The opening game of the season brought three new faces into the Stops’ team – David Merriman, Josh Findlay and James Allen. All acquitted themselves well, but this is a higher standard than they will have played previously and time will tell how they adapt at this level.
In goal, Ted Whittell put in a good performance with plenty of reaction saves, but Norbury soon had Stops’ defence under pressure and went into an early 4-0 lead. From then on Norbury stayed comfortably ahead, and Stops were able to convert few scoring opportunities against Norbury’s experienced goalkeeper, Alex Rastelli.
The Stops’ defence increasingly performed as a unit as the game progressed, and the midfield frequently came out on top on ground ball possession. With two or three key players missing, goals were hard to come by, and points that could be won in games that are coming up may depend on a full complement of players.
All in all, this was a typical first game of the season with dropped passes, lack of penetration and room for improvement. But there should be every prospect of another respectable season as the new campaign gets underway.