The Train finally returned to home turf at Tonga Park after an 8 week absence. It felt good to be back at Tonga and bar a couple of rough patches at either end the surface was in a good condition suiting our style. The opposition was University and with their only defeat this season at Caversham's hands they were confident of pushing further up the table at our expense.
With a couple of players absent with exams the evergreen Tim Cook slotted into the middle of the park and Elliot Martin, through a number of impressive performances in Reserve grade, earned his call-up to the right wing. Sam Collier partnered Lewis Jackson up top and Rhys Henderson returned from a 1 week injury absence.
Caversham impressed from the outset and to a degree took hold of the fixture through the early passages. The early pressure told then Lewis Jackson threaded a delightful pass through to Sam who in clinical fashion tempted the opposition goal keeper into an earlier decision before lifting his shot over him and into the net. University are a strong team and had good periods of play choosing to attack through quick counter breaks. The back four dealt with most of what Uni threw at them which had Varsity resorting to long range shots. As half time grew closer Caversham looked for another goal which would give them some breathing space creating a number of opportunities. None were as guilt-edged as the low cross which managed to bobble taking it just over the foot of Lewis who was a matter of centimetres from the goal line.
The 2nd half followed much the same course as the previous 45 minutes and on 62 minutes Sam Collier again showed his worth when he slammed home a low free kick from 25 yards. This gave the boys confidence and there was little chance they were going lessen their grip on the match. Through controlled possession the boy's again limited University to just a few half chances before Lewis Jackson, taking advantage of new offside laws, when the ball fell to him unmarked in the 18 yard box. His finish was exquisite and the work of a true marksman; Brother Tom watching on from the sideline will have been impressed by his younger brother.
Unfortunately with only a minute left the boys took their foot off a bit and due to some miscommunication University found themselves with a consolation goal. 3 - 1 was the final score in a performance much improved from previous weeks.
The curtain-raiser to the Prem game was as per usual the Reserve game against the same opposition. The 2nds have been setting a high bar and really showing the 1st team how to go about their work. It was no different on this occasion with another impressive, goal scoring performance.
Brad Scott opened his account for the season in the 15th minute when he turned in the box to slot home from close range. With plenty of ball the boys applied plenty of pressure on Varsity with some interchanges better at home in the Premier league. It was one of these exchanges which resulted in Sam Cosgrave sliding the ball home on 25 minutes. Will Smith then rose highest from a corner powering his header past a despairing goal keeper and idle defender. Unfortunately the boys switched off from the re-start and within a minute Matt Ward turned the ball into his own net from a hopeful cross. Lessons to be learned.
As the 2nd half got underway Caversham looked to impose its authority from the outset and managed to put the game out of University's hands within 10 minutes when Aaron nodded home. As the game wore on Caversham were rarely threatened and Brad Scott rounded out the scoring prodding home a delightful cross from 'young' Blaker.
It capped off another brilliant performance where experience and youth is combining with aplomb. 10 wins from 10 the test now is to ensure complacency doesn't creep in as the we look to next week's opponents Green Island.
Masters also picked up an impressive victory against beating Mosgiel 5 - 1 to maintain their early season form.