I last saw the Brun Grove on November 23rd 2003. In the first ten games of that season they'd lost nine and drawn once. My attendance that day inspired them to a famous and rare victory against Claremont Cons. The joy didn't last as they went on to finish bottom of the league. Last season saw little improvement as they again finished bottom. Four points from only one win and one draw was all they had to show for a long and difficult season. Still, it was heartening to see that they still had the same manager in Dennis Beardall and many of the same players. The new season had brought fresh hope to the perennial strugglers.
Today's opponents were the Links who last season played as Dudley Industries. They too had a season to forget when finishing bottom of 2B with only two wins and four draws. Manager John Moss had snapped up a couple of players from Marton Institute and after a good pre-season in the Compere Cup were hopeful of some improvement.
As the famous clock strikes 11am referee Colin Bascombe gets the new season underway with the Links in the light blue kicking towards the tower.
The warm sunshine bringing out some fine physiques at Stanley Park this morning. A cold can in one hand and…………….If you've got an itch you've just gotta scratch it !
In the early stages the Links were on top with some good strong running from Kev Truby up front and some confident distribution from Cardwell in the centre. At the other end on their rare forays up front Ryan 'Giggsy' Unsworth was keeping the Link defenders busy. On twenty minutes a moment of controversy (The first of many) as a Brun defender blocked a Link's effort on the line. Referee Bascombe's view was impaired and he waved the claim away. Strong, vociferous and 'potty mouthed' appeals from the Links supporters ('The missing Link') brought looks of horror from bemused passing holidaymakers as small children ran tearful into the arms of anxious parents. Play on !
On 31 minutes the Link's pressure paid off. A great cross ball found Jamie Morris free on the edge of the box. He patiently waited for the ball to bounce before lashing it past Dave 'Dowie' Gough. 0 – 1.
Link's players celebrate the opener.
Both sides were then in trouble with the referee. Firstly Link's keeper Dave Beardsworth gets a strong talking to from Mr Bascombe.
Then to even things up Brun Grove's Paul Bromley back at the club after a season in the Prem with the Clarence gets a caution.
The Link's centre half Neil Charles (Centre)
The second moment of major controversy came just before half time. The Links beat the offside trap and the flag went up. Bascombe waved play on. John Slanski ignored the commotion and coolly slotted it left footed into the bottom corner. In the above picture the ref consults the linesman who still couldn't bring himself to lower the flag. After the explanation the goal stood. 0 – 2.
Half Time score : Brun Grove 0 – 2 The Links.
The Clarence FC without a game today indulge in some light training.
The Brun management changed the shape and formation in the second half with the enigmatic Bromley moving up front to join Unsworth and the decision paid off with the Brun having much the better of the early second half exchanges.
Ten minutes into the half yet another through ball found Truby onside. The flag went up, the whistle stayed silent once again and Truby kept his composure, danced around the keeper and found the bottom corner. This time, after more complaints and another consultation the Ref ruled out the goal and the score stayed at 0 – 2.
On sixty five minutes the Links killed the game off slightly against the run of play. Another great cross from Truby found Morris and his first time volley beat the keeper. Great finish. 0 – 3. THe Brun kept going but despite a lot of pressure in the opposition box they just couldn't find the net. At the other end Martin Cardwell's silky skills took him on a mazy run and his powerful effort smashed back off the post with the keeper praying.
Ten minutes later the Brun pulled one back. It was deserved after a much better half. Poor marking from a corner allowed Joel Chapell to rise un-opposed and his header found the back of net. Minutes later the Brun were furious when after a goal mouth scramble they looked to have forced the ball over the line but Bascombe waved play on. He did the same minutes later when a mix up at the back allowed Bromley through with no-one to beat. He looked to have been impeded by Neil 'Charlie' Charles. It was a good shout for a penalty but it wasn't given. Not the Brun's day.
With time running out the umpteenth breakaway of the day saw four Link's forwards head upfield against one solitary Brun defender. Some good interchange saw the ball fall for Truby and this time he made no mistake. 1 – 4. Shortly afterwards the whistle went.
A great start then for Jon Moss and his Link's side, They looked good going forward and on another day Truby might have had a hatful. The introduction of new blood especially in the form of Cardwell looks to be a good signing. The boy Charles also had a comfortable game at the back.
Not a bad effort from the Brun. They looked a 100% better in the second half and were definitely on the wrong end of some harsh decisions. Unsworth played well up front and Chapell looked a better player following the move to midfield. The Links deserved the win, can they build on this decent performance ? For the Brun there were one or two positives to take from the game but it looks as though they may be in for another challenging season.
Final score : The Brun Grove FC 1 – 4 The Links FC
The warm weather brought the babies out in the park today. Young Olivia was out watching Uncle 'Dagger' play for the Brun. She wasn't overly impressed…………………….GOING,