A second half hattrick from Wick’s Paul Coles helped the Gloucestershire County League XI to a 5-1 win over their Gloucestershire Northern Senior league counterparts, on a wet and windy night at Slimbridge’s Thornhill Park.
The County League side started slower than the GNSL XI, who had early chances through Andy Maryon of Chalford and Berkeley Town’s Sam Blackie, with both efforts well saved.
Maryon then went closer, as his header rattled against the cross bar after Brockworth Albion’s Jason Taylor worked hard to create an opportunity down the right hand side.
With 20 minutes on the clock and just as the County League side began to get a foothold in the game, they broke the deadlock through Max Barker. After a low ball in from the left fizzed all the way through the box, the Wick man converted at the back post to go ahead.
And the goal really settled down the County League side, who became more composed on the ball and Henry Birkett was able to find pockets of space in and around the halfway line.
The first half drifted away after about half an hour as the rain began to pick up. Sam Wines went closest for the GNSL side, whilst Ethan Moore and Dan Webb had chances for the County League side, with Rockleaze man Webb wasting a great opportunity to double the lead from six yard outs.
The GNSL side came out for the second half very early and were stood around passing the ball in a circle for what felt like 10 minutes or so and it potentially impacted the start of the second period for them, as the lead was doubled within 90 seconds of the restart.
Substitute Coles picked the ball up on the right side of the box and chipped the ball to the back post, only to see it land over Rob Sims and into the back of the net. Those in attendance at Thornhill Park were left slightly bemused as no one could believe it had gone in, but it was 2-0.
Former Brimscombe & Thrupp man Sam Blackie had an effort saved by Dan Hobbs in goal, as he cut in from the left before driving a shot in low. The Sharpness keeper did well to get down low to save though.
Just minutes later it was 3-0 and the game looked done and dusted. Alfie Clarke, who moments before had seen his shot cleared off the line, crossed inswinging from the right hand side and Coles rose highest to nod the ball into the bottom corner.
Within two minutes though the GNSL had something to cheer about and cling onto as Chalford’s Luke Barstow volleyed home from a corner that fell to the defender at the back post.
But just after the hour mark and the County League side closed the door on any potential comeback and in some style. Quedgeley midfielder Birkett, who was one of many who produced a good showing on a tough night, took aim from nearly 35 yards and saw his effort crash in off the crossbar. Sims may have been caught out slightly as the wind moved the ball in the air but it was an audacious attempt.
Brockworth forward Jordan Alderman, who came on during the second half, showed flashes of quality when on the pitch and linked up with Sam Blackie on numerous occasions. The most notable saw a one-two and a nutmeg before a ball into Blackie saw the striker in space. Unfortunately as he leant into the shot, Blackie could only send his effort over the bar.
Coles completed his hattrick in clinical fashion, after a mazy run down the left saw the ball cut back to the Wick man, who made no mistake from about 6 yards out.
Alderman had one final effort to reduce the deficit, but saw his one on one opportunity blocked by Hobbs and the game was over.
It was a great night to showcase a lot of talent in the Gloucestershire area and it was great to be invited down to see the game. Also, credit to both leagues and Slimbridge for arranging the fixture, as well as the managers and players for organising the teams.
Gloucestershire County League: Hobbs, Payton, Jones, Worrell, Birkett, Ponting, Clarke, Morris, Barker, Webb, Moore
Subs: Alexander, Coles, Gayner, Dennis
Gloucestershire Northern Senior League: Sims, Taylor, Harvey, Payne, Wilkinson, Barstow, Davis, Roberts, Wines, Maryon, Blackie
Subs: E Jordan, Coakley, S Jordan, Alderman
Severn Sport Man of the Match: Henry Birkett (County League) & Sam Blackie (GNSL)