An expectant crowd gathered for Steve Walker’s first game at the helm of the club, hoping to see the Bears get off to a good start in their league campaign. They weren’t to be disappointed as Paget started off the campaign by adding a valuable three points onto the table in a narrow victory over Cradley Town.
Paget started the game well and Louie Newbold’s low drive was cleared off the Cradley goal line in the first few minutes, with the clearance falling to the feet of Rivel Mardenborough, on debut, who put the ball wide from 12 yards out in the first chance of the game.
The Bears opened the scoring five minutes in after Ethan Hawkes in between the sticks for Cradley was dispossessed of the ball by Newbold and Mardenborough, leading the Paget frontline, passed the ball into an empty net to give the hosts the lead. 1-0!
Cradley reacted quickly, creating a hatful of chances. Player manager Sean Geddes struck a free kick into the stomach of debutant custodian Ben Ntiri. The dangerous Regan Carthey caused problems for Paget, forcing Ntiri to move his feet and make some important claims on a number of occasions.
Paget were then forced into an early substitution on 24 minutes as 17 year old Olly Clifford entered the fray, to make his first team competitive debut, replacing the injured Connor Johnstone, who was unable to continue following a heavy tackle.
Cradley continued on the attack though, Constantin Calmis’ strike from the edge of the area was deflected but did not fool Ntiri, who managed to push the ball away from goal with a fine stop. Cradley captain Darren Whitley headed on target for the Black Country visitors after a precise corner delivery from Carthey but it did not trouble Ben Ntiri.
Paget’s third chance of the game came when Myles Lowe had a right footed shot held by Hawkes on the stroke of half time. This was the last action Lowe would see though as he was replaced at half time by Alex Tescom.
Two minutes into the second half and Cradley levelled. Sean Geddes’ ball over the top was met by Jordan Crump who made no mistake to squeeze the ball past Ntiri.
However, the home team instantly replied on 50 minutes. The dangerous Alex Tescom was brought down in the box; up stepped captain Ryan Kimberley who scored as Hawkes managed to get a hand on it but couldn’t stop it from going over the line.
The Bears weathered the storm for the rest of the game and despite Cradley dominating possession, Paget kept their cool and stayed in shape with and without the ball, showing great resilience to see the game out and open their league account with a win at Coles Lane.
Paget Team: Ben Ntiri, Ryan Kimberley ©, Dom Ellington, Adil Mohammad, Jamie Hyland, Connor Johnstone, Ryan Butler, Matty Richardson, Rivel Mardenborough, Louie Newbold, Myles Lowe.
Used Subs: Oliver Clifford for Connor Johnstone on 24 minutes, Alex Tescom for Myles Lowe on 45 minutes, McKenzie Humphreys for Alex Tescom on 80 minutes.