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10 February 2018

uhlsport football kitUhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division

Thatcham Town 3 Brimscombe and Thrupp 0
On a wet, wet day at Waterside Park it was somewhat surprising to see the game go ahead. Undeterred, Thatcham Town's loyal following came out to cheer the team on as they returned to league action after last weekend's heroic FA Vase exploits. The visitors were Brimscombe and Thrupp FC, who had limited Thatcham to a single goal victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

It took until the eighth minute for the home side to create their first chance through Liam Ferdinand, back in the side after being cup-tied last weekend, who saw an effort from the edge of the area deflected wide. Thatcham were beginning to dominate and, three minutes later, Tom Melledew was teed up to shoot with the outside of his boot from outside the area, but it went just over the bar. The visitors had their first chance moments later as a free kick was crossed in from the right, with an effort landing on the line after hitting the post. Baboucarr Jarra was on hand to clear, before the referee pulled play back for handball, flagged by the linesman.

The conditions really were appalling, which made the quality of Thatcham's play all the more impressive, with fluent passing moves and ‘tiki-taka’ style play punctuated by moments of individual close-control and skill from Harry Grant and Ekow Elliott seeing the Kingfishers camp in the final third for large periods of the half.  This pressure from the home side started to tell as Lewis Brownhill, up from right back and making a direct, dribbling run, was brought down a few blades of grass outside the area. Grant hit the left-footed free-kick into the wall and behind for a corner, which was delivered high and deep to Shane Cooper-Clark who was up-ended. The referee pointed to the spot but Ferdinand was unable to convert as the visiting keeper kept it out. Ferdinand and Cooper-Clark each had further chances to score, but were denied as the sides went into half-time level.

The half-time team talk by Thatcham's manager Danny Robinson must have worked, with Cooper-Clark creating a chance for himself as he chested the ball down, cut inside and unleashed a shot over the bar mere seconds into the second half. A few minutes later Cooper-Clark went close again, seeing a fierce free-kick turned behind by the keeper low to his left. The resultant corner fell to Tom Moran who was unfortunate to see his powerful shot saved.

Around the hour mark, with the rain coming down and players struggling to keep their footing on the muddy pitch, home fans may have been beginning to think this wasn’t to be their day, but their luck turned when, following a free-kick from the left wing, Ferdinand and Cooper-Clark combined well to create a shooting opportunity that was blocked, only for Brownhill to tuck the loose ball into the net to take the lead. Itreally was a great opportunistic goal, as Brownhill had originally been holding the defensive line on the halfway line when the free-kick was hit, but had obviously spied his chance to get up and support the attack, which paid off when he found the ball at his feet in the area.

The visitors’ resolve had clearly taken a hit, as, just a minute later, Ferdinand atoned for his earlier spurned chances by chasing a through ball and benefiting from a slip by the last defender to bend the ball around the keeper and into the goal to double Thatcham's lead. The Kingfishers continued to play good football and make the most of spaces left by Brimscombe and Thrupp as they pushed forward, with a notable attack coming when Grant made a fine run from inside his own half, and into the opposition area before getting a shot offwhich was heading wide when Cooper-Clark slid in at the far post to divert the ball onto the upright. Shortly after, the visitors hit the woodwork themselves with a decent effort from the edge of the area hitting the bar.

Elliott, who had been having a very good game, causing no end of problems on the right flank, was replaced by sub Jordan Brown who continued to torment the Brimscombe and Thrupp left-back, and started the move that led to Thatcham's third. He stopped the ball near the touchline, tricked his markers and bided his time before releasing Brownhill who had raced up the flank on the overlap. The right-back fired a low cross into the area which sat up just in front of Cooper-Clark who obligingly smashed the ball in off the post. There was time for one last chance for the visitors with a free-kick from 20 yards, which Chris Rackley did well to keep from going into the top corner.

Windsor 1 Highworth Town 2
Windsor suffered a defeat to the leaders of the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division on a rain-soaked pitch at Stag Meadow on Saturday.

The home team started slowly and Highworth took advantage to break the deadlock on 13 minutes. Wide midfielder Aaron Ferns took on and cut inside Jamie Di Giuseppe before firing low with his left foot into the corner of the goal.

Windsor responded and drew level on 29 minutes through Bradley Pearce. The visitors failed to clear a free-kick into the box from Ashley Smith and, after a shot was blocked, centre back Pearce volleyed into the net off the underside of the bar with his left foot.

Windsor continued to be better side up until half-time and again after the break with Pearce unfortunate to see a shot from close range hit the post. However, the Windsor defence were caught sitting too deep in the closing stages and Highworth capitalised to bag the winner.

With Windsor camped on the edge of their own box, the visitors worked the ball wide to Ferns who finished well past Sobte with his right foot.

Windsor manager Mick Woodham commented “The performance was good and we gave them a game. I’m disappointed with the result and for the boys because of their efforts. I felt that, upon reflection, we should have got something out of the game - certainly a point. At times I thought we might get more than a point but fair play to Highworth, they’ve come here and done a job away from home.”

Match Report provided for Windsor FC courtesy of Rob Stevens of the Windsor Observer

Division One East

AFC Aldermaston 1 Penn & Tylers Green 4 (away view)
After three losses in a row Penn & Tylers mphatically got back to winning ways on Saturday on a miserable wet day at AFC Aldermarston as they had to come from a goal down to eventually win 4-1. Penn had Adam Dickens, a recent signing from Flackwell Heath, making his debut and he slotted in well at the heart of the Penn defence alongside Fred Tripp. Nigel Miller also stepped up for his first game of the season in goal in place of the absent Matt Cannings.

The first 10 minutes on the difficult surface, was end to end with Aldermarston probably just gaining the upper hand in midfield on a quagmire of a pitch, and their lively forwards tested Nigel Miller in the Penn goal on a couple of occasions. On 11 minutes a decisive run into the Aldermarston box by Jamie West was ended with a robust illegal challenge and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped George Weller to take the kick, but it was placed too near to the Aldermarston goalkeeper and he saved with ease and the rebound was cleared.

The game was on a knife edge and to their credit, both teams endeavoured to get the ball down and play football when they could. Casey Bocarro had an effort fly narrowly over and Chris Hurst had a good low effort saved for Penn and at the other end Aldermarston were also firing in some good efforts either too wide or too high. On 22 minutes Aldermaston’s number nine Parton-Edy picked up the ball in midfield and from 25 yards curled in a beauty with the outside of his left foot past the stranded Nigel Miller in the Penn goal to put Aldermarston1-0 up. In recent weeks this would have knocked the stuffing out of Penn but this week with the revised line-up it seemed to galvanise the Penn players and they continued to attack and play with confidence but had to nevertheless go in 1-0 down at half time.

Penn came out for the second half and immediately stamped their authority and intentions on the game as they were now attacking at will and on 50 minutes after a good corner to the far post there was a rejuvenated Casey Bocarro to hook in from 8 yards for a confidence boosting equaliser. This goal had the desired effect and Penn now looked to be sensing a victory and sure enough on 60 minutes, when the goalkeeper and defender made a complete hash of dealing with a harmless through, ball Chris Hurst, who had followed the “lost cause”, was able to capitalise on the error and walk the ball into the empty net to put a happy and relieved Penn side 2-1 up. 

This knocked the stuffing out of the resilient Aldermarston side and from that moment Penn continued to push forward in numbers at regular intervals. They were rewarded for their pressure on 62 minutes when an excellent low shot from the edge of the Aldermarston box from Jamie West hit the inside of the post and ran along the line and Chris Hurst was quickest to react and put the ball back across the goal for the onrushing Adam Harman to smash into the net from six yards to make it 3-1.

Penn were now rampant and were further rewarded on 85 minutes when Casey Bocarro topped off a convincing performance by curling a low shot into the right-hand corner of the net to make it 4-1 to Penn and put the game to bed once and for all. This was an excellent confidence boosting performance from Penn with every player doing their job and working together as one, a trait that had been missing in the previous three games. This will hopefully bode well for sterner tests to come and no sterner test awaits than next Saturday when Penn entertain current league leaders Bicester Town at French School Meadow, kick off 3pm.

Wokingham & Emmbrook 4 Didcot Town Reserves 2 (away view)
The Ressies went travelling to a soggy Emmbrook for a league encounter  with several player withdrawals and no recognised goalkeeper. A baptism  of fire for stand in keeper Joe Parish started with a fine save from the  home number nine in the first minute. Didcot threatened when a chip  through from Jack Kitchener bounced away from Tom Hoskin before he could  connect. A minute later and the first of several unpunished heavy handed  home tackles went in firstly on Ross MacDonald. In the tenth minute a  home corner appeared to go directly in to the Didcot net for the opener  before Tom Hoskin swept a pass out wide to Alex Marshall but his shot  was directly at the home keeper. 

A minute later and it was two nil when a cross was tapped in , shortly  after Tom Hoskin’s shot was tipped over by the home keeper and Joe Parish made another fine save with his feet this time. A Taylor Jane’s  free kick was just missed by Hoskin and in the 20th minute the home  number ten made it three from a breakaway which Didcot complained  bitterly was offside. Parish made a fine fingertip save from a 1:1  situation. Didcot had a spell of pressure with a couple of corners and as one broke down MacDonald turned his marker inside the box and although his shot slowed down in the mud it hit the inside of the post but a home defender won the race to clear the rebound. Parish had another save before Jack Kitchener was badly tackled in the centre circle but without even a foul given the home team took advantage and raced up the pitch to score the fourth. 

Kitchener had to be replaced in the first minute of the second half unable to continue and Adam Doyle made his debut kicking towards the deep end with some wind behind. Didcot were getting some good crosses in from Janes and MacDonald but the forwards were just behind both. In the 60th minute Keiran Collins swerved through midfield and planted a beauty of a shot in the top corner to pull a goal back. A good move down the right finished with Hoskin poking the ball over the bar but disaster struck when Akinlosi was caught dribbling the ball,out of defence and the Emmbrook number nine was brought down by Parish in goal for a penalty. Parish however saved brilliantly from the number 9’s kick. In the 73rd minute Taylor Janes broke up the pitch and fed MacDonald who  travelled and crossed for Janes to meet six yards out and fire home a second for Didcot. Didcot created further pressure but a couple of crosses from Alex Marshall were too ahead of the attackers to take advantage. Didcot won some free kicks on the edge of the box with Marshall and Aaron Davies being brought down but could not take advantage of the pressure as the home team defended deeply. In injury time Hoskin shot at the keeper which finished the action and the fight back at least put an air of respect to the score. Top marks to Joe Parish who agreed to put on the goalkeeper gloves and thanks to every one of the side who travelled today. 

Division One West

Tytherington Rocks 0 Pewsey Vale 6
Tytherington Rocks slipped to another defeat on Saturday, when they conceded 6 goals without reply, and finished the game with 10 men following a controversial "out of area" hand ball by the home keeper.

Tytherington had the better of the early exchanges but once again fell behind within 10 min of the start. On this occasion a defensive misjudgment with a cross from the right provided James Blake with a straightforward header to open the scoring. The home team created several half chances without reward whilst Pewsey used the full width of the pitch to stretch the home defence. This kept the Tytherington keeper busy but he dealt with everything following that opening goal.

Possibly the turning point in the game occurred on 35 mins when the home keeper sprinted forward to block a shot on the edge of his area. Although successful, he was adjudged to have left his area and as the "last man " was given his marching orders. Although down to 10 men the home defence, 0:1 down, held their ground until half time.

5 mins after the restart, James Turner added his name to the score-sheet with a goal, courtesy of the Rocks left hand post. Rocks battled to get back into the game but Pewsey Vale had other ideas. The home team struggled to leave their own half for long periods whilst the visitors peppered their penalty area with a variety of crosses. Success soon followed, with Pewsey's James Blake adding four further goals (68 mins,77 mins, 87 mins and 89 mins) to complete the 6:0 victory.

Down to 10 men for the second week in succession, Tytherington battled courageously throughout with nothing to show for their endeavour.

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