Captain fantastic inspires SPEC
Captain Ashley Burns (2) and Craig Cohen were the marksmen as highly-fancied SPEC ran out worthy winners against fellow new boys Brixton B.
SPEC FC and Brixton Old Boys B would have come into the game full of optimism and hope, both having enjoyed recent pre-season friendly victories. However, in a well contested affair, it was the re-formed SPEC who emerged victorious in front of a capacity crowd.
The first half saw a tidy game played out. The opening 10 minutes was full of crunching tackles, feisty tussles and aerial battles as both teams battled for a foothold in the match.
The Bananas, however, managed to break down Brixton's resistance 20 minutes in. James Lesner rampaged down the left and found Cohen who slotted in captain fantastic Burns and he in turn weaved his magic in between two defenders before powering a shot home. His jubilant celebration with fellow caretaker manager Ricky Lawrence was certainly one for the fans who had flocked from far and wide to see SPECs return to Sunday league football.
Brixton upped their game after this and had it not been for a vintage Michael Rhodes save in net for SPEC, they would have found themselves level. The Bananas registered the second goal of the game that their football
deserved when Cohen half volleyed the ball clean and true into the back of the onion bag. SPECtators..... ecstatic!
The second half continued in the same way the first ended, with SPEC enjoying the lion-share of possession and their attacking play, displaying the flair and gusto that has had them tipped for league glory.
Their elite midfield trio of Ricky Lawrence, Ashley Burns and Elliott Wallis managed to balance grit and discipline with forward drive and spacial awareness in a match that was always going to be decided by the third goal.
It was the skipper who again came up with the goods. Burns twisting, turning, selling dummies and driving his
way through on goal to cooly slot home. When the fans thought it couldn't get much better than his first goal celebration - he pulled out another blinder. Cartwheel, forward roll, jump and punch air. It was springy, it was graceful, it was diligent ... it was Burns at his best.
Had it not been for a combination of some fine goal-keeping from Brixton’s No. 1 and some wastefulness in front of goal, the Bananas could have scored 6 or 7.
In the end, a convincing victory for the Bananas who were spurred on by a rousing motivational speech from absent manager Laurence Conway sent all the way from Japan. All this even without Danny Caro's star
man Dan Cohen kicking a ball. A selection headache awaits Conway when SPEC’s No.r 6 returns from injury not to mention the players that didn’t make the squad!
SPEC joint caretaker-manager Ricky Lawrence was quick to pour scorn over the favourites tag that has been attached to SPEC. "As much as we would love to, and feel we have the opportunity to do so, I most certainly feel we are not favourites for the title.
"Half of our squad hasn't played 11-a-side football in five years, and what's more we are just a group of friends having a good time on a Sunday morning. The last thing we want is the added pressure of being the ones to beat this season.
"I personally think Brady will be the team to catch and if we have the opportunity to be up there come the end of the season we’d love to get our hands on the title."