Khalsa came from behind twice in their first ever game in the Midland Football League to see off last season’s runners up Coleshill in a pulsating season opener.
Against a side strongly expected to challenge for the title again, Khalsa were forced into a number of key changes with Tim Jackson, Mensah Kinch and last season’s top scorer Craig Bannister all unavailable.
But it was all about the new boys for Khalsa as no fewer than three debutants bagged goals.
Following some tentative but harmless early exchanges, the visitors took the lead on 12 minutes as some dubious interpretation of the offside rule enabled Dean Rathbone to charge down the right wing and cross for Nathaniel Lewars to bundle home.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Mike Perks‘s drive shot was intentionally deflected home by Rikardo Reid. Reid, making his first appearance in Khalsa colours, was a thorn in Coleshill’s side all game, leading the line brilliantly and bringing out the best in the players around him.
Coleshill regained the lead on 25 minutes when poor defending by Khalsa saw them waste several opportunities to clear before Tom Weales was able to drive past James Pemberton to restore the advantage.
Just before the interval, what might have been the pivotal moment in the match came when Pemberton saved well from Mykel Beckley after the striker had done well to create a one-on-one opportunity for himself.
The second half saw Khalsa transformed, producing a sparkling performance with four unanswered goals. Callum Cooper fired the first warning shot on 52 minutes, driving over from long-range, before Reid’s persistence and energy won Khalsa a corner from which Brad Lawley headed home after a flick-on from Dave Meese.
Tes Robinson – immense at centre half throughout the game – almost put Khalsa ahead three minutes later, his shot brilliantly smothered by Paul Hathaway after good approach play down the left by Cooper.
On 64 minutes, Khalsa took the lead for the first time, Reid once again the architect and setting up debutant Meese to roll the ball home from close range. Six minutes later Marvin Nisbett doubled the lead with a fine header as Coleshill began to creak under the pressure of Khalsa’s dynamic attacking movements.
Coleshill persisted, however. Joe Rogers produced a great block to deny James Dance on 82 minutes and four minutes later substitute Demetrius Smickle hit a rocket of a shot from the angle, beating Pemberton but bouncing off the angle of post and bar.
With two minutes to go the performance was wrapped up when Dan Westwood, making his first appearance for Khalsa, harried keeper Hathaway into making a horrific blunder with his feet, giving the ball away and giving the striker the easiest of tasks to tap into an empty net.
Sporting Khalsa: James Pemberton; Carlo Franco, Lee Wherton (captain), Joe Rogers, Tes Robinson; Mike Perks, Dave Meese, Brad Lawley, Marvin Nisbett (Ben Hadley), Callum Cooper (Scott Stevenson); Rikardo Reid (Dan Westwood).