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March

April 29 2017

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Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup Final (played at Alfredian Park, home ground of Wantage Town)

Ardley United 2 Tuffley Rovers 0 (Ardley view)
Two fine first half strikes from Leam Howards, delivered the Supplementary Cup to Ardley's door.

The first half was fairly even for forty minutes, Jack Ross dragged a shot wide, Leam Howards flashed an effort wide from distance, before Rovers keeper Dave Evans made a decent save from Howards from close range. Ardley hit the crossbar from a Bradley Cox header and they finally took the lead on forty three minutes when a Carl Tappin pass sent Leam Howards away down the right and his sublime first time effort over the keeper nestled inside the far post.

Warren Mann curled an effort over for Tuffley shortly after and Jamie Goodwin fired wide, but Howards notched his second a minute into added time when Jack Ross set him again down the right and he fired across goal and inside the far post. 

The second half threatened to boil over on more than one occasion. On fifty three minutes Tuffley's Liam Wright was shown a straight red card by referee Simon Maynard, for a foul on Ardley skipper Luke Cray. This angered most of those from the Gloucestershire outfit.

Bradley Cox headed two corners narrowly wide, and Howards fired over, before a foul on Joel Meade resulted in a twenty one man melee on the pitch, which resulted in Maynard booking a further four players. With three minutes left Meade was shown a second yellow card for his reaction to a foul on Jack Ross, and sent for an early shower, but Ardley were home and dry to lift the trophy.

Leam Howards' brace proved the difference between Ardley United and Tuffley Rovers, on Saturday afternoon, as the former Banbury United striker ensured the Hellenic League Bluefin Sports Supplementary Cup ended the season in Oxfordshire. 

Ardley United 2 Tuffley Rovers 0 (Tuffley view)
Rovers went into the game on a run of six consecutive victories, including the semi-final win on penalties against Fairford Town, but they faced a side who were in good form themselves, losing only once in their previous nine games and finishing fifth in the Premier Division. In addition, Ardley had the upper hand in terms of this season's previous meetings, having won three out of the four league and cup games between the two clubs in 2016/17. Rovers' Manager, Mark Pritchett, named the same starting eleven as he had selected for the semi-final, with Jake Burns and Ryan Dobbins, who had missed the Fairford tie, both recalled on the bench.

Unsurprisingly, given the two sides' familiarity with each other this season, the game started in tight fashion, although Jack Overthrow might have done better with an early half-chance, as his volleyed effort, from Warren Mann's cross, went high over the Ardley United goal. During the opening stages United were marginally shading the territorial advantage, although it was Rovers who looked to carry the greater attacking threat, despite the absence of any further scoring chances.

In a game played on a difficult surface at Alfredian Park, home of Southern League side Wantage Town, the game was developing an increasingly scrappy nature, and chances were few and far between. Howards, whose pace looked to carry the most serious risk to Rovers' cup winning aspirations, almost broke the deadlock, on 28 minutes, but Dave Evans produced an excellent block-stop to keep Ardley at bay.

After thirty minutes, Rovers were denied what looked like a good shout for a penalty, when Mann's header from a Jamie Goodwin cross appeared to strike a defender's hand, but the match official, Simon Maynard, waved play on. Two minutes later, Evans produced another good stop, pushing Chris Jackson's header onto goal frame and out for a corner, as the Oxfordshire side pressed for the opening goal.

With half-time approaching, Ardley's keeper, Nick Bennion sliced an attempted clearance, but Rovers' young striker Harry Walker was unable to capitalise on the opportunity presented to him, eventually being forced away from goal, and it looked likely that the two sides might not be separated before the interval.

However, Howards had a different idea and he raced onto Carl Tappin's through ball to nip between Pritchett and Evans, lifting the ball beyond Rovers' advancing keeper and into the back of the net. Mann had an effort on goal almost immediately after the game restarted and then Goodwin might have levelled the scores, after he got goal-side of his marker, only to skew his shot wide of the near post, when well placed.

With the first half in injury time, Howards double Ardley United's lead, when he was set clear on the right by Jack Ross' pass and he produced a terrific effort that flashed across Evans' attempted stop and into the far corner of the net.  Having conceded twice in quick succession, Rovers headed into the interval with a mountain to climb.

Thirteen minutes into the second period, that task was made all the more difficult, when Liam Wright's foul on Luke Cray, was deemed serious enough for Maynard to produce a red card, reducing Pritchett's team to ten men.

Dobbins and Burns were introduced from the bench, in an effort to revive Rovers' chances, but it was Ardley who came closest to adding to the goal tally, as Bradley Cox twice headed narrowly wide and Howards shot over when well placed.

When Burns mistimed a tackle on Joel Meade, right in from of the opposition dug-out, provoking an angry response, the increasingly tense nature of the contest temporarily boiled over, with players from both sides were involved in a rather unsavoury brawl that saw four players cautioned, including Burns, for the original foul. 

On an afternoon when they had failed to force Bennion into a save, Rovers never looked like reducing the arrears, although they gained parity of number, with three minutes left, as Meade, who had been cautioned already, was shown a second yellow card for his reaction to a foul on team-mate Ross. 

When referee Maynard sounded the final whistle, after a fractious period of added time, Ardley celebrated victory, as Rovers were left to reflect on a season that has shown much promise, if no silverware.

2017 hellenic league cup officials simon maynard steve anderson steve shannon sam read

 


 
 
 
 
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