Ripley Rangers under 11s started their new season with a thrilling 3-3 draw against AC Manor.
Goals came from Todd Wells (2) and Cade Croshaw, with a fantastic MOTM performance by Charlie Willows.
A disrupted pre-match warm-up saw Ripley start sluggishly and concede within the first three minutes. The AC Manor frontman nipped in and chipped over the onrushing Tommy Austin.
Ripley then woke up and managed to get a foothold in the match, attacking more regularly. Good play from the Ripley midfield released Todd Wells, who was obstructed in the box with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Wells stepped up and finished into the bottom corner, with the keeper diving the right way.
The remainder of the first half saw both teams create and take chances. AC Manor pounced on a weak goalkick and made Ripley pay with a simple finish while Ripley responded with a smart finish from a tight angle by Cade Croshaw, having been played in by Wells.
The second half saw Charlie Willows stamp his authority on the game with numerous brilliantly timed tackles and great driving forward runs.
He firstly set up Wells, who slid the ball past the Manor goalkeeper to make it 3-2, and then went on to hit the post after another powerful run into Manor’s box.
Croshaw returned Wells’s earlier favour and played in the striker with a great pass but AC Manor’s keeper made a fine save.
With time running out, AC Manor pressed greater numbers forward and, with three minutes left to play, they deservedly scored an equaliser. A long crossfield pass from midfield found an AC Manor player in the box. He let the ball bounce once and then unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner, leaving Austin no chance and providing a great finish to a very entertaining game.