Youth team start year with a win

Last updated : 05 January 2008 By Andy Ashworth
Wes Fletcher - two goals
We were pretty much at full strength at Gawthorpe this morning playing 4-4-2 with Rob Turner, back after groin trouble, partnering Wes Fletcher up front. The centre-half pairing chosen was Chris Lynch and Nik Kudiersky, with Thomas Bradley and Dean Stott flanking them in the full back positions.

We kicked off with the strong wind at our backs and it was before I'd managed get myself to the touchline. 1st team training had left parking spaces at a premium so by the time I was crossing the bridge the action was underway. From a distance it looked like we had found a change of opponents for the game, like Blackpool or Holland, but upon closer inspection it was definitely Accy, playing in fluorescent orange bibs as they didn't pack an away kit.

Fortunately for me the lads waited for my arrival before taking the lead. Accy were playing a very high back line and we set the tone of our game plan for the day by dinking it past them and running into space. It was a through ball, slightly over hit, which led to our goal. For some reason the Stanley keeper came out of his area in fits and starts to close down the ball and when the clearance was made under pressure Alex McDonald picked it up on the left wing and lofted it into the empty net from 40+ yards.

The opening 15 minutes were certainly hectic as we had a Fletcher goal disallowed for offside after he had clipped home a near post cross. Rob Turner was also taken off after succumbing to an ankle injury following a stiff tackle from behind. With Arsenal on the horizon we can only hope that it was precautionary, but he swiftly returned to the changing rooms on crutches with his ankle packed in ice. Dominic Knowles was his replacement giving onlookers a chance to get a much longer look at him than normal.

We probed the Stanley defence regularly, prompted by the midfield machinations of Alex-Ray Harvey and Adam Kay and perhaps the visiting players took note as tackles began to fly in on these two, with Harvey in particular targeted. Rob Grant was booked for a flying challenge but it didn't stop our scheming and more goals soon followed.

Just after the half hour mark Harvey slipped Fletcher in to the right of centre on the fringe of the box and he out-muscled his marker, rounded the keeper and rolled home. Two minutes later it was 3-0 as Harvey again found himself instrumental in the release of a forward player. Knowles was played in to acres of space with time on his hands but nerves seemed to cause him to hesitate and the keeper blocked his tame effort. However, the Stanley stopper couldn't hold it and Fletcher was on hand to smash into the roof of the net.

As the half drew to a close Fletcher should have had his hat-trick but his shot was a little weak after bursting past his marker and the keeper tipped it around the post, despite seeming to go to ground in slow motion.

The second half was a slightly different story as the wind, increasing in strength, was full in our faces. It became more of a slog and we were pinned down for the opening fifteen minutes or so. The visitors won a penalty after a foul by Stott but Jon Sergeant was equal to the task when Bell fired to his left.

Stanley continued to press and we were caught short by a ball over the top. Lynch was done for pace and pulled down his man, earning a booking which he could have no arguments with. The free kick came to nothing and following the incident we stepped up a gear and took control of the match once more.

McDonald had a good chance but pulled it wide when in the clear and Fletcher had several bites at the cherry when offered the ball in the opposition box but couldn't hit the target. We finally added a 4th when a right wing free kick was swung in by Harvey and Kudiersky stabbed home from about a yard out.

With the game dead and buried we made some changes to save legs for next weeks big game with Kay and McDonald replaced by Lewis Craig and Dil Chaggar. Chances became more and more of a premium in the game though the tackles were still going in. Stott had a long range drive tipped over and the visitors clipped the bar. Stanley had two more lads booked in Bell and Murphy as the game wound down and it ended 4-0.

It was definitely good preparation for next week with goals galore and a clean sheet. I hope they enjoy the experience against a quality side. Good luck lads!

Team:- Jon Sergeant, Dean Stott, Thomas Bradley, Nik Kudiersky, Chris Lynch, Alex-Ray Harvey, Adam Kay (Dil Chaggar), Alex McDonald (Lewis Craig), Chris Anderson, Rob Turner (Dom Knowles), Wes Fletcher.
Sub not used:- Dean MacDonald