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Stone Old Alleynians kicked off their 2017/2018 campaign at the weekend

Stone Old AlleyniansStone OA 1-5 Black Country Rangers 

The Old Boys’ season started in lacklustre fashion as they succumbed to a heavy home defeat at the hands of Black Country Rangers in the West Midlands Premier League on Saturday.

The visitors had led 3-0 before a Jack Tomlinson goal gave Matt Smith’s side a brief opportunity to salvage something from the game, however these hopes were quickly dashed by an energetic Rangers outfit that put the game to bed with two further second half efforts.

“We have a very youthful squad this season,” said Alleynians manager Matt Smith afterwards.

“And with a run of tough fixtures to open the season it will be a learning curve for us. We will have to improve all over the pitch if we are to compete with the better sides in the division, and we will be working hard to do so.”

The game started dreadfully for the Alleynians, who found themselves behind with just five minutes on the clock. Cameron Bliss’ reaction save rebounded into the path of a Alex Hammond, who had the time to pick his spot and slot the ball back past Bliss into the far corner from 16 yards.

The Old Boys attempted to rally, and Danny Heard had a decent header saved by the Rangers goalkeeper before the visitors extended their lead in dramatic fashion. A counter attack resulted in Stuart Hillman firing a speculative effort over the Stone goalkeeper, only to see the ball rebound off the crossbar and into the net via a helpless Bliss.

Smith rang the changes at half-time, but his re-shuffle barely had time to take shape before Rangers were awarded a penalty kick three minutes after the re-start. Ian Whalley was judged to have brought down Hillman, and Kieron Clarke netted the resulting spot-kick.

The Old Boys toiled to find a route back into the game, and a rare foray into the opposition final third was thwarted when a Dick Hewitt cross was deflected out for a corner. Adam Tomkinson’s resulting set-piece found substitute striker Jack Tomlinson, who managed to direct his header past the man on the line to give the Alleynians some hope of a comeback.

Rangers had other ideas though, and a good team move shortly afterwards resulted in Clarke adding to his tally by diverting a cross into the Old Boys’ net under little pressure.

Astra Girugiu compounded the Old Boys’ misery after 85 minutes, the midfielder sidestepping his man on the edge of the box before curling into the top corner for the visitors’ fifth.

Stone OA: Bliss, B Thorley, Pope, Whalley, Smith, Taylor, Dale (Hewitt), Renshaw, Tomkinson, Heard (c), Farrelly (Tomlinson)

Subs unused: Bull, Moloney

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