Shelley's superb new facility at Storthes Hall played host to a meeting between Shelley and Clifton Rangers in the RCD League’s new 9 v 9 format for Under 11s and under 12s.
The format, played on smaller pitches with smaller goals, is aimed at making the game more child friendly and has received universal approval.
And Shelley and Clifton provided plenty of entertainment in their 2-2 draw in the RCD League Under 11 Division I.
A large crowd lined the touchline as Shelley went in search of a first victory and the signs looked good when, inside five minutes, Sam Hirst found space on the left to fire in two fierce shots, but Ben Crowther, in the Clifton goal, was equal to the challenge to keep the score blank.
Having survived a couple of early scares, Clifton began to find their range with some speedy counter-attacks on the right but, despite the efforts of Louis Reid and Alfie Fairbank, they were unable to break the deadlock as some solid defending from Huey Burchill, Marcus O’Toole, Tommy Roberts and Marcus Leadbeater forced Clifton into long-range shots that were covered comfortably by keeper Jay Hartley.
The ever-dangerous Jerrelle Tyrrell remained a constant threat to the Shelley defence and he was inches away from heading into an open goal when a corner flew past the unguarded far post after 15 minutes.
With the game now swinging from end to end, it was Shelley’s turn to go close but Joe Burnley’s near-post volley from a Joe Burnley cross flew inches wide of the mark.
The deadlock was broken just before the break when the referee spotted a handball and promptly pointed to the penalty spot, where Danny Phillips converted with a shot into the bottom left corner.
Malachai Cooke put Clifton back on level terms 15 minutes after the break with a speculative shot from a wide right position that cleared keeper Hartley’s outstretched arms to finish in the top corner.
And 10 minutes later, following a defensive mix-up, Shelley found themselves chasing the game as Harry Sanderson’s shot from the edge of the area also finished in the top corner to give Clifton the lead at 2-1.
Shelley were unmoved by the setback and tried hard to get back into the game, but Clifton’s Eddy Martin, Jack Petterson, Harry Paynton and Jack Patterson were in no mood to hand any free gifts away and Shelley needed to wait until the last seconds of the game and produce one of the best moves in the game and force an equaliser.
A sweeping move down the left flank resulted in a cross to Jamie Walker who slotted the ball past the keeper to level the score 2-2 with virtually the last kick of the game.
On the evidence of this game, both these sides will be hoping for a good first season at 9 v 9.