Thistle FC 2004s produced a dominant display against Stonehaven Madrid to continue their faultless start to the new season and 11-aside football.
Both teams entered the match with two wins from their opening two league fixtures. Ordinarily that would indicate the prospect of a tightly contested, even game. However, the Newburgh side had other ideas.
And if the pre-match warm-up of a team really is a true reflection of the performance they are about to produce, then the large crowd in attendance shouldn’t have been surprised by what they were about to witness.
The whip and intensity of Thistle’s passing drills prior to kick off was simply the pre-show to the main event.
Thistle started the game understandably like a side familiar in their surroundings. The huge, flat surface of the pitch at Gallows Hill - located next to Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club - accommodated the passing style of the home side to a tee.
Thistle goalkeeper Gregor Manning would seldom kick the ball any further than 10 yards outside of his box, and even when he did the reluctance on his face was evident. He was clearly instructed to pass the ball out to his defenders and he duly obliged. Every goal kick was the beginning of the next attack.
However, despite the verve and brightness of the hosts, Stonehaven were no sitting ducks. They arguably started the football match the better, showing off all the bravado of a team with a 100% record.
Both teams were athletic and energetic, matching each other for the majority of the first half. Stonehaven went toe-to-toe with their ball-playing opponents. All the pre-match assumptions of a close-knit affair were being proved right.
But, as the cliché goes, the first goal in a football match is often the most important. Newburgh scored it and they got the points. The impressive Beeses Rai duly delivered it. The all-action forward ended the match with three of his team’s five goals. As well as producing excellence on the ball, Rai offered excellence off it. This was epitomised by his two second-half goals. One was an audacious, scooped half volley that left the Madrid goalkeeper with literally no chance. The other a goal from chasing down what looked like a lost cause, only to get to the ball before the onrushing ‘keeper. Goals from his teammates Ciaran Carver and Matthew Colbert ensured that Thistle join North Star at the top of the 13s League B with nine points.
To their credit, Stonehaven rallied early in the second half and grabbed a goal to threaten a different result. But the feeling was that this very good Stonehaven side was just a tad off their normal level, while facing an equally as good team who were right at it. With that in mind, the return fixture in Stonehaven could be one to look out for. Madrid can still be happy with their start to the season, though. Two wins from three keeps them handily placed in fifth place.