09:00AM, Friday 10 August 2018
Burnham showed their character and fitness to twice come from behind to overcome Holyport in their opening Hellenic League Division 1 (East) match of the campaign on Saturday, according to Blues boss Paul Shone.
Two identical goals from Fabian Driffill on the edge of the area had twice given Port the lead in the first half, the impressive strikes bookending a penalty from the Blues’ Ashleigh James.
The hosts took charge after the break, cruising to a comfortable 4-2 victory after a brace from Lucas Sinclair and one from Ashley Watson.
Shone was pleased to start a season they have earmarked as one to push for promotion with a win.
“It’s great to get off to a winning start,” he said. “It was always going to be a difficult match to win.
“They came into it off the back of a cup win and had the edge initially. No question they were buoyant.
“We dominated the second period. There was only one side in it and I don’t think our keeper had a save to make. Our fitness came though which made a difference.”
Shone added: “While we were disappointed with the goals we conceded, not closing down on the edge of the area, we showed resilience to come back which is encouraging.
“The second half we moved the ball better and quicker, and there were good performances from some of the youngsters who were making first starts in senior men’s football.
Shone believes Holyport will be a top five team in the division, but he is more unsure of what to make of Saturday’s opponents Abingdon United who the Blues visit in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.
“I don’t know what to make of Abingdon in truth,” Shone admitted.
“I’ve had them watched twice and they have lost both games. So they will want to get their season up and running while we have nothing to lose against a Premier Division side and will have a go.”
He added: “We have one injury concern, otherwise we go into the match with a full strength team and keen to do well.
“It will be good to bring a few pennies into the club and it’s an exciting game for the players, especially the young ones.”
Derek Sweetman’s Holyport team is also facing a tough FA Cup clash when they host Brimscombe & Thrupp at Summerleaze on Saturday.
Sweetman says there should be no extra pressure on his players against a more senior team.
“It’s a free hit for us as no-one expects us to get one over a strong Premiership side like Brimscombe,” he said.
“I hope we can upset the apple cart.
“We will try to give them the game of their lives.”
Sweetman’s side go into the match off the back of the 4-2 setback to Burnham, but Sweetman reckons there were many positives to come from the first league match of the season.
He said: “Obviously we’re disappointed to lose but we take a lot from the match, especially the first half.
“We tired in the second period and that cup final against Flackwell on the Tuesday was clearly still in the boys’ legs. Fitness is not quite where we want it to be, but that will come and we will only get better.”
The manager was delighted with the threat of 20-year-old striker Fabian Driffill, who scored twice, describing him as a player who has the potential to play up ‘a level or two’.
He added: “We have already had a few people talk to us about him.
“He learned a lot last year and this season we should see what he is capable of.”
Assessing opponents Burnham, Sweetman believes they are title contenders, but they may have some competition.
“Burnham have the resources and players to challenge for the title, no doubt, but I think it will be competitive this year,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if four or five teams are up there.”
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