By Casey Evans
Today marked the first ever home fixture for Stretford Paddock FC. For the entirety of their journey so far, Stephen Howson’s men have played every single game away from home, so the weight of expectation on the shoulders of the team as they faced De La Salle Reds was immeasurable.
174 people attended the match at the Butchers Arms Ground and were witness to a 3-1 victory for the home side. The atmosphere at the ground was immense, with cheers and songs ringing out while the fans enjoyed beers from the bar.
The early stages of the match were end to end and neither team could really gain a foothold. Paddock forward Kev Gale had a few searching shots, but they all were easily held by the De La Salle goalkeeper.
Disaster struck for Paddock in the 34th minute however when a cross went in and an unmarked De La Salle player at the far post was able to put it into the net, beating Hart by inches.
Paddock quickly got back in the right mindset and a swift passing move between Cam Watters, Nosa Imayu and Ronaldo Brown, which then led to Ronaldo passing it back to Watters just outside the box. He hit it low and clean and it beat the keeper, to bring the match back level as the half came to an end at 1-1.
At half time Kev Gale was subbed and replaced by Adam Ashton.
The second half began much better for Paddock. With encouragement from the crowd, the team stepped up a gear and with constant pressure on the De La Salle defence, resulted in just reward early on.
Ronaldo got on the end of a cross into the box and under fierce competition from the opposition keeper was able to slot the ball into the back of the net, making it 2-1, putting Paddock ahead for the first time in the match.
The rest of the match resulted in a lot of pressure for Paddock, De La Salle were searching for an equaliser and more in the following half hour, and in the 89th minute De La Salle unleashed a fierce shot from distance which looked destined to nestle in the top corner of the net, but showing unbelievable reflexes, Jonny Hart at full stretch, saved the Paddocks lead and left manager Stephen Howson overjoyed, with his heart in his mouth.
A few minutes later he had more reason for celebration, as Jay Phillips continued his scoring form getting Paddocks third and sending the Butchers Arms crowd into thunderous cheers.
The goal confirmed Paddock’s victory as the game ended 3-1 and marked two games for Paddock with two wins.
A perfect day for all involved and we thank everyone at Droylsden who shared their fantastic facilities and for helping to make it happen, despite the terrible circumstances that led to them having to withdraw from competition this season.
Our collection for the Bloods totalled £186.22 and we will be continuing to collect voluntary funds at every home match this season to help the Droylsden club get back on their feet. If you want to donate follow the link here: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/droylsden-fc
PHOTOS BY GREG WESTWOOD