Elliot Hutton scored a sensational seven-minute hat-trick as Sponne Sixth Form convincingly beat Silverstone UTC in their opening fixture of the South Northants Sixth Form Football League season.
A Sponne win never really looked in doubt as their midfield trio of Mitch Walker, Matt Thomas and Matt Woods dominated play, with Silverstone lacking the cutting edge prevalent in Sponne’s attacking football.
The home side were very quickly out of the blocks with Will Fraser shooting narrowly wide inside the first 50 seconds of the contest, and it was to be just five minutes in when Matt Woods opened the scoring for Sponne with a smart chip shot over Silverstone goalkeeper Bunce.
Woods soon doubled Sponne’s lead as he outpaced Silverstone defender Micallef to a long ball played through by Sponne captain Mitch Walker, rounding Bunce and finishing well.
Silverstone struggled for momentum having been pegged back early by Woods’ brace, their problems worsening after the UTC’s centre-back Witchman fouled Will Fraser inside the box with a cynical shove. Referee Steve Edwards awarded a penalty kick for the foul and Walker converted it in textbook fashion with a powerful low shot into the bottom left corner of the net to put Sponne in a commanding 3-0 lead.
Despite their strong start, Sponne were reminded of the threat Silverstone could pose when UTC striker Goyoki went through on goal, his run only thwarted by Callum Anderson’s last-ditch clearance.
As the game reached the 25 minute mark, Sponne struck again with Jack Swales scoring the goal of the match. A well-worked pass from Matt Woods was controlled by Swales who finished emphatically, shooting through the legs of the goalkeeper to put Sponne 4-0 up.
The first half finished in frenetic fashion, as Silverstone midfielder Dotteral clawed a goal back for the UTC through a penalty kick after Callum Anderson’s foul on Anthony Jane-Grey in the box. Sponne striker Josh Murphy managed to restore his team’s four-goal advantage with a minute to go in the half though as he tapped in at close range from Will Fraser’s pass. But the last action before the interval happened at the other end of the pitch when Goyoki blasted a shot wide from five yards out after Sponne goalkeeper Sam Butler failed to claim a high ball.
A 5-1 scoreline at half-time put Sponne firmly in control but their coach Mr Cornelius was determined not to be complacent as he brought on 5 substitutes, including attacking midfielder Elliot Hutton, in a bid to add fresh impetus to the side.
Despite their impressively quick start to the match, Sponne were slow off the mark in the second half as Silverstone struck within two minutes of the contest resuming; Goyoki heading in from a corner kick which might have been defended more robustly.
Just as Sponne began to work their way into the game again, they suffered another setback when Sam Butler, who had looked otherwise capable between the posts, misjudged his smothering of a shot from distance, the ball slipping through his grasp and over the line to give Silverstone a glimmer of hope with the score at 5-3. But Sponne reacted swiftly to extinguish any hopes of a Silverstone comeback, as Matt Thomas punted home a long-range goal, shooting from 20 yards through a crowd of players to make it six for the home side.
Moments after the restart, Thomas went from scorer to provider as he squared a ball into Hutton, who finished composedly from six yards out. Just three minutes later, Hutton got his second, anticipating a poor clearance from Bunce and beating Silverstone defender Micallef to the wayward ball before rounding the retreating Bunce and smashing a shot into the bottom left corner. With the scoreline at 8-3 and ten minutes left to play, Sponne had already ensured a commendable victory but Hutton stole the show as he completed a seven-minute hat-trick after outpacing Micallef again to a loose pass and sweeping the ball into the back of the net with another exceptional strike.
There will be more difficult tests in the coming weeks for this Sponne team but their resounding victory will give the squad great optimism about their chances of success in this season’s competitive league. Sponne’s midfield in particular looks more than capable of competing with the best that this division has to offer, whilst Woods, Hutton and Swales have the ability to score goals against much tougher defences than Silverstone’s. Next week, Sponne will reignite an old rivalry as they play away at Campion School; a match likely to be more competitive than their season opener turned out to be.
SPONNE (4-2-1-3): Sam Butler, Harris Woodward (sub Harry Wakeling HT), Luke Warwick, Callum Anderson, Chris Foden (sub Sam Collins HT), Mitch Walker (captain) (sub Ryan Smith HT), Matt Thomas, Matt Woods, Will Fraser (sub Alex McCabe HT), Jack Swales (sub Elliot Hutton HT), Josh MurphyCoach: Mr Cornelius
SILVERSTONE UTC (4-4-2): Bunce, Mensah, Micallef, Witchman, Limbachia, Barker, Dotteral, Acquah, Al-Karim, Goyoki, Jane-GrayCoach: Mr Fitzhall
REFEREE: Mr Steve Edwards
MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Woods (Sponne)
Match Report by Toby Foster, Photo by Josh Margan