THE Airbus Development Squad kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 home defeat to cross-border neighbours Tranmere Rovers at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium.
The fixture promised to be a tough opening for the young Wingmakers against a strong Rovers side who themselves were begnning their own preparations for the forthcoming season in the English Football League Youth Alliance North West Conference.
It was the visitors who saw most of the ball in the opening exchanges although they were unable to test Lewis Hall in the Airbus goal. The home side provided strong resistance to any Rovers attacks and restricted their Wirral opponents to shots from distance.
It was blustery conditions that played an important role in the goal that eventually broke the deadlock for the visitors on 20 minutes. A cross from the Rovers left from Jamie Herron got caught up in the swirling wind and floated over the helpless Hall.
It was harsh on the young blues to concede in this way but it was hard to argue that Tranmere weren't deserving of their lead. The visitors continued to press high up the pitch and as a result they manufactured a couple of efforts that went wide of the target.
Airbus forward Callum Burridge went close for the home side with a snap shot from the edge of the box and a wind-assisted free kick from wingmakers skipper Danny Shaw were the home sides only sights of goal when the half came to a close.
The second half started in much the same fashion with Tranmere dominating the ball and Airbus providing a resilient rearguard action but 20 minutes into the second half Rovers doubled their advantage when Tom Croughan looped a back post header over Airbus substitute keeper David Szczepaniak.
With Tranmere unable to find a third Airbus halved the deficit with 10 minutes remaining through the lively Burridge. A quick counter attack which was started by the young forward was finished expertly by the Blues' number nine following excellent work by substitute Ellis Doughty and the industrious Taylor Moss.
But the home side's joy was short lived as Rovers' substitute Tolani Omotola sealed the game for the visitors with a smart finish from close range.
All in all a great run out for our Development Squad in a pre-season campaign that promises further stern tests against strong opposition.
Airbus Man of The Match: Ryan Jones
Next Fixture: v Wolverhampton Wanderers | Away | Saturday 16th July | 12.00pm kick off
Photo: Wingmakers' defender Ryan Jones under pressure from the Tranmere midfield [picture courtesy of Tranmere Rovers].