Castle suffer spirited loss
by Tom Kelly and Joe Nagle
Newly promoted Castle A’s Premiership bow ended in credible defeat at the hands of defending champions Hild Bede A.
Hild Bede will no doubt be pleased with their victory in a match they dominated. However there were also encouraging signs for the Premiership newcomers who created chances of their own and battled gamely against strong opposition.
The opening exchanges saw the league champions moving the ball around purposefully and creating several opportunities to score with an Alexis Ivett free kick coming the closest as it rattled the crossbar.
The champions’ pressure intensified and after Javier Garay had gone close with a lofted effort, a Hild Bede goal was ruled out for offside.
Ivett and teammate Oli Salt frequently combined down the left and asked tough questions of the Castle fullbacks, drawing several free-kicks in dangerous areas. Sam Colley was also influential with an incisive and stylish midfield display, popping up all over the pitch.
However, with the half almost at a close, Castle fashioned a rare chance of their own and came close to snatching a half-time lead. Following persistent play from Castle’s front men, the ball was fired invitingly across the six yard box, only for a timely goal-preventing challenge at the back post to prevent the newcomers from opening their Premiership account.
The second half proved to be a more evenly fought contest, as the Castle frontline began to combine with more purpose but still struggled to create clear-cut chances. Eventually, a needless freekick for shirt pulling just outside the box lead to a dnagerously placed free-kick. Ivett’s curling delivery to the back post resulted in the unfortunate keeper palming the ball straight into the path of the alert Chris Wyche, who side-footed home from six yards.
But conceding only seemed to galvanise the newly promoted side and they almost hit back immediately, forcing a terrific diving save from the previously untested Hild Bede keeper after good work from the front pairing. The next ten minutes were spent largely in Hild Bede territory and featured Castle’s best move of the game, a sweeping move from left to right eventually culminating in a thunderous strike from 20 yards which flew narrowly wide.
Nervousness began to creep into the champions’ play in the closing stages as Castle finished the game strongly but were unable to profit from late corners which were well defended. Hild Bede will be pleased with the victory, their clean sheet and an accomplished team performance. In defeat, Castle A can take solace from a courageous performance which restricted their opponents to very few clear chances and fleeting passages of play that suggested they will not be out of their depth at this level.