Loddon win big Portugal match

FC Pacos de Ferreira 2, Loddon Utd FC 3Loddon United returned from a very successful trip to Portugal where they took part in the club's first-ever overseas football match.

FC Pacos de Ferreira 2, Loddon Utd FC 3

Loddon United returned from a very successful trip to Portugal where they took part in the club's first-ever overseas football match.

The team travelled to Northern Portugal to play a representative side from FC Pacos de Ferreira, who play in the Portuguese Premier League, Liga Sagres - and won 3-2.

The Pacos team featured ex-professionals who had all represented the club at some stage of their careers so a tough game was expected. Loddon took a squad of 16 players, which had representatives from all three teams (first team, reserves and the A-team).

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The game was staged at the Estadio da Mata Real, the stadium where Pacos first team play their home games.

The opportunity of playing at the stadium and on a perfect pitch where only a few weeks ago the likes of Porto and Benfica were playing was an experience that all the players will never forget.

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The team was shown excellent hospitality by the Portuguese for the full trip. Managers Creegan and Matthews made numerous changes throughout the match, as did the home team, to ensure that all players were fully involved, this also ensured that there was a break from the intense heat and humidity.

The game was as expected a tough encounter, one in which Loddon were able to secure a very pleasing 3-2 victory. Loddon took full advantage of the pitch and played some excellent football, passing the ball about well and playing some good attacking football pinning the hosts back in their own half for the first part of the game. Danny Anderson and Matt Sadler were enjoying a lot of room and possession on the flanks.

Marjoribanks just managed to get to a far-post cross from Anderson but could not direct it goalwards whilst stretching. Matthews hit a shot from the edge of the area which was tipped onto the bar and over for a corner. Ricky and Gary Summons were battling in midfield and feeding the wingers.

Loddon went 1-0 up when Marjoribanks pulled out wide and sent a delightful cross in for Matthews to volley home. Pacos started getting into the game after that and the back four had their hands full.

Tom Baylis, returning from long-term injury, and Matt Parkin were in good form against a very strong physical No 9. Robin Anderson and Chris Hancock were also up against some tricky wingers but defended well and also found the energy to get forward. Loddon then went 2-0 up when Parkin netted from close range following a corner.

After this David Sayer came on at the back and had a great game. Neil Ford came on at right midfield and looked good going forward, creating chances and he worked hard in defence too. Andrew Mason then replaced Matthews up front and was very unlucky not to score himself, forcing the keeper to make an outstanding save. Chris Grice replaced Robbie Collins in goal. The hosts soon pulled a goal back, despite calls for offside.

At the start of the second half Pacos enjoyed a lot of possession and their quality was getting them back into the game and they soon drew level, the No 9 again showing what a good finisher he is, volleying home. Loddon regained composure though. Creegan, who came on in the second half, was working hard in midfield and the Summons brothers Sadler and Anderson were creating chances for Marjoriebanks and Mason, both drawing good saves, and with Mason having claims for a penalty turned down.

Parkin, who was solid throughout, linked well with Robin Anderson for the latter to go on a mazy run only to be up-ended. Grice then came on outfield as players began to tire in the heat. Grice struck a goal-bound effort only for Marjoribanks to coolly divert into the home net. Pacos went looking for the equaliser but Loddon's defence stood firm for victory.

An excellent display as well as an experience and the win rounded off a memorable trip. A lot of praise must go to club captain Tom Baylis who worked very hard in arranging such a successful trip.

Thanks must also go to Dave Matthews and Pedro Nunes who also played a large part in organisation.

Pre-season training will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays and starts at 7.15pm Tuesday, June 30. All players old and new welcome.

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