HELLENIC LEAGUE: Pocock inspires Purton to victory over his old club Fairford

Swindon Advertiser: Purton's Shannon Pocock celebrates against Fairford Purton's Shannon Pocock celebrates against Fairford

A SHANNON Pocock fired a hat-trick inside the first 17 minutes of his first Purton start to propel his side to a 3-1 victory at Fairford on Saturday.

The 21-year-old attacker is familiar to the surroundings at Cinder Lane having played two seasons for the Gloucestershire club in the past.

But any welcome home festivities were short lived after kick-off as the youngster capitalised on a series of early defensive mix ups to grab what proved to be an unassailable three-goal lead for the visitors.

At full time Pocock said: “I loved it. I've always loved playing here and coming back I was really fired up. For all three of my goals, I wanted to shout as loud as I could, but I didn't celebrate at all, because I have a lot of respect for the club.”

Pocock opened the scoring after only eight minutes after strike partner Blaine Fitzgerald ran onto a misjudged header, drove into the box and cut back for Pocock who ducked inside and fired across Ben Mitchell into the far corner. Five minutes later a fantastic through ball by Jamie McGahey launched Pocock into a race for the ball against Mitchell, which the striker won before deftly chipping the onrushing keeper to double the visitors’ lead.

Three minutes later, a communication error between Mitchell and his covering defender Richard Stubbs gifted the debutant his third after another Purton ball into space behind the Fairford back line.

Stubbs diverted his backpass beyond Mitchell who had rushed from his line, providing the chasing Pocock with the final and easiest goal of his hat-trick, as he tapped into the empty net.

Following Purton's rampant opening period, the hosts began to give a better account of themselves and were unfortunate not to have netted by half time. Purton keeper Gary Stevens was tested by a powerful Daniel Bailey free kick, before leading scorer Nathan Gambling's powerful running on the left created two excellent chances, which were both missed, most glaringly by Cameron McLarty who fired over from six yards when unmarked.

After the break Fairford seemed galvanised and, driven forward by the tenacity of Matthew Boucher in the centre and skilful winger Callum McGhee-Parsons, continued to press for a goal. It was no surprise that both featured in Fairford's only goal. After two further Fairford chances went begging, Boucher quickly took a throw-in from an unthreatening position near the halfway line, launching a great team move that switched possession to McGhee-Parsons on the left wing and he unleashed an unstoppable curling effort past Stevens.

With 35 minutes remaining and renewed belief, Fairford looked capable of rescuing something from the game, but their attacking tactics invited dangerous counter attacks from Purton. In the end neither approach, not the sustained pressure of the hosts nor the quick breaks of the visitors, provided any further goals.

At full time, Purton manager Chris Pethick praised Pocock's impact: “In 17 minutes we’re three up, so that’s a dream start, particularly for our newest player, Shannon.

“He’s come in to help us out, he’s been on the bench for the last two weeks, and whenever he has come on has added something so he's started today, and will consequently start next Saturday.

“I'm chuffed to bits because we're missing so many players. We had to shuffle it around a bit and I was fearing the worst to be honest. But we’ve got away with it.”

Fairford boss Paul Braithwaite was angry that his side’s mistakes early on had 'handed' the game to Purton: “Aside from the first 15 minutes where we’ve given them three goals, I don’t think Purton had to work for it today. I wouldn’t say their work rate and their efforts deserved to score three goals,” he said.

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