The opening game of the 2015/16 Premiership campaign started with the visit to JTC Park of current league champions St Paul’s. In what many teams will consider to be the toughest game of the season, we can deservedly feel disappointed not to have come away with all three points following a disciplined, energetic team display that included some impressive individual performances.
Showing intent from the very start, Clayton Romeril, recently back into the side from injury, delivered a thunderous tackle on St Paul’s target man Craig Russell and the scene was set for what turned out to be a hard fought competitive game. With both teams having spells of possession in the opening exchanges, it was Wanderers that made the break through midway into the first half. Following a cleared free kick, Ollie Thompson picked the ball up in midfield and delivered a tempting ball into the area. Chris Andrews rose superbly to direct the ball across goal for the awaiting Bradley Stratford to head home off the inside of the post from close range.
St Paul’s equalised on the half hour after good play through their midfield which allowed Jack Cannon to release Kieran Lester in behind our back line and he duly slotted the ball past keeper Jamie Brewster.
The second half couldn’t have started better for Wanderers and within the first minute we had again taken the lead. After good work down our right hand side by Chris Mallett who was excellent in his first competitive start of the season, his flighted diagonal ball was met at the edge of the St Paul’s penalty area by the oncoming Kamen Nafkha who unleashed a right foot volley past the rooted Euan van der Vliet in the St Paul’s goal.
Following the introduction of Ruben Pestana onto the field, the game should have been dead and buried long before the end. Jamie Savory weaved his way between two defenders out wide before crossing for Pestana who brilliantly wrong footed the oncoming defender to leave himself bearing down on goal. With just the keeper beat van der Vliet made yet another wonderful save to keep his side in the game. Further chances fell Wanderers’ way, most notably to Evan Nobes after more good work by Savory but the youngster blazed wide.
With those three points within touching distance, the game headed into time added on with St Paul’s pressing hard for an equaliser. In the final minute of the game they were awarded a corner that was swung dangerously into the penalty area. Although initially cleared, St Paul’s Scott McClurg’s mishit shot bounced awkwardly across the crowded Wanderer’s six yard box leaving Zeljko Martinovic to glance the ball into net to earn a somewhat fortuitous draw.
After the game, Wanderer’s veteran goal keeper Jamie Brewster said: “We’re obviously disappointed to concede with virtually the last kick of the game but we will absolutely take the positives out of it. We created lots of really good chances against the reigning champions and should have been out of sight long before the 94th or 95th minute.”