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Pre-Season September

14-15 August 2018

Emirates FA CupEmirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Easington Sports 2 Winslow 0
Easington progressed into the next round of the FA Cup after a terrific win against Winslow United. Sports were left depleted by a number of injuries and holiday commitments. However, goals from Callum Convey and Craig Robinson in each half, followed by a real team effort to defend and close out the last 20 minutes of the match, means that Sports can now look forward to another home game against Chipping Sodbury on the 25th August.

In similar fashion to the first game between these two sides, Sports edged the first half and started the game well. Callum Convey gave Easington the lead in the 6th minute. Convey swung a free kick into the box and after all outfield players failed to make contact, the ball went straight into the top corner of the net. Sports had a number of well-directed balls into the box which stretched the visitors’ defence but these half chances came to nothing. Joe Eyre also hit the post. Winslow came back into the match and finished the first half strongly. The prolific Winslow striker Aaron King did manage to hit the cross bar after he lobbed Adam Rimmer and so Easington went into the interval 1-0 up.

Sports again started the second half brightly and doubled their advantage from another well directed free kick from Callum Convey. Craig Robinson managed to get his shot on target from a narrow angle at the far post and the visitors' keeper failed to hold it which meant the ball squirmed into the net. Easington had to be defend as a team at their very best as the home side tired and the visitors came on strong. Ryan Freshwater volleyed a 30 yard shot which hit the post but Sports defended well as a team and closed out the fixture. Joe Eyre also struck the post for Sports but in the end the game ended 2-0.

The mature performance certainly shows the squad is learning from a difficult run in to the season last year and left manager Ben Milner delighted with the result. Milner commented " we had to change our formation to cope with the pace and goal threat that Winslow had. 3 at the back allowed us to match their pace out wide and Dan gave us great cover dropping off. At times it might have looked a little defensive but we restricted them to one clear cut chance in the first half and we were able to counter at pace and so I am delighted it worked out. We then defended well in the second half when we needed to and so to keep a clean sheet was very pleasing."

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Holmer Green 1 Ascot United 0 (away view)
A solitary goal was enough for battling Holmer Green to end Ascot United’s unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday. The Buckinghamshire side scored a late breakaway goal after Ascot had twice struck the woodwork, but their resilient defending ultimately earned them a second win of the season.

Despite being new to the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Holmer Green and Ascot United had met previously in the 2014-15 FA Vase campaign. That season, a 2-2 draw in Bucks preceded a crushing replay win for Ascot. And, there were familiar faces in both sides’ opposing ranks, with the Greens’ James Burrell and United’s Ben Hodges having represented the two teams in their careers, whilst popular ex-Yellaman Jamie West watched from the sideline whilst nursing the knee he injured playing for the home side three days earlier.

The first half wasn’t a great footballing spectacle with clear-cut chances at a premium, and when they did arrive, the best of them fell to the visitors. However, it was the home side who enjoyed most of the early possession and despite probing for long spells, they only carved out a miscued Dan Hunt effort that was tucked away by Jon Cox, but he had long been flagged offside. For Ascot, Jean-Claude Etienne saw a brace of efforts go begging in quick succession; the first a horribly sliced shot after a superb ball from Callum Carlisle and the second a powerful shot which had all the pace taken out of it by a deflection and which ‘keeper Aaron Brown would gather.

Holmer Green’s Martin Lancaster blazed a free-kick over when centrally well-placed after 28 minutes, before Ascot’s Nathan Minhas saw two shots from narrow angles saved by Brown. Trevor Mutero’s ball over the defence then saw Etienne fashion another effort that deflected wide, but Ascot couldn’t force an opener.

The visitors came within inches of taking a 52nd minute lead when defender Zach Crawford somehow diverted Mutero’s thumping effort onto the crossbar – Boultwood blazing the follow-up over – before Boultwood himself struck the top of the crossbar with just over fifteen minutes remaining just after substitute Kai Walters had tested Brown once again.

Having made two substitutions and looking increasingly threatening, Ascot then found themselves chasing the game when Mutero lost possession in midfield, and Dan Hunt exposed an out-of-position Fabien Etienne by sliding in Cox, who in turn slotted the ball past the advancing Lee Allen. With sixteen minutes of regulation time remaining and at least five minutes of stoppage time due to two lengthy injuries, the Yellamen should have had enough time to force an equaliser, but the home defence stood up to the challenge and only Fabien Etienne would go close with a late diving header. Hunt’s even later effort for ‘Green might have flattered his side as it deflected wide for a corner, before a somewhat bemusingly early full time whistle cut four minutes off what should have been seven add minutes of play. Nonetheless, Holmer Green’s exceptional rearguard had earned their clean sheet.

Ascot United: Allen, Lock, F Etienne, Carlisle (Denton 72’), Boultwood, Ellis, Mutero (Stubbs 76’), Hodges (Walters 64’), Minhas, Price, JC Etienne, Subs unused: Willmott, Haworth

Tuffley Rovers 1 Longlevens 2
Both teams started the evening looking for their first league win of the season; and Rovers still are after a heart-breaking, last-minute defeat by their city neighbours. Mark Pritchett made six changes to the team which had started for Tuffley against Colney Heath in the F.A. Cup three days earlier. In addition to the changes in personnel, Sam Hill moved from right-back to left-back, while Warren Mann wore No. 10 instead of No. 9 without it making much difference to the role he performs for his team. Visiting Longlevens also made changes from their cup team at the weekend and would be facing Tuffley for the first time in recent seasons without their prolific striker Brad Martin, who is now at Bishops Cleeve.

Rovers kicked off playing down the slope and soon won a corner, which was cleared but the home team continued its early pressure and a free-kick taken by Jake Rhodes on the left was deflected up in the air before it reached the visitors’ penalty-area where it too was cleared. A minute later and Longlevens were ahead after a quick break down the left and a sumptuous cross by Adam Philp which was headed easily into the net by Rhys Lewis arriving at the far post. Shortly afterwards Philp nearly put James Campbell through on goal but the striker lost the opportunity and conceded a free-kick.

Just after the 20-minute mark Rovers equalised. When a ball was played into the right corner Jake Rhodes refused to give it up as a lost cause, won possession and made progress along the byline before being tripped by Ed Smylie. As clear a penalty as you could ever see. Warren Mann, who had struck a fierce penalty to the goalkeeper’s right on Saturday, chose to hit this one slightly less firmly to the keeper’s left but the end result was the same. One-all.

The first yellow card of the evening was shown to Longlevens’ defender Kieran Squires, but Sam Hill’s free-kick was deflected away for a corner. Shortly after, Essa Sabally cut in from the left but his shot was wayward and Tuffley pressure continued when a cross from Brett James on the right flew across goal without any of his team-mates managing to get a touch to steer it towards goal. At the other end James Campbell thumped a shot over the bar and the former Evesham United man was a powerful and imposing figure all evening, holding the ball up well, winning plenty in the air and never afraid to have a shot at goal. With the scores at 1-1 the first half came to an end with another screamer from Campbell flying just over the Rovers bar, not long after Philp had taken a free-kick on the edge of the home penalty-area which rebounded to him from which he too had blazed over the bar.

Shortly after the resumption Dominik Kent burst into the Longlevens penalty-area on the right but when he pulled the ball back there was nobody there to profit from it. Kent then turned provider and sent Sabally away on the left but a brilliant covering tackle snuffed out the danger. Sabally was down injured not long after this and received treatment on the pitch before being almost immediately substituted by Ryan Dobbins. Dobbins was immediately involved in a neat one-two with Brad Loveridge but the latter’s cross was comfortably held by Ash Wintle. Longlevens made a change of their own with Shaun O’Connor coming on for Jay Kennedy. Campbell was heavily involved and went just wide with a fierce shot from twenty yards and then hit another long-range attempt over the bar.

Longlevens’ long-serving Craig Martin came on for Philp while Tuffley brought on Kieran Alder for Kent, as both sides made use of their substitutes, and almost immediately a cross from Loveridge on the right was headed wide by Rhodes. Johns for Campbell was the final change made by the visitors before Luke Merchant made a fine save low down from Martin’s shot. Rovers then had a goal disallowed for offside as the game reached its tense closing minutes.

As Longlevens pressed forwarded Dave Rich’s free-kick was punched clear by Merchant who was injured as he collided with other players. Both teams were going for the win and both won corners as added-time approached. Longlevens poured forward again and Logan Roach made a strong run down the left before exchanging passes with O’Connor and firing the ball across the six-yard box where Martin was waiting at the far post to drive the ball into the roof of the net. ‘Levens ‘keeper Wintle was cautioned for racing the length of the pitch to celebrate, before launching the match-ball out of the playing area, and no sooner had the referee re-started the contest when he blew his whistle for the last time to end it.

This was a fiercely competitive match which you would expect from two teams in the same city located only a couple of miles apart. The lack of cards betrayed the competitiveness evident all evening, but was an honest refereeing assessment of a game that never turned nasty. The result was really cruel on Rovers, who deserved a point with a defensive solidity which was much better than their shocking second-half display three days earlier. Joel White was again a colossus at the heart of their defence, leading by example and winning a lot of his aerial duels even when Campbell was his direct opponent. But Longlevens deserve credit, too, for not settling for a point and continuing to push forward in numbers until the death, a policy which won them a tight game right at the death.


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