Real United 3-2 FC Cavaliers
Real United opened their precision NSL Premier Division campaign up with a win but from a convincing position they were made to work hard for three points by a resolute young Cavaliers side.
Real started bright against a young game side and kept the ball well in a sun soaked season opener as Hopkinson posed an early threat on goal.
Real bossed the early stages with some good football and it wasn’t long before they took the lead when Ryan Bowen’s volley and spin from the edge of the area found the bottom corner.
United raised the tempo and kept the ball for long periods with Kuwesi Ofushine working tirelessly along with Theo Brown who was a constant nuisance down the left. Hopkinson grabbed his first as the keeper could only palm his drive into the roof of the net after both Aaron Large & Ryan Tittensor went close, before scoring the goal of the game as Grant Walton laid in Theo Brown to cross with the former Forest striker diving his header into the top corner.
It was all one way traffic with Large & Spiers dominant in midfield and Rhodes & Walton comfortably in defence, with former Lincoln United goalkeeper Nathan Burrows hardly having to get his gloves in use for the home side.
The home fans were expecting more of the same in the second half but credit to FC Cavaliers, they shown they were made of stern stuff as they worked hard and pressed Real into making costly errors.
First, a loose one by Jamie Spiers was capitalised on by the away side and Liam Taylor was on hand to slot home after being played in one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Then, the usually impeccable Grant Walton got his feet tangled up for Taylor to nip in and score again, Real all of a sudden had a game on their hands.
Cavs went close to a miraculous recovery when a low cross was blazed over when it looked easier to score, and that near miss got Real into shape who aimed to gain a foothold on the game for the second time in the match.
Large looked certain to score before his shot was blocked, Hopkinson tested the keeper before substitute Bange stung the hands of the visitors shot stopper. Liam Moran was inches from making it four before Hopkinson, who worked tirelessly all afternoon robbed the centre half of possession before snatching his shot wide.
As the Referee blew the whistle their was a few relieved faces in the home teams dugout and credit to the young Cavaliers side they made Gary Hayward’s team work hard for their victory.
Three points is a great way to start the season though and Real will look to take that victory into their next game against Ruddington Village on Tuesday night.
Real United (4-3-3): Nathan Burrows, Richard Broderick, Chris Rhodes, Grant Walton, Theo Brown, Kuwesi Ofushine, Jamie Spiers (c), Aaron Large, Ryan Bowen (Liam Moran 78), Tim Hopkinson, Ryan Tittensor (Glodi Bange 67).
Goalscorers: Bowen 17, Hopkinson 28, 34 Opposition 55, 64