SDFL Division Five

and Strete 4,

On Saturday Stoke faced Newton Rovers at The Green for their first home outing of the season. Stoke welcomed back East and Bowers to the starting line-up, as well as new signings Marcus Copeman and Sam Bruckner.

From the kick-off Stoke dominated the early stages as they set about taking the game to their opponents.

Stoke peppered the Rov­ers’ goal with close efforts from Bastin, Hogben, and East, testing the resolve of the Rovers’ ‘keeper. Ten minutes in Stoke got the breakthrough their efforts deserved.

After good play be­tween Sharam and East, the latter released Dan Bastin down the left flank who ran at the defender, looked up and found strike partner Bruck­ner, who slotted home from close range.

Shortly after Stoke found themselves two goals to the good when after a mazey run, Hogben tried his luck from 20 yards. His effort was pushed away by the Rovers’ ‘keeper but straight into the path of the onrushing Bruckner, who tapped in the rebound.

Despite the score line Rovers continued to threaten with crosses and long throws into the Stoke box, but they found the formidable defensive line of Bow­ers, Elliott, Shepherd, and Church, marshalled by goalkeeper Luke Webber, in fine form.

Man-of-the-match Jamie Shepherd was imperious at centre half, dealing with everything the Rovers front line threw at him as he put himself in the firing line time after time.

After half time Stoke looked comfortable, retaining possession well with Copeman and the impressive Danny Sharam pulling the strings and dictating the early play.

Despite the pressure Stoke switched off slightly and were nearly caught out 15 minutes into the second half when a long ball found the Rovers centre forward, who saw his effort strike the post following good sweeping from Webber putting him off.

Stoke looked to have settled the nerves after an excellent solo run and finish from Hog­ben midway through the half. However, a few minutes later Rov­ers hit back with a goal their second-half pressure deserved when Stoke switched off during a set-piece situation.

With 15 minutes to go Stoke did finish off the game when Jack Hewitt headed the ball into the empty net after a shot struck the bar.

Stoke’s next game is home to Barton Athletic on Saturday, 2.30pm kick-off.