After six long months, the wait is finally over and the ESPFA 2020/21 season kicked off in style with eight games from up and down the country, including three local derbies and a seven-goal thriller in the Southern Division.
In the Northern Division, Runcorn welcomed Witton Albion for their first game of the campaign and the home side managed to start the season with a 2-1 win, thanks to two first half goals from Harvey Wood and Jacob Kenny. Marcus Robinson pegged a goal back for the visitors but a goalless second half saw Runcorn hang on for the three points. Across the Pennines in West Yorkshire the first of our local derbies came from Brighouse Town who hosted Ossett United. Carl Clarkson scored twice for the travelling ‘Sheepicorns’ to cement a 0-2 victory and also earned himself a spot in the #TeamOfTheWeek. The final game in the Northern Division was another derby with this one coming from Manchester as Mossley travelled up the M60 to Radcliffe. In a hard-fought game where both sides could have scored multiple goals, it was Mossley who ground out a 0-1 win with the only goal being scored by Tcherno Djalo.
The Midlands Division saw the first ‘Key Matchup of the week’ as Stafford Rangers hosted Rushall Olympic (Amber). Having played in the Southern Division last year and their programme being very popular in the area, Rushall have now grown to two cohorts, with one competing in the Southern Division and another competing in the Midlands Division. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the start they were looking for as Stafford Rangers beat them 3-2 after Harry Goodwin took the lead in the first half and Jayden Hunter scored two second half goals. It wasn’t a straightforward end to the game though as two late goals from Rushall including a great strike from Hayden Brown, who scored directly from a corner, made for a nervy ending to the game but Stafford were able to hang on for the three points. The other game from the Midlands division saw a clash of two Derbyshire sides with Mickleover facing Belper Town. Reece Perry scored a wonder goal from 25 yards out to give Mickleover the lead and then scored another in the second half to double their lead. Harry Clements scored a late goal for Belper Town but unfortunately for them it was too late to spark a comeback.
The Southern Division started off as an absolute goal fest with 17 goals being scored in the three games. The most exciting game came from Chesham United who beat Kidlington 4-3 in an all action thriller where Maddison Wilkin scored the first hat trick of the ESPFA 2020/21 season to claim the points for ‘The Generals’. Kidlington were up 2-3 at half time with Steven Soares scoring two and Zack Evans also finding the back of the net but two second half goals from Chesham completed the comeback and sealed the victory. Swindon Supermarine got off to a flyer in their first game back as they put five past Frome Town in a 1-5 victory away from home. Andy Smith scored twice for Swindon and Matt Bibby, Charlie McBride and Kieran Curtis were all on target as well to help their side start off the season with a win. Yate Town also got off to a winning start as they faced Rushall Olympic (Black) away from home and won 1-3. They were in the driving seat for the majority of the game as Emmanuel Allen-Burnett scored inside 5 minutes and Liam Jones tucked home a penalty just before half time. The second half was more of the same and Yate increased their lead further not long after half time thanks to Odorico Santo. Rushall Olympic scored a late consolation goal through Francis Reynolds but it was just too little, too late for the home side.
Team of the Week
The start of the season also means the return of #TeamOfTheWeek and with players being included from all three divisions, the competition for a place in the Team of the Week has never been harder. With that being said, congratulations to all the students that were nominated by their coaches and selected for the Team of the Week and also a special mention to Regan Dixon of Ossett United who’s performance in the 0-2 victory over Brighouse Town earned him the title of ‘Player of the Week!’.
You can see all the goals and match highlights from all of the games across the ESPFA as usual in the weekly Highlights Show which will be airing at a new time of 7pm on Mondays. This week’s edition of the Highlights Show contains some brilliant solo efforts, well worked team goals, 25-yard screamers and some brilliant saves as well.