A LATE goal from super-sub Richie Partridge ensured that justice was done as Airbus edged a 1-0 home win against last season's bogey side Carmarthen Town.
On three minutes Mike Roddy had a glimpse of goal but goalkeeper Steve Cann was well behind his shot from the edge of the area. The first booking of the season was awarded to the Old Gold’s Christian Doidge on 14 minutes for an over-zealous aerial challenge on the Wingmakers Lewis Short. The incident gave some much-needed spark to the early stages of the game.
On 20 minutes Carmarthen’s Corey Thomas went into the book as the away side found Lewis Short too difficult to handle, and the fouls were building up. From the free-kick Chris Simm flicked a header just wide of the far post. Simm again went close on 25 minutes when his curled shot narrowly missed the top corner.
A minute later Simm struck the inside of the post before heading wide with the follow-up. The Wingmakers were cranking up the pressure and it seemed a question of when, not if, they would score. On 32 minutes Cann was down to stop a half-volley from Steve Jones with the visitors camped in their own half.
Against the run of play on 35 minutes a Christian Doidge shot narrowly rolled the wrong side of the far post – a reminder to the Wingmakers that the visitors carried a threat going forward. At the other end Steve Jones dragged a shot just wide of the near post.
On the stroke of half-time Cann made two excellent stops from long and close-range Wingmakers strikes, before Ryan Wade was also denied by what looked suspiciously like the hand of an outfield player. Somehow, it was still 0-0 at the interval.
Immediately after the break the Wingmakers were back on top – the legs of Cann blocking a low close-range effort from Steve Jones. For the visitors, Luke Cummings drove a shot off-target as Mark Aizlewood’s side showed a bit more adventure. On 54 minutes Jones for Airbus again, fired an effort just high of the top corner. Minutes later Jones turned provider for Chris Budrys to head over at the far post.
On 61 minutes Carmarthen made the first change as Liam Thomas replaced replaced Alex Chrysanthou. With 20 minutes to go Airbus skipper Ian Kearney headed over from a corner with the Wingmakers wondering if a goal was ever going to come. Meanwhile Cummings had earned a yellow a yellow card for dissent before he was replaced with Corey Jenkins on 73 minutes.
The Wingmakers were still piling on the pressure but still unable to apply the finish – Cann foiling Jones again when he seemed certain to net. With quarter of an hour to go they made a double change with Richie Partridge and Sam Hart replacing Ryan Wade and Mike Roddy respectively.
Partridge almost made an immediate impact when his accurate shot, destined for the top corner, was superbly turned away by Cann. With 10 minutes to go Wingmakers goalkeeper James Coates was called into action to make a smart double save from Kyle Bassett and Liam Thomas as the visitors looked to catch Airbus on the break.
In the final minute of normal time, the Wingmakers finally made the breakthrough. Richie Partridge cut in from the right and curled a shot into the far corner beyond the reach of Cann to make it 1-0. It was no less than the Wingmakers deserved – and revenge for the same fixture last season when Carmarthen snatched the points late on.
In the aftermath of the goal both teams made changes as Corey Thomas replaced by Jordan Follows for Carmarthen and Nicky Ward for Steve Jones for Airbus. Coates then had to stop from Follows deep into stoppage-time.
Ultimately the Wingmakers saw out the game and got their season off to the best possible start – a win and a clean sheet. On another day though the margin of victory might have been much higher and the visitors could have had no complaints.
By Rory Sheehan