The shock of the opening day last season was Kingstonian’s victory at big-spending Billericay Town. At that point the K’s laughed at Mr Tamplin’s assertion that his side would win every match, poured scorn on his terrifying murals, and headed back to Fetcham Grove with all three points. This season, of course, Kingstonian are back in the Borough that bears their name, sharing with Corinthian-Casuals, and after a raft of prominent signings are amongst the favourites for promotion and were expected to start their campaign strongly against Brightlingsea Regent. Regent, however, had other ideas. First Harvey Hodd put them ahead, and even after an equaliser from Louie Theophanous- of course, an arrival from last season’s opening day opponents- Hodd was able to put them ahead once more, before Billy Hunt made it 3-1. Whilst the home side did manage to pull a goal back, through Muhammadu Faal, they also managed to have two players sent off- Ugo Udoji and Elliott Buchanan- as Brightlingsea held on to the points.
The biggest winners of the day were those Libertines of Margate, who really put newly promoted Corinthian-Casuals to the sword in the first half at Hartsdown Park, scoring five goals- Baselle Aristride, Tom Wynter, Alex Brown (2) and Frannie Collin with them. Casuals did get two back in the second half, inspired by their noisy supporters who were determined to have a good day at the seaside no matter what, but those efforts by Warren Mfula and Gil Carvalho were no more than a consolation.
Along the Kentish coast Folkestone Invicta have been highly tipped to do well this year, but once more a party was well and truly pooped as Enfield Town showed their metal to come from 2-1 behind at the break to win 3-2. Invicta scored all of the first half goals- Kieron McCann and Adam Yusuff at the right end, Nat Blanks unluckily at the other- but a late double from Brandon Adams sent the points back to Donkey Lane.
Witham Town Under 11's with Grays Athletic
In the ‘Battle of the Hawks’ at the Enclosed Ground, it was the birds of prey who had remained at home who triumphed, Whitehawk scoring four first half goals to defeat Harlow Town 4-2. Aaron Goode, Lucas Rodrigues (2) and Ky Marsh-Brown scored for the home side, whilst Andre McCollin and an own goal reduced the arrears.
Also relegated from National League South, Bognor Regis Town were your favourites for promotion, and they started their campaign with a 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Haringey Borough. All of the goals came in the second half, Joel Nouble and Karl Akinwande for the home side, Jimmy Muitt and yet another own goal for the Rocks.
Tonbridge Angels got three at Merstham- Jared Small, Alex Reid and yet another own goal providing the victory, whilst North Division Champions AFC Hornchurch proved why they are the bookies picks for the title with a 3-0 walloping of Leatherhead, Brad Warner, Jay Porter and Sean Marks with the strikes.
Two of the other newly-promoted sides travelled to Sussex, and both enjoyed the experience, leaving with 1-0 victories. Potters Bar Town went to Burgess Hill Town, and a late goal from Dernell Wynter gave them the points, whilst Carshalton Athletic were at Lewes- promoted with them last season- once more, and beat the Rooks for the fifth time in a row, Olawale Sogbanmu finding the net.
Worthing hosted the biggest crowd of the day, 755 turning up at Woodside Road to watch the Mackerel Men defeat Wingate & Finchley 2-1. Callum Kealy scored both of the goals for the home side, after Sean Cronin had given the away team the lead from the spot.
In the other match, two of the most highly-rated strikers in the League traded blows. Jason Prior gave Dorking Wanderers a third minute lead at Bishop’s Stortford, only for Jamie Cureton to level 19 minutes from time.
Aveley have been highly tipped to do well this season, but perhaps few expected James Webster’s side to have such a stunning start, as they defeated one of last years surprise packages, Dereham Town, by six goals to nil at Parkside. Harry Gibbs started the rout, and George Doyle doubled the advantage before the break, but four in eleven second half minutes from Freddie Gard, Alex Akrofi, Andy Freeman and Tom Richardson made the match more than safe.
AFC Sudbury were the next-highest scorers, walloping four second half goals at Tilbury- Billy Holland, Phil Kelly, Callum Harrison and Darryl Coakley finding the back of the Dockers net- whilst Romford and Felixstowe & Walton United each got three. The Boro were playing their first competitive match at the Futurefuel stadium, home of East Thurrock United, and were given the perfect start to that tenure with two goals in the first nine minutes, Kris Newby and Jonathon Nzengo scoring them before Roddy Lemba added to the tally in the second half, with Great Wakering Rovers unable to reply. The Seasiders trio came from Rhys Henry, Miles Powell and Rhys Barber, and although Bury Town did manage to get a goal back most of the 567 in attendance- the highest in the Division and indeed the third highest in the league- went home happy.
Elsewhere, a Mitchell Gilbey goal gave Canvey Island victory over Barking, whilst Heybridge Swifts showed that life after Luque goes on as normal, Sam Bantick and Luke Callander giving them the points against Soham Town Rangers. Early goals from Shomari Barnwell and Mitchel Hahn gave Grays Athletic three points at Witham Town (see photograph from Jim Purtill of the Witham Under 11's with Athletic before the game), whilst Mildenhall Town and Maldon & Tiptree got one point- and one goal- each at Recreation Way. Finally, Coggeshall Town and Bowers & Pitsea drew 0-0.
South East Division:
Hastings United started this season as they ended the last, with a thoroughly impressive performance. Visitors Thamesmead Town took the lead through Richard Pacquette, but United replied with five, Sam Adams, Sam Cruttwell and two from Daniel Ajakaiye- and an own goal- giving them a decisive victory. Another United, although this one with a rather revamped side under manager Gary Alexander, also started well and also came from behind, Ashford United defeating highly fancied Hythe Town 3-1 at Homelands. Charlie Webster gave the Cannons an early lead, but the Nuts & Blots roared back through Lanre Azeez, Ambrose Gnahore and Sam Corne.
Your title favourites, as we announced a few days ago, are Cray Wanderers- and the Wands did their best to live up to star billing, two from Michael Power and a third from Jerome Frederico giving them a comfortable victory at Greenwich Borough. Phoenix Sports also got three, a double from Jeff Duah-Kessie added to by Kweku Ansah whilst Sid Sollis managed a late consolation for East Grinstead Town. Whyteleafe were the final team to hit a treble, going behind at home to Guernsey (William Fitzgerald) before a Eddie Dsane hat trick made the match safe in our battle of the Greens.
There were 2-1 wins for Sittingbourne at Horsham, and for VCD Athletic at home to Ramsgate, whilst the derby between Faversham Town and Herne Bay ended 1-1.
South Central Division:
We were at Larges Lane for our #bostikmatchday feature, and watched as Bracknell Town deservedly defeated Waltham Abbey by a goal to nil- you can read about that here. Elsewhere, title favourites Hayes & Yeading United had to come from behind to earn a point at Craig Edwards’ Cheshunt where the two sides shared six goals. Kaan Fehmi gave the away side an early lead only for Jason Hallett to equalise just before the break, before a double from Nathan Koranteng gave the Ambers a firm hold on the match. United weren’t to be denied, however, and a double of their own, from Toby Little, earned them a point.
Perhaps the match of the day came at Northwood Park. The home side took the lead through James Ewington, but visitors Tooting & Mitcham United then scored three, Billy Dunn, Peter Wedgeworth and Danny Bassett giving them what was surely an unassailable lead. With eleven minutes to go, however, Wood decided otherwise, and two more from Ewington, with one from Carl Pearce sandwiched between them, ensured that the points stayed at home in a match that will surely be talked about for years to come- not least in the Ewington household!
Molesey had a torrid time in the South Division last season, and continued in that vein during their first match in the South Central Division, going down 3-0 at Marlow- for whom a first half double from Charlie Samuel was later followed by a goal from Devontae Romeo. Hanwell Town and Chipstead both recorded 2-0 away victories- the former at Egham Town, where Ibrahim Olutade and Calum Duffy did the damage in the second half, the latter at Chalfont St Peter, where Sam Bell and Daniel Moody created the lead before the break.
Two draws are up next. Ashford Town (Bradley Wilson) and Hertford Town (Charlie Ruff) got a goal and a point each, whilst Uxbridge (Matt Sinclair, Joe Wright) and Westfield (Karle Carder-Andrews, Aaron Watson) both found the net twice for their point a-piece.
Finally, Ware took three points at Wodson Park with a 2-1 win over South Park. Dom Njoya and Dave Cowley got the home goals, Dylane Ramazani replied for Mick Sullivan’s men.
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Six of our clubs were involved in the FA Cup Extra-Preliminary Round, with four victories, one draw and one defeat. Three Bridges won 1-0 at Crawley Down Gatwick, Sevenoaks Town won 6-1 at home to Lordswood, FC Romania won 3-1 at Southend Manor, whilst Basildon United left Stowmarket Town with a 2-0 victory.
Whitstable Town will have to replay, after being held 2-2 at Deal Town, whilst Haywards Heath Town went down 2-0 at home to Lancing.
By the way, don't forget to like our Facebook Page to keep up to date with all goings-on in the Bostik League. We'll have lots of new photographs up there today, too!