A second half header from Jake Rhodes was enough to see Tuffley Rovers come from behind to beat Ardley United 2-1 on Tuesday night, thus securing their first win of the 2020/21 season.
Tuffley went into the game on zero points from their opening three league matches, having lost at Virginia Water, Brimscombe & Thrupp and Flackwell Heath, but they started well with new signing Luke Soule poking an early effort straight at the Ardley keeper from the edge of the box.
Caelan Isaac then curled an effort towards goal at the other end, by Tuffley stopper Luke Merchant did well to save the shot before Macaulay Herbert smothered the ball away.
Then in the 10th minute Ardley took the lead. After a penalty was given for a foul in the Tuffley box, Merchant pulled off a terrific save from Ryan Barney’s spotkick.
But Tuffley’s joy was short lived as the visitors recycled the ball and Barney diverted the cross into the bottom corner to break the deadlock.
The hosts weren’t behind for long though and equalised through Antoine Thompson’s deflected effort. After a ball in from the right went right through the box, Thompson was able to take a touch and drill in hard and low and the diversion took the ball into the net. Game on.
Merchant kept his side in the game in the first half from there though, making three vety good saves – including a great stop one on one from Isaac on the left side of the box.
Right on half time Herbert went down injured and after trying to run it off in the second half he was duly replaced by Dom Kent, with Ollie Hunt dropping into the back three.
The winner came in one of the most entertaining series’ of events. Warren Mann was fouled in the left corner by Isaac and after a handbags scuffle on the ground and Mann winding up both Isaac and Barney, both Mann and Isaac were booked – much to the dismay of the Ardley players who felt Mann should have been off for his part.
Then to add salt to the wounds Rhodes leapt like a salmon to head in James Sunley’s cross, which lead to the Tuffley players swarming Rhodes, well all bar Mann – who took joy in celebrating in front of the Ardley players’ faces.
The final ten minutes saw chances at either end, with Soule and Rudi McKinnon going close to wrapping the game up for Rovers and Merchant pulling off an outstanding on on one block after a rare slip up at the back for the hosts.
From there Tuffley held on to the win and the players showed how much getting that first league victory meant at full time.
Tuffley face two tough away trips next, with Easington Sports away on Saturday before a trip to Kayte Lane to take on Bishops Cleeve.
Tuffley Rovers: Merchant, Ferguson, Thompson, Rhodes, Herbert, Geddes, Shutt, Hunt, Soule, Sunley, Mann
Subs: Bainbridge, John, Birkett, Kent, McKinnon
Ardley United: Rimmer, Bestley, D Middleton, Barney, Boyd, Novakovic, Singh, Tallboys, Walton, Godfrey, Isaac
Subs: L Middleton, Mulvany, Hamilton, Convey
M&S Roofing Man of the Match: Luke Merchant (Tuffley Rovers)
Elsewhere in the Hellenic Premier on Tuesday night, Lydney Town also secured their first league win of the season and claimed the big scalp of Westfields with a 2-1 win – with Brad Kear scoring twice.
Longlevens ensured their unbeaten start to the season continued with a 1-1 draw at Royal Wootton Bassett Town, Brad Martin scoring his 6th of the season in that one.
Bishops Cleeve went goal crazy away to Shrivenham, winning 6-0 with former Slimbridge U18s man Kian Gardiner taking the plaudits and a Ross Langworthy double helped guide Fairford Town to a 4-1 win over Easington Sports at Cinder Lane.