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19-20 February 2019

perpetua press newent

Holyport 1 Thame Rangers 2
Thame Rangers progress to the Q-Final of The Hellenic League Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup after a hard fought 2-1 victory at Holyport. Rangers opted to rest Zarius Edwards-Giraud and Charlie Elliott who both didn’t travel plus made a total of five changes to the team that beat Abingdon in their previous game. Miles Baxter, Christian Deste and Captain Dan Hatton all starting this one on the bench. The fixture also presented an opportunity for Rangers to experiment with a new formation.

Rangers started well and looked dangerous with Shannon Jesson supplying three crosses in the opening three minutes that caused problems for the home sides defence as he enjoyed being employed in a new position further up the pitch. Rangers forced a number of corners and Finlay Murray shot wide from one and a Matt Johnston effort went just the wrong side of the post. From pretty much their first attack Holyport opened the scoring against the run of play with their first effort on goal. A defender headed home direct from a free-kick. Soon after Calvin Evans worked the home keeper twice with efforts. One in open play and the other forcing a great save from a direct free-kick. Holyport were growing in the game at this point and had another header that went wide when well placed. Patrick Buston was a constant threat and it was from his pressure he forced an error out of Holyport's defence to bring the scores level as he rounded the keeper to pass into an open net. The half ended all square.

A timely reminder at half time on how The Management wanted Rangers to play on this occasion was executed better in the second half and defensively Rangers were resolute throughout keeping Holyport at bay, which in turn presented more and better opportunities for them going forward. Evans had another effort that failed to hit the target and Buston had an effort deflected wide. Fresh legs came on for Rangers through Christian Deste, who soon after was involved in the build up for the winner. Jesson’s persistence eventually paid off as he beat his marker to place a well directed effort into the bottom corner. The remainder of the game was managed well by Rangers without anything of note.

A good day for Thame Rangers, another solid performance and another great result. Rangers now head into the Quarter Final of the competition, the furthest they’ve ever been and entertain the winners of Ardley United and Thornbury Town. Next up for Thame Rangers is a league game away against Abingdon Town on Saturday March 2nd.

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Premier Division

Brimscombe & Thrupp 2 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
Hellenic League, Premier Division league leaders Brimscombe & Thrupp put an end to Tuffley Rovers’ recent improved results, ending an unbeaten run that had amounted to six games prior to the meeting at The Meadow, as a James Campbell brace in the second-half helped the hosts to a 2-1 victory. Following an emphatic win at home to Ardley United the previous weekend, Mark Pritchett’s Rovers team came into the game full of confidence but were forced into making changes, with Cheltenham Town youngster Will Dawes absent, due to his commitments with his parent club, and Sam Hill missing due to injury. Brett James and Tyreece Briscoe remained unavailable for selection, having already missed the Ardley fixture.
As a consequence of the growing injury list, Pritchett had added Yate Town’s Ross Langworthy to his side, taking his place alongside another recent recruit, Adam Bloomfield, in attack, and young reserve team player Luke Troke on the bench.

The game started with both teams looking to grasp the initiative but neither keeper was called into action until Brimscombe’s Ashley Gale made a fairly routine save from Langworthy after 10 minutes. Rovers then had a spell of pressure and almost found a way through, as Paul Carter’s excellent through ball presented Dom Kent with a chance – two chances, in fact – but he first denied by Greenhough, before shooting wide as the ball came back to him. Ed Major had been the most obvious outlet for Sam Prior’s Brimscombe side in the opening exchanges and he should have opened the scoring on 15 minutes, but shot wide, under pressure from Rhys Davies, after Luke Merchant had produced a good stop to keep out Jack Smith’s first effort.

After Sam Blackie could only direct a well struck shot straight at Merchant, Campbell should have opened the scoring, five minutes later, but his follow up went wide, after Merchant had done well again to keep out another effort from Smith. With half-time approaching, Kent and Langworthy both had half-chances to open the scoring, before Adam Bloomfield was crudely stopped by Tom Pass just outside the penalty area, with the Brimscombe centre-half receiving a caution for his troubles. Kieran Alder stepped up to take the free-kick and although his effort looked to be on target it might well have resulted in a comfortable save for Gale, had it not taken a huge deflection of Major, before looping into the opposite corner, handing Rovers a lead with almost the last moment of first-half action. Whilst the lead was not necessarily a reflection of any superiority, as both sides were contributing equally to an absorbing contest, it was far from undeserved and Rovers went into the interval with hopes of pulling off a notable result.

Within sixty seconds of the second-half commencing Langworthy had another good effort, as Rovers came out looking far from a side looking to hold their slender lead. Five minutes in to the second period, however, the scores were level and unfortunately for the visitors, the goal was a familiar tale of defensive fragility that had been evidence during the season. Luke Payne, who was otherwise excellent, made a hash of chesting the ball back to Merchant and although the Rovers keep produced a terrific spread-eagled block to keep out another effort from Smith, Macaulay Herbert was unable to clear the loose ball and it landed at the feet of Campbell, who tucked the ball home from close range to level the scores. Within five minutes came two further moments that would prove decisive in determining the outcome of the game. First, Langworthy chased a loose ball and as Gale advanced, only to miss the ball, he collided with the Rovers debutant and there were vociferous appeals for a penalty to be awarded. The match official, Mr Staten, waved away the pleas for a spot-kick and play continued. Within seconds, Major produced a cross of real quality, leaving Campbell with the simplest of headers, but emphatically completed, as he powered the ball beyond Merchant from close range.

As the 70 minute mark arrived, Gale made a good stop to keep out another Alder free-kick, and Rovers made three changes in a ten minute period, introducing Warren Mann, Ash Bird and Troke for Bloomfield, Kent and Birkett, as they looked to fight their way back into the game. Both sides showed a real desire to add to the score but neither keeper was seriously troubled and once Bird’s late headed effort had been kept out by Gale, the game was almost up. When the match official called time a few moments later, Rovers were left to rue two moments of defensive frailty and several wasted chances, as they left The Meadow without the point which few could argue was probably well deserved. In contrast, Brimscombe were left to openly celebrate a victory that might well prove pivotal to their hopes of securing the Premier Division title.

Division One East

Didcot Town Development 2 Wokingham and Emmbrook 0
A fine if cool evening at Loop Meadow Stadium for this league encounter which saw Didcot deservedly take all three points despite going down to ten men for 60 minutes when the game was still scoreless.

The first 20 minutes were relatively even although in one move the away team had two good shots blocked by Caelen Isaacs and George Gilmore and from the resulting corner home keeper Sam Eeles made an excellent save. In the 27th minute a good cross ball found Isaacs in space and it sat up nicely as he hammered a swerving shot on to the underside of the bar and seemingly over the line (at least it seemed that way from the stand) . The ref and assistant did not seem to communicate and play carried on without the goal allowed. With just 30 minutes on the clock Keiran Davies was sent off for Didcot despite it appearing he won the ball. The second half played out with no real scares for Didcot.

Didcot reorganised and seemed to have drank rocket fuel at half time as they closed down the away team and looked threatening every time they won the ball. One such ball in the 49th minute found Jack Hollister wide outside the box as he swung a wicked dipping shot on goal which gave Sean Woodward in the Suma's goal no chance to put Didcot one up. Not long after a Ross MacDonald free kick across goal was just missed by Hollister and Daryl Harris. In the 69th minute Didcot went two up as Hollister won the ball and moved in on goal being brought down in the box with seemingly no attempt at playing the ball the away defender was not even yellow carded.

Daryl Harris dispatched the penalty to give the Railwaymen a two goal lead. Harris had a great shot saved and Hollister shot over after robbing a defender. MacDonald went on a touchline run and was finally blocked off as Wokingham struggled to cope with Didcot attacks. A dipping MacDonald shot was well saved by Woodward. Just one scare near the end but Eeles saved well at his near post.

Didcot had a number of players missing for various reasons and the squad was fully stretched however those that took to the pitch gave everything they had and a rousing second half saw them victorious and perhaps gave Manager Lee Matthews some good selection problems for the next match. Good to see Keiran Cooper make an appearance after missing much of the season with injury.

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