Division new boys EP set the pace

Joe Shelley

Joe Shelley

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NEW boys East Preston Football Club are early pace-setters in County League Division 1 after a flying start to the new season.

After kicking-off with a 7-0 thumping of Hailsham on Saturday, last year’s Division 2 champions then secured a comfortable 4-0 victory over Shoreham at The Lashmar on Tuesday evening.

First-half goals from the industrious Joe Shelley, along with a Gareth Green own goal on the stroke of half-time gave the top-flight new boys the advantage, before strikes from substitute Nikolaos Kakolyris and Jordan Clark saw them kill off Mussels with relative ease.

East Preston manager Dominic Di Paola, however, was keeping his feet firmly on the ground and was not getting carried away.

He said: “I’m so pleased with how we’ve started but I think the bubble may burst a bit, I’m not expecting to continue this. Hailsham weren’t on their game on Saturday and Shoreham have a new side so, maybe, we caught them cold, I think they’ll still be up there.”

“Second half, I thought we played really good, we corrected a few things at half-time and played some nice stuff – it’s what we try and do, get the ball down and play.

“I thought the first half was pretty even and could have easily been 0-0 at half-time, but we gave a bit more after the break, I didn’t think it looked a 4-0, though.”

EP looked dangerous down the left and on a number of times Matt Axell and Shaun Charles combined to cause Shoreham problems.

A couple of free kicks won by the pair saw Shelley go close with headers in the first 15 minutes.

But just a minute later, EP were ahead as pressure on the left saw Axell set away Clark, who dragged the ball across the area to Shelley, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area, despite it taking a slight deflection en-route.

Shelley almost added a second soon afterwards as Charles got a low effort away and although goalkeeper James Shaw parried, he collected off Shelley’s toe with the EP man trying to poach a second.

Clay Lamont put in a fine saving tackle three minutes before the break as Charles skipped away in the box. The defender’s effort, however, was in vain as Billy Rayner’s resulting corner was headed into his own net by Green.

It was fairly subdued after the break as EP kept the ball and Shoreham had to chase shadows at times.

The home side killed it off on 68 minutes as Shelley was again involved. He latched onto a ball down the right and picked out the arriving substitute Kakolyris at the far post for a simple finish.

With 11 minutes left, after a series of passes and missed clearances on the far side, the ball was played across to Clark in the middle and he simply picked his spot to put it beyond doubt.

EP: Evans; Duncan, Pullan, Elliott, Axell; Barnard, Shelley, Clark; Rayner, Edwards, Charles. Subs: Kakolyris (Rayner 56), Wotherspoon (Edwards 70), O’Hagan (Elliott 74), Gibbs, S.Di Paola.