Ardley kick-start season with eight-goal thriller

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Ardley United fought back from 4-2 down to open the new season with an eventful 4-4 draw against Highworth Town in the Hellenic Premier Division.

Kevin Brock’s side, who will again be hoping to challenge for promotion, made a disastrous start to their campaign when they fell 2-0 down inside three minutes.

Highworth went ahead through TJ Bohane’s penalty before the same man beat his marker and fired a powerful drive to double the lead.

The home side rallied, with Steve Howkins and Ryan Brooks looking dangerous, and it was the former who halved the deficit with a neat flick.

A flurry of goals then followed in an end-to-end battle, as Richie Saunders restored Highworth’s two-goal lead when he headed home from close-range, but that was short-lived as Howkins teed up Ryan Brooks for Ardley’s second before Bohane completed his hat-trick to put the visitors 4-2 up after just 20 minutes.

Both Highworth wide midfielders caused Ardley problems and they could have extended their lead but for a fine save from debutant goalkeeper Jack Harding.

With half-time looming, Ardley were awarded a free kick on the left edge of the area, allowing Howkins to reduce the arrears by driving direct into the far corner of the goal for his second, which sent the teams into the break with Ardley a goal down after a seven-goal thriller of a first half.

The second half was a more sedate affair as Ardley gradually seized control and spurned several good chances before eventually scoring a deserved equaliser when, on 80 minutes, Brooks broke the offside trap and slotted past the visiting goalkeeper.

Both sides went searching for the winner, but the points were shared after tough first encounter for the two sides.

On Tuesday evening, Ardley notched their first victory of the season with a 2-0 win over Highmoor Ibis. Both Howkins and Brooks were on the score sheet as two first half goals were enough for victory.