Nathan Olukanmi lit the touch paper on the 2018/19 season as he put in a match winning performance to give City their first 3 points of the campaign.
The 3-2 victory over Bedford in a pulsating bank holiday clash had plenty of action, but it was Olukanmi who stole the show as provider for 2 and scoring the winner in the last minute.
City boss Robbie Nightingale had the luxury of having more players available than he did 2 days previous with both Ross Paterson and Lewis Whitehead getting a space on the bench as they work their way back from injury. Sam Squire slotted back into midfield after missing the cup match at Harborough. Meanwhile, Josh Oyinsan and Jack Vasey were unavailable and Salim Relizani missed out with illness.
Bedford arrived with a 100% record, and it looked like it might continue when some poor defending as early as the 3rd minute let in Craig Daniel who latched onto a pass from Callum Donnelly and made no mistake to fire past Liam Gooch in the City goal.
With Bedford so far scoring freely during the first week of the campaign, you could be forgiven for thinking that City would wobble and be in danger of conceding more. However, the Lilywhites weathered the early storm and it was a challenge on Sam Squire that cranked up the feistiness of the contest. Former City player Callum Donnelly incensed the home crowd as he appeared to make contact with Squire following an initial challenge. Ironically, the challenge was almost identical to the incident that Squire was involved in against Corby a week earlier. As in that game, the offending player got away with just a booking.
By now City were gradually finding their way into the contest, and Jack Wilkinson was unlucky not to see the City forward do better following his excellent cross into the box.
However, the main threat for City was Oluknami and just like he did in the corresponding fixture on Boxing Day las year the City winger was giving the visiting defence all kinds of problems. Following one of his tormenting runs, City won a corner and it was played back to Oluknami who picked out Ryan Sharman who volleyed home past Kyle Forster.
City were now bossing the contest and 8 minutes later they were in front. This time Joe Robinson played a ball forward which should have been cut out by Brett Longden, but he failed to make contact and it invited Olukanmi to run to the by line, pull the ball back which was only half cleared to the boot of Ebby Nelson-Addy who made no mistake to give City the lead.
The home side were looking comfortable but it was a calamitous error that let the visitors back into the game as the match approached half time. An indecisive moment in the City back line saw keeper Liam Gooch fail to collect the ball cleanly. It then broke free to Paul Benson who made no mistake to stroke the ball home with the City keeper stranded.
Bedford went close to regaining the lead 9 minutes after the restart when Joe Robinson was penalised. The resulting free kick was swung in dangerously by Craig Daniel, but it just went beyond the reach of the advancing Benson and Mason Watkins-Clark.
Former City player Lee Roache was then introduced, and he bought fresh impetus to the Bedford attack and the home side were becoming stretched, but still defending well.
It was City right back Ben Robinson who was then involved in the next incident. This time, Donnelly was the victim as Robinson appeared to make contact to the head of the Bedford midfielder. With the visitors baying for a red card, Robinson only saw yellow when on another day it could have been worse.
With a quarter hour of the contest left, Lee Roache was handed a great opportunity for Bedford to regain the lead. The striker beat the offside trap, and was in on goal but was denied by a fine stop from Liam Gooch.
City were then relieved to see an effort from defender Ben Ford go just over the bar as the game entered the last 10 minutes. During that time, Robbie Nightingale introduced Ross Paterson for Ryan Sharman.
However, the stage was set for Olukanmi to have the final say on matters. City won a throw in, and it was long throw expert Jack Wilkinson who managed to pick out the head of Jordan Gent. The City defender flicked the ball to the far post and Olukanmi was on the spot to stab the ball home.
It wasnt job done yet for the Lilywhites as they survived a late scare as Ashton Grant saw an effort bounce off the top of the crossbar. But that was it. City had done it, and wrapped up their first 3 points of the season.
With two wins over the weekend, the result at Barton Rovers on Wednesday night now looks a distant memory. The Lilywhites now have a few days to rest up ahead of what looks like to be another difficult clash at Didcot on Saturday afternoon.
Post Match Reaction:
Reports index >>>