Sunday night – finally time to catch our breath and reflect on a massive weekend of football. For the first time, all our teams were involved and, as might be expected, it was a real mix of highs and lows.
Our youngsters had a great time, with all our junior and youth teams recording victories on the opening day of their season. Over at Cambridge, Antony and Attila’s Under 12s put in an energetic display to beat the hosts 5-3.
Meanwhile, at Pembroke Park, Luca’s Under 13s got our big match day underway with a highly encouraging display, in which they grew stronger and stronger as the game went on against Kingborough, eventually running out 8-2 winners. Jack and Ben led the way with a brace each, while Eli, Phoenix, Ava and Jacob all chipped in with a goal apiece.
Then it was the turn of Glen’s Under 15s, who fought out an absolute thriller with Clarence. A topsy-turvy game ended with Liam's last minute winner. Sam (2) and Ethan also found the net in an 4-3 victory.
No doubt, Glen Roland’s Southern Championships teams would have been looking to take over where the youth had left off, however the task was always going to be difficult against a University side who are staking good claims for both senior and reserves division titles this year. And in both games, there was a half to remember and a half to forget.
The reserves started slowly and set pieces in particular proved to be the problem as the visitors eased to a five-goal half time lead. However, United regrouped at half time and were much improved in the second term. Geordie Arnott’s strike early in the piece was the only goal until late on, when Uni took advantage of some weary legs to add another two to their tally.
By contrast, the seniors put in a terrific first half shift against a Uni side who knew that a victory would send them to the top of the table. But, while our defence was resilient in a first half where the teams were only separated by a solitary goal, the difficult conditions combined with a rampant opposition for an all-to-familiar procession of leaked goals in the second.
On the positive side, both senior teams played a half as good as any we have seen this season and, if we can find a way of maintaining our level, we can be confident that we will prove our worth at this level before too long. Also it was great to see club captain Tony Damm back for his first SC game of the season, while Toby Quick also made a welcome return with a very strong performance in the reserves.
On Sunday, our attention switched to the ladies, who have been so impressive in securing four point from their opening three games. The ladies knew the visit to Wentworth Park to take on the undefeated Clarence United was going to be a test, especially without the injured Ash and the continued absence of Ellie and Lou.
Led by the league’s top player, Sarah Fitzgerald, half of the Clarence side played in the 2018 Women’s Super League, and our ladies were forced to really dig deep to make a contest, which they did admirably. Fitzgerald’s early strike - direct from a corner - was all that separated the teams until late in the first half, when a couple of hugely contentious refereeing decisions went the home side’s way to effectively seal the game at 3-0 by the interval.
Jo Roland's seventh of the season temporarily reduced the arrears, but the hosts - who will no doubt win this league at a canter - provided a lesson in clinical finishing to round out a flattering 6-1 win.
Not much rest for the women, who now face 5th placed Kingborough at Pembroke Park on Thursday evening.
The winter season is finally up and running for all, and this promises to be an exciting time for everyone in the South East family.