Finally, the new season had arrived for Reigate Priory and the fixture computer had not been kind as they were matched with Ripley Village for their opening fixture of the season. Ripley had finished the season strongly last term and managed 3rd place in the league, a very commendable finish in what was a tough league last term. However, they were out for revenge against a Priory side who had taken 4 points out of a possible 6 against them.
Gaffers Davies and Winterburn had an almost full squad to choose from (minus Glen Davies and Rob Horan) in the opening fixture of the new season and decided to hand a full debuts to Ben Hills and James Stone in the centre of defence and midfield respectively. Steve Payne was the other new signing and he took his place on the bench.
The game started much as expected with both teams trying to gain the early foothold but struggling to get to grips with the early pace of the match. Just as Priory looked to leave their mark on the first half, a momentary lapse of concentration let the Ripley striker in and he made no mistake to open the scoring. As if one goal wasn’t bad enough, Priory were undone again in the closing stages of the first half. Following a poor decision from the referee to award a throw on to Ripley when it should have been a Priory ball, the set piece was taken quickly and thrown in behind the defence with the Ripley striker just getting there in front of Travis to send Priory into half time 2-0 down.
In fairness, Ripley had not had the first half all their way with their goalkeeper pulling off a couple of “worldies” from Chris Byrne and a couple of half chances being wasted by the Priory attacking force. There was plenty to be positive about at half-time and both teams knew that the next goal would be all-important.
Unfortunately, Priory were forced into a change at half-time with Hills struggling with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Nick Beech. The second half passed without much action as chances were wasted by both sides to finish the game off. Payney (who had replaced Steve Beckett) had a late chance to cause a nervy finish for Ripley but the chance was wasted and Priory slumped to an opening day defeat.
Squad: Purnell, Hogg, Benson, Hills, Doick, Beckett, Stone, Paddley (c), Blackwood, Stratton, Byrne, Beech, Payne, Fisher, Ndazi