Bishops Cleeve kicked off their Hellenic League Challenge Cup campaign in the perfect way thanks to a 4-0 win at Tuffley Rovers on Tuesday night.
Goals from Leroy Odiero and Ash Caldwell along with strikes from former Tuffley duo Mark Pritchett and Jake Rhodes saw Cleeve run out comfortable winners on a tough and competitive opening fixture.
The game started fast and furiously with a caution for Warren Mann within the first 90 seconds after an altercation with Linden Dovey, following a foul on the Tuffley man, and that set the tone for a hotly fought contest.
Joe Shutt looked a lively outlet for Tuffley in the early exchanges but the hosts couldn’t find the finishing touches to the crosses into the box.
For Cleeve they partnered experienced forward Steve Davies up front with Rhodes and with Lucas Price and Blaine Waugh on the wings they looked dangerous going forward.
But the breakthrough came from a corner kick, a beautifully floated in corner at that. It was met by a thunderous header by former Rovers player/manager Pritchett which flew past Luke Merchant and into the top corner.
From there the visitors settled down into their passing rhythm and Paul Collicutt’s men began to get the ball between their midfield three of Jake Parrott, Sam Blackie and Archie Haskayne.
Haskayne went into the book for hacking down Warren Mann as he tried to break for Tuffley and had to watch his step after fouling Isaac Lawrence which on another day would have warranted a second yellow.
Then lightning struck twice for the Mitres as another corner lead to another goal.
This time a poor corner from the left hand side was headed back out to Haskayne. His return cross wasn’t great but it went through a crowd of bodies before being flicked home by Leroy Odiero to double Cleeve’s lead.
The visitors added a third before the break, once again from a corner, but this time Tuffley thought they had cleared the danger only for the ball to be headed back into the box from 18 yards and Rhodes was on hand to nod the ball over Merchant who was caught in no mans land.
Cleeve made changes at the break with Pritchett, Blackie and Rhodes amongst the men whose work was done and it was substitute Ash Caldwell who powered home a header from yet another corner to make it 4-0.
Tuffley’s best effort of the game came in the final twenty minutes when Henry Birkett curled an effort against the crossbar, but that was as good as it got for the Tuffley forwards who huffed and puffed without being able to penetrate the Mitres’ backline.
Both sides turn their attentions to Saturday, with Bishops Cleeve hosting Longlevens at Kayte Lane and Tuffley welcoming Lydney Town to Glevum Park in gameweek two of the group.
Longlevens host Lydney at Saw Mills tonight in the second game of gameweek one.
Tuffley Rovers: Merchant, Lawrence, Geddes, Herbert, Ferguson, Kent, Birkett, Mendes, Shutt, Mann, Bloomfield
Subs: Higgins, Hailwood, McKinnon, James, Bainbridge
Bishops Cleeve: Gilder, Dovey, Odiero, Parrott, Pritchett, Haskayne, Waugh, Blackie, Rhodes, Davies, Price
Subs: Kennedy, Crowe, O’Regan, Caldwell, Gardiner
M&S Roofing Man of the Match – Leroy Odiero (Bishops Cleeve)
Elsewhere on the opening night of the Challenge Cup Stonehouse Town were held to a 0-0 draw at home to 10-man Royal Wootton Bassett Town in group two, with Brimscombe & Thrupp hosting Malmesbury Victoria on Wednesday evening.