Newton Poppleford hoping new faces will help kick-start their Fresha League season.

Newton Poppleford 2, University III 5 The Popples’ produced a much-improved performance, but still went down to a well-drilled University side, writes Ken Woodsford.

In their new kit, kindly sponsored by Woodleys Joinery, Newton Poppleford started at a high tempo and Mark Tett fired home to give them an early lead. Mark Gerry spurned a gilt-edged opportunity to double the lead before the students levelled with a header from a corner kick.

Two minutes later the ball was crossed into the Popples area, subsequently cleared, but, to the amazement of the home faithful, the match official pointed to the penalty spot! The penalty was tucked away and a third added soon after.

However, this Popples team is much more determined than the one that started the campaign and it was no more than they deserved when new-signing Gary Dixon latched on to the ball thirty-yards out and rifled it home.

After the break a fitter and more athletic University team looked the more likely to score, but with Steve West pulling the strings in midfield the home team kept creating chances to equalise and Mark Tett blazed just over the bar from the edge of the area.

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Gary Dixon injured earlier in the game had to leave the field fifteen minutes from time with Chris Harwood pushing in to midfield and Zak Harwood filling in at right back. Both did well in their new surroundings.

From a counter attack, the Popples were undone in the 82nd minute. Keeper Bowring made a great block to keep out a close range shot, but three static

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defenders failed to react to clear the loose ball and a University striker ran in to slide home. Tow minutes from time the students added a fifth.

The Newton Poppleford players all put in a good shift, and, despite the score line, both teams know it was a well contested hard fought battle for most of the ninety minutes.

New signings Dixon and West both showed they will be influential team members when they settle in, and, with two more signings Sam Hammett and Stuart Pile, champing at the bit, the home game against Alphington this Saturday will hopefully be a turning point in the Popples season.

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