved. This was a fine way to cap an impressive opening day win in difficult conditions. Aspden’s reign begins with three precious points.


Team (4–2–3–1)

13. Matt Gosnell (GK)

2. Johnny English (DR)

5. Ste Evans (DC)

6. Brett Aspden (DC)

3. Tom Pickup (DL)

4. Rob English (MDC)

8. Matt Jones (MDC)

10. Matthew Painter (AMC)

9. Joel Brown (AMR) (c)

11. Wayne Archer (AML)

7. Jonathan Rigby (SC)


Subs – 16. Max Beswick (SC), 20. Nathan Mulrooney (AML)

Man of the match – Rob English