THE excitement and expectation of a new season was quickly dampened as Minehead lost 3-1 in their opening league game away to Ashton and Backwell United Reserves on Saturday.
Just two minutes into the game, unmarked home striker Tom Smart found himself with a golden opportunity when hesitation in the Blues defence left him free to calmly slot the l ball past keeper Nathan Sheehan from 15 yards.
That jolted the visitors into action and they displayed some neat passing as they enjoyed considerably more of the first half possession, although they were unable to turn their superiority into more than one goal.
That came from Guy Burns who, after being booked along with a home player for an altercation on the half-way line, levelled the scores on 25 minutes when he cleverly controlled a through ball, burst past a couple of defenders and sent his right foot shot from 15 yards past Ben Radnedge in the home goal.
However, soon afterwards and very much against the run of play, Ashton’s second real venture into the penalty area saw Sheehan’s ball control from a back-pass escape him, presenting Smart with an opportunity to steal the ball and shoot into an empty net.
Minehead continued to attack well but without enough composure or self-belief when chances came along, and the home side finished the half clinging on to their slender lead.
As the second half went on Minehead appeared to wane, with the home side slowly but surely gaining the impetus.
Fifteen minutes from time, centre forward Jason Radnedge completed the scoring with a well taken goal which saw him lob the ball over a defender and half-volley past Sheehan from a central position.
While far too early to pass definitive judgement, the Blues will need more resolve and greater form in front of goal if they to challenge for promotion, but they will gain encouragement from the way they used the ball in tight situations throughout much of the first half.
Minehead: Nathan Sheehan, Grant Hodgson, Luke Bloys, Chris Newbold, Sean Meade, Matty Ronan, Harry Scatchard, Callum Barnfield, Guy Burns, Stefan Phillips, Max Smith, subs: Mike Graddon, Robert Vickers, Sam Bruford.
n Tomorrow (Saturday) sees Minehead on their travels again, this time to Glastonbury, whose opening match at promoted Worle saw them become one of five teams to concede at least five goals on a busy opening day for goalkeepers.
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