Gloucester City U18s christened the new era at the rebuilt Meadow Park stadium on Thursday night with a 2-1 win over local neighbours Cirencester Town in the FA Youth Cup.
A spectacular striker from Spencer Martin broke the deadlock and became the answer to the trivia question of “who is the first player to score at the new Meadow Park?” Martin then turned provider after setting up Will Nmakwe to double the hosts lead before the break.
Substitute Seb Turner pulled one back for Cirencester Town in the final minutes to set up a grandstand finish, but the Centurions were unable to force an equaliser and City won the the Preliminary Round tie.
The Young Tigers go on to the First Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup where they head to Oldland Abbotonians the week commencing 21st September.
The game started quick, with both sides getting used to the 3g surface at Meadow Park straight away.
Gloucester had the first couple of half chances as Archie Mears fired one in from range at Cirencester keeper Jack Curzons, before Will Nmakwe cut in from the left side of the box before fizzing an effort wide of the far post.
From there Cirencester slowly got themselves into the contest and after a mazy run from winger Matthew Kear, Harry Staddon’s low free kick was well saved by Will Whitworth.
Whitworth would go on to produce two more cracking saves, firstly from a Harvey Brookes header – which saw Whitworth have to adjust quickly as the effort was placed back across the direction the keeper was coming from.
The third of the trio of big stops came when again Kear’s run saw him shift the ball into Brookes’ path just inside the box and after taking a touch, his effort was blocked by Whitworth who had come out and smothered the shot very well.
By that point his side were two goals ahead thanks to Martin and Nmakwe’s efforts.
Martin showed great skill and quality for his strike. The Longlevens man flicked the ball up over the defender’s head and struck a beautiful half volley into the roof of the Cirencester Town net. A goal worthy of breaking the deadlock in any game, let alone the first match at a new stadium!
Nmakwe got himself a well earned goal as he impressed the limited numbers in attendance. After picking the ball up on halfway, the Hartpury man carried the ball 10 yards or so before exchanging passes with Martin.
The striker showed exceptional composure to just open up his body and slot the ball past Curzons to make it 2-0 on the night.
Credit to Cirencester Town who still created chances in the first half, with Kear and Brookes the most likely to provide any sort of comeback.
Midfielder Sam Hendy impressed in the middle for Cirencester throughout the game, including in the second half when he dropped back into the defence and played incredibly well.
Cam Blacker came on for the hosts in the second period and he showed great skill and quick feet before curling an effort against the Cirencester crossbar, with Tariq Soliman also hitting the bar with a thunderous 30-yard screamer which was tipped onto the woodwork by Curzons.
Just when all hope had gone for Cirencester they were given a lifetime when Seb Turner rounded Whitworth before squeezing home at a tight angle.
Eight minutes of additional time was played after injuries to Hendy and City’s instrumental captain Roberto Di Segni before the whistle went and the young Gloucester players could celebrate a great win.
Gloucester City: Whitworth, Hill, Carpenter, Di Segni, Davis, Wintle, Reiger, Soliman, Nmakwe, Martin, Mears
Subs: Croose, Long, Blacker, Danes-Rutherford, Parker, Layzell, Jones
Cirencester Town: Curzons, Cant, Nicks, Bolger, McCullie, Hendy, Kear, Staddon, Brookes, Morrisey, Lacey
Subs: Gevaux, Lango, Kent, Turner, Harrison
M&S Roofing Man of the Match: Will Nmakwe (Gloucester City)
Elsewhere, Rudi McKinnon inspired Tuffley Rovers U18s to a 6-3 win over Bitton, scoring a hattrick in the process.
Bishops Cleeve also advance into the next round with a 4-0 win over Bristol Manor Farm at Kayte Lane, with Kai Churchley netting twice.
And it took penalties in the end for Evesham United, but they advance after beating Alvechurch in the shoot-out following a 2-2 draw.
The draw for the First Qualifying Round had already been made so the round looks as follows:
Evesham United vs Coventry Sphinx
Oldland Abbotonians vs Gloucester City
Cinderford Town vs Odd Down
Tuffley Rovers vs Bath City
Chippenham Town vs Slimbridge
Corsham Town vs Bishops Cleeve
*Ties to be played the week commencing Monday 21st September with Tuffley Rovers vs Bath City provisionally scheduled to be live on Severn Sport*
Cover photo copyright with Neil Phelps