Blues second in table after first-half goals from Callendar, Cureton and Charles give them 3-1 win over Bognor Regis Town
Bishop's Stortford 3 Bognor Regis Town 1 (BetVictor Isthmian League, Premier Division)
Blues are second in the table after extending their fine pre-season form into their opening league match of the season on Saturday.
Stortford, who were unbeaten in their seven warm-up friendlies, were 3-0 up at half time thanks to strikes from Luke Callendar, Jamie Cureton and Ryan Charles.
The goals, two of which resulted from defensive errors by their South Coast visitors, set up Blues for a comfortable home win in front of a crowd of 307 at a blustery ProKit UK Stadium.
A disputed 74th-minute penalty awarded for a foul by skipper Sam Robbins on Bognor striker Dan Smith, who converted the spot kick, was the cue for a scrappy and feisty final 15 minutes which was littered with fouls.
After Ben Worman had had an early low shot saved by Rooks keeper Petar Durin, Blues took the lead in the 9th minute when Callendar drilled the ball low into the left corner after Durin had inadvertently presented him with the ball.
Joint manager and veteran striker Cureton doubled the advantage in the 32nd minute when he shot into the top corner after good build-up play from Johnville Renee and an unselfish pass from Worman.
Six minutes later it was 3-0 as Charles – nicknamed Spider – dribbled round the keeper for a tap-in after Cureton had found Renee who played a neat assist.
Cureton thought he had scored his second and Blues' fourth with a header in the 42nd minute, only to be denied by the assistant's flag.
Playing with the strong wind behind them in the second half, Bognor should have been back in the game in the 54th minute when Smith beat the offside trap and had a one-on-one with Blues keeper Fred Burbidge, who kept out the No 9's low shot with his legs to concede only a corner.
Just after the hour, Charles made a brilliant run from the middle before cutting in and shooting left footed, which Durin saved at his near post, and then he floated the ball across the box but Renee's header at the back post went inches wide.
Blues had already substituted Callendar with Olly Miles on the hour mark and Cureton was just about to be replaced by Harry Morgan when Bognor were awarded their penalty.
As the game descended into its fractious finale, Blues comfortably held on for all three points with a 3-1 opening-day victory that was bettered only by East Thurrock United, who beat Cheshunt 4-1 at home.
Cureton was supposed to have been presented with his golden boot award as last season's 22-goal top scorer in the premier division but an Isthmian League vice president failed to show.
BLUES: Burbidge, Thomas, Robbins (c), Haines, Henshaw, Worman, Charles, Warman, Cureton (Morgan 74), Callendar (Miles 60), Renee (Lowe 90). Unused subs: Sampayo, Mycroft-Edwards. Attendance: 307
Other results in the BetVictor Isthmian League Premier Division
Bowers & Pitsea 1 Wingate & Finchley 1
East Thurrock United 4 Cheshunt 1
Folkestone Invicta 2 Worthing 0
Haringey Borough 1 Corinthian-Casuals 0
Horsham 1 Leatherhead 1
Kingstonian 0 Cray Wanderers 0
Lewes 1 Enfield Town 1
Margate 0 Brightlingsea Regent 0
Merstham 1 Hornchurch 2
Potters Bar Town 2 Carshalton Athletic 0
More by this authorPaul Winspear
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