FAIRFORD to Southend and back is quite a hike for a Tuesday night game of football, so at least the long journey was worth it for groundhopper Peter Miles.
Lydney had a somewhat shorter trip and edged a tense yet entertaining Cinder Lane encounter that saw two penalties and three goals as the points went the way of the visitors.
Fairford started brightly but went behind with a sublime finish from youngster Keelan Hamblett, who capitalised on a defensive slip to advance and lift the ball over advancing ‘keeper Ben Mitchell with 22 minutes played.
The Reds’ response was swift and they should have been level 11 minutes later. Former Gloucester City striker Lee Smith was tripped inside the box but his subsequent spot-kick was well saved by visiting stopper Max Harris down to his left.
And typical of Fairford’s start to the season, the visitors went up the other end and doubled their advantage after a goalmouth melee. The home side were unable to clear their lines and Dan Barnard stabbed home from close range for a 2-0 half-time lead.
Fairford produced a spirited second half effort and dominated possession, but were unable to turn that stat into all-important goals in front of a supportive home crowd.
Left-back and Ben Saunders reduced the arrears with a well-taken penalty just after the hour, whilst Lydney defended resolutely throughout a late onslaught – well-marshalled by the aforementioned ‘keeper Harris.
Ben Mitchell made a superb late save to deny the visitors a third on the break late on, but the home side were left frustrated – left pointless after what had been another determined showing.
The improvement is there to see – and unlike Fairford and Southend – the first win of the campaign doesn’t seem to be miles apart.
F/T: Fairford Town 1 Lydney Town 2
Fairford Town: Mitchell; Dainton, Tomkins, Thrussell, Saunders; Morse, Blackford (Gale), Reynolds (Boucher), Cordery; Gambling (Petrie), Smith
Subs not used: Hall S, Hall M