Treble for Codi Lee-Spavins and three points for Stotfold in victory over Letchworth
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
A hat-trick from Codi Lee-Spavins gave Brett Donnelly and Stotfold the perfect start to the new season and the club's new era.
The young wide forward struck once in the first-half and twice in the closing six minutes to give the home Eagles a 4-1 win, Joe Ryan having given them the advantage just 17 minutes from time.
They did it after coming from behind too, Mark Summers putting himself in contention for the quickest goal of the Spartan South Midlands League season when he struck on nine minutes.
In the end it was emphatic and deserved but there were moments where Letchworth will think they had a chance.
They won't face too many tougher tests and it may prove to be a perfect introduction to the higher level.
The win will give Stotfold bucket loads of confidence to take into the rest of the campaign, one where they want to be among the promoted teams.
There was a big crowd inside New Roker Park for the return of competitive football, 317 in total, and they were treated to a entertaining and action-packed first period.
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And after a couple of half-chances for either side, it was Letchworth who pounced quickly for the first goal.
Noah Costin did well down the left-hand side and a deep cross to the back post found Kain Brown.
He cleverly just pushed it back into the middle where Summers was waiting and he side-footed home from eight yards.
The visitors then relied on solid defence and counter-attacking when the opportunity arose.
Costin forced a couple of saves out of Liam Gooch, the second needing the keeper to dive full-length to the left and push it away.
But they strong defending was also helped by Stotfold's inability to execute the basics correctly.
Too many times when in good positions, they coughed the ball up or strayed offside, forcing the turnover.
On two occasions when they did manage to put it together, the crossbar kept them out, the second after a shot from distance had skipped off a defender and over the top of keeper Paul McGennity.
The equaliser wasn't too much of a surprise and came in a similar manner to the Letchworth goal.
This deep cross came from Kade Bagge on the right but instead of playing it back into the middle, Lee-Spavins opted to send his header back the way it came, looping over McGennity and into the far corner.
The second half was played in pretty much the same vein and took on the feel of a cup tie, the hosts' frustrations and intensity increasing the more and more they upped the pressure.
Jack Bradshaw forced McGennity into a strong save from a thumping free-kick and there were a couple of brave blocks to deny Luke Smith.
It wasn't all one-way traffic and substitute River Amis-Robinson almost slalomed his way to a tap-in, just losing his balance after leaving Liam Gooch on the floor.
It was the first of a good five minutes for the visiting Eagles, Brown and Summers both unable to get a clinical touch after Sam James had lifted a ball over the top.
But as it looked to be heading towards a stalemate, Stotfold eventually found a way through.
A loose and bobbling ball found its way to the edge of the area where Ryan swung a boot at it and after it bounced past the defender, it continued on its way to the far post, bouncing off and in.
The final 10 minutes saw Stotfold rubberstamp the win with authority and Lee-Spavins complete his treble, both tapped in and showing the forward's sharpness.
A good game for the start of the new year and one which will focus the minds of both teams.
Stotfold: Gooch, Nicholls, Stewart, Bradshaw. Corran, Sears, Bagge, Ryan (Simms 77), Smith (Leech-Levy 68), Akinbusoye, Lee-Spavins.
Subs (not used): Sagwete, Auburn, Cardines.
Goals: Lee-Spavins 36, 84, 90, Ryan 73
Booked: Stewart 22, Bradshaw 39, Sears 90+2
Letchworth Eagles: McGennity, Georgiou, Gough, Osborne, Draper, James, Miceli (Amis-Robinson 46), Costin (Eames 56), Brown, Summers, Gereltauskas.
Subs (not used): Vigneswaran, Huckle, Sesay.
Goal: Summers 9
HT: Stotfold 1 Letchworth Eagles 1
Referee: Tim Brandi (Berks & Bucks FA)