Blues 3 Havant & Waterlooville 1
Blues off to a flier in season opener
A goal, two assists and a bottle of champagne, not a bad way to start life at a new club in a new League! Man of the Match Matt Blake epitomised everything the squad delivered as the Blues ensured title favourites Havant & Waterlooville endured a tough afternoon on their Ryman Premier Division return at Victory Road in a match sponsored by the DOUGLASS FAMILY. Two goals in twenty second half seconds ensured Leiston kept their six season opening day unbeaten Ryman League record in tact and the all round display will have certainly not only sent the home fans home happy, but also eager to return for much of the same. With five new faces in their line up the hosts took a while to find any early rhythm, the visitors having the first sight of goal but Brian Stock slashed wildly wide. A fine run from Byron Lawrence saw his cross-cum-shot graze the top of Ryan Young's goal as a tentative first ten minutes elapsed. Havant & Waterlooville, relegated from National South last term, began to impose themselves and after eluding the challenge of Joe Jefford, Matt Patterson saw his shot cleared off the line by Tom Bullard. Minutes later Nick Eyre was at full stretch to claim a looping Theo Lewis header as the pressure on the home goal increased. The first goal of the new season at Victory Road arrived on 21 minutes and it went to the hosts following a clinical break. Ollie Brown skipped inside from the right flank to find Byron Lawrence whose instinctive right foot pass split the visitors defence allowing Leon Ottley-Gooch a run down the right. His low centre was flicked goalwards by Matt Blake falling nicely for Jack Ainsley to find the net at the far post. Stung, the Hawks responded well with ex Bournemouth striker James Hayter forcing a flying finger tip save from Nick Eyre and then just after the half hour mark the visitors were level. Ben Swallow's corner was half cleared with the loose ball returned to the Hawks number 7 who neatly set himself to send in a teasing centre that Theo Lewis rose above the defence to cleverly plant his header inside Nick Eyre's right hand post. As an entertaining half closed there was almost a second Havant goal but a timely block by Joe Jefford from a Matt Patterson shot ensured the sides went in all square.
HT - Blues 1 Havant & Waterlooville 1
Leiston made an attacking change at the interval with Armani Schaar replacing Taylor Hastings as the hosts opted for a 4-3-3 formation. Just seven minutes into the half the game was turned on its head as Leiston raced into a 3-1 lead. On 51 minutes another swift passing move out of defence saw Matt Blake cleverly hold up play on the left. He cut inside and found Gareth Heath who took a touch before unleashing a terrific 25 yard effort that raced beyond the despairing dive of Ryan Young for an early contender for goal of the season. Incredibly twenty seconds later it was three. Havant kicked off and lost possession to Tom Bullard who found Leon Ottley-Gooch whose neat pass inside found Byron Lawrence. The ex Ipswich Town man immediately picked out the run of Matt Blake down the left who held off the challenge of Dan Strugnell before bearing down on goal and his early shot flew beyond Ryan Young much to the delight of the home faithful. Two minutes later the visitors had a glorious chance to reduce the arrears. Nick Eyre and Tom Bullard colliding with Matt Patterson but as the Hawks striker got to his feet first he looked odds on to score but his effort was somehow cleared off the line by the covering Joe Jefford. The game was now evenly poised with Havant desperate to claw a goal back. Hawks boss Lee Bradbury introduced two ex Bognor Regis Town strikers from the bench in an attempt to get something from the game. With twelve minutes remaining one of the substitutes, Alfie Rutherford, somehow prodded an effort wide from six yards after Nick Eyre had thwarted a Ryan Woodford header from point blank range from yet another Havant corner. Blues boss Glenn Driver brought on Blake Saker to create a five man midfield before Tom Winter replaced Man of the Match Matt Blake who had given the visitors defence a hard time all afternoon. Still Havant pressed and with three minutes remaining some great play from Harry Medway down the left danced his way into the box before finding Theo Lewis but his ten yard effort was straight at Nick Eyre. That proved to be the last scare on the home goal as the Blues saw out four minutes of stoppages to ensure there six year unbeaten opening day record in the Ryman League remained in tact and claim three fine points.
FT - Blues 3 Havant & Waterlooville 1
Blues - Eyre, Brown, Dunbar, Ainsley, Jefford, Bullard, Lawrence, Heath, Blake (Winter 86 mins), Ottley-Gooch (Saker 82 mins), Hastings (Schaar 45 mins). Sub not used - Pelling.
Havant & Waterlooville - Young, Strugnell, Williams (Medway 79 mins), Stock, Woodford, Robinson, Swallow, Lewis, Patterson (Rutherford 61 mins), Hayter (Prior 61 mins), Tarbuck. Subs not used - Molyneaux and Fogden.
Match Sponsors The Douglass Family Man of the Match - Matt Blake
Referee - Callum Walchester
Attendance - 242