Newport Civil Service 0 Monmouth Town 5

Elliot Ford smashed a hat trick as Monmouth Town kicked off their competitive season with a five nil win over rivals Newport Civil Service in the Gwent Senior Cup last Saturday.

Strangely the season opened with a cup fixture rather than a the traditional league curtain raiser but the Kingfishers were happy to finalise their preparations for the first division of the Welsh League with a visit to the third division side in Bettws, Newport.

The two sides have been arch rivals since their Gwent County days and Monmouth have always enjoyed the rivalry, although wins at the Shannon Close ground have often been very tight encounters.

Former Newport County keeper Keiron Blackburn made his competitive debut in the Town goal as Ashley Ford, Jacob Guy, Dan Spence and Dean Palmer made up the back four.

The two centre midfield berths were handed to Alderdice and Rob Laurie whilst the attacking positions went to Sam Palmer and Elliot Ford on the Flanks, Macdonald in the hole and Bowen given the number 9 shirt.

The Kingfishers expected a tough, physical start, typical of their previous encounters but the Town were somewhat surprised as the Bettws based side seemed happy to drop off and allow the Town possession.

Despite the Town looking by far the most comfortable, it was Civil who had a couple of chances to take the lead. As the half progressed, the Town still looked somewhat bemused with the time and space available to them and passes went astray as the Kingfishers still tried to force balls through impossible holes.

Dean Palmer struck a shot superbly from the edge of the box, but Jones in the home goal was relieved as it flew straight at him. As the half hour mark approached, the Town got their noses in front.

A surging run from Palmer at left back ended with Ford getting on the end of a cross which Jones did well to keep out. Bowen struck the loose ball against a defender but the ball finally fell to Macdonald and he did what he does best and fired home.

The second period saw the Kingfishers come out with more intent and it took just six minutes for them to double their lead. Following a swift counter attack, the Town took a short corner to Dean Palmer and his intended cross caught the head of the home defender causing it to loop over Jones into the far corner.

With the two goal lead and the visiting team dominating possession, the game looked safe and, as home players' heads dropped, the Kingfishers went for the kill.

As the game opened up, Macdonald found more space and started to thread precise balls through to his attacking peers Bowen, Palmer and Ford. Ford then took in on himself to fire in three goals, all neat finishes to give the score line a true reflection of the dominance the Kingfishers enjoyed. The back four seemed dominant as Blackburn was a mere spectator throughout the second period.

Bowen, Palmer, Macdonald and Craig Lewis all had chances to make the score line more emphatic and good contributions were made by Rod Lewis and youngster Max Freesey.

The game highlighted how far this Monmouth side have come in the past three years since gaining back to back promotions but manager Burns was still quick to remind the squad of the tough task ahead when the league season kicks off this Saturday.

"The lads have done well today and everyone involved made a positive contribution. We still look a little rusty in areas and we have to make sure we are one hundred focussed in both penalty boxes next week or we'll be punished. We still had a few boys away today so competition for places is going to be tough, but that will only make us stronger."