A clement afternoon accompanied the dawn of the 2016-17 football season, as Moulton kicked off their campaign with a Schools’ FA Cup first round tie against Silverstone UTC. The home fixture attracted a bumper crowd, who saw their team record a well-deserved 5-2 victory.
Moulton began the game in an ominous fashion, forcing their opponents onto the back foot and launching a series of threatening forays that stung the opposition keeper into early action. Within five minutes, Moulton surged into an early lead and it was one of last season’s stars that provided the breakthrough, as Chris O’Hare deftly rounded a defender before placing a delicate effort just inside the far post.
Self-proclaimed assistant manager Nathan White predicted that the early goal would lead to a Moulton landslide, but this proved unfounded, as Silverstone struck back within minutes of falling behind. A defensive mix up in the Moulton backline saw defenders unable to react as an opposition forward sprung the offside trap and slammed an instant reply past a helpless Connor Scruton.
The equalizing goal derailed the waves of early Moulton pressure that had been a feature of the early exchanges and a period of scrappy play in which both midfields cancelled each other out ensued. However, Moulton regrouped and retook the lead when impish front runner Dan Webb won the home side a penalty, which O’Hare coolly dispatched into the net.
This time, Moulton used taking the lead as a spring board to launch a period of sustained pressure, during which they lay siege to the Silverstone goal in an effort to extend their lead. A series of dangerous set pieces punctuated by some scintillating wing play by summer signing Franklin Fenning saw Moulton test the Silverstone backline but the home team found a third goal illusive. On a rare foray forward, Silverstone managed to overload the Moulton rearguard and score a second equalizer to stun the on looking Moulton supporters.
Moulton were facing the prospect of going in level at the interval following a half in which they had controlled the game. However, debutant Franklin Fenning caped a domineering display by edging Moulton back ahead with just minutes to go before the break. The wide man stepped inside from the right flank to collect a loose ball that he thundered past the opposition custodian to give Moulton a narrow lead that their first half display warranted.
Moulton produced a second half performance of near total dominance, yet they could only add two further goals to the score line. The first came courtesy of striker Dan Webb, who opened his account for the season with a mazy run and cute finish to score arguably the goal of the day. Not to be outdone, midfield maestro Harry Oakenfull produced his own slalom excursion into the opposition box before slotting home a much deserved first goal for the school. Impressive debuts by Green, Dillon and Goodger were evident in the second half, as well as a dynamic substitute appearance by Kieron Stockwell, who routinely turned the opposition full back inside out. The impressive second half performance was spearheaded by the ever combative James Johnson and the imperious Jude Hillier. There was even scope for a cameo appearance for novice poacher Robbie Brightman, who produced one stunning through ball that earned a deserved round of applause from the home fans.
A result of 5-2 illustrated Moulton’s dominance in this tie, but the side departed knowing they need to add a more clinical edge to their game if they are to progress far in this competition.
Scruton, Hillier, Riley (c), Macken, Lloyd; Johnson, Karichi, Oakenfull; Fenning, O’Hare, Webb.
Subs: Green, Goodger, Dillon, Stockwell, Brightman
Man of the Match: Franklin Fenning