The Mapledene Arena saw its first games of the new season and the ‘dene opened up with a 5-0 win over Firs. Mapledene started positively, pressing high and forcing the Firs defence, who were eager to play from the back, into errors. Two small lapses in concentration were pounced on by the home striker to put Dene two up. A penalty followed and more pressure from a corner meant a fourth was bundled in and it was 4-0 at half time. Firs came out fighting in the second half and started to find their feet, until an unfortunate own goal looped over the visiting keeper and knocked the wind out of their sails.
Firs had to the try to pick themselves up and go again but found it equally as tough against Yardley. The Youths ran out 5-0 winners with the the pick of the goals being a delicate looping finish hooked over the Firs ‘keeper. Despite their struggles, Firs battled valiantly in both games and displayed immaculate manners throughout – hats off to Firs!
The evening’s entertainment at the Arena was brought to an end with the local(ish) rivals, Mapledene and Yardley embroiled in a titanic battle. Buoyed by those 5-0 wins, the ‘dene and the Youths went inti the game high on confidence and it was Yardley who did a lot of the running in the first half. The Youths carved out the more clear-cut opportunities but failed to hit the net and then first half ended goal-less. The home side rallied in the second half though and stung the Youth’s keeper's fingers with two superb long-range strikes. Dene pressed for a winner but could just not find a way through a stubborn Yardley rearguard. The final action of an intriguing game was a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box for Yardley which was smashed towards goal, but the ball ricocheted off a Dene defender and away to safety; 0-0 the final score but a game much better than the score line suggested.
Over In Erdington, Paget, Short Heath and St Barnabas trotted out at Holly Lane and it was Heath who left the happier. Against Paget, Heath went behind twice but rallied to a fine, 5-2 victory. And in Heath’s second game of the evening, they had to work hard to down a St Barnabas side who produced a terrific defensive display but ultimately succumbed to a 2-0 loss thus providing Short Heath with another three points. Paget put behind their 2-5 loss to Short Heath with St Barnabas on the receiving end of the P’s ire in a 6-1 canter.
And finally, across in Shard End, Brownmead played host to Abbey and St Bernadette’s to commence their 22-23 campaign and against St Bernadette’s the ‘mead dug deep and scrapped away to take a point from a game which ended 1-1. It was a game in which St Bernadette’s dominated but struggled to find a killer touch. Mead, however, weren’t so fortunate when they faced Abbey who certainly did have a killer touch, six of them in fact, in a 6-0 win. Abbey’s clash with St Bernadette’s was much closer though and in a brilliant and thrilling tussle, Bernie’s edged out the amber’n’blacks by four goals to three.
So, as we come up for breath following another exhilarating evening in La Liga, we find Short Heath top on ten points from their four games, a point ahead of Paget and Abbey, who have also both now played four times. St Bernadette’s too have had the same number of outings and lie just a single point behind, in fourth. Mapledene and Yardley with four points, sit fifth and sixth respectively.
And as ‘dene boss, Mr Collett, commented after the games at the Arena this evening “Standards are high in La Liga this season.” He’s not kidding!