Greens lose out in season opener against Ilford

Soham Town Rangers 1 Ilford 2

STEVE Fallon’s Soham side began their new league campaign with a disappointing loss to Ilford at Julius Martin Lane.

After taking the lead midway through the first half, Ilford were pegged back by Soham debutant Robbie Mason but rallied a second time to score again after the break, consigning the Greens to a first defeat.

Chatham Town’s 4-0 win made them the early pacesetters in the Ryman League Division One North, with Soham sitting down in 15th place.

Some ambitious play from Soham in the opening 15 minutes brought several good opportunities, Mason enjoying the first of these inside five minutes as the Ilford keeper was called upon to save at his feet following Ben Seymour-Shove’s deft pass.

Seymour-Shove had a header parried over the bar by the Ilford goalkeeper and the lively forward was also denied when put through one-on-one.

Mason and Scott Carter also saw shots well saved before Ilford moved into the lead with their first real chance of the match, Warren Mfula collecting a cross superbly to fire past Dan Bircham in the home goal.

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Michael Simpson was unlucky to see his shot cleared off the line by an Ilford defender before, moments before half-time, Mason headed home superbly from Buster Harradine’s floated free-kick.

The pace of the play settled down after the break and it wasn’t until shortly after the hour mark that either side was able to forge a decent opportunity, Ilford converting from the penalty spot after sub Steve Opoku was felled.

Fallon ramped up the pressure in the last 20 minutes of the match, switching to a more attacking formation and the move brought even more chances for the home side Matt Robinson and Mason both denied by the in-form Ilford goalkeeper.

A strong shout for a penalty was turned down by the referee in the dying stages of the match after Ross Paterson went down under pressure in the box, with another Robbie Mason header flying inches wide as the game came to a close.