It was an action packed night at Almswall Road in Kilwinning, as both sides served up a goal feast to open their campaigns. The home side have been busy over the summer, bringing together local talent which they hope will gel as the season progresses. Unfortunately for Phoenix their first test was against an experienced and clinical Irvine Meadow side eager to get their season off to a flying start.
Meadow were to pose a threat in the air throughout and almost caught KSC napping within the opening minute. A long ball drifted through to David Cherry just outside the box, and the striker’s lob inched just wide of Murray Greystone’s post.
And it was only a sign of things to come as Cherry found the net eight minutes later. Another high ball went into the box from a Greg Thomson free kick, and KSC struggled to clear their lines. The loose ball fell kindly for Cherry to angle a low shot into the right corner of Greystone’s net.
Conceding might have been just what the home side needed as they marched straight back up the pitch to equalise. Mitchell Ewing pounced on a loose ball at the back to go through on Zack Ryland to put his side back on level terms.
Phoenix were showing great promise going forward, as Ewing and Jordan Nohar stretched the Meadow defence down the flanks, with Jackson Sivewright and Logan Gaunt trying to provide the platform in midfield.
But for all their good work going forward, they always looked vulnerable in defence, particularly to the high direct ball, and Meadow almost restored their lead from the spot on 14 minutes. Liam Fitzimmons was felled in the box, but Thomson’s spot kick was tipped over the bar by Graystone.
The visitors continued to look dangerous as the half wore on, particularly through some surging runs from Ben Cunningham, and Cherry’s runs around the box. After another good spell Meadow grabbed control of the game on 23 minutes, extending their lead in a two-goal burst.
From a free kick on the left side the ball rebounded of the post into the path of Jamie Lambert, who had the easiest of tap ins. And two minutes later Meadow added number three.
Thomson’s high free kick caused chaos in the Phoenix box, and the ball bobbed around until it found the head of Fitzimmons to nod home from close range. Meadow were now well and truly in the driving seat.
As Cherry went close from a spectacular overhead kick it seemed like the vistors would kill the game off before half time. Instead KSC enjoyed a good spell in which they should have got themselves back into the game. A Ewing header was headed off the line and Fraser Dempster headed just over from a left hand corner.