ADAM Coyle insists he and his Gloucestershire Under-18 representative team hopefuls can take “plenty of positives” from their South & West Counties Championship opener with Berkshire & Buckinghamshire.
Kicking off their Section B campaign at the familiar setting of Oaklands Park’s 3G facility, the Gloucestershire boys surged into a 2-0 second-half lead and looked on course for a precious first-day success, only for their opponents to hit back with two goals of their own for a share of the spoils.
Glos boss Coyle confessed: “We came off feeling disappointed about conceding two late goals but our players can hold their heads high after what was a good performance overall.
“We can take plenty of positives from the experience into our next few games, starting against Wiltshire FA at home in the league (GFA HQ, Oaklands Park, Saturday, October 14, 1pm) which will lead us nicely into our cup match (on Saturday, October 28, 2pm), again at home, against the Amateur Football Alliance which we’re all looking forward to.”
Gloucestershire certainly felt two points had been lost rather than a single one gained after leading 2-0 by the 75th-minute mark.
The game had begun at a high tempo with Elliott Gardner causing havoc on the right side and testing the Berks & Bucks goalkeeper on several occasions. Luke Spokes also came close with a free-kick and then a header which he powered just wide from a great delivery by Tom Anthony in a goalless first period.
The second half continued in the same vein with both teams attacking and creating chances.
But it was Gloucestershire who went ahead when a superb Luke Spokes cross was perfect for a delighted Noah Smerdon to net on his county debut.
The hosts doubled their lead when Gardner pounced on a defensive error before slotting the ball calmly beyond the rushing keeper.
Gloucestershire made a few enforced changes due to injuries and began losing their way as Berks & Bucks capitalised with two goals to tie it all up again.
Even then Spokes went agonisingly close to clinching a dramatic late win for Coyle’s team with the last action of the game from a free-kick which drifted just wide.
1.Tyler Edmunds 12.Keelan Hamblett
2.Tom Anthony 14.Tyrell Squire
3.Harvey Paul 15.Sam Knight
4.Tom Harrison (C) 16.Chisom Obi