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April 16 - 19 2018

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Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup - Quarter Final

Ascot United 4 Pewsey Vale 0
An unlikely hat-trick from defender Jonny Denton propelled Ascot United into the Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup Semi Finals at the expense of an ill-disciplined Pewsey Vale side. Denton’s haul – two precise free kicks and an equally well-placed penalty – in addition to Barry Dunbar’s sixth goal in nine games – capped a comfortable win against the visitors, for whom Ryan Banks was dismissed.

Vale have enjoyed something of a resurgence this season. The Wiltshire outfit still harbour outside hopes of a top-two spot in Division 1 (West), and were keen to test their mettle against a Premier Division side. The Yellamen, meanwhile, would take hope from their results in the second half of the season which had seen them rise from bottom of the league to safety; they too now harboured hopes of end of season silverware. In stark contrast to the miserable weather that had led to the rare Thursday evening staging, early evening sunshine greeted both sides. And, and at 7.45pm, battle commenced.

The early stages were fairly uneventful, but the half would improve, and Sam Boultwood was particularly impressive in the heart of the home defence. Denton’s sixth minute free kick was an early warning of that which lay ahead, but it was saved by visiting ‘keeper Sam Tuttle, before he saved again from Ben Hodges following a subsequent ten-pass move. The lively James Richardson’s one-two with Dunbar then paved the way for Rob Lazarczuk to shoot over from distance – 25 minutes played - but the visitors threatened three minutes later when Lee Smith’s volley from distance sailed well over. James Blake then fluffed his lines with a similar effort and Smith made a hash at the far post just before the break in Vale’s other two chances of the half, but it was Ascot who already led at this point.

The opening goal owed much to the driving run of Boultwood, who played a neat one-two with Lazarczuk and continued his run from defence. Sadly for him, Banks’ crude challenge denied him a shooting opportunity, but Denton would step up to curl a sublime free kick over the wall, past the motionless Tuttle, and into the right-hand corner of the net. Dunbar’s Hooked effort almost capped another fine move involving both James Goodey and Lazarczuk, but the Yellamen could not add to their tally and were grateful for Smith’s miss at the other end to preserve their half-time lead.

If the first half had matured into a reasonably fine wine, the start of the second was more of a flat Babycham; both sides struggling for rhythm in a game increasingly disjointed by a cocktail of whistles, warnings and handbags.

However, it sprung to life when Tuttle’s moment of Jekyll-and-Hyde saw his terrible clearance fall to Richardson, whose subsequent chip looked destined for the net, only for Tuttle’s recovering save at full stretch to tip the ball over the crossbar. That came almost fifteen minutes into an otherwise drab period, but once the hosts relaxed, there was only one side who looked like scoring again.

That said, it was 71 minutes before that moment, and it took a sleeping Vale defence to allow Goodey’s cross through the penalty area - although the predatory Dunbar had gambled on exactly that - and he had the easiest of tap-ins at the far post to give his side some breathing space. Four minutes later and it was 3-0 when Dunbar’s strength took him into the penalty area, and although he initially slipped, defender Haydn Amor clumsily impeded his recovery and Denton would make no mistake from the resultant penalty.

The build-up to that goal owed much to the fleet-footedness of Richardson, and he would finish the game as sprightly as he began with an all-action display that underlined his progression to being a first-team regular. By this point, Vale manager Ali Tuttle had long been dismissed for his earlier angry remonstrations, and Banks’ 84th minute dismissal for a second yellow card added to his side’s growing list of cautions. And, there was still time for Denton to rub more salt into their wounds when he found the bottom left-hand corner with a free kick after substitute Louie Gilpin had been wrestled to the ground just outside the box.

The home faithful then stood in applause as their team exited for what could be their last home game of the season, on a night when results elsewhere had also confirmed their Premier Division status for next season.

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Bracknell Town 4 Brackley Town Saints 0
Bracknell took another step closer to securing promotion to the Southern League with a 4-0 win over Brackley Town Saints at Larges Lane on Tuesday.

The Robins move up to third in the table with four games left, trailing already-promoted Thatcham, who have 92 points and two matches remaining. Long-time Uhlsport Hellenic League leaders Highworth, beaten 2-0 by Thatcham on Monday when former Binfield and Bracknell player Liam Ferdinand scored twice in stoppage time, have completed their fixtures with 88 points. The only slight threat to Town for a top two spot are Wantage who have 84 points with two games left, so they could end up with 90 points, meaning the Robins, who have a superior goal difference, need just another five points to finish above them.

The Robins took a seventh-minute lead through Kensley Maloney, who produced another energetic performance in midfield in what as his last game before starting a three-match suspension following his red card against Thatcham last week. In addition to Maloney, Town will also be missing right-back Dave Hancock who is on holiday, having left the skipper's armband in the safe hands of Jamie McClurg. Young Elliott Legg filled in at right-back for Hancock on Tuesday and did himself credit.

Despite having much the better of the game and delivering some decent balls into the Saints area, Bracknell's finishing was not matching their approach work. However, that changed when Town made a tactical change just before the hour mark, taking off leading scorer Adam Cornell, switching Joe Grant to a more central role with substitute Darren Wheeler wide on the right flank.

Seconds later, Grant was involved in the second goal netted by TJ Bohane, he scored the third himself with a good run and finish, and an equally explosive shot from Seb Bowerman brought the Robins their fourth - three goals in the space of 13 minutes, during which Maloney also struck the upright. Saints, who played some neat football at times, nearly grabbed a consolation goal in stoppage time, being denied by two goal-line clearances, quickly followed by a double save from keeper Chris Grace.

This was Town's 12 successive league win, a run they will be looking to extend against mid-table Windsor at Stag Meadows this Friday (7.45pm ko). Bracknell are also in action again next Tuesday (ko. 7.45pm) when they take on relegation-threatened Woodley United at Rivermoor Stadium in Scours Lane, Reading.

Highmoor Ibis 1 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
Shayne Bradley’s late goal, saw Rovers overcome the industry of their hosts, Highmoor Ibis, at Scours Lane, to secure a further Hellenic League point.
The game started well for the visiting team, with Brett James’ cross almost finding Harry Walker, but it flashed across the face of goal, agonisingly close to the young forward’s desperate attempt to meet the ball with his head. Kane Winman, deputising in goal for Dave Evans, was subject to some robust physical challenges in the early stages, as the giant Anthony White used his strength to good effect, and Rovers also found themselves struggling to contain the threat posed by Mitch Parker, who used pace and trickery to create opportunities for his side in the early stages.
It was Parker who created the opening goal, after 19 minutes, when he produced an excellent cross headed home, from six yards, by Michael Porter. White was cautioned for an off the ball incident with Sam Hill, on the half hour, and then saw red, when he caught the same Rovers player with a late tackle moments before the interval.
Playing against ten men might have been the opportunity for Rovers to seize all three points but with Shayne Bradley denied by a great save, they were unable to restore parity in the early stages. In fact, they were grateful to a stunning one-handed stop from Winman to keep the score at 1-0, when he denied Parker with twenty minutes to go. Bradley had another effort beaten away by the hosts’ keeper, on 80 minutes, and it looked as though time was running out for Pritchett’s men, before Liam Wright produced a superb run and well delivered cross that the veteran front-man headed home from close range.
There was little time to go again, although James and substitute Pritchett both had half-chances before the referee’s whistle arrived, with the score at 1-1

Highworth Town 0 Thatcham Town 2 (away view)
The stakes were high as Highworth Town hosted Thatcham Town for their final game of the season on Monday night. And, in contrast to the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Thatcham were the form team on the back of a 36 game unbeaten streak. A point for the visitors would all but guarantee promotion and Highworth needed a win to keep their promotion and title hopes alive, albeit out of their hands.

The first half betrayed the tenseness of the occasion as both sides were closely matched and neither team created many clear cut openings. A high wind tended to carry the ball, and a tricky bounce on the terrain at The Elms led to a lack of fluency.

The Kingfishers had a good spell around the half hour mark with Shane Cooper-Clark and then Liam Ferdinand having almost carbon copy shooting opportunities on the right hand side of the penalty area, with both attempts going high and wide. Cooper-Clark was proving a nuisance, as first he showed tenacity in closing down the right back to win a corner before winning a free kick on the left flank moments later. Both times Tom Melledew's in-swinging delivery was unfortunate to not be converted. Melledew went close himself just before the break as he came onto a clearance to hit a vicious half volley just wide of the post.

Following half-time the Kingfishers came out with a renewed resolve, clearly fuelled by a desire to secure promotion today as they lay siege on the home side's goal. Melledew started the half as he finished the last, first running on to hit a shot over, after Joe Blount did well to hold the ball up in the area, before combining with Cooper-Clark and Blount to muster an effort that went wide.

On 65 minutes, Ekow Elliott created arguably the best chance to date as he beat the defender to a long ball forward with a turn of pace before cutting inside to shoot with his right foot, although straight at the keeper. Just moments later Highworth were reduced to ten men, with number 9, Rory Sproule, seeing red for a second booking, after maliciously challenging Chris Rackley.

It was beginning to feel like it wouldn't be Thatcham's night as a continuous stream of pressure and chances went begging. Ferdinand saw a shot go over the bar after great work from Blount to flick the ball past the left back and keep the ball in play. Tom Moran placed a header wide following a Melledew free-kick. The Kingfishers hit the bar through Melledew and had calls for a penalty waved away around the 80 minute mark after Cooper-Clark's rebound seemed to hit the defender's arm.

Manager Danny Robinson was evidently not content to settle for the draw as he threw striker Ross Cook on for left back Curtis Angell, going to a 3-4-3 formation. This only proved to amplify the relentless pressure on the Highworth goal, but still Thatcham couldn't make it count and they were lucky to escape a scare at the other end as Rackley made it count when called upon to rush out and snuff out the danger when Highworth's number 10 was through on goal.

Into injury time and the strong away following gave another rallying cry with chants of "Blue Army", which perhaps inspired what was to follow as Ferdinand settled nerves for all Kingfishers fans by burying a loose ball into the net from inside the area. Highworth had done well to contain Thatcham this long but the goal obviously knocked the stuffing out of them, as, just 2 minutes later, Ferdinand was on hand to double his and the team's tally for the night, robbing the ball off of the last man and rounding the keeper to slot home.

Cue jubilant scenes from the players, staff and fans at the final whistle as Thatcham Town made it 37 unbeaten and, most importantly, sealed promotion from the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier League.

One East

Thame Rangers 3 Sandhurst Town 2
A return to action for Dan Bowker after injury was halted within minutes as he picked up another injury and needed replacing. Initial signs are the injury will be short term. Fortunately we had a worthy replacement on the bench, Andrew Stringer recently signed from Oxford City Nomads.

Thame Rangers bagged all 5 goals in this game which came to life just before the break. Nathan Lang was first on the list with an own goal as he attempted to prevent a cross coming in on 35 minutes. Charlie Attwell responded within a minute to level the scores with a volley on the turn from just inside the box. A Dan Hatton screamer that hit the underside of the bar before crossing the line from 25 yards on 37 minutes.

Then the second own goal came on 38 minutes. A good strike from distance hit the bar, rebounded out and hit Stringer on the head and went in. At the break the sides were level at 2-2. The game was one by a excellent goal from Carl Clay. With the only option available from distance to shoot, he did, and what a decision he made. A strike from 25 yards on a tight angle near the corner of the 18 yard box hit the roof of the net before the visiting keeper could react.

A fitting way to end another good performance from the young ever improving Thame Rangers.

One West

Shrivenham 2 Woodstock Town 1
Shrivenham’s promotion hopes were buoyed at Barrington Park on Wednesday evening [April 18, 2018] when they stretched their unbeaten league game run to eleven without defeat following a narrow and nervy victory over Woodstock Town.

Danny Hale’s opening spot kick on six minutes was cancelled out by Matthew Walker (25-minutes) but Luke Cordery put the home side back ahead just nine minutes later and the visitors' misery was compounded when Walker saw his late penalty saved by Connor Johns. The result sees Shrivvy remain in second place with only one game to go – and sets up a nail biting finale to the season with Easington Sports, Pewsey Vale and North Leigh United all in with a shout of stealing the final promotional place – albeit all three clubs still need to pick up the points from their games in hand. Shrivvy boss Gareth Davies was without a number of players for such a crucial match, but his sides’ strength in depth provided crucial on the night against a side that had brushed them aside with ease up at New Road back in November.

Neither side were giving an inch in a cagey opening however it was the home side that capitalised from the opening opportunity of the game, after Tyler Sheppard was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Kieran Strange with just 6-minutes on the clock – which left Danny Hale to calmly slot the resulting spot kick past Matthew Crowther.

From the re-start, both sides continued to cancel each other out, but with 25-minutes on the clock, Matthew Walker produced a moment of brilliance with a fierce half-volley from all of 30-yards out which left Connor Johns clutching at air as the ball sailed in to the top corner of the net.

Five minutes on and Sam Ockwell saw his header cleared off the visitors line and with a certain realisation that three points were critical, Shrivvy continued to push and regained their lead on 34-minutes when Hale bared down on the Woodstock defensive line before sending a powerful cross in to the penalty area which Luke Cordery headed home

Four minutes later, Sheppard had another shout for a penalty after he was brought down again, but brought down in the box – but Charlie Bullock wasn’t convinced on this occasion so waved away the protests and a tough first half ended with the slight advantage to the home side and little to choose between the two teams.

Hale spurned a half chance over the bar on 50-minutes before Brad Hirst came on for captain Jamie Prictor three minutes later before Sheppard saw an effort blocked on 55-minutes but the tight affair continued with nether side looking likely to dominate. Mitch Petri entered the game for Sheppard with ten minutes remaining but the only real opportunity the home side could truly muster against their resolute opposition was with via an Ockwell free kick (84-minutes) which was forced around the upright.

With the result almost in the books however, the home side were looking nervous under the need to secure the points and when Bullock spotted a shove on Luke Strange, he had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. With the opportunity to grab a point at the death however, Walker’s placed effort was saved by Johns and denied the visitors taking a deserved share of the spoils, but more importantly for the hosts, meant they kept one hand on the final promotion spot in their toughest test of the season.

Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup - Semi Final

Letcombe 4 Wroughton 4
Wroughton won 3-1 on penalties.
Letcombe failed to reach the final of the Faringdon Memorial cup, losing 3-1 to Wroughton on penalties after a 4-4 draw. They will reflect on the fact that they gave away too many free kicks in dangerous areas, and were unable to defend the resulting set pieces.

Letcombe had the better of the opening ten minutes, but then conceded two goals in quick succession. A deflection from a free kick on the edge of the penalty area sent the ball into the corner of the net, and two minutes later the Letcombe defence was caught square, allowing an opponent to run clear and increase the lead. Kai Franklin reduced the arrears with a low cross shot, and he appeared to have scored an equaliser, only for the effort to be ruled out as another player in an offside position was adjudged to have moved towards the ball. Letcombe were not to be denied however, and Andy Goodchild swept home the equaliser following a corner, and Kai Franlin gave them the lead with the last kick of the half with a fierce half volley from 20 yards which went in via the upright.

Back came Wroughton, and they were awarded a penalty when Andy Goodchild was penalised, but Charlie McCreadie dived to his left to save the spot-kick. A low shot from the edge of the area crept inside the post to make the score 3-3, but Kai Franklin completed his hat trick to restore Letcombe`s lead with a back post header from a corner. Letcombe gave away a free kick near the touch line, and the low cross resulted in a looping shot which went over McCreadie`s head and just under the bar to make the final score 4-4.

The match went straight to penalties, with Letcombe missing 3 of their 4 spot kicks and Wroughton scoring from all 3 of their kicks. Not for the first time this season, Letcombe were left to reflect on what `might have been` with better defending.



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