Mighty Shane Bury the Badgers 3-0
The Mighty Shane got their season off to a flying start as their three unanswered goals proved too much for a much improved Badgers side on the opening day of the season at Xinzhuang Stadium.
A much reinforced Shane team, reverting back to their customary yellow and black strip – after a season in an unfamiliar white wilderness – boasted no fewer than five debutants in their match day squad. The impressive Paul Warren rounded off a comprehensive victory for Shane with Matt Wraxall scoring on his second debut for the club after The Great Dane Patrick Krogh had opened his account in the first half with a sweetly taken volley.
The much revered new season cobwebs were seemingly absent as Shane began the game in lightning fashion, linking quick and intricate passing together and opening gaps in the Badgers defence as the half went on. Thus, it came as no real surprise to see Shane open the scoring – and no surprise either at the identity of the goalscorer.
Danish Pat escaped the shackles of his marker, and showed great anticipation by timing his run to perfection and meeting the pinpoint cross from the right hand side with a thumping volley. Shane’s season was well and truly up and running.
The rest of the half passed by with a distinct lack of goalmouth action, possibly as a direct consequence of treacherous weather conditions on the day. Zach Paruch saw a right footed effort sail over the bar as Shane kept up the intensity until the halftime whistle, with only a handful of half chances for both sides to add to the scores.
Manager Sam Thompson switched his troops up to a 4-4-2 formation at the break, pairing debutants Kenny Sexton and Matt Wraxall as the spearheads of the attack. And their partnership of yesteryear came to fruition again as Wraxall broke free only two minutes after the restart and calmly stroked the ball into the back of the net to double the advantage – claiming his first goal for Shane in several years in the process.
The goal provoked an outpouring of emotion and he was mobbed by his teammates as he wheeled away in celebration towards the byline, sending the squad into raptures.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Badgers from then on. When the third goal was lashed in by debutant Paul, smashing home a loose ball from within the 18 yard box, the game was put to bed and the three precious points were sealed for the Mighty Shane.
The gulf in quality between the two teams was now irrefutable. The Badgers did, however, give a good accounting of themselves and exerted periods of pressure with a series of corners in quick succession – one of which was met with a goalwards header that bobbled just wide.
The Shane defence, marshalled expertly in the centre by mainstay Jack Snart and another debutant Craig, stood firm and displayed the coherence of a partnership that had played together much longer than 90 minutes. The big bad wolf was not blowing that house down, and when the final whistle brought the curtain down on the day's play, it was the Shane players celebrating a victory with the Badgers trudging off to lick their wounds.
Man of the match – Paul Warren for his tireless running, composure on the ball, and a cheeky goal to boot.