MK Irish’s first competitive game of the season, as well as the club’s FA Vase debut, ended in a comfortable 6-0 victory away to Thame Rangers on Friday night.
A fitting setting for our opening game of the 20/21 season, the facilities at Thame were fantastic and MK Irish, debuting the new kit for the season, looked the part and certainly brought the performance to match.
It was a bursting run from George Shrieves that presented the first chance of the game, after a good advantage from the referee gave Irish the chance to break quickly down the left. Shrieves burned past his man and tried to cut back inside after getting into the box, before there was a half shout for a penalty after a tangle of legs saw the defender come out on top.
Soon after that, Irish had the ball in the back of the net through a powerful close-range finish from Dom Lawless, however the striker had strayed just offside and the goal was chalked out to keep the score at 0-0.
Mason Spence was next to go close, as he almost carried his free kick scoring pre-season form on, after his deflected effort went just wide.
Twenty minutes into the game, the tide swung in MK Irish’s favour and it was George Shrieves causing problems again. The opposition were clearly finding the attacker’s pace too much to handle as he broke past the back line and was brought down in a desperate challenge right on the edge of the box. The referee pointed to the spot without hesitation, before things went from bad to worse for Thame as he pulled out a red card.
After getting his eye in and going close with an earlier attempt, Mason Spence made the ten men of Thame’s task even more difficult by stepping up to convert the subsequence free kick. Spence struck it hard and low past the keeper, leaving the opposition with over an hour to play with ten men and a 1-0 score line to overturn.
Mason Spence opens the scoring from a free-kick.
The rest of the first half was all Irish after the opening goal, and Dom Lawless was unlucky as he put the ball in the net for the second time, but still had no goals to his name as the linesman had his flag up again.
Irish made the pressure count and doubled their lead, as Luke Gardener was brought down in the box, leading the referee to point the spot for the second time in the evening. Converting his second set piece of the evening was Mason Spence, who fired confidently into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0.
The visitors had one more chance before the break, going close from a corner that was whipped in from the left and fell around the penalty spot, where it was struck through a crowd of legs and flashed just wide of the post.
Terry Shrieves will have been more than pleased with his side’s dominant first half display, however he must have told his players to keep their wits about them and keep the pressure on as they came out for the second half looking to extend their lead.
They didn’t have to wait long to get what felt like a game ending third goal, as substitute Vinny Shrieves got himself on the scoresheet not long after coming on. A quick counter-attack led to some good play and ultimately a cut back to the edge of the area, where George Shrieves was waiting to shoot on goal. He dragged his shot wide of the target and into the path of Vinny, who touched home from close range to make it three.
That goal led to the Thame floodgates opening, as Vinny Shrieves grabbed his second of the game soon after. Spence broke away from his man on the right-hand side and drew a good save from the keeper, who could only push it in to the path of Shrieves who tapped into an empty net.
The hat-trick race was now on between Shrieves and Spence, and it was the former who had the first chance, receiving a lay off in space on the left hand side of the box, before opening his body up but failing to control the shot that flew over the bar.
Mason Spence didn’t make the same mistake and took the first chance he got to grab his hat-trick, scoring the goal of the evening in the process. A solid spell of Irish possession, confidently knocking the ball about, saw it fall to Ryan Coyle on the right, who crossed in wonderfully with pace and accuracy to Spence, who headed back across goal into the top corner to make it 5-0.
The striker wasn’t finished there and added his fourth for his team’s sixth, running on to a through ball and beating the keeper to ball and knocking it past him to make it 6-0, finishing off the scoring for the night
That goal capped a dominant all round display from MK Irish, with Owusu having what will most likely be one of his quietest nights of the season in goal.
Terry Shrieves and his squad can now look forward to what could be a thrilling cup run after such an encouraging display, with confirmation of the next round’s opponent already in after Broadfields United beat Aylseybury Vale Dynamos on penalties, setting up an all Spartans South Mids clash in round two.
MK Irish don’t have long to wait before being in action again, as this season’s league campaign starts on Tuesday night, as we welcome Ampthill Town to The Irish Centre.