A MITCH Tippins goal ten minutes into the second half gave Yate Town a winning start to the new season against Cinderford Town.
Lining up in a new 4-4-2 diamond formation, the Bluebells made a sloppy start with the visitors on top for the opening half-hour but improved as the game went on to give their fans cause for cautious optimism for the rest of the campaign.
Centre back Andy Lewis caught the eye with a committed display on his league debut for Yate against the club he left in the summer, playing the ball out well from the back and making marauding forward runs reminiscent of former Lodge Road favourite Edd Vahid.
Dale Evans, another signing from Cinderford, and Liam Knight were also handed their first starts in midfield with goalkeeper Martin Horsell given the captain’s armband.
Cinderford were faster out of the traps though. From a well worked short corner on five minutes the dangerous Garyn Preen’s fierce strike through a sea of bodies was beaten away by Horsell and Lorcan Sheehan sliced the rebound wide when well placed.
Ten minutes later Preen dispossessed Bradley Abraham on the halfway line to set up a three on three attacking situation. He fed George Lloyd, who cut inside and dinked the ball into the box, where Brad Martin found space only to fire straight at Horsell.
However, Yate were almost gifted the lead just before the half-hour mark. Alex Harris’ nonchalant attempted clearance was diverted across the penalty box after hitting Jake Jackson’s outstretched boot and Lewis Haldane looked certain to score as he ran in with the net gaping but the goalkeeper recovered spectacularly to gain ground and save at point-blank range.
That appeared to settle the home side and they finished the second half strong. After receiving the ball in the box from Ross Staley, Haldane turned to find space only for his shot to be blocked by Harris, before they had penalty appeals turned down when Tippins went down after a strong run into a crowded box, the right back picking up a yellow card for diving instead.
Yate carried the momentum into the second half and within five minutes Evans’ free kick from the left found Joe Chandler unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box but he somehow nodded over.
They went ahead five minutes later though with a sweeping move that started with neat passing at the back and ended with Tippins charging into the box and hitting a low shot, which trickled in off the post after Harris had got an outstretched hand to it.
As the game entered the closing stages, Cinderford delivered a warning when George Lloyd hit a sweet volley against the bar from 15 yards following a cross by Preen, who went close himself with one minute remaining when he turned away from Tippins before having his shot tipped over by Horsell as Yate hung on.
Yate Town: Horsell (c), Tippins, Staley, Chandler, Lewis, Abraham (Harmer, 41), Knight, Evans (Guest, 80), Jackson, Haldane, Ricketts (Felix, 87). Subs not used: Rogers, Fletcher.
Ref: Mr D Ricketts.
Gazette star man: Andy Lewis – Looks like a superb signing.