v Thornbury Town (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division – 3 Aug 2021)




 Newcomers Thornbury Town recorded a victory in their first ever Hellenic League, Premier Division fixture, as they scored twice in quick succession to see off Tuffley Rovers in the opening league game of the 2021/22 season.

With Rich Cox managing Rovers for the first time in a competitive fixture since being appointed as the full-time manager, he introduced several Hellenic League debutants, including 17 year old goalkeeper Jake Parsisson, full-backs Xander Jones and Josh Swales, as well as striker Jamal Lawrence, with Sam Mendes and Lucas Price also selected for the first time in a Hellenic League fixture.

It was Price who looked to be the most potent threat in the early stages, as he regularly tested the Thornbury Town back line with his direct running and pace.

Another new addition, Mendes, had the first effort of note, as his 20 yard free-kick flew narrowly over the bar, before the hosts broke and Rovers’ new keeper, Parsisson, did well to keep the ball out.

Josh Swales’ set piece delivery had looked to be a good option for Cox’s side and when he delivered a quality corner kick 16 minutes in, Macaulay Herbert rose well but could only see his header cannon back off the frame of the Thornbury goal.

Herbert had another chance five minutes later but his lunging effort, from Joe Shutt’s corner, went narrowly wide of the goal.

A few moments later, Swales’ free-kick dipped and swerved but suffered a similar fate to Herbert’s earlier header, as it crashed against the bar, and the score remained at 0-0. The hosts were demonstrating a counter-attacking threat and Parsisson, although untroubled, was perhaps relieved that the opposition strikers appeared to be struggling to find their aim, rather than testing him.

Just before the interval arrived Shutt might have opened the scoring but an excellent goal-line tackle denied him, after Lawrence had fizzed a ball across the face of goal.

The hosts came out for the second half carrying a more obvious threat and they almost opened the scoring, only for Parsisson to pull off a good stop from a near post effort.

Another debutant, Aaron Basford, was then introduced into the game, as Cox tried to re-assert some control, but moments later the strategy was undone, as another Rovers attack broke down in the 68th minute and the hosts attacked at pace before Fraser Moss, who had only been on the pitch for 8 minutes, netted from close range after he was afforded too much space in the Rovers area.

Within two minutes it was 2-0 to the hosts. A poor cross into the Rovers six-yard area looked to be comfortably claimed by Parsisson but the young keeper made a calamitous error and the ball was simply pushed into the path of another substitute, Rhys Hodgson, who made no mistake as he calmly slotted home with the goal at his mercy.

Sam Mendes went close to pulling a goal back shortly after, before he was forced off with a calf injury, and his replacement, yet another debutant, Dion Ellis-Clark, added a little energy and impetus to the Rovers midfield.

As Rovers’ hopes looked to be fading, Jamal Lawrence managed to pull a goal back, as he finished from close range after his first effort had been blocked, but it proved too little too late and Thornbury Town were left to celebrate a victory in their first game in the Hellenic League, Premier Division.