Stamford Strollers A arrived in Peterborough for the opening match day of the new Walking Football League season. Bolstered by the summer signing of England WFC international, Nick Hunter, Strollers were due to take the field with two current England internationals, but lost the services of Paul Kirby overnight on the night before this match day due to unexpected personal commitments. Nevertheless, Strollers still fielded a very strong squad for the days fixtures and quite rightfully approached their fixtures with some confidence.
Game 1: South Lincs Steelers 1, Stamford Strollers 2
One of the key areas in walking football is ball retention, and this had been high on the agenda in pre match discussions within the squad.
In this first match of the season Strollers certainly practiced what they were preaching as they cared for the ball at every opportunity, starving their opponents of possession for much of the first half.
It was a shock therefore that it was Steelers that scored the first goal in this seasons campaign, when a break by them resulted in a pretty speculative effort that, despite the best efforts of keeper Paul Newiss, who managed to get fingers on the ball, managed to sneak in at the far post.
This setback could have rattled Strollers, but they stuck to their game plan impressively and were ultimately able to prevail and win the game deservedly 2-1 with goals from debutant Nick Hunter and Iain Ross.
Game 2: Stamford Strollers A 4, Sleaford Academicals 2
Sleaford are newcomers to the PDFL this season, but given their record in other competitions, including winning Strollers own “Ancojada Trophy” tournament earlier in the year, they were expected to be tough opposition.
Strollers noted that one or two expected “regulars” were missing from the Sleaford lineup for this fixture. However, lessons had been learned over the years never to underestimate a Sleaford side, so it was important for the Stamford team to continue and build on the style of play that had brought them victory in their previous game.
In the early stages of the matchup it became clear that Stamford were the dominant side, having much more of the ball than their opponents.
Strollers went on to control the game and by the midway point in the second half were 4-0 up with goals from Colin Barrett-Treen (3) and Paul Blakemore.
In an attempt to curb the superiority of Strollers, Sleaford goalkeeper (former Stroller and England international Gary Wildsmith) exchanged the GK jersey for his more usual midfield position and this, coupled with Strollers visibly taking their foot off the gas, led to two late goals for Sleaford which arguably did not reflect the dominance that Stamford had throughout the match.
A very good start then for Stamford Strollers A in this seasons PDFL. All members of the squad played to a high level and put in a collective performance that has set the standard required for the remainder of the season.
Squad for the day was:
Paul Newiss (GK) Paul Blakemore Iain Ross Lee Tillen Nick Hunter Colin Barrett-Treen (Capt)