Moor Mead Athletic 9 - 0 Raw Skills FC
Moor Mead lit up an autumnal Marble Hill with a dazzling display of sunshine football to make a hugely impressive start to the new season.
Any concerns that the switch to a bigger pitch could prove tricky after a summer of Instagram and games consoles were blown away as Athletic set about their task.
There were outstanding contributions all over the pitch: Miles was muscular in midfield, Will Sutton a live wire on the flank, Daniel combative at full back, Mani at his silky best, and debutant Ollie quick and incisive. But six-goal Zac produced a complete performance of the very highest quality, threatening to carve the defence apart every time he touched the ball.
And yet for the first 15 minutes it was an even, cagey affair, as both sides adjusted to the extra space.
With Ollie probing down the left, and Zac down the right, and Miles linking well with both, including one sumptuous flick with the outside of his boot, the Parakeets began to dominate possession, and stretch the defence out of position, while the back line of William Warry, Jeremias, Rory and Daniel dealt comfortably with what limited threat Raw Skills could muster.
Then suddenly the floodgates opened with three goals inside a couple of minutes. First Will Sutton produced an excellent delivery from a corner clearly practised on the training ground, which Rory headed in from distance over the keeper.
Then a long ball caused confusion in the Raw Skills defence, and Zac expertly mugged the keeper to open his account, and moments later Miles set up Zac, who shot into the far corner for his second. Tom and Zac were denied by good saves, but the traffic was all one way as Moor Mead moved the ball around with precision and pace.
Zac scored a superb solo goal, deft footwork carving the defence apart in a manner recalling Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. Then a lovely slide rule pass from Ollie allowed Zac to pick his spot for his fourth.
Moor Mead capped a wonderful first half with a gorgeous passing move started and finished by Mani with the ball pinging from the edge of the home box to the opposition net via Ollie and Miles in the blink of an eye.
To their credit Raw Skills started the second half full of determination, and Alec was seriously tested for the first time in the match, making two smart saves. But it wasn’t long before the Parakeets were back in total ascendancy, driven forward by Miles and playing with great positional awareness and maturity.
Mani released Zac down the right, and he buried his shot into the far corner, then the same combination repeated the trick for Zac to tap his sixth into the opposite corner. Will Sutton rounded the scoring off, collecting a pass from Tom, and turning a defender inside out.
It was difficult to find any fault at all: the goalposts were disappointedly rusty and the glare from Zac’s sky blue boots was enough to temporarily blind any unsuspecting passer-by. But otherwise it was a dominant, swaggering start to a campaign which consigned last season’s Marble Hill hoodoo to history in spectacular style, and raises hopes of a champagne season.