04 Aug 2019 in Match Reports
Curzon Ashton started the season in spectacular style with a 5-0 thrashing of Bradford (Park Avenue) to go top of the National League North on the opening day at Tameside Stadium.
It was a performance of boundless energy and incisive quality as the Nash blew away a Bradford side which reached the promotion play-offs last year but resembled a weary, bloodied and bruised fighter at the end of a heavyweight fight by the end.
18-year-old Isaac Sinclair got the ball rolling with a debut goal 24 minutes in and Curzon never looked back from that point. Luke Wall doubled the advantage before the break and second-half strikes from Sean Miller, Olly Thornley and Luke Merrill with his first for the club sealed an emphatic victory.
Only three players survived from the team which began the last game of the 2018/19 season; Cam Mason retained his place in goal with Thornley and Wall the others. They were joined by six debutants – Andy Halls, Josh Askew, Nicky Wroe, Robbie Evans, Sinclair and Michael Elstone – with Mo Ali and Miller rounding out the starting XI.
Having only won 5 league games at home last season, it was imperative that Mark Bradshaw’s men made a strong start to this year’s campaign at the Tameside and right from the first whistle there was an intensity to their play that had been missing previously.
Sinclair had already hit the bar by the time he opened the scoring midway through the half. Wall broke away down the left flank and with several options in the middle, he picked out the debutant at the back post and the young winner calmly slotted the ball first time into the bottom right corner.
Curzon’s relentless pressing and off-the-ball movement did not let up and it was 2-0 ten minutes later when Elstone – who impressed all afternoon with his link-up play – teased the Bradford defence before delivering an inch-perfect cross for the unmarked Wall to head home.
Bradford had barely threatened, although they looked a tad more dangerous at the beginning of the second half with Lewis Knight causing some problems from the left-wing.
But their brief revival was cut short by a sensational third Curzon goal just shy of the hour mark. Miller, Elstone, Halls and Wall all combined to slice their way through the away defence with the ball returning to Miller to slide the ball past the helpless Callum Andrew.
And the three points were in the bag ten minutes later when Thornley was in the right place at the right time to tap in at the back post after Halls’ shot had been blocked on the line.
The faithful Nash supporters could not have imagined such a stunning start to the season and the afternoon was rounded off late on when substitute Luke Merrill netted his first goal for the club by steering in Halls’ low ball.
It’s not an exaggeration to say it could, maybe should, have been more than five. Elstone’s deflected effort hit the post and Jack Banister struck the crossbar during an electric cameo from the bench.
On an afternoon where there were too many outstanding individual performances to mention them all, manager Mark Bradshaw was keen to stress that feet must be kept on the ground and this is only one game in with a long season ahead. Many more days like this and it is set to be a good one!