Tatura wasted no time showing its Bendigo Amateur Soccer League championship credentials, smashing last year’s title-winning side Shepparton South in a round one statement.
In his first game as playing coach of the Ibises since moving from arch-rival South, Sean Grant marked the occasion with a debut goal, but it was fellow signing Lewis Coyle who stole the show with a double as their side romped to a 4-1 win.
Grant had predicted pre-game his side would be ready to hit the ground running after a blistering pre-season, and his troops didn’t disappoint, putting the competition on notice.
‘‘Going on what Tatura did last season, we needed to send a message that we are going to be very competitive,’’ he said.
‘‘And that message goes to the rest of the league — when teams come up against us, it’s not going to be easy.
Early signs of Tatura’s improvement were there as Coyle found the net from close range in the opening 15 minutes to give his new side the lead.
But South was never likely to go down without a fight and found an equaliser before the half through another signing, Brendan Barton, who joined from Wangaratta City.
Locked at 1-1 entering the second half, Tatura found two goals in three minutes to blow the game wide open.
First Thomas Leech beat the offside trap and tucked home his club’s second, before Coyle doubled up for a 3-1 lead.
And Grant would have his moment, belting home a free kick in the 80th minute to put the icing on the cake.
A switch to a club’s rival is always bold, but Grant and his side answered in the best way possible — with both a goal and a win.
‘‘We started the first 20 minutes really well and stuck to our plan, but that next 20 to 25 minutes South had a lot of possession and chances. We sat back and let them play a bit too much,’’ he said.
‘‘But we chatted about what we wanted to do at half-time and came out on the front foot with two goals in five minutes.
‘‘It’s always nice to score and to do it against South was a bit sweeter. There’s no bad blood there, but it was good fun winding them up a bit.
‘‘From previous games between the clubs it’s always fiery, always big tackles and the intensity seems to lift.’’
But Grant said the game could have been a lot different if his side had not had goalkeeper Daniel Scaffidi producing some quality stops.
‘‘He was top drawer, best on ground. Some of the saves he pulled off were fantastic and there was one in the first half at 1-1 where if they’d scored, it felt like they could have gone on and scored one or two more,’’ he said.
‘‘His kicking was superb and his command of the area was even better.’’