After two emphatic home wins Paget made the long jaunt to the Ludlow Stadium on Saturday to take on Shawbury. The game was played in stifling heat, well above 30 degrees, which saw the referee stop the game twice in each half for drinks breaks. Joint Manager James Parker even took to wearing a fisherman’s hat in the dug out in a desperate attempt to avoid the heat!
After the baking conditions the whole of the UK have seen in the last few weeks, it was little surprise that the pitch was, to coin a phrase, ‘rock hard’.
In spite of this, and the searing heat, as the game got underway Paget still tried to play their usual high press and passing game, that had served them so well in the first two games. With striker Leslie Omorodion away and injuries to Delcio Neto and McKenzie Humphries, in came Jamie Hyland, Tobias Marshall and Nabiel Iyob to the starting eleven.
Under such difficult playing conditions, Paget were finding it tough to play with their normal fluency and as the first half came to an end there had been little in the way of goalmouth action at either end.
The Paget faithful who had made the long trip, still retained belief though that a game which seemed destined to be decided by a single goal would go their way.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first half had ended and although Paget did fashion one decent opening to free Harry Jackson, who shot just wide, the game appeared to be settling into a stalemate. So it was on the hour mark that Paget made the switch, bring on Harry Parker up front for Marshall and Shzem Whyte-Hall for leading scorer Jackson. In no time at all the bustling Parker was making his presence felt up front. Far from feeling the heat the Paget man seemed to be inspired by it and was soon causing problems for the Shawbury back line. Indeed it was a flick on from Parker that freed up Whyte-Hall on the left and from the edge of the box the Paget flyer unleashed an absolute thunderbolt of a shot that flew into the top corner, leaving the Shawbury keeper no chance.
The Paget bench went wild and so did the fans in the impressive main stand at Ludlow. Despite some late pressure from Shawbury, Paget saw out the came comfortably, with the defence once again superbly marshalled by Donald Egbon and Ryan Kimberley.
Final Score Shawbury 0 Paget 1
With so many fixtures at the beginning of the season, there was little time to recuperate before we were on to the next game, this time at home to Heath Hayes.
After the exertions of Saturday, Management duo, Smith and Parker, made a number of changes, with Dominic Ellington coming in for his first game of the season and Harry Parker also starting. A fit again McKenzie Humphries also returned to the fold. Some in the crowd were also surprised to see Paget change formation, to a 3-5-2 and after the heat of Saturday everyone was treated to this game being played in torrential rain.
It seems at the moment though that it doesn’t matter what the weather, who starts, or the formation, Paget are simply flying. The game was less than 10 minutes old when Paget took the lead. The ball found its way to Harry Jackson on the edge of the box and the Paget man, playing in a more central role in this one, with a quick turn fashioned himself a shooting chance and bent the ball superbly into the top corner.
Heath Hayes though were showing some attacking intent themselves and a swift counter attack brought them level, a ball played through the inside right channel found the Heath Hayes forward in too much space and he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net passed the helpless Tommy Doyle in the Paget goal.
The game soon took on the feel of a boxing match, with end to end football. Paget though in this mood were simply irrepressible, and before long Humphries, playing at left wing back, teased his man with some quick feet before flying past him and delivering a great low ball into the six yard box; with Heath Hayes unable to clear, Tobias Marshall was on hand to crash the ball into the net.
Paget now had the upper hand and from another swift attack down the right a pinpoint pass from Ryan Butler inside the full back released David Anani, who produced another tremendous ball into the box and there was Szhem Whyte-Hall, who had come on as a substitute for the injured Marshall, to thump the ball into the roof of the net.
Half Time 3-1
As the second half got underway, Heath Hayes, to their credit, showed some spirit and tried to take the game to Paget. In fact it was a reflection of their renewed effort that they clawed themselves back into the game, a corner to the back post saw the Heath Hayes player leap highest to power a header into the top corner.
If anyone in the crowd was concerned then it didn’t last long. Debutant Abdo Said who had come on for Fahme Ibrahim began to really exert his presence in the middle of the park and with Jamie Smith starting to control possession Paget quickly restored their two goal lead. It was that man Harry Jackson again with another tremendous finish from the edge of the box, for his fifth goal of the season.
Heath Hayes spirit seemed broken by this killer goal after they’d worked hard to get themselves back into the game and Paget weren’t in any mood to let them off the hook. Playing now with great fluency Paget poured forward, the torrential rain being matched by the shots raining down on the Heath Hayes goal. From yet another Paget attack, Whyte-Hall produced a great effort on the run from outside the box and saw the ball crash off the inside of the post with the goalkeeper beaten but the alert Will Case, who had been introduced into the action for his league debut, was there on hand to control the ball before sliding it into the empty net. A debut senior goal the young Paget man will never forget!
Final Score Paget 5 Heath Hayes 2
After the game a delighted Kevin Smith said “we always knew with so many games coming in quick succession at the start of the season we were going to need to use our whole squad. The players who have come in tonight have showed just how much depth there is to the squad.” Likewise, James Parker was quick to praise the players “you have to be happy when you win, score 5 fantastic goals and go top of the league, I think we should have had more goals. I’m still a little disappointed we conceded 2 goals but take nothing away from the players tonight they were superb. I was especially pleased for young Will Case, coming on and getting his first senior goal, yet another product of the Paget youth system.”