Longlevens manager Craig Martin saw his side get his first full season as manager off to the perfect start this weekend, with an eye-catching 3-0 win at newly promoted Easington Sports.
After being 2-0 up with minutes left on the opening day 12 months ago before drawing 2-2 with Flackwell Heath, Longlevens had a season from hell that saw them lose then manager Mark Moore on medical grounds and the Gloucester-based side were nearly relegated from the Hellenic Premier, but yesterday’s result has began to exorcise the demons and Martin admits that the first game is always important for the season ahead.
“Yesterday’s result was very pleasing,” Martin said. “It is never easy going to a team who have won the league and gained promotion. I can remember our ever game in Hellenic League and we battled and gave it our all against a Highmoor Ibis side who were Champions at the time.
The first game of the season is always important at any level as it can give you confidence but can also show you aren’t quite ready, so it was pleasing to get the three points.”
Longlevens took the lead early when a neat short corner routine ended up being converted by young forward Isaac Johns.
Johns, who could be one of the young players to watch for Longlevens this season, will take a lot of confidence after scoring so early into the new season.
As will the second goal scorer, Shaun O’Connor. O’Connor converted a second half penalty after Johns was fouled in the box. Last season it took the former Brockworth Albion man a while to score his first goal, so he will be delighted to have got on the score sheet on the opening day.
Serial scorer at Hellenic League level Brad Martin added a well taken solo third to give Longlevens a great start to the new campaign.
Craig Martin had praise for his forward players for being so ruthless, whilst acknowledging his defenders for keeping what is a rare Longlevens clean sheet.
“It’s great to get two of your strikers off and running with a goal each at the first attempt and Shaun scoring the penalty is special – after he has missed his last seven penalties for us!
But keeping a clean sheet with a newly formed back four is also very pleasing, obviously goals win you games but clean sheets can win you just as many points during a season,” Martin said.
Longlevens lined up with centre half Ben Williams making his full debut, as was former Tuffley Rovers man Will Emery, who made the switch during the summer.
James Barnett made his return from an injury lay-off that saw him miss the end of pre-season and Jay Kennedy continued to make his comeback after a long term injury last season limited his game time.
Levens will be going into their next game with momentum, but Martin knows it will be a tough ask when they head to Westfields on Tuesday night.
Westfields, who are hotly tipped to be competing for the Hellenic Premier title in their first season since joining the league in the summer, currently sit top after romping past Windsor in their opening fixture 5-0.
“We know how hard Tuesday’s game will be,”Martin said. “They are tipped to win the league and with the players they have in their squad, we know that we are going to be up against it.
In our eyes it’s a free hit as we’re expected to come away with nothing at all.” Martin added.