The opening game of the season for Laxey First Team - and despite a good overall performance, a 4-3 loss against a strong St Marys team.
A very young team turned out for John Palmer's managerial debut with the First Team. Seven of the starting eleven were teenagers, backed up by two teenage subs.
Laxey started brightly in the first few minutes, more than holding their own, and had the first chance when Stanley Manning shot just wide from the left wing.
However, St Marys scored with ten minutes gone - a blatant shove on a Laxey defender freed up the St Marys attack who scored a scrappy goal to go 1 - 0 up.
After a good team move by Laxey, Joe Walters had a shot just over the bar. Laxey had a few minutes of playing good football, everyone working well with mostly two touch football.
Mason Prince, our 16 year old goalkeeper made a good save, as St Marys began to build pressure, winning a few corners and having a few shots.
Michael Fernandes appeared to be man-marking Island captain Frank Jones, who dragged him all over the pitch, leaving some holes in the Laxey midfield, and it appeared that Joe Murley was keeping a very close eye on another Island player, McVey.
A good cross into the box (or was it a shot?) by Stan was very nearly turned in by Joe Walters.
The referee was, shall we say, a bit picky, from the very start, wanting kit clash changes, taking an age over free kicks etc.
Stan had another shot just wide and then Andy Burkitt put in a great tackle to deny St Marys.
Joe W had the first shot on target which needed a save from the Marys keeper. and then debutant Tom Kenny had a shot wide from outside the area.
Dave Reynolds made a great saving tackle, putting the ball out for a corner, when it looked certain St Marys would score.
The first half ended just a goal down, and a really strong performance from all. Pummy and Aaron Broad as make-shift full backs had a lot of work to do and kept it simple, Dave Reynolds and Andy Burkitt at the back were superb against a really strong St Marys attack.
Joe Murley and Michael had to put in a lot of work with their man marking duties, and Matty Wilkinson showed what a class player he was.
The second half did not start well. Just after kick off, St Marys made it 2 - 0 when Andy stooped into a cross to smother it and the referee, behind him, reacted to the St Marys shout for handball and somehow gave a penalty. Whether it was a handball or not, there is no way the referee could be certain it was. But it was given. Andy, what is your version? (His version is that the referee needs an optician)
The penalty was taken, and 'scored' but the fussy ref ordered it to be taken again, and after some mysterious delay, the second attempt went in with Mason nearly getting a hand to it.
To compound his errors, the ref then forgot the 'advantage' rule. Joe Walters burst through into the area, and was fouled by two defenders, but somehow kept his feet, burst clear with just the keeper to beat (which he did) when the referee blew up for the foul on him a fraction before he pulled the trigger. So despite 'scoring' Laxey had a free kick just outside the area. Michael hit it over the wall, but it clipped the bar.
Dave Reynolds went down injured in an almighty tackle, but fortunately was able to carry on.
Laxey seemed to be getting back into the game, and a good flowing move led to Michael having a clear shot at goal, which a defender on the line just got a foot to, to clear. Tom Kenny had another shot from outside the area, just over the bar.
But St Marys went further ahead, with a run down their right and the cross was poked in from about eight yards out to make it 3 - 0.
Twenty minutes left and Dar was subbed for Tom Murray and the defence went three at the back. Shortly after St Marys went 4 - 0 up courtesy of a breakaway which ex-Laxey player Hudgeon put away.
Joe Murley, who had worked hard all game was subbed for Tom Callow with a few minutes left. Matty Wilkinson had a good shot saved for a corner and Laxey had a spell of attacking play. This culminated in a lovely through ball from Michael, just outside the area, into Joe on the right, who brilliantly shot over the keeper to make it 4 - 1. A very well made and taken goal.
And then another - a great ball by Stan into the path of Michael just outside the penalty spot and he glided past a defender and coolly slotted home from a few yards out. Again a well made goal and great finish. 4 - 2 but only a couple of minutes left.
Joe went into the net to retrieve the ball to get the game re-started quickly, and was rewarded with a push in the face from a St Marys player. Unseen by the ref of course.
Laxey were now on the up and playing some good football, with Marys a bit rattled. A St Marys player in the box, appeared to handle a bouncing high ball and the referee gave us a spot kick.
Michael put the penalty away - he is now leading goalscorer for the First Team - to make it 4 - 3. That was well into injury time, and the game ended with Mason making another good save.
A disappointing final result, but probably on balance St Marys deserved a win, but the difference was not as big as the scoreline suggested at one time. They were a stronger unit overall, but we were definitely the more skilful and played some really good, well connected, football at times. The two Tom subs showed ability and altogether with a strong bench we should have a good season. The team flagged a bit in the second half after the high tempo of the first, and fitness may be a key in the future.
It was very hard to pick a man of the match - spectators were particularly impressed with Dave and Andy at the back, the hard work of Joe Walters up front and Aaron was in a close run thing for Man of the Match with the Greens in the Valley Man of the Match - who apart from keeping Frank Jones quiet most of the game, made a goal and scored two - s:
Laxey St Marys
Shots on target 6 8
Shots off target 6 5
Corners 2 7