Back-to-back wins give Ardley the perfect start to new season

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Ardley United made the ideal start to the Hellenic Premier Division season with wins over Cheltenham Saracens and Reading Town this week.

United, who are again targeting promotion after narrowly missing out last year, opened their account for the new campaign with a 3-1 home win over Cheltenham on Saturday.

The three points came at a cost, however, with two key players forced off injured in the early stages as first Tommy Kinch was taken to hospital for stitches after sustaining a head injury before Troy Bryan twisted a knee.

Ardley took the lead immediately following the break for Kinch’s injury as the ball was returned to the Sarrie’s goalkeeper by the home team and he played it out to his central defenders, who were caught off guard to allow Bryan to nip in and hammer the ball home.

Despite the goal, it was an even game and the visitors deservedly equalised on 25 minutes when a Josh Swales free-kick eluded everyone, including ‘keeper Jack Harding, to find the corner of the net.

Ardley hit back within six minutes, though, as a corner from the left sailed towards the back post, where Kieran Strange powerfully headed United back in front.

The game continued to see-saw from end-to-end with neither team taking control, and a minute from half-time Ardley extended their lead in fortuitous circumstances as Alex Baird’s attempted headed clearance flew into the net to give the home side a 3-1 lead.

The second half was a similar story to the first with neither side able to get on top as Ardley comfortably held on to all three points and a winning start to the season.

Kevin Brock’s side then notched up their second win in three days by beating Reading 2-0 on Tuesday evening.

The visitors began the game on top and had the hosts pinned inside their own half for much of the first 15 minutes, but they were unable to trouble Ardley’s Tom MacNamara, who wasin goal for the unavailable Jack Harding.

Slowly but surely, Ardley began to get on top and they had the best chance to open the scoring when Murray Nicholls’ long-range effort cannoned off the post before, just two minutes later, Danny Bone netted from a tight angle to give United a half-time lead.

Ardley remained on top in the second half and, with almost an hour gone, a ball from the wing found Nicholls in space and he made no mistake to double Ardley’s lead.

Despite falling two behind, Reading refused to give in and they pressed hard to reduced the arrears, but the Ardley back line dealt with everything thrown at them as they held out for victory.

Ardley have no game this weekend but they are away at Brimscombe & Thrupp next Tuesday.