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3 - 5 April 2018

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Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup - Quarter Final

Thatcham Town 3 Binfield 1
Binfield were the visitors to Waterside Park for the quarter-finals of the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup, as the games continue to come thick and fast at the business end of the season. Thatcham Town Manager Danny Robinson lined up a strong side with just a couple of changes following the weekend's high scoring victory over Longlevens, and two of these additions to the starting line-up combined to open the scoring. Gavin James was brought down on the edge of the area and left-back Tom Browne waved his wand of a left foot to lift the ball up and over the wall and into the net with the keeper flat-footed.

Gavin James was involved with the next chance of the game, with a shot from a central position near the penalty spot that Binfield's keeper Henry Craven did well to parry, the ball going out for a throw-in. Following the throw, Thatcham engineered a cross into the box that Liam Ferdinand was first to, taking a touch that looped up into the air and just past the post.

Binfield were posing a threat with pace on the break, and they made this count in the 20th minute when they equalised through their number 10 Harry Laflin. The visitors grew into the game and looked as though they would relish the chance to put an end to the home side's 30 match unbeaten run, but the Kingfishers' defence held firm before, after half an hour, Ferdinand got on the ball near the halfway line and showed good control to lose his man. He spread play to left-back Browne, having a great game less than 24 hours after the birth of his child, who whipped a dangerous looking ball into the area that evaded everyone.

Browne contributed again as the Kingfishers regained the lead, playing a trademark left-footed cross into the box, which Gavin James controlled with his chest before turning his marker and smashing the ball into the net.

Although Binfield were good value in the first half, Thatcham seemed to step up a gear for the second as they went in search of a third to put the tie to bed. Browne hit another free-kick just wide of the upright from further out this time, before the James brothers combined to create a chance after Ashleigh James led a counter attack and played a ball through to Gavin James who shot wide under pressure from the defender.

Gavin James had the next chance, failing to convert a rebound after the keeper spilled a long-range drive from Ferdinand, but he soon made amends by getting on the end of a fine in-swinging corner from Harry Grant to powerfully head home. There was time for Binfield to threaten again, as their number 9 Ian Davies broke in between Gareth Thomas and Babs Jarra to latch on to a through-ball, but Chris Rackley did well to force him wide before he shot wildly off target.

The Blue Army pushed for a fourth, and thought it came courtesy of substitute Joe Blount, but he was ajudged to be offside, before Thatcham calmly and confidently saw the game out to the final whistle. The win makes it 9 on the bounce and 31 unbeaten, and sees Thatcham through to face Abingdon United in the semi-final.

Puhlsport football kitremier Division

Woodley United 0 Tuffley Rovers 2
Woodley started Thursday evening's game against Tuffley with the same side that came agonisingly close to three points against Windsor in their last encounter. The hosts started brightly with a lot of possession in the opening ten minutes. Right back Sam Guze's run down the wing ended with a through ball to Haydon Richardson; however Kane Winman in the opposing goal was off his line quickly to gather at the United striker's feet. This was followed up with a hooked effort that went wide of Winman's left post.

At the other end, Rovers captain Warren Mann's dangerous left wing cross was coolly chested down by Woodley centre back Mitch Cooper who was able to clear. Despite having a lot of the ball, United couldn't test Winman. Some nice play by Owen Davies saw him beat a man on the right, cut to the by-line but over hit his cross whilst Guze blazed over from distance.

Twenty five minutes in saw the save of the game from Woodley's Alex Reed. A low delivery from the right flashed across the six yard box; regaining the ball a cross found Shayne Bradley who saw his header destined for the left corner brilliantly kept out. Reed was once again called into action when he raced off his line to get to a clipped through ball before Mann and kick clear. United had the half's final two chances. Danny Horscroft's free kick went narrowly over before Richardson volleyed over from eighteen yards.

The second half began in the worst possible way for Woodley when Bradley prodded into the right corner from just inside the box. More pressure from the visitors followed. Bradley shot into the side netting from the left whilst a powerful shot from the right was well held by Reed. United were creating opportunities but still unable to work Winman. Davies headed wide a Guze cross before Richardson sliced wide from twenty five yards. In between the chances, Toby Briggs replaced Abdul Kamara.

Woodley were now back on top; Davies combined with Carl Prestidge with the former finally able to force Winman into a save whilst Richardson had a low drive from the left narrowly miss to the right. With fifteen minutes to go United made their penultimate change when Liam Wilson came on for Guze.

The final chance for the hosts fell to Horscroft who forced Winman to save at his near post after a Greg Beckett cross from the right. With four minutes to go Woodley made their last change; Prestidge made way for Teddy Thomas. Tuffley sealed the win through a counter attack in added time. A cross field ball found Brett James who fired a low shot past Reed into the left corner.

Woodley United 0 Tuffley Rovers 2 (away view)
Mark Pritchett’s Tuffley Rovers moved up to eighth place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division table, as goals from Shayne Bradley and Brett James proved enough to overcome a dogged Woodley United side, at Scours Lane, on Thursday evening.

With the top seven sides well clear of the teams sitting below them, Rovers are in a fight with local rivals Longlevens - as well as a group made up of Windsor, Oxford City Nomads, Abingdon United and Royal Wootton Bassett Town – for the highest position available to them and although they failed to produce as impressive a performance as had been on show at high-flyers Wantage Town on Monday, they did enough to see off the industrious relegation battling Woodley, with young keeper Kane Winman deputising for the absent Dave Evans, not called into serious action all evening. Winman was making his fourth first team appearance of the season and was one of four changes to the team that had impressed at Wantage, with Evans’ absence adding to the list of unavailable players, which had included Sam Hill, Liam Wright, Ash Bird and Cam Williams. The absence of several first team regulars gave Pritchett the chance to give a rare start to Harry Walker, whilst Macaulay Herbert and Marcus Foxwell also recalled.

Perhaps stymied by the much changed line-up, Rovers started poorly and an inability to retain possession gifted Woodley United the ball to regularly, although the hosts were unable to create an serious goalscoring opportunities. In fact, despite a territorial advantage in favour of the Scours Lane outfit, it was the visitors who had the first chance of note, on 26 minutes, as Warren Mann produced a wonderful cross that Bradley met with a firm header, only for Alex Reed to pull off a superb one-handed save, to keep the score at 0-0. Veteran striker Bradley was in good form and was causing problems for the hosts defence, combining controlled aggression with a tremendous work ethic, and he almost put Mann through, four minutes before the interval, only for Reed to correctly anticipate the threat and clear as Mann bore down on goal. It was anything but one-way traffic, although Winman had little to do, and Woodley almost took the lead with almost the final kick of the first half, as Danny Horscroft’s free-kick, from 20 yards, went narrowly wide of the goal.

Whatever Pritchett said at half-time appeared to have the desired effect, as Rovers took the lead within five minutes of the restart. As full-back Shayne Anson moved into an advanced position, he was presented with a chance to shoot and when his effort was miscued, good fortune caused the ball to spin into the path of Bradley, who took a touch, composed himself and drove the ball across and underneath the Woodley United net-minder, to make it 1-0.

Wide man James had been relatively quiet in the first period, but was now presenting a number of challenges for the hosts, picking the ball up from deep and running at pace, deep into the Woodley territory. Having evaded three challenges, James almost set-up Bradley for a second goal, but as he played the ball to the back post, Bradley could only volley the ball wide and into the side-netting.

As the game approached the hour mark, James had another chance, a mazy run ending with a shot that was comfortably saved by Reed, before Bradley had a headed chance, from a Foxwell corner, that went just wide. After a positive spell, Rovers were faced with renewed effort from their hosts and as Woodley began to reassert, Pritchett made two changes in quick succession, introducing Will Emery and Courtney Hamilton, for Walker and Foxwell, respectively.

Emery’s pace and ball control immediately began to present Woodley with a new challenge and he drew a good save from Reed on 82 minutes. James and Kieran Alder then produced poorly struck efforts, with neither troubling the hosts’ goal, but the game was finally sealted in Rovers’ favour, in the dying moments, as Emery produced an excellent pass across the back four, which James struck under the keeper and into the bottom corner, to make it 2-0 on the night, with the referee’s whistle sounding just moments later. With visits to twelfth placed Windsor and another relegation threatened side, Highmoor Ibis, in the next seven days, Pritchett will be hoping his side can pick up maximum points, as they strive for their highest league placing since the 2001/02 season.

One East


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