Saturday 6th October 2018
Leicester Wildecats 5-1 Cardiff Dragons
Wildecats got their GFSN Division 2 season off to a winning start with a convincing victory over determined Cardiff Dragons side at their new home venue, Western Park. Cats began nervously and it was Cardiff who arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, taking advantage of some lacklustre Cats passing.
With 15 minutes on the clock, the ball broke to Cardiff on the right hand side after Dan mis-controlled the ball on the edge of the area. The ball was played across to the Cardiff striker who let the ball run across his body to fire a low right footed shot towards the bottom corner where fortunately Liam in the Cats goal was able to tip the ball wide.
This appeared to be a wake up call for Cats who began to show glimpses of the positive play which nearly saw them survive relegation towards the end of last season. Gerard began to pass the ball nicely around in midfield and some long balls over the top were well chased by Ryan and would have been fruitful had it not been for some good anticipation from the opposition goalkeeper. With half an hour played, Stuart was able to latch on to a through ball and get a touch to take the ball past the onrushing keeper who, in his attempt to play the ball, managed only to bring the striker down and earn a penalty for Cats in the process. To rub salt in the wounds, not only did Stuart successfully convert the spot kick but the goalkeeper also picked up a hefty knock in the collision and had to be replaced.
Cats soon added a second with Gerard rifling a low volley through the new goalkeepers legs at the near post and a third came just before the break with Tom Jones rolling back the years to sprint down the touchline and cross sublimely for Guy who was able to tap in on his debut.
The Cats made some changes at the half time break including John Driver taking up his position in between the posts. The second half started in much the same vein as the first with Cats seemingly playing more as individuals rather than a team and this appeared to give Cardiff some confidence with runners from midfield strolling comfortably through the Cats team and creating some dangerous openings. With 10 minutes of the second half played, Mike conceded a cynical foul 30 yards from goal and the resulting free kick was duly dispatched to give Cardiff a chance back in the game.
More substitutions were made throughout the second half as Mike looked to see which options were available in his squad for the new season. Midway through the second half Cats began to step their foot on the pedal again and much to the pattern of the first half, began to create more chances – Guy blazing over from 5 yards out and Shannon putting a one on one chance wide of goal to name a few. With 75 minutes played it was another debutant, Rooney, who managed to make the most of a defensive error to add a fourth goal to home side’s total.
Cats were able to add a 5th with 5 minutes to as Liam and Mike combined well before Liam found the back of the net to round off the scoring and give Cats a well earned three points to start the season. Dave Sharman was awarded man of the match after a solid and determined defensive display on his return to the side with a super last ditch tackle as the last man to deny Cardiff a clear shot on goal the highlight of his performance.