Oakham United got off to a near perfect start to life in the UCL Division One on Saturday when they dispatched Buckingham Town to a 5-2 defeat in front of a bumper crowd of 341 people.
United, who were promoted out of the PDFL Premier Division as champions last season, put in an impressive display on Saturday to complete a brilliant day of football across the region as part of the Groundhop weekend, which saw hundreds of fans travel from ground to ground to watch multiple matches thanks to staggered kick off times.
Initially Oakham must have been thinking life in the UCL Division One was going to be a hard slog after they went behind to a headed goal in just the second minute of action.
Scott Weymouth found himself with room in the box from a corner and powered the ball past a helpless Simon Dalton.
Buckingham Town then forced the home keeper into a save after neat work from Cleere, raiding down Oakham’s left hand flank, allowed him to set up Delderfield for a strike on goal.
However United quickly grew into the game and the pressure was beginning to grow on the Buckingham defence as intricate passing from skipper Eddie McDonald was beginning to create openings for danger-man Lewis Leckie and Robbie Dance.
Unsurprisingly Leckie was at the heart of Oakham’s first goal in the UCL Division One. The striker used his rapid pace to get behind the defence and in a panic Scott Weymouth practically rugby tackled him to the ground.
He received a yellow card for his actions and when Adam Rothery chipped a ball into the box from the resulting free-kick he was punished further as Daniel Jenkins beat everyone to it to head home.
Oakham’s defence was troubled by Buckingham’s attacks and Dalton was forced into a fine low save to his right to keep the scores at 1-1 before Richard Nelson gave the Rutland side the lead in the 57th minute. A free-kick was again the undoing of Buckingham as he latched onto a curling cross to the back post from Sven Hart. Leckie was again the man to win the free-kick for the goal and only a fine save from Connell denied him extending the lead shortly after.
In the end it was McDonald who made it 3-1 in the 64th minute, on the spot to finish from close range after Connell spilled the ball from a shot by Dance.
But at that point in the tie the game was far from over as Town looked for a way back into the match. It came in unusual fashion, the impressive Cleere drove down the left wing and cut in onto his right foot to release a curling shot which bounced off the woodwork for Daniel Delderfield to volley home for 3-2 with 15 minutes left to play.
However in the 81st minute Oakham got a stroke of luck when Weymouth was sent off for a second yellow after handling the ball.
Oakham showed the ruthless streak that they will need to compete at this level and extended their lead seven minutes later, with Leckie getting the goal his hard work deserved. However the goal was the product of a fantastic dribble into the box by McDonald.
Buckingham were taking out their frustrations with some physical tackling, but it was to their detriment as Stu Lambie put another danger free-kick into the back of the net a minute from time for 5-2.
Oakham central defender Matt Holland, who was awarded the man of the match award, said: “We continued to play football second half, we took it to them and scored five great goals. We conceded two which is a bit disappointing because as everyone knows I like a clean sheet but I am happy with the result. A new campaign, three points, a great start. We have just got to build on it from here.”
Oakham are away to Wellingborough Whitworth on Saturday.
Oakham United: Simon Dalton, Dan Jenkins, Stewart Lambie, Richard Nelson, Marcus Baines, Matt Holland, Sven Hart (Ash Civil), Adam Rothery, Lewis Leckie (Seb Archer-Fern), Eddie McDonald, Robbie Dance (Robbie Pearce).
Buckingham Town: Luke Connell, Lewis Cardno, Lewis Sheridan, Mitch Brent (Nick Mentiply), Dan Dyer, Scott Weymouth, Sam Folland, Andy Cleere, Ash Wadhams (Brandon Bandar), Dan Delderfield, Kevin Gibba-Olsson (Nii Yemo-Quarshie).