JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
Oakwood A 1 Norstar FC A 1
A wonderful 35-yard strike from Sammy Kalms rescued a point for Norstar A at Parmiters as they began their first Premier Division campaign against Oakwood A.
The two sides know each other well, having met three times last season, and this had the potential to be a fantastic game for the neutral.
However a poorly-kept pitch and some rustiness in the legs of both sides saw the game get very scrappy early on with neither side able to get a foot on the ball and wild tackles flying in all-over the place - referee Dan Cohen with some paperwork to do after brandishing a few yellow cards in response.
It was the Oaks who took the lead after ghosting round the Norstar full back and pulling the ball across for Bobby Cousins to strike into the roof of the goal from close range.
Both teams had a few half-chances with Ben De La Fuente in the Norstar net the busier of the two keepers but the score remained 1-0 at half-time.
Norstar looked a different team in the second half with flair and fluency injected into their attacking play.
It was clear they didn't want to end their Premier Division debut empty-handed and went close when Alex Jacobs, now playing on his own up-front, saw his shot narrowly whizz past the far post.
A wave of set-pieces were wasted by the visitors and it looked like it wasn't going to be there day, until Peters introduced Kalms to the action. Having missed most of the last two seasons through injury, Kalms looked to be back to his menacing best, his composure bringing out the best in his teammates.
And it was inevitable that Kalms would score the equaliser and the quality of the goal didn't surprised many. Playing from the left, he picked up the ball 35-yards out and curled it in - right on the postage stamp - leaving Oakwood's stand-in goalkeeper with no chance.
Norstar continued to apply the pressure and should have turned this into a winning goal late on, but were lucky not to lose out to some quick counter-attacks from the home side.
Neither side could be too disappointed with a point and most were relieved when the final whistle came that they'd escaped without major injury.
Norstar now have a week off as skipper Jeremy Elster enjoys his stag-weekend but will be able to put their feet up knowing that they've got something on the board and this without several of their key plays - a solid, if unremarkable display that will leave the players and management eager for the season to kick off again in a fortnight's time.
Peters was happy with the performance: "It was a good result considering I was missing Jamie from the dugout with me. It was great to see Sammy back on the pitch and re-producing the form that made him such a valuable asset to us in the early days.
"Things were a bit wild early on but it was a hard-fought game, the likes of which we're only going to see more of over the coming months. We can't wait."
Oakwood joint-manager Ric Blank told JC Sport: "Sunday was a very scrappy game, but overall we're happy with a point. We know it's going to be a very tough season and we are up for every challenge that comes our way.
"Every point is a good one and though we had chances to win the game, we've got to be happy with the effort and commitment of the boys in their first ever Prem game.
"On the basis of play a draw was a fair result, but with Ilan Scorah in commanding form we never looked like conceding. The equaliser was a fantastic strike from 35 yards - it happens and we can't complain.
"We had chances at the start of the second half to kill the game off and when we didn't take it I was worried we wouldn't take the three points. But overall i'm happy - there's loads of positives and lots to work on.
"Next week we have the toughest possible challenge in the form of Brady at Parmiters. We'll give it our best and see where that takes us."