First half goals from Michael Taylor and Antony Rowley, with Taylor adding another one to his tally in the second half, got Shirebrook Town’s season well underway with a great 3-1 win away at Scunthorpe side Bottesford Town.
Shirebrook started the game strongly enough and might well have taken the lead inside the first minute when Michael Parsons’ ball down the left sent Rowley racing past the full-back, but the lively winger got caught in two minds and the chance was gone.
Bottesford settled after that and Shirebrook keeper Steve Boot did well to block at point blank Leigh Hutchinson’s 8-yard effort after the visitors struggled to clear the corner that came from Paul Morrill’s 22-yard free-kick on 12 minutes.
Almost 10 minutes later Rowley carved out another splendid opportunity for himself at the other end, but he was forced wide after beating keeper Robert Zand, and his subsequent attempt at a cross from the right disappointingly came to nothing in the end.
But almost straight from that Bottesford broke upfield and took the lead on 21 minutes, Shirebrook caught flat-footed down their left with Danny Boulton latching onto a piercing through-ball on the edge of the box, stroking the ball past keeper Boot and into the Shirebrook net off inside of the upright to Boot’s right.
And it was the first of three goals that saw the lead change hands in a breathless five minute period, Bottesford’s advantage lasting barely a minute as Shirebrook quickly hit back.
Rowley switched sides of the field and was swiftly onto Paul Burgess’ long pass down the right, before squaring the ball into the box from wide, where Taylor made no mistake from 6 yards out.
Three minutes after that Shirebrook were in front themselves, the visitors counter-attacking with speed after Ben Newman and then Boot had kept Bottesford out at the other end, Rowley then cutting in from the left, before holding his nerve and side-stepping Zand, and slotting the ball past the stranded keeper, into the home net from 14 yards out.
Shirebrook kept the pressure up on the home side after that and more good chances came the way of the visitors before half-time, and both Rowley and Taylor maybe should have added to their own tallies before the break.
And Shirebrook might have been left thinking they could be made to pay for not putting those chances away as Bottesford pressed hard to get back in the game after the interval.
Nevertheless, Shirebrook stayed solid at the back and Taylor made the result look a little more certain when he added the visitors’ third goal just before the hour.
Rowley put the left full-back under pressure out on the right touchline and forced him into making a nervy, lofted pass to Zand in the Bottesford goal.
But the ball held up in the wind and fell short of the hapless keeper, before bouncing over him and on to Taylor, whose striker’s instinct made sure he was waiting to pick up any bits at the far post.
It was a huge setback for Bottesford, and one from which they would not recover, although Steven McCarron had Shirebrook hearts’ in their mouths when he headed onto the crossbar at the far post from Morrill’s corner on the left with just over ten minutes to go.
It was a hugely pleasing result for new Shirebrook manager Gary Castledine in his first competitive outing with the club, and he said after the game that he was happy with the performance of his players going away from home.
“You always look to take something from the game, so I’m more than happy with the three points,”he said
“Some of the goals we scored were tremendous, but the thing I was most impressed with was our work rate off the ball and the players’ desire to work hard for each other. Hopefully, that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.”
“All we can do in our first game - and an away game as well - is get the three points.”
“It’s a good three points, but I’m also more than happy with the attitude and togetherness of the players, which I thought shone through today,” Castledine ended.
Bottesford Town: Zand, J-J McCaffrey (Gibbons 78), Gilby, C Larocca, Blount, Morrill, Hutchinson (M Larocca 70), K McCaffrey, Boulton, McCarron (Thompson 82), Garth. Subs not used: Stones, Hipkins.
Shirebrook Town: Boot, Burgess, Parsons, Newman, Bowler, Vella, Rowley, Walker, Taylor (Carter 86), A Cheetham, Nussey (R Cheetham H/T). Subs not used: Clayton, Wilson, Castledine.
Referee: Lee Freeman (South Yorkshire).