Athletic Suffer Defeat In Season Opener

Last updated : 22 January 2011 By Dan Buxton

Hardly Athletic third season got off to a bad start as a patched up side threw away a lead to eventually lose late on.

With only five players available Hardly were down to the bare bones for  the clash with Costa Del Stoke but they started brightly and took the lead when Chris Cope placed the ball past the keeper, after quite a bit of pressure from the opposition was dealt with by the Hardly defence and keeper.

The lead stayed in tact until moments before half time when a powerfully driven effort flew past Dale and into the net for an equaliser.

That didn't seem to both Hardly though who regained the initiative moments after the interval when a good run from Young ended with him stroking the ball past the keeper and into the net.

The lead was then doubled when Cope again found the net, from an acute angle, but the extra bodies in Costa's seven man squad began to show through as the fresher legs found the net with two deflected efforts in close succession to level the scores before a shot from distance flew through a ruck of bodies and past the unsighted Dale to give Costa the lead.

Hardly were now chasing the game and had the chance to draw level once more when the keeper left his area to clear the ball, giving Hardly a penalty. Cope stepped up for a hat trick but his drilled spot kick was saved by the keeper, the ball  flying down the other end of the pitch and after a quick sprint to the ball was won by a Costa player the ball was rolled past Dale to seal the win for Costa Del Stoke.