by Daniel Cope
A CLOSE but thrilling encounter at USW Sport Park saw a new look USW Men’s 3rd come away 3-2 winners against a resilient Gloucester side.
USW fielded six new players and started brightly with Mael Evans and Robert Hughes looking dangerous down the flanks, supporting the new attacking duo of Mikey Wicherek and Rich Abbott. However, despite their strong start, Gloucester took the lead after a goal-mouth scramble led to them slotting the ball home.
USW responded thanks to a good cross from Rob Hughes which was poked home by debutant Elliott Rees. The equalising goal spurred USW on with both Evans and Rich Abbott coming close for USW, with the latter’s shot whistling over the bar.
Abbott came close again for USW when his curling effort from outside the box rattled the bar to take the score into half-time at 1-1.
The home side started the second-half on top and scored in the 53rd minute after Abbott used his blistering pace to escape the Gloucester defence and his pass across the face of goal found Wicherek who tapped the ball into the open net.
Three minutes later, USW scored a third after captain Jackson Huxley picked out midfield maestro Callum Massey with a superb ball over the top and Massey thundered a shot past the helpless Gloucester goalkeeper.
USW had a goal denied after Wicherek burst into the box and his shot found its way into the path of Elliott Rees who found the back of the net but he was ruled offside by the referee.
Three minutes later, Gloucester were awarded a penalty after debuting defender Louis Dijaz fouled the Gloucester striker but the penalty whistled wide to increase Gloucester’s misery. A fourth goal continued to elude USW after Wicherek picked out Jake Mahoney whose bullet header was cleared of the line by the Gloucester defence.
Surprisingly, Gloucester grabbed a second after their winger’s cross looped over Dan Jones in the USW goal to give USW something to think about heading into the game’s final minutes.
Rob Bailey’s USW were further frustrated after Rees was shown a straight red card for violent conduct off the ball but despite going a man down, USW held on to pick up all three points.
After the game, Bailey was full of praise for his team saying: “As a start to the season, you can’t fault the performance or the result. [The players] worked really hard and gelled really well together.”