After a month-long Lockdown-enforced suspension of grass-roots football, Colts resumed their league campaign on Sunday with what was to prove to be a tough encounter against a useful Areley Kings team. Again boasting a full compliment of players, Manager Stephen Coopey started with an exciting line up with Cameron Elton in goal, James Glazzard, Olli Beale and Dylan Sivaharan at the back, George Heywood, Ollie Bousfield and Josh Coopey forming the midfield 3 and Conner James and Harry Davies forming a 2-pronged attacking line. Nathan Box, Zac Johnson, Caleb Clarke, Ewan Fisher and ‘Last-minute’ Reggie Perks provided a solid bench, highlighting the strength-in-depth Colts currently possess.
From the outset it was apparent that an open game was afoot, both teams providing attacking threat early on as the play swung wildy from end to end. Olli Beale looked hungry from the whistle, and it was his angled through-ball that found Harry Davies 15 yards from goal after 8 minutes. Harry took a touch and slotted home to open the scoring with a cool finish.
Kings were level after 10 minutes when a breakaway down the right saw a cross-shot deflected past Cam for 1-1. Play continued in an open and entertaining manner with neither side able to stamp their authority on the match, Conner and Josh linked up particularly well on the right hand side, and it was the latter who restored Colts lead on 18 minutes. Teeing up a free kick from range on the right side of Kings penalty area, it looked to be slightly beyond Josh Coopeys reach. However, he stepped up and swung his kick into the mixer and watched it evade everyone to nestle in the far corner. 2-1.
Three minutes later and the home side were yet again level as Colts were swamped at the back, Kings moving forward as a unit giving Elton no chance. A further 2 minutes later, and with Colts pushing for an equaliser Areley produced a sucker punch to make it 3. All of a sudden the home side had their hackles up and briefly looked like they could score at will – Cam Elton pulling off several key saves culminating in a fine stop that looked destined to find the net. Reggie Perks replaced Ollie Bousfield and provided some encouraging penetrative play as half time loomed, and at the back Dylan Sivaharan and James Glazzard chipped in with some last ditch challenges. Colts went in at the break grateful to only be 1 goal adrift and with opportunity to regroup.
Clarke and Box replaced Glazzard and Coopey at the break with Conner James dropping deep to give more foothold in midfield. The second half became a more attritional affair with less clear-cut chances for either side. Ewan Fisher entered the fray and looked composed on the ball, and Zac Johnson also produced an assured performance at the back. Heywood, who’d been shackled in the first half looked happier with a second midfielder alongside him and saw a shot from distance zip wide. As an increasingly tired Colts pushed for an equaliser, gaps started to appear and perhaps unsurprisingly Areley scored a fourth on the break with 8 minutes remaining as the game became more stretched. Olli Beale then produced the tackle of the season whilst on the ground to prevent an almost certain goal, typifying a combative performance. At the other end a cultured Nathan Box corner found the head of Ewan Fisher whose headed attempt looped just over. Colts remained on the front foot, but chasing the game again proved their undoing with another goal scored on the break at the death.
The game finished 5-2 which was a somewhat harsh scoreline considering the overall evenness of the game. There were however plenty of positives to be had, with Cameron giving possibly his most confident performance to date, Zac showing more promise with each appearance, 2 well taken goals and some neat passing interplay all round.
Players Man-of-the-match: Olli Beale
Managers Man-of-the-match: Cameron Elton