Hakin United 4
Merlins Bridge 2
If this match signals the things to come, so quickly bring on the rest of the season.
This opening game was a tremendous advert for Pembrokeshire football at its thrilling best. Six goals, two players sent off and a linesman received his marching orders; as the champions dug really deep when they needed, and got the result to get their season off to a perfect start.
The champions broke the deadlock on 29 minutes. Bridge defender Gethin Roberts and keeper Chris Thomas both hesitated, and re-signed striker Nicky Woodrow nipped in to score.
Vikings centre half Gareth Fawcett was only on the pitch 31 minutes before he was given an early shower. He received a yellow for an early reckless challenge on Nathan Greene, later on the pair went chest to chest and he received a second card. Bridge linesman Sam Lee was also sent-off by referee Wilson following an unsavoury incident with Woodrow.
Despite a player down the Vikings could have taken the lead, Woodrow’s clever cut-back from the byline set-up co-striker Harding who rifled a stinging right-footed effort against the bar.
Five minutes before the break and the visitors equalised at a corner, Peter Thomas ghosted in with a far post header. The Vikings regained the lead in the 57th minute, Adam Davies beat keeper Thomas in the air and the ball fell kindly for Harding to nod into an empty net.
As this clash ebbed and flowed, both teams were guilty of squandering gilt edge scoring opportunities. In the 70th minute Greene equalised with a header after the Vikings failed to clear their defensive lines.
Minutes later and the Wizards should have taken the lead as skipper Stephen McNabney, with an open goal at his mercy, fired his shot over the crossbar from 16 yards out.
Ten minutes from full time and the Wizards were also down to ten-men as keeper Chris Thomas took out Vikings’ Harding inside the box, and was ultimately sent off. Player boss Lee Hudgell took on the goalkeeper role as Steve Allen made no mistake with the resulting spot-take. This result was put to bed deep in injury time as Ashley Bevan fired a shot across the face of the box and Jonny Sable deflected into his own net.
Vikings manager Gary Dawes said: “I thought we’d blown it when Fawcett was sent off, but we stuck to our guns and got the right result.”
Hakin United: James Manson, Steve Allen, Ewan Findlay (Captain), Gareth Fawcett, Nathan Banner, Andrew Kingston, Paul Thompson, Ashley Bevan, Adam Davies, Justin Harding, Nicky Woodrow. Subs: James Stanmore, Ben Aldred, Dan Howells.
Merlins Bridge: Chris Thomas, Andrew John, Gethin Roberts, Peter Thomas, Jonny Sable, Lee Hudgell, Scott Crawford, Nathan Greene, Stephen McNabney, Nathan Thomas, Simon Thomas. Subs: Paul Thomas, Stephen Dockerty, Dai Davies.
Referee: Adrian Wilson.
Angle 0 Monkton Swifts 1
Goodwick United 4 Johnston 1
Hakin United 4 Merlins Bridge 2
Neyland 0 Herbrandston 6
St Clears 0 Narberth 0
Tenby 1 Saundersfoot Sports 1
West Dragons 1 Pennar Robins 3