An excellent team performance saw the young Rooks kick off the defence of their Isthmian Youth League, South Division title with a comprehensive 9-0 win against Three Bridges at the Dripping Pan, writes Craig Stevens.
Dale Hurley gave debuts toJames Beresford, Nic D’Arienzo, Shane Harper, Brad Santos and George Mitchell-Phillips in a strong starting XI which included six members of the squad who secured the title on goal difference last term.
It took just three minutes for two of the new signings to have an impact. Santos was brought down in the area following a driving run and Mitchell-Phillips sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-0.
Santos then added the second himself fifteen minutes later. Excellent pressing from the new man forced the goalkeeper into an error, with his attempted clearance cannoning off Santos and into the empty net for two nil.
12 minutes later and it was three. Excellent work from Harper down the left teed up Hewens who opened his account for the season with an instinctive finish with the outside of his foot inside the far post.
The Rooks sensed blood and Hewens and Mitchell-Phillips saw two efforts in quick succession pushed away by the Bridges keeper.
However, the Bridges stopper was helpless on 40 minutes as Freeman, breaking and driving from midfield, was brought down by a retreating Bridges defender. It looked to be a 50/50challenge with the Bridges defender seemingly winning a piece of the ball and the offence appearing to take place just outside the area; the referee howevert hought otherwise and pointed to the spot. Mitchell-Phillips stepped up and added his second penalty of the night for 4-0.
It was relentless from the young Rooks and it was no surprise when number five followed five minutes later on the stroke of half time. Honore was taken down 20 yards from goal and Jenkins stepped up and sent a sumptuous free kick into the top corner.
It took just four minutes ofthe second half for Jenkins to add to his personal and the team’s tally with an early goal of the season contender, bettering his previous effort before the break. Santos this time was felled just outside the area and Jenkins picked his spot again, finding the top right corner of the Bridges net, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
To their credit. Bridges continued to try and play the right way but without really troubling Seymour int he Rooks goal, Street sending their best effort of the game wide of the right-hand post on 55 minutes.
Jenkins completed his treble in the 74th minute, slamming in from six yards following good work from Mitchell-Phillips and Santos on the right hand side, the latter’s shot deflecting kindly into Jenkins’ path.
Jenkins added a further two goals in the closing stages, a cheeky dink over the keeper following a high punt forward by Seymour in the 82nd minute and then a hard, driven finish in added time following a defensive slip. This capped an impressive individual performance as well as a professional and throughly deserved opening victory for the team as a whole.
This result, coupled with wins for Worthing and Whitehawk against Burgess Hill and Hastings respectively suggests that this season will again be closely fought, with plenty of twists and turns to come.
The team look to continue the momentum next Thursday, the 6th of September, when they visit Redhill in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup, kick off 7:45pm.
Up the Rooks 🔴⚫
Line Up: Seymour, Beresford (Maguire), Harper, Freeman, D’Arienzo, Allen©️, Santos, Jenkins, Mitchell-Phillips, Honore (Mitchell), Hewens (Whitmore).
Subs not used: Young, Sumner
MOM: Callum Jenkins