Huws Gray Alliance
|13.08.11 | 2:30pm|
Leading marksman Gary O'Toole started the new campaign in typical goalscoring fashion with a second half treble to hand the champions a thumping 6-1 victory at the Recreation Ground.
Last season's Huws Gray Alliance golden boot winner scored early in the second half to restore Nomads' advantage - after Scott Williams had cancelled out Jamie Petrie's opener before half time - before adding two further strikes late on.
James McIntosh and Ben Collins completed the rout in the final ten minutes as Nomads made light work of a lacklustre Caersws outfit with a late goal glut to begin the defence of their crown in style.
Yet there was little to suggest such a scoreline in the first half hour as the home side, who are widely tipped to mount a challenge for promotion this season, matched the champions stride for stride.
Admittedly Nomads took a while to find their feet while the Bluebirds, with plenty of Welsh Premier League experience in their team, made early inroads down both flanks. Gradually, however, the visitors began to spread the ball wide and cause unrest within the Caersws defence.
A few half chances were created before O'Toole failed to connect cleanly with a left-wing Collins cross when confronted with an open goal. On 22 minutes, though, Caersws cracked conceding a rather silly goal when another cross from the left side evaded everyone in the six-yard box as defenders turned to stone, allowing Petrie to return the ball from an acute angle just inside the far post.
Home 'keeper David Jones later suffered a knee injury when attempting to hack the ball clear of his area, delaying the game by some six or seven minutes, and thereafter the Caersws back four began to look jittery.
McIntosh and Danny Forde both tried long-range efforts in an attempt to beat the incapacitated goalkeeper but Caersws stood firm until the interval and six minutes before half-time they equalised with a goal completely out of the blue - centre-half Scott Williams being allowed a free header after Louis Mackin missed a left-wing corner.
If the early stages of the game were largely even, then the second period was one of complete Nomads dominance with the home team restricted to just two clear chances - one of which was superbly blocked by Craig Jones.
O'Toole was soon off the mark, glancing a downward header from a right-wing corner beyond Jones in the 49th minute. That it took the Deesiders almost 30 minutes to add to their lead was down to profligacy as chance after chance went begging.
Caersws were being stretched on both wings with Petrie and Collins always being available to receive the ball from the Nomads' tenacious midfield where Jones and Forde were outstanding. Further injuries to left-back Jack Hughes and to the 'old warhorse' Graham Evans only added to the hosts' problems and once Rob Jones entered the fray Nomads at last began to take the chances their supremacy deserved.
O'Toole rolled the ball home on 77 minutes for his second goal and completed his hat-trick seven minutes later - but only after strike-partner McIntosh had fired past Jones to open his account for the season as the hosts capitulated.
The introduction of Iwan Williams and youngster Rhys Healey failed to give Caersws any respite with the former shooting narrowly wide of Jones' right-hand post and Healey twice going close.
Eventually a sixth goal arrived when Collins was rewarded for his attacking instinct by prodding home from close range after a neat McIntosh back-flick.
In truth Nomads could, and should, have registered double figures and will rue the missed chances. In defence Jack Rowlands could be well pleased with his league debut for the club while Louis Mackin, in his luminous yellow goalkeeper's outfit, will have few quieter afternoons.
NOMADS: Louis Mackin, Ben Alston, Ben Collins, Mark McGregor, Jack Rowlands, Craig Jones, Jamie Petrie (Iwan Williams), Danny Forde, Gary O'Toole (Rhys Healey), James McIntosh, Shaun Roscoe (Rob Jones).
Substitutes not used: John Rushton (GK), Michael Robinson.
Booked: Craig Jones
Gary O Toole