The Iraq international’s goal ensured that the Town got 2016/17 off to a winning start in front of over 9,000 fans at the County Ground.
Luke Williams’ first starting XI of the 2016/17 league season saw three changes to the side that had lost at Yeovil the week before. In came Conor Thomas against his former employers, Anton Rodgers and loan signing, Michael Doughty to replace Tom Smith, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill and Ellis Iandolo.
Under the scorching summer sun at SN1 and with a crackling atmosphere providing the audio to the on-pitch action, it was the visitors who had the more clear-cut chances during the opening exchanges. Marvin Sordell cracked an effort off the outside of the woodwork before George Thomas scuffed wide from close range after team-mate, Jodi Jones’s own mis-kick had fallen into his path.
Lawrence Vigouroux was called into action to push Dion Kelly-Evans’ fizzing drive over the top before Town started to created chances of their own.
A sloppy pass in midfield gifted the hosts the opportunity to break but when Michael Doughty fed Anton Rodgers 20 yards from goal, the midfielder rifled his shot over the crossbar.
Reice Charles-Cook was also required to pouch James Brophy’s curling effort before Jon Obika brushed off his marker on the edge of the box and sent an effort just wide of the post.
At the start of the second half, Vigouroux was required to keep out Jodi Jones before the Coventry man dragged a shot wide of the target.
James Brophy began to find some joy down the left flank, teeing up Anton Rodgers and Jon Obika, the latter flicking a header inches wide of goal.
Brophy was involved again minutes later, this time teeing up Conor Thomas who skied his effort instead of hitting the target. Substitute, Jordan Young entered the fray shortly afterwards and thumped a shot off the crossbar.
As the clocked ticked over the 85-minute mark, Town made the crucial breakthrough. Michael Doughty laid the ball off for the arriving Yaser Kasim who drilled a low shot through a crowd of players and watched as it nestled in the back of the net to seal all three points for the home side.