October 2007: New Home Ground
With the squad finalised to a final 25 players for the season, the players were given their final pre-season drills and seemed ready for the first game of the season. It was a tough choice as not everyone was offered a contract but the final 25 have a lot of work to do to get into the team as every position is covered by at least another player. With such a massive squad, hopefully player absentees won't account for much as it hurt the club last season. It seems that the manager is not afraid to be ruthless this season in his search for some silverware.
The first historic game at the new Clayhall ground also marked the 200th appearance of Neg Dupree, who was made skipper! Having purchased one of the best grounds in the area it was now time to test the team. There were a large number of players missing due to injuries and other commitments but the squad was able to cope for this fixture. It wasnt an easy game with Waine James making his league debut alongst with Jamie Valente and JJ Hill. Eyehurst Eagles started off the better side and tested the defence. However as the game went on Esprit started to gain confidence. Both teams started to pass it around nicely but there weren't many opening as both sides seems to be a bit cagey.
In the second half, the sides seemed to want to take more risks. Apart from a 2 minute spell of comicial football by Esprit they used their strengths and managed to take the lead with their first shot on target as the ball was knocked down by Olgun Gokdemir to Jamie Valente who swept the ball into the net for his first goal for the club. Esprit had 20 minutes or so to hold on to the lead but weren't disciplined enough and paid the price in the 85th minute when the Eyehurst Eagles man mountain climbed highest to head the Eagles level. Esprit were so close to getting a win but overall a draw was a fair result and both teams played to an outstanding sportsmanship level.
Whilst Esprit can be a bit disappointed there are also a lot of postives to take from this match with so many players still bonding. JJ was strong on the ball and Greenhill and Kuks making their first appearance for a while. Also Webb made his comeback return after nearly a year out with an eyelash injury.
Esprit have been undefeated on the opening day of the season since they joined the Corinthian 5 years ago. Whilst they have only won once, the other four games have been draws, and a good foundation to build on.
Squad : Burton, James, Valente, Greenhill, Yeo, P.Hill, Olgun, Neg, JJ Hill, Kuku, Blanks, Webb, Hughes, Hanson.