4 February 2017
Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division
Ardley United 1 Thatcham Town 0
Ardley United completed the league double over Thatcham Town but left it until added time at the end of the game to break the deadlock and take all three points. With numerous chances wasted from both sides, it took a last ditch winner from Matt Cruse to separate the sides, when it had looked like neither team would ever find the net.
Matt Cruse fired wide early on, Jemel Johnson followed suit for Thatcham, Cruse then curled one wide of Chris Rackley’s goal, before both Harry Goodger and Callum Willmoth both missed chances for the visitors.
Nathaniel Lewars then shrugged off a defender to set himself on goal, but from a one on one the ball bobbled up and he fired over, Cruse again saw a shot saved by Rackley, and just before the break James Tennant forced Nick Bennion into a near post save.
Immediately after the restart a goal mouth scramble in the Ardley box saw Bennion make a good save, Leam Howards looped a shot over, and then missed a big chance when getting in behind the Town defence he saw his shot well saved.
A corner led to a melee in the Thatcham box which saw three shots all blocked or saved, before another corner saw Bradley Cox flick on but Howards unable to reach at the back post. Troy Bryan then flicked on a throw which saw Lewars thread a neat ball through for Howards but again he was denied by Rackley.
In the final minute Matt Cruse saw another effort saved at the front post, but as the game entered added time a ball over the top saw the striker control before neatly slotting home.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town 0 Ascot United 0 (away view)
Ascot United’s first league game under Neil Richards ended goalless as his side’s recovery continued at Royal Wootton Bassett Town on Saturday. The Youthful Yellamen picked up a much needed league point after victory in the Reading Senior Cup during midweek, although might have even nicked victory at the end.
The hosts had beaten Ascot in in ill-tempered reverse fixture last month, and their manager Rich Hunter had publicly stated anything he didn’t want anything less than another three points.
On the day it was the Yellamen who created most chances, with three first half opportunities; firstly falling to Dan Davies in the tenth minute – his shot well saved – before Ian Brookes and Arafat Kabuye went close in the closing stages of the half.
In the second half, James Goodey’s shot was cleared off the line in the 52nd minute as Ascot threatened again, although it took a brave goal-line clearance from ever-dependable Gavin Brainch midway through the half to preserve a second clean sheet for Matt Hill.
The visitors might have stolen victory amid a flurry of late chances, but ultimately settled for an excellent point.
Thame United 2 Brimscombe & Thrupp 2
United played their first game for three weeks and, for the first 45 minutes, the lack of match action showed as they were unable to create any real goal scoring opportunities against a well organised Brimscombe side.
Indeed, the visitors went closest to scoring in the opening exchanges when an Ash Caldwell effort from 20 yards clipped the top of the bar. Whilst United enjoyed plenty of possession, they were unable to penetrate the Brimscombe defence in the final third, albeit the visitors also struggled to create any clear opportunities. It looked like it was going to take something special to break the deadlock and that is what happened when, in the 32nd minute, Ollie Pitt collected the ball on the wide right, cut inside and arrowed a powerful left foot effort in to the roof of the net giving Craven no chance. It was 2-0 just before the break, when Jack Smith beat Craven from a narrow angle.
Two goals down at the break and Mark West changed formation, going to three at the back and bringing on Andy Gledhill up front, with Dan West moving back in to a five man midfield. And within a quarter of an hour United had got themselves back in the game. Lynton Goss served a warning to Brimscombe on 48 minutes, crashing a shot against the foot of the post, before Gledhill finished from close range on 55 minutes to pull a goal back. Three minutes later it was all-square when a cross from right was headed down by Gledhill in to the bottom corner of the goal.
The momentum of the match was swinging in favour of the home side, with a Gledhill strike from 20 yards saved by Skyers low to his right. Skyers then produced the save of the match, clawing a flicked, looping header from Ellis Hercules over the bar when a goal looked almost certain. West then forced his way in to the box before Skyers smothered yet another goal bound shot. However, it was not all United, and Brimscombe themselves nearly grabbed the winning goal when Pitt hit the bar, before Ben Deakin was put through and his effort, whilst beating Craven, came back off the inside of the post and the danger was cleared. The final chance of the game came to United with a free kick from 25 yards that West put over the bar.
Thame United 2 Brimscombe & Thrupp 2 (away view)
Brimscombe travelled to Oxfordshire to face a strong Thame United side who sit in second place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League table.
The game was fast paced and both sides had plenty of chances. Ash Caldwell came the closest when his curled goalward shot rattled the top of the Thame crossbar. Both teams had great plays but it took until the 35th minute when Ollie Pitt’s powerful shot from outside the area rippled the net away from the Thame goalkeeper. Not content with a 1-0 lead the Lilywhites strived for more and got their reward when Jack Smith cut in from the right hand side before slotting it under Henry Craven in the Thame goal.
The hosts equalised with two very fast, worked well goals with Andy Gledhill coming off of the bench and scoring them both. Lewis Skyers was called into action multiple times getting down to his side well before finally having to tip the ball over the bar away from danger. Brimscombe wanted all 3 points and came close when Ollie Pitt hit the crossbar and Ben Deakin clattered the post after a one-on-ne close to the end without success the Lilywhites had to share the spoils.
Finchampstead 1 Bicester Town 0
Both sides arrived with minimal squads, Finches with a bare eleven, Bicester with one substitute and a close contest would be forthcoming. Bicester made the first approach after an early free kick but were flagged for offside. This was quickly countered by Chace Jewell out on the wing who fired in a long shot from the flank which just went wide of the upright. The sprightly figure of Kylo Atkinson darting around the Bicester area emerged on the right wing and he sent a ball over to Harry Swabey but beyond his reach. After a phase or two of play, Kylo was back on the wing sending over the ball again but it was gathered in byJoe White in goal. Bicester were quite tough generally and made time to just miss the far post to the relief of Neil Griffith. Freddie Barron drove forward and was deemed off side so Bicester go going again after the free kick and as the ball arrived at the feet of Ricardo Benjamin, Finches defenders were not in place to prevent the shot - which crossed the face of goal and missed the far post at an acute angle. Back to Finches and more approach work and Danny Blatchford tried from 25 yards but missed. Finches were then caught off side again, which seemed to occur sporadically. Harry Swabey was thus selected as the player out of position. Bicester , after a minor infringement of the laws of football, were awarded a free kick which put the Finch defence under some pressure until the defenders pulled away from their penalty area. Bicester regained possession and went forward as Elliott Powell missed the incoming ball which left his team mate, Ricardo Benjamin in a position to shoot, to no avail. Finches then made a notable move and gained a corner. Ricard Benjamin, running in again at the edge of the penalty area managed to miss a third time as the ball slid past the far side upright. Jon Malone supplied Kylo Atkinson along the flank but the long shot flew over the cross bar. Elliott Powell sent a looping ball across and that was deflected behind for a corner to the visitors Rob Johnson was also close when the ball went off the cross bar for a corner. A free kick by Kieran Scott was driven straight to Neil Griffith. Kylo Atkinson went powering through Bicester players and Sam Dunn sent an inviting ball through the gap for Harry Swabey to chase but Joe White won the race.Skipper Danny Bone forced a corner kick for Bicester then Griffith claimed the ball. Chace Jewell tried his luck from 25 yards out but was off target. Harry Swabey went to ground in the Bicester area. He took the penalty but White parried the ball, following up Swabey hammered the ball straight at White who made a remarkable save from close range.
Bicester took the initiative in the second half but Finches took the ball back to the other end and forced a corner kick but Bicester reciprocated. Kylo Atkinson got the ball away and after a clumsy clash which was not malicious, Harry Brock gained a second yellow card and was thus dismissed with much of the second half remaining. Teams often rally after being reduced to ten men and Bicester kept up the momentum although the play became a bit scrappy. Danny Blatchford took a corner that was dealt with by Bicester defenders then the visitors made haste in attack with the ball rising over the top of Griffith's cross bar. Ricardo Benjamin rounded the Finch defenders and, again, he missed for the umpteenth time. After a short delay in play, the referee gave a drop ball and play resumed and Bicester took another free kick, by Kieran Scott. It was still tough going for the hosts and Bicester came back as Elliott Powell surged into the area powering a shot at the target, which hit the top of the Finch cross bar. Kylo Atkinson received a useful ball but could not find the net then, he supplied Harry Swabey but there was no finish. Atkinson then latched on to the ball and, from close range, merely tapped the ball straight at Joe White, in Bicester's goal. With Kylo Atkinson making his characteristic sprints both on and off the ball, it would not have been a great surprise had he found the net eventually but that was not the case. With the ball in front of goal, Jon Malone gave it a healthy whack past Joe White in the 72nd minute. Finches still had some time to go before the final whistle to hang on to the one goal lead against ten men and Kylo Atkinson made another effort which went directly to Joe White. The Finch defence still had work to do but cleared the next Bicester corner kick satisfactorily and began a series of accurate passes trying to keep the ball near the corner flag. Play was extended in additional time because of an injury to Kieran Scott. He had been in plenty of space with no other players near him when he keeled over with a twisted knee and was then replaced by Ben Gascoigne for the remainder of the game. 3 points to Finches with a local fixture in the League next Saturday at Wokingham & Emmbrook.
Cirencester Town Development 3 Tytherington Rocks 0
Playing their first game for three week Rocks came away from Corinium Stadium beaten by three goals to nil.
Whilst Town Dev deserved their win Rocks played very well and with a much changed squad manager Daniel Gillespie must have been encouraged after going two down, the second that looked suspiciously offside however the assistant ref had not kept up with play and Dan Gudger went onto score with a low shot with only the keeper to beat.
Making his Rocks debut Mike Bryant created chances and also defended when needed, after going two nil down Rocks manager brought on striker Jack Jones and Will Harries both making their debut and his third sub Callum Hackers.
With these changes Rocks then showed a great improvement and dominated the remaining thirty minutes of the second half, however could not get on the score sheet and in the last five minutes The Town got a third goal when a lack of communication between their defense and keeper resulted in Dan Gudger having an empty goal mouth to score his second of the game.
With captain Dan McNally along with Oliver Rawnsley, holding their own in central defense it was left once again to Rocks strikers missing good chance that cost them points against strong opposition who are challenging for a top spot in the league.
Fairford Town 3 Shortwood United Reserves 2 (away view)
Shortwood will wonder how they failed to get a point at Fairford on Saturday after they lost a terrific game 3-2 against a Fairford side who showed why they are top of the league and favourites to go back to the Hellenic League Premier next season.
This game was played in an excellent spirit and the quality of the football was high throughout. Manager Nick Ackland was naturally disappointed to have lost but said: “We had enough chances in the first half to have got at least a point but we showed a lot of quality and I cannot fault our work rate. That was our first game for over a month and I could not have asked for more.”
The pace of the football in the first half was frenetic and both sides attacked with a will and for Shortwood Bennett and Sing both missed good chances before Fairford finally took the lead with a fine strike from Boucher after 44 minutes. The lead lasted barely a minute as Nick Humphreys swung over a free kick, Andy Lewis rose high at the far post to head down and Nick Peare, who played for an hour on his return from a broken leg, slammed the ball home from close range.
Wood took the lead just after the break. Ajijeden got away down the left and his fine cross was met at the far post by the stretching Matt Bennett who scored from 6 yards. Fairford came back strongly and just before the hour Cox cut in and levelled with a low shot. There was a moment of controversy when Blackah appeared to be tripped but was booked for simulation before Fairford scored the winner with 15 minutes to go. A free kick deflected off the end of the wall and fell straight into the path of Cordery who got the vital touch.
Wood again came back strongly and in the dying seconds Nick Humphreys had a glorious chance to level when he ran through but his effort was saved. At the final whistle both sides were warmly applauded for the rich entertainment they served up to the good crowd.
Letcombe 3 New College Swindon 1
Letcombe were pleased to play football again after three away games had all been postponed because of the weather, and the Letcombe pitch was in excellent condition in spite of heavy overnight rain. With Jordan Davies suspended, the hosts moved defender Tom Rowe to lead the attack, and Tom Eatwell moved to centre back from midfield.
Letcombe had the perfect start to this match with two goals in the first ten minutes. A long pass from Tom Broad in the second minute found Owen Shaw on the left, and his low cross was turned in from close range by Richard Claydon. The hosts increased their mead 7 minutes later when another cross from Owen Shaw found Richard Claydon free beyond the back post, and his volley beat visiting keeper Dan Lawrence. Claydon could have completed his hat trick 3 minutes later from a Tom Rowe cross, but his header went wide. After such a dominant start, Letcombe should have pushed on for a comfortable victory, but they appeared to become a little complacent and allowed New College back into the game. Midway through the half, Luke Fairclough did well to clear a shot from Tyler Spear off the line to preserve Letcombe`s two goal lead.
The second half continued in a similar vein with neither side creating any clear goal scoring opportunities. A cross from Owen Shaw was inches too high for Tom Rowe at the far post, but Letcombe increased their lead after 63 minutes. Richard Claydon was fouled, and Gavin Jones asked the referee if he could take a quick free kick, and placed his shot low into the corner of the net with keeper Dan Lawrence still lining up his wall at the other post. New College reduced the arrears three minutes later, Tyler Wilkinson driving a loose ball into the top corner, but Letcombe had chances at the other end. A Richard Guy flicked header went to Ben Hummell who drove narrowly wide from 30 yards, and Tom Rowe shot straight at the keeper after strong approach play had given him a clear site of goal. New College almost scored in stoppage time, home keeper Danny Joyce saving a close range header from Kane Howcutt, and Andy Goodchild bravely blocked the follow-up on the line.
Shrivenham 1 Clanfield 85 3 (away view)
Clanfield continued their fine away form with an impressive victory at Shrivenham. The opening goal came from a fine driving run down the right wing by Dan Gardner, outpacing the home defenders, before inviting Mike Duerden to roll the ball back into his path for a decisive finish. The visitors had chances to extend their lead but Shrivenham found their way back into the match with a goal from Captain Jamie Prictor to reach halftime all square. But equality was brief as Clanfield opened the second half with a second goal as Duerden chipped a free kick into the area for Callum Miller to head in. The win was wrapped up near the end when Jack Kennedy ended another period of Clanfield possession with a simple finish. The visitors had missed several good opportunities while restricting Shrivenham to half chances and achieved yet another well earned victory on the road.