ARDLEY United got their season off to a perfect start following a 2-0 victory over Cheltenham Saracens in their Hellenic Football League Premier Division encounter.
After a cagey opening 45 minutes, Ardley got into their stride in the second half and scored twice to clinch victory.
Despite it being the opening match of the season, both teams started well with the game played at a good pace.
Ardley created the first chance of the match inside 10 minutes when Scott Bridges was played through and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper but he couldn’t find a way past Jim Griffiths.
Cheltenham slowly played their way into the game and began to find their rhythm to put the Ardley defence under pressure with Jamie Hammond shooting just wide for the hosts.
Bridges then had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside after a goalmouth scramble.
The Saracens pressure remained and again the home side went close when a slip in the Ardley defence allowed Carl Griffiths through on goal but his effort drifted wide.
The half time whistle came much to the relief of Ardley, who had been under constant pressure in the closing stages of the half.
However, the visitors came out the better side after half time and they didn’t take long to break the deadlock.
Bridges was the scorer as he headed home Darren Beckett’s cross 10 minutes into the second half to give his side the lead.
The goal breathed confidence into Ardley as they began to dominate and four minutes later Troy Bryan made it 2-0.
Stuart Bridges was the creator as his free-kick found Bryan wide of the goal and he was able to lob the advancing goalkeeper with the ball going in off the post.
Saracens threw everything at the Ardley defence in the remaining half an hour but United stood firm and came away with a hard-fought win.
Next up for Ardley is the FA Cup preliminary round tomorrow when they host Holyport at 3pm before they entertain Highmoor Ibis on Tuesday in the league.