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Pre-Season September

uhlsport football kit12 August 2017

Premier Division

Abingdon United 4 Ascot United 0 (away view)
The Yellamen could not maintain their cup form from the previous week going down 4-0 to newly promoted Abingdon United.

Graham Bryan 18 and 43 mins scored the first half goals for Abingdon United, Dejon Noel-Williams 88 and 93 mins the second half ones. Early on the game was fairly even but the first Abingdon goal was from a far post ball turned back across goal for a tap in.

Samir Regragui had Ascot's best chance of the half but his shot curled just past the post. Sam Wharton blazed over the bar after receiving a great pass however goal no 2 came from a defence splitting ball that was dispatched well.

Ascot's Dan Davies saw his shot tipped over the bar by Harry Whitehead but thats as good as it got as Abingdon continued to control the game. Lee Allen made a good save to deny Noel-Williams but his late brace rapped up a convincing win for the home side.

So zero goals and zero points for The Yellamen so far. They need to bounce back on Tuesday night against Burnham.   A frightening fact is that they are the team we last beat in a league game at the racecourse back in mid September 2016. So it would be good to put that record to bed.

Ardley United 3 Kidlington Reserves 0
Ardley went into this match believing it would be a tough match against Kidlington as local derby rivals. However, Ardley started the game very strongly and took control of the game with two early goals from Billy Gillett.

The first goal came in the 8th minute, after a sustained attack resulted in the ball falling to Alex Feaver just on the edge of the penalty area and his first time shot struck the inside of the post and came out to the well placed Gillett, who slotted the ball in the goal to put Ardley one up. Just five minutes later Gillett made it 2-0 with a superbly taken individual effort. Gillett had been causing havoc and on this occasion he picked up the ball in the left hand channel and ran in to the penalty area. He then beat two players and cut inside on to his right foot and shot hard and low into the far corner, putting Ardley in firm control of this match.

In the 23rd minute Ardley out the game beyond reach of their visitors with a great team goal finished by Alex Feaver. After a number of good passes, the ball came to the lively Connor Harris in the penalty area and he skipped his way past a few players and pulled the ball back from the byline to Feaver, who was standing around the penalty spot and placed a great first shot with his instep inside the post and out of the keeper's reach.

The second half saw Ardley completely dominate possession, but without taking chances. The best chance fell to Mason Courtney, who did very well to set himself up for a shot just inside the area, but it hit the post. Kidlington did have one good chance in the second half and from 6 yards out it would have been easier to score than miss, but it just wasn't to be there day today. Kidlington battled hard and showed good character to keep the score to 3-0 at full time.

It must be said also that match referee Ryan Dix and his two assistants had an outstanding game and always kept the game flowing and never put a foot wrong.

Ardley United Manager, Craig Adey, was delighted with this result and said "The players showed a good reaction following last weeks match and did all the damage in the first 23 minutes. All three goals came from exactly how we want to play and obviously a clean sheet is always pleasing. The second half was a bit of a non affair and we didn't move the ball so well, so we still have things to work on, but so far the signs are positive".

Brimscombe & Thrupp 0 Thatcham Town 1
It was a pretty even game at the Meadow when Brimscombe and Thrupp hosted Thatcham Town.

The visitors got an early goal thanks to a Shane Cooper Clark penalty after Jemel Johnson was too quick for the Brimscombe defence. 10 minutes later Johnson made a hash in front goal gifting the Lilywhites a chance but Ollie Pitt could only find the foot of the post after breaking free. Towards half time Thatcham were reduced to 10 men when Ekow Elliott was shown a straight red.

The second half was a scrappy affair with Pitt and Ben Deakin coming close to scoring but it was a poor half as Thatcham held onto their 1-0 lead and claim the 3 points.

Burnham 2 Highworth Town 6 (away view)
Margins in football can be quite fine and although Burnham worked hard to get into the game, it was the Worthians who looked the more threatening and with their neat and rapid-fire passing sequences, the hosts spent a lot of time chasing after the ball.

Scoring was inevitable and after a satisfying first half, the Worthians went into the break two goals to the good.

The second half started much the same as the first, and the Worthians soon added another to the score line, and they should have had more. However, complacency seemed to set in somewhat and the hard-working Burnham outfit managed to score twice themselves in a 15 minute purple patch, capitalising on defensive errors to get back into contention from an unlikely position.

Things were beginning to look uncomfortable for the previously dominant Worthians, but just when it seemed that Burnham might squeeze something from the game, the boys went into overdrive, waking from their slumbers and completely dismantling a tiring Burnham outfit.

The Worthians managed to add another three more goals before the end of the contest to put the result well beyond doubt and this figure would have been much higher but for the heroics of Sam Bunting who made a string of excellent saves.

Fairford Town 2 Flackwell Heath 6
Flackwell Heath scored four second half goals to come from behind to win 6-2 at Fairford Town on Saturday afternoon. In an entertaining encounter for a number of neutrals in the ground, the display will have frustrated new Fairford boss Jody Bevan as a number of individual errors contributed to the home side’s demise.

Lee Smith finished well after 13 minutes to put the home side in front after a poor clearance from visiting stopper James Tripp. Dean Allen levelled the game up four minutes later as a defensive slip allowed for a cut-back which was finished well by the striker from close range.

Joel Jacobs put Flackwell in front with 25 minutes on the clock, as his free-kick from the right hand side was whipped inside the near post past the dive of Ben Mitchell.

With the game poised at 2-1 to the visitors, Fairford conceded a third with 52 minutes on the clock. Elliot Derby made it 3-1 before midfielder Liam Tack tapped home a loose ball from close range following a robust challenge on home stopper Mitchell in the air to extend the advantage.

Nile O’Meally-Newell made a big impact off the bench as he scored Flackwell’s final two goals with 85 and 87 minutes on the clock. Josh Morse netted his second goal of the campaign with a neat lob as the game entered injury-time, but the effort was little more than a consolation for the home side.

Longlevens 4 Brackley Town Saints 3
Brackley Town Saints visited Saw Mills End hoping for a repeat performance and scoreline to last season where they outplayed their hosts on way to a 5-2 win.

However Longlevens were in a buoyant mood and quickly went into a 2-0 lead. Jonty Welch swept the ball into the bottom left corner from 15 yards to set the hosts on their way. Shaun O'Connor went one better and drove the ball from 30 yards into the same corner for Longlevens second. Brackley got themselves back into the game just before half time when a great run and pass through the midfield found its way to Josh Bowden who turned and drilled a low effort into the bottom corner.

Longlevens started the second half as they had the first and asserted their dominance through extending their lead. A long ball over the top found O'Connor who was able to hold off the defender and square to Brad Martin who finished for his fifth goal in four games. 3-1.

Roles were reversed for Longlevens next goal when a cross from Martin to the back post was nodded in by O'Connor for his second of the game, and that seemed to be the game sawn up for Longlevens. Brackley however kept going and pulled one back as Bowden arched a run through the Leven’s back four and finished well on the angle. 4-2

Soon after is was 4-3 when Wintle brought down Bowden for a stone wall penalty. He dusted himself off to covert his and Brackley third and make the last 20 minutes if the game a closer contest than it should of been from a Longlevens perspective.

Tuffley Rovers 1 Windsor 0
In a prescient moment, Mark Pritchett had predicted this game could be decided by the contribution of two former Premier League strikers, and it was former Southampton forward, Shayne Bradley, who made the crucial difference in a tight game that went Tuffley Rovers’ way.

As expected, former Fulham and Jamaica centre-forward Barry Hayles started in attack for visiting Windsor FC, but Pritchett sprang something of a surprise by relegating Bradley to the substitutes bench, following the FA Cup win at Woodley United the previous weekend, with Brett James moved alongside Warren Mann in the Rovers attack. Shayne Anson returned to the starting eleven, having missed the Woodley game, and Joel White also started, as the suspended Ashley Davies was the other player to miss out.

The opening salvos saw Windsor having the better of the play, with visiting captain Luke Brook-Smith and pacy forward Denzil Bonilla-Hurtado prominent. Rovers went closest to opening the scoring, though, as centre-half Ben Tunnicliff met Brett James’ corner well, but his header went two yards wide of the Windsor goal. Despite great industry from both teams, the defenders were on top, with Anson, Tunnicliff and Macaulay Herbert forming a solid defensive barrier, with veteran Hayles and his teammates offered no opportunity to test Dave Evans in the Rovers’ goal.

In a half that was bereft of goalscoring opportunities, Windsor almost broke the deadlock on 36 minutes, as Bonilla-Hurtado’s cross sailed over Evans’ head and struck the top of the goal, before bouncing out of play. That was the last action of note and the sides went into the half-time interval with scores level.

Injury forced Tunnicliff out of action at half-time and Mark Ford returned to the Rovers’ side for the first time in over 12 months, after taking a break from the game, as Pritchett reshuffled his side, with James going into a wing-back position and Tristan Haswell taking Tunnicliff’s place in the centre of defence. The second period started in a similar vein, with neither side able to create a clear chance to open the scoring, and the closest either side came to scoring, before the hour mark, was when Joel White produced an acrobatic effort that sailed well wide of Hugo Sobte’s goal.

It was Windsor who had the best chance, almost straight after the hour mark, as Elliot Woodham and Hayles both descended on a loose ball just six yards out, but Anson, who had been excellent on his return to the starting line-up, produced enough pressure to block a shot and turn the ball away from goal. Rovers produced a chance of their own, as Jack Overthrow fired a free-kick goalwards, but it went well side, leaving Sobte untroubled.

Thereafter, the game returned to a contest based up attrition and neither side could muster a sustained territorial advantage or offer the sort of significant goal-threat that looked likely to break the deadlock. Pritchett withdrew Marcus Foxwell and Sam Hill, replacing them with Harry Walker and Bradley, as he undertook a further reshuffle of his pack and offer a more attacking threat, and it paid dividends, as Rovers’ veteran striker came up trumps with only moments remaining. As the ball was cleared from deep in Rovers territory, Bradley found himself clear on goal as he intelligently broke beyond the Windsor defensive line, and after he had steadied himself, he stroked the ball beyond the advancing Sobte and into the bottom corner of the Windsor net, on 86 minutes.

Within two minutes of the re-start, Anson was shown a straight red card after a late challenge on Windsor substitute Nadir Shafi, as Rovers were reduced to ten men for the second successive game, but Brook-Smith’s free-kick, from 20 yards on an angle, drifted wide of Evans’ goal, with the home keeper once again untested. As the game moved into six minutes of added time, Hayles, who had been kept quiet for the majority of the game, had a glorious chance, as the ball fell to him just eight yards from goal, but Herbert, who had been impressive in defence, produced a wonderful block challenge that deflected the ball away from goal, to preserve Rovers lead and condemned Windsor to a defeat in their first ever Hellenic League fixture.

Woodley United 0 Highmoor Ibis 0
In their second league match of the season, Woodley faced landlords Highmoor Ibis at Rivermoor Stadium. This was the first encounter between the sides since May 2012. 

The first opportunity of a half devoid of clear cut chances saw the visitors' Stephen Peacock have a shot from a tight angle on the left blocked by United centre back Michael Porter. The resultant corner was headed clear by the Woodley defender. 

After a long delay due to an injury to United keeper Alex Reed, good link-up play between Danny Horscroft and Carl Prestidge resulted in the latter's low cross being cleared by a Highmoor defender. 
Three minutes before the break and with lots of niggling fouls by both sides, Woodley midfielder Amin Khomsi was cautioned. 

The second period started with some much-needed energy from the hosts. Goalie Oneal Garnes denied a United player, with the follow up clipping the top of the bar.

Just past the hour saw Ibis's Peacock miss from distance before Khomsi was shown a second yellow for a mistimed tackle.  Woodley made a change with nineteen minutes left when Greg Beckett made his first appearance of the season, replacing Nathanael Robinson. 

Despite their numbers disadvantage, United were looking lively on the counter due to Charlie Oakley's tireless running. A great ball by Beckett picked out Oakley who ran at the Highmoor defence. However Ibis full back Jamie Porter, the last defender between Oakley and goal, did well to win back possession.  Both keepers were having a very easy afternoon. When called into action, Reed did well to not spill a Tristan Campbell free kick. 

United made their penultimate change with ten minutes to go. Oakley made way for Marvin Hinds.  The match ended with two late Highmoor chances. A left wing cross picked out substitute Luke Cox who missed from close range, then a shot from the left of the Woodley box narrowly missed to the right.  Full back Danny Greenwood was United's man of the match.

One East

Didcot Town Reserves 3 Sandhurst Town 2
The Railwaymen Reserves edged a thrilling first league match of the  season at Loop Meadow with a last minute winning goal.

The first 20  minutes gave no inkling of what was to come with both teams feeling each  other out. A few crosses for each team were comfortably dealt with before the first real chance when a Sandhurst forward headed wide from 5  yards. The away team continued the stronger when Myles White crossed  instead of shooting and the chance was snuffed out. 

A shot from distance was comfortably dealt with by home keeper Ashley Stevens before a simple through ball put Myles White in on goal and he slid home the opening goal to put Sandhurst one up. This seemed to spur Didcot on though and Ross MacDonald beat two players before crossing however Jack Hollister in the box was well marked and the cross cut out. Jack Hollister then turned provider when a fine swinging cross found Tom Hoskin at the far post who sidefooted home from a few yards out to equalise. 

Didcot continued on the front foot and Hoskin had a low shot saved just as Hollister was fouled and a Sandhurst player booked. A couple of home corners came and went before the ball came back to MacDonald whose pass  found Jack Kitchener and his shot just swung the wrong side of the post. 

The second half continued with Didcot pushing forward and it came as  little surprise when Ross MacDonald provided a cracking cross for Tom Hoskin to bring down and slide past Matt Watson in the Sandhurst goal to  give Didcot the lead. Sandhurst were riled and a couple of bookings  ensued as they fouled in an attempt to thwart the Didcot attacks. In 68  minutes Hollister was brought down in the Sandhurst box having been  played in by MacDonald. Jack Kitchener,s penalty was saved and  MacDonald,s follow up smothered by desperate defending. 

As so often happens in football the Miss came back to bite Didcot when  home skipper Aaron Davies was short with a back pass and Away sub Harry Wilcox forced home an equaliser. A minute later and Harry Wilcox was  lucky to stay on the pitch with a cruel tackle on Hollister but he was  only booked. Sandhurst played their part in trying to win the game but  home keeper Stevens dealt with crosses and a low shot. 

MacDonald was moved forward with ten minutes to go and Hollister withdrawn. Tom Morris and Taylor Janes also came on to provide fresh  legs to the home team. Joe Parish blocked a dangerous Sandhurst shot  before MacDonald was sent through on goal but Watson narrowed the angle  and MacDonald's lifted attempt was agonisingly wide. A corner broke in  the box for MacDonald who laid the ball back to Tom Morris. Tom hit a  low accurate almost a trundled and as the ball seemed to take an  eternity to head to goal away keeper also seemed to take time to get  down but even at full stretch he could not catch the ball as it ended in  the corner of the net to give Didcot a deserved victory. 

Milton United 3 Holyport 2
“Get an opening 3 points". That was the message from Manager Tim Davies, ahead of the first game of the new season versus Holyport at the Heights.

After a bright opening passage, this challenge was put to the test, as Holyport took the lead after 5 minutes. Fabian Driffill picked the ball up 30 yards out and danced passed the challenges of 3 defenders, before firing hard and low, left footed across Griffiths in the Milton goal. 0-1. Following a strong challenge, Mo Samasa picked up the ball down the left wing, flew forward and once in the left side of the box, pulled the ball back to Callum Stewart, who from 12 yards, fired the ball into the near left post. 1-1.

A back and forth opening 30 minutes saw both teams have chances: Holyport saw a cross from their left evade all in the box, until at the back post where a shot from 4 yards out into what looked an open goal, was blocked by keeper Griffiths, moving across the goal well. At the other end, a powerful free-kick on the right side of the box from from Joe Morgan was palmed onto the left post by the keeper. In the 42nd minute, Jamie Davies latched onto a Stewart through-ball and was brought down in the box. Calmly, Davies picked himself up and side footed the penalty to his right, sending the keeper the wrong way. 2-1

The second half didn't start as planned for United as a through ball to Driffill put him in one on one with Griffiths and rolled the ball into the corner. 2-2 A period of Milton pressure then occurred for the next 20 minutes, culminating in a piece of brilliance by Morgan in midfield. Demonstrating tight control in the middle of the park, evading 3 Holyport players he the executed a perfected weighted pass in front of Stewart, who calmly slid the ball under the advancing keeper. 3-2

Holyport pushed in the final 10-15 minutes looking for the opportunity to grab an equaliser - which came in the 88th minute - but wasn't capitalised on. A free-kick from the Holyport left was driven in flat and at the back post in a melee of bodies, the ball was sent back across the goal to the right side and rolled to Holyport forward. With the goal gaping, taking the shot first time, fired over from 5 yards. With the game finishing 3-2 to the hosts, who's new squad continue to improve, this could potentially be a positive season.

Milton United 3 Holyport 2 (away view)
A new look Holyport side featuring six new faces visited Milton and were unlucky not to come away with an opening day point, which would have been a fair result. 

A great start for Holyport saw them lead through new signing Fabian Driffill, waltzing through the Milton back line for the opening goal and Ports first of the league campaign.  It took a great save onto the post by debutant keeper Aman Sangha to keep ahead. Paul Rake should have increased Ports lead before a costly mistake in midfield led to the equaliser. Milton then took the lead as Ensby challenge was deemed to be a foul and the spot kick was duly converted.

Port started the second half with some great interplay that led to Driffill slotting the equaliser into the right corner. Milton then regained the lead through a breakaway.  Holyport kept creating chances Rake and Nicholls both had great chances to draw Port level but to no avail.   Overall an encourging performance and deserved a draw.

Virginia Water 4 Chalfont Wasps 3
What a match to start to the new season, and our debut in Uhlsport Hellenic League 1 East. Water's came out winners with a valuable 3 points in the end, and even if deservedly so, were made to work extremely hard by a well organised and equally determined Chalfont side. We tried to play the most football, but the Wasps were physical and battled exceptionally well, and initially thwarted all we could throw at them.

Clear cut chances were not plentiful in the first half, although Lorenzo (Lennie) Di Felice, Marc Lansdowne, Paul Burrows, Ryan Curtis and the predatory Josh Guichard (MoM) all had efforts on goal.

The first goal came in the 40th minute, when Lennie linked with the equally excellent Josh Hill down the right, to race through and rifle his shot into the bottom corner. Uncharacteristically, we then conceded two sloppy goals, one when we failed to deal with a long throw, and almost immediately a second when the ball squirmed in from a tame shot, that we all thought off side.

A 2-1 deficit at half time was not what our football deserved, albeit the team talk and dressing room was very positive and we had total belief in getting something from the game – thankfully we did! We got level in the 50th minute, when Josh G latched on to a through ball, to calmly slot home over their advancing keeper.

Water's then kicked on, and from a short corner in the 56th minute, and great delivery by Josh Hill to the back post, Marc pounced to head home powerfully from close range. To their credit, back came Chalfont and got a great equaliser when their striker notched his hat-trick with a volley to the top corner. In an entertaining game, the home side were not to be outdone, and from a Liam Hill corner in the 68th minute, Josh G got in front of his marker to volley home our winner, and his second.

From then on we were not troubled, and Lennie, Paul, Steve Williams, Josh all could have made it a more comfortable final 15-20 minutes, but were denied by some last ditch defending and keeping. A very satisfying start to our campaign against, who we think will be one of the strongest teams in the league, and wish them well for the season.

Wallingford Town 1 Bicester Town 2 (home view)
Wallingford Town's return to Hellenic League football after 10 years away unfortunately ended in a tight 1-2 home defeat against Bicester Town. In an even first half, Bicester took what chances there were in the first half hour to take a two goal lead. The second goal rallied Wally Town and a great move late on culminated in Euan Aitchison laying the ball into the path of Joe Morris, who fired the ball into the net to half the deficit on the stroke of half time.

Wallingford Town were the only one of the two sides intent on trying to score in the second half, and for want of a bit more rub of the green could have at least drawn level with the North Oxfordshire side, one powerful goal-bound volley hitting the keeper prostrate on the ground epitomising their lack of good fortune.

Despite the narrow reverse the home team can take comfort in the fact that they more than matched their more established opponents and can hopefully look forward to more positive outcomes if that approach and attitude is replicated throughout the season

One West

Clanfield 85 2 Shrivenham 0
Clanfield 85 secured three Division One West points from the visit of Shrivenham but the Visitors may well regret an inability to convert the chances created.The season almost got off to a dramatic start when the ball was whistled just over the Clanfield crossbar after just two minutes.Both sides worked hard to create chances but neither goalkeeper was really troubled until Zac Oliver sent a scorching shot just wide of the visiting goal.Both defences stood firm to leave the first half goal-less.

A slight change in the system saw the Home side look much more threatening but it was the Visitors who created two excellent openings which they failed to convert.They were made to pay on 75 minutes when good work down the left saw Oliver work an opening to blast the ball home.The lead was doubled on 80 minutes when a foul on the edge of the penalty area which cost a visiting defender a yellow card saw Joe Hiscock beat the keeper with a well struck free kick.The Robins then safely saw out the remaining minutes with no further alarms to secure a hard earned win.

Clanfield 85 2 Shrivenham 0 (away view)
Michael McNally’s side fell to defeat when they opened their 2017-18 Hellenic League One West campaign with a 2-0 loss at Clanfield 85.

Two second-half killer goals were enough to turn Shrivvy in to second-best, after the visitors had more than matched the home side for the majority of the game. The result made for a disappointing afternoon for Shrivvy, which saw the club drop to thirteenth in the standings – although there is a lot more football to play.

Unable to field our strongest line-up the game was always going to prove a tough challenge however, second half goals from Isaac Oliver and Joe Hiscock condemned the side to defeat.

A fairly even first forty-five saw real goal scoring chances limited on both sides, and just as it looked as if the game would end all square, Oliver held off a Shrivvy challenge to fire home from the edge of the penalty area giving Mike Alexander little chance in goal.

Despite a brief Shrivvy rally, the Robins continued to defend resolutely and a short time later, Fraser Little brought down Joe Hiscock on the edge of the penalty area, earning himself a yellow card and the fouled player was on hand to calmly strike the ball around the right-hand side of the resulting wall with a free kick worthy of sealing the three points.

Letcombe 1 New College 0
Letcombe had the perfect start with a goal in the second minute. A long ball from Kallum Thomas left Chris Collin with a clear run on goal, and his shot hit the leg of a tackling defender and looped over the stranded keeper Sam Ayres. Most of the remaining play in the first half was in midfield with neither goal really threatened.   Home keeper Charlie McCready dealt cleanly with a few long range efforts before Owen Shaw grazed the bar with a good shot in the closing minutes of the half.

Defences continued to dominate in the third quarter, but the visitors had a great chance to equalise mid-way through the half. A rare error at the back from Letcombe left Louis Johnston with only the keeper to beat, but Charlie McCready came quickly off his line to block the shot with his legs. This let off seemed to spur Letcombe into action, and they had a number of chances to increase their lead. A ball over the top left Andy Goodchild with a clear run on goal, but he chose to volley the ball and sent it high over the bar. Jake Rowe headed inches wide from a corner, and Ben Hummel provided a perfect cross for Conor Lynch, but keeper Sam Ayres did well to block his close range header on the line. Hummel had a great chance soon afterwards, but shot wide when a square pass would have left a tap-in.

This was a workmanlike performance from Letcombe who deserved the three points, but need to be more clinical going forward. They can and will play a lot better then this, but it is always good to start the league campaign with a win and get three valuable points on the board.   Onwards and upwards!
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