Sabden 6 – 5 Rhoden Inn

Match Sponsor – Brookside Garage Sabden Ltd.

Sabden maintained their good start to the season with a third win from four games, but it was a hard fought victory with the first half delivering no less than nine goals as madness reigned in the defensive ranks of both sides at the aptly named Nutter Barn pitch.

From the kick off, Rhoden surged menacingly and impressively at the Sabden backline. The ball was won in midfield, and James Duerden fed Paul Astin who lifted a magnificent chip over the keeper to give Sabden a 1st minute lead.

Undeterred, Rhoden looked impressive on the ball with the red shirts of Sabden struggling to gain hold of possession. However, Will Child intercepted a loose pass, and slipped the ball through to Astin who put Sabden 2-0 after only 3 minutes play, despite having almost zero possession!

Despite the good start in the goals scored column, the Sabden team were struggling to cope with the lively Rhoden boys, and it came as little surprise when they clawed their way back into the match after 11 minutes, although the home keeper, Nathan McCarney will feel hard done to as he was flattened by a hefty challenge just prior to the goal.

Worse followed just 2 minutes later as the Rhoden strikers got in behind a hesitant Sabden rearguard and gave McCarney no chance with a smartly driven shot into the far corner, for what was a deserved equaliser.

Rhoden then capitalised on their superiority by taking the lead in the contest for the first time. With the Sabden defence at sixes and sevens, Jonny Heap had no option but to commit a foul to prevent a certain goal. The reprieve was short lived as Rhoden despatched the penalty.

In spite of not being able to get a foothold in the game, Rhoden looked decidedly shakey at the back, and on 23 minutes, Heap made up for conceding the penalty by playing in Astin for his hat-trick goal; a feat he has achieved in 3 consecutive games for the Treacle Miners.

Sadly, the Sabden defence was looking equally vulnerable and a long ball was allowed to bounce and the pacy Rhoden striker restored the away team`s lead on 34 minutes.

As the game lurched crazily from end to end, Astin turned provider for Dean Foxall to equalise at 4-4 – a staggering scoreline after only 36 minutes of play. Infuriatingly, from the kick off, the Red Sea parted again to allow Rhoden to blast the ball gleefully past McCarney.

A half-time re-shuffle saw Martin Kemp come off the bench to bring some semblance of order in defence, with James Dickinson moving into the right back spot, and Jonny Heap pushed up into a strikers role.

Within 3 minutes, and already looking a better organised unit, the re-shuffle proved effective, with Dickinson supplying the pass for the electrifiying Paul Astin to motor past the left back and smash the ball home to level the tie at 5-5.

Sabden started to apply the pressure relentlessly, and with Kemp and Jack Birkett now keeping the Rhoden strikers quiet, it was mainly one way traffic.

There were a couple of close calls, with the veteran 48 year old Rhoden keeper belieing his years with a couple of full stretch saves to deny the home side. However, on 65 minutes, Duerden rifled the ball home from 10 yards at the third attempt, after the luckless Rhoden keeper made a double save from the youngster.

It was to be the final goal action of an entertaining game, and the remaining 25 minutes remained goalless.

Astin (1, 3, 23, 48), Foxall (36), Duerden (65)

Two outstanding contributors – Paul Astin was in devastating form and with four goals is deserving of the award. Additionally, the impact of Martin Kemp in defence should not be underestimated and he had a flawless second half.