Four-midable Faithfold march on
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A Mike Pearson double saw defending champions make it seven points from a possible nine after coming away with a 4-2 victory over Oakwood at Chase Lodge.
Johnny Haik and Dan Stock were also on target for a Faithfold team who went 2-0 up only to be pegged back to 2-2.
Faithfold stormed into a 2-0 lead inside five minutes following a misunderstanding in the Oakwood defence, with new signing Dan Cohen and two centre halves who'd never played together before combined let Pearson in twice.
To their credit, Oakwood fought back brilliantly with Alex Koslover dictating play on his debut and Josh Bentley approaching his marauding best in the middle of the park.
Kosloverpulled one back using his quick feet to shift it onto his left and bury it in the bottom corner. Brad Wine equalised shortly after slotting in at the far post from a Kintish cross.
Oakwood came close to taking the lead on the stroke of half time with relentless pressure leading to a great save from Ben Law in the Faithfold goal, a goal-line clearance and a mad scramble that Faithfold couldn't clear before Bobbie Cousins pinged it just wide from 15 yards.
Faithfold were rattled and missing captain Alex Levack. Cousins had come on for the injured Rafi Bloom and made the world of difference. Oaks joint-manager Ric Blank told JC Sport: "A fit bobbie has the potential to be one of the best players in the league. His brain and courage are second to none. He just needs to work on his fitness and he'll be a huge asset for us."
At half-time Faithfold manager Zuriel Solomon hauled off two of his players, which Blank described as "a huge compliment to how we'd played against a team with no obvious weakness".
Oakwood started the second half much the same tearing into Faithfold. Then the game changed through a combination of a refereeing and defensive error. An Oakwood corner was destined to fall (via a skewed clearance) to Koslover on the edge of the box, but the referee contrived to get in the way of the ball, deflecting it to a Faithfold player who led the break.
From there Oakwood were masters of their own downfall and "Cohen will be the first to admit he should have mopped up in goal," according to Blank. Instead Pearson was gifted an open goal.
Oakwood didn't have it in them to come back again and conceded another soft goal from a throw in. The last 20 minutes were Faithfold's and in truth they could have scored more as we tired.
Faithfold boss Zuriel Solomon told JC Sport: "We started very brightly but became sloppy and a little complacent. Oakwood were working hard and finished the half the stronger. Second half we were much better I made two substitutions at half time and it instantly paid off we were a lot sharper and aggessive.
"We were without Sam Reeves, Alex Levack and Elliott Stern, but we had a strong squad which was pleasing. We were much better second half and started to battle and work hard and felt we were worthy winners in the end."
Oaks joint-manager Ric Blank told JC Sport: "I'm happy with so much of our play and am convinced we'd have won had it not been for the abomination of that third goal. It killed us. But we won't dwell on it and are just delighted to be back. It's a long road til May."