The action this weekend came in the form of Chesterton’s first league game of 2019 as the current Cirencester and District League leaders took on Lechlade FC for the very first time this season.
Conditions were not ideal for this first meeting against an unpredictable outfit, with the weather leaving a lot to be desired and the pitch clearly seeing better days.
This did not concern the men in claret and blue, though, as they started the game with purpose, looking for an early breakthrough – which is exactly what they found.
In the seventh minute, the strike partnership of Josh Russell and George Peare combined to grab the opening goal of the afternoon with the latter slotting the ball in the back of the Lechlade net to make it 1-0.
However, his early goal gave the hosts a boost as they grew in confidence on the ball, becoming even harder to break down.
With the home side seeing more of the ball, they began to impose more of a threat going forward. They caused problems down the Chesterton flanks only to be thwarted by the tireless work rate of the midfield.
One such instance saw Will Power track back and muscle his man off the ball with a well-timed shoulder barge only to be penalised by a dubious decision from the match official. Unfortunately, Power would receive an early booking after voicing his displeasure at the decision.
Now walking a tightrope in a game with questionable officiating, Power knew he had to let his football do the talking and he did just that as he, Kieran Jones and Matt Lammond re-gained control of the midfield and dictated the play.
The midfield trio were involved in a wonderful passing move in the 38th minute that saw the ball played out to Ashley Rockley on the left wing. Rockley took one touch before beating his man with some quick footwork, driving to the byline and delivering a low cross towards Russell. The striker moved towards the ball before casually stepping over it, letting it run through to Peare who dispatched the with ease to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
The floodgates looked to be open for the away side now and moments later, in the 42nd minute, some good work down the left wing saw the ball played inside to Lammond who continued the same way to find Aaron Perry down the right. Confident from scoring his first goal for the club last week, Perry took a touch, knocked the ball outside the Lechlade defender and unleashed a shot that swerved away from the outstretched keeper and into the top right corner.
The second half started slower than the first with both teams looking a little cautious in possession. The first real action of the half did not come until the 60th minute of play.
With an opportunity to inflict more damage from a corner, up stepped Rockley to deliver the set piece. He played an inviting ball just beyond the front post that was met by Peare. The Chesterton striker connected with the delivery, glancing the ball into the far corner of the net to put the game out of sight at 4-0.
After proving disciplined and difficult to break down for 65 minutes, Chesterton were caught out by a lack of concentration moments later. After losing the ball cheaply in midfield, the visitors were then caught out of position at the back. Finding the back of the net against the run of play, Lechlade would make the scoreline 4-1.
Back on track and proving smarter in possession, the visitors resumed control of the game and continued to pile pressure on the Lechlade defence.
It wasn’t long until Chezzie found the fifth goal after some good movement from Russell saw him through on goal. After beating the centre back, he cleverly chipped the ball across the face of goal, allowing substitute Tom Cox to touch it over the line at the back post.
At 5-1, you wouldn’t blame the visitors for settling for the win but that is not the mentality of this league-leading side. Instead, moments later, Joe Stratford would find Rockley who smashed the ball past the ‘keeper from an extremely tight angle. With this strike, a little bit of history was made as Rockley became the scorer of Chesterton’s 100th competitive goal.
Into the last five minutes, there was a chance for one last Chesterton goal. After holding off a last-ditch Lechlade attack, the visitors found themselves on the counter in a two-on-one attack.
With the ball at Rockley’s feet, the winger showed quick thinking to play a first time through ball to Peare. With the last man drawn out of position by Rockley, Peare was left one-on-one with the keeper. True to form, he slid the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner for his fourth of the day, rounding off a 7-1 scoreline.
Man of the Match: Kieran Jones
Saturday’s man of the match was picked by loyal supporter Ray, who is at every game without fail – home or away. Ray also gave special mentions to Will Power and Ashley Rockley for their displays.