PICTURE: Sandhurst Town recovered from falling behind three times to win 5-4 at Eton Wick in an enthralling match at Haywards Mead on Saturday.
Sandhurst Town manager Jordan Goodall hailed his side’s grit and passion after an enthralling 5-4 win at Eton Wick in Division One of the East Berkshire League on Saturday.
Goodall believes some improved fitness levels and the addition of new characters into the team will see Town compete in both the League and Cup competitions this season.
Sandhurst had to recover from a slow start to the match, twice falling behind in the first half and again in the second period, but their newfound strengths were vital to the recovery as well as some good fortune with the injury time winner.
Goodall said: “It was an entertaining one for the neutral but, for myself, a little bit stressful.
“I thought that we were a little bit slow out of the blocks and conceded early on. There were a couple of mistakes made for the goals that we conceded, but we showed true grit and passion to get the result over the line with a late winner as well.
“We were definitely a little bit below par but I do think that as a team we showed desire to get the result, and six points out of six is not a bad way to start the season.”
Eton Wick were getting their season under way at Haywards Mead and broke the deadlock inside 60 seconds. Christ Smith beat Sandhurst defender Phil Olive in a tackle inside the box with a recovering Town defender unable to keep the loose ball from trickling into the back of the net.
The visitors were level in the 13th minute when Wick defender Josh James missed his clearance header from a long free-kick into the penalty area. This allowed Kyle Olive to race in and finish smartly low and across the box into the bottom right-hand corner.
VIDEO: Sandhurst Town manager Jordan Goodall, right, and captain Jack Kelly, left, react to the 5-4 win at Eton Wick in Division One of the East Berkshire League on Saturday.
The Wick restored their lead direct from the re-start with a Goal of the Season contender from Dean James. He received the re-start and, from at least 10-yards inside his own half, lobbed helpless Town keeper Erik Mazin. The ball taking one bounce before nestling into the back of the net.
Sandhurst had Kyle Olive to thank for drawing them level again in the 19th minute. Having received the ball on the edge of the box, the forward turned smartly past Jordan Collibee and fired powerfully past goalkeeper, Perry Rhodes.
The visitors got their noses in front for the first time in the match with a scrappy goal from Bradley Gooday midway through the first half. Gooday beat both Ed Burton and keeper Rhodes in challenges with the loose ball ricocheting off the Town man and into the net.
Eton Wick made it three apiece seconds before the half-time whistle as Sandhurst’s Callum Looby was caught under a high ball and Alexis Lyle raced in to finish well from the edge of the box.
The Wick took the lead again on 55 minutes as a poor clearance from Town keeper Mazin fell to Smith. His shot took a wicked deflection off Liam Olive inside the box to leave Mazin helpless.
Sandhurst keeper Mazin could have been at fault for two of the Eton Wick goals but the stopper then made three or four tremendous saves to keep his team in the contest, including twice saving from James at close range.
Town had the chance to level at 4-4 when Kyle Olive won a header inside the box and Jacob Ashdown-Fond was first to the loose ball, but his powerful shot from 10-yards rattled against the crossbar.
The visitors eventually levelled in the 74th minute as a cross into the box took a deflection with the ball looping high into the air. Ashdown-Fond reacted quickly to out-jump keeper Rhodes and head in from close range at the near post.
VIDEO: Eton Wick manager Colin Jacobs reacts to the 5-4 defeat to Sandhurst Town and provides a preview to the new season at Haywards Mead.
Town had the chance to secure the points with a counter-attacking move in the final minutes. Liam Olive crossed low from the left to Jamie Barrett but he was denied by a smart sliding tackle from keeper, Rhodes.
Sandhurst did win all three points after Collibee conceded a heart-breaking own goal two minutes into time added on. Barrett showed tremendous skill and pace to break down the left wing and cross low into the box where Collibee could only divert the ball into his own net at the near post.
Sandhurst Town captain, Jack Kelly, commented: “When you go a goal down, especially after 40 seconds, it’s never easy, but you know that you have another 90 minutes to come back.
“I think we showed that we can do this throughout pre-season, that we was always in games, and I think that we will do this well this season.
“We needed to get a hold of the ball and start winning tackles, and get the ball forward more because we were not doing that in the first half. We were given a little bit of a stern word at half time but we sorted it out from there.”
The skipper added: “There is a lot of passion in this team now. We all want to do well and the only way to do that is by winning games, and we showed that today.
“The start we have made to this season has been a lot better than last season, but there has been a lot of work put into it and hopefully it will pay off in the end.
“There is a lot more passion this time around and a little bit more fight in the team.”
PICTURE: Sandhurst Town have made the perfect start to the new season with wins against both FC Baylis and Eton Wick to top the table.
AFC Reading gained their first win of the season when thrashing Braywood Beavers 6-1 at Sonning Lane, whilst FC Baylis edged past Old Windsor Reserves 1-0 at Harvey Park.
Goals in the second half from both Nasser Southgate and Patryk Sopata helped Berks Elite to a 2-1 victory against Reading Tigers and their first points in the season.
Adam Wyatt was the star on show for Cressex when his hat-trick bagged three points in a 4-3 success at Frontline Reserves - Ryan Croxford was also on target for the winning side.
Stokes Poges are out of the Charles Twelftree Trophy after a narrow 3-2 defeat at home in the first round to Hurst.
The attention turns to the League Cup and five first round ties next Saturday (2pm KOs). The highlight could be a derby match between Frontline Reserves and FC Baylis at Burnham Grammar School, or Stoke Poges making the trip to Sandhurst Memorial Park to take on in-form Sandhurst Town. Other first round ties include Braywood Beavers again travelling to AFC Reading, Reading Tigers hosting Old Windsor Reserves and Cressex making the trip to Eton Wick.
Eton Wick: Perry Rhodes, Denis Jozwiak, Josh James, Jordan Collibee, Dean James, Ant McGuigan, Loren Dennis, Harry Turner, Chris Smith, Alexis Lyle, Ed Burton, Mark Payne-Welch, Jarek Dudek and Darren Pereira.
Sandhurst Town: Erik Mazin, Sam Çinkon, Bradley Gooday, Phil Olive, Hayden James, George Home, Jack Kelly, Harry Gray, Kyle Ollive, Liam Ollive, Jamie Barrett, Luke Key, Luke Pearson, Callum Looby, Jacob Ashdown-Ford and Ebosebale Odijre.
Entertainment rating: 10 out of 10
Man of the match: Dean James (Eton Wick).
To enter the East Berkshire Football League ahead of the 2023/24 season, or for further information about the league, or an entry form for the upcoming season, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org