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20 January 2018

Penn & Tylers Green 2 Easington Sports 4
Penn & Tylers and Easington, who both sit in third place in their respective Division One (East) and Division One (West) tables, put on an excellent match in their Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup second round tie at French School Meadow on Saturday with Easington coming out on top and taking a 4-2 win back to Banbury.

Just like the previous week at Sandhurst Penn conceded an early goal after only three minutes of play when, from an inch perfect pass between Penn’s centre back and right full back, Easington wide man Eyre raced through and clinically shot across the advancing Matt Cannings in the Penn goal to open the scoring for the visitors.

Penn responded by having a lot of possession but were never troubling the Easington defence enough and the final pass or cross was not up to standard today. Easington, in contrast, were causing problems with their two wide men constantly stretching the home back three. Penn never heeded the many warnings or coped with the constant threaded passes between the Penn defenders and Matt Cannings had to be alert as he made a couple of smart saves to keep Penn in the game during this spell of play. Then on 35 minutes the inevitable occurred when from another pass inside the Penn full back once again released Eyre for Easington and he raced through on goal and shot past Matt Cannings at the near post and the ball squirmed into the net despite the attention of the defender on the goal line.

Penn rallied and began to look a force with Chappell looking dangerous down the left flank. This pressure was rewarded in the 37th minute when from a succession of attacks a good cross from Curtis Chapple from the left was played back into the path of George Weller who rounded the Easington defender and slotted an excellent shot into the right-hand corner from 18 yards giving the Easington goalkeeper no chance. The comeback lasted all of two minutes as Easington scored another goal when they once again exploited the gaping space down the left flank and Eyre once again charged in on goal and shot from close range and, although the ball was cleared by the Penn defender on to the post, there was Convey for the visitors to score from two yards to make it 3-1 to Easington. The first half was drawing to a close when in the 45th minute Penn gained another lifeline when, after an excellent one-two with Danny Jordan, Adam Harman reduced the deficit to one goal with an excellent finish. Half time came with Easington ahead by three goals to two.

The second half was only six minutes old when Easington once again secured a two-goal lead by scoring their fourth and final goal and the final goal of the match. Matt Cannings made a good save from a header, but there was Stidder for Easington to score from the follow up from close range and effectively win the game for his side. The game was effectively ended from that moment and no real obvious chances were created by either side and Penn could not, despite trying, break down a resolute Easington defence who were now in no mood to let Penn back in the game for a second time. A positive for Penn was the introduction of captain Adam Davies who came on as a second half substitute and made a difference after being side lined with an injury for the past five games.

So, a deserved win for Easington, and a disappointing performance by Penn who now have two weeks to re-group and come back refreshed and ready to take on the task of retaining their league title, which is still very much in their own hands, and very much attainable.

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Abingdon United 0 Bracknell Town 5 (away view)
Having seen Abingdon United win 4-2 at Highworth last Wednesday after losing to the  Uhlsport Hellenic League leaders themselves earlier in the month, Bracknell Town must have thought they were in for a tough fight at Northcourt Road on Saturday.

But it just didn't happen. The Robins were outstanding, totally dominating the game and running out the emphatic 5-0 winners with one of their most impressive away performances of the season. Once again, joint-managers Jeff Lamb and Paul McGrotty made changes to their line-up and formation. TJ Bohane was up front by himself with leading scorer Adam Cornell, Jon Bennett, who had scored twice the previous week, and Kensley Maloney, their late goal scorer in the 1-0 Floodlit Cup win at Ardley on Tuesday last week, all on the bench. In a rather surprising move, centre-back Joe Gater was switched to a defensive midfield role, but immediately settled to it and played as though he had done the job before. To crown a good day, he also scored an excellent goal.

Despite the incessant morning rain, the pitch lived up to its reputation of being one of the best in the Hellenic League. The surface certainly suited the Robins as right from the kick-off they launched incessant attacks on the home goal with Seb Bowerman missing an early chance when clean through. So it came as no surprise when they took a 17th-minute lead. Jamie McClurg, having been fouled himself out on the left, fired over one of his customary dangerous free-kicks into the area which Carl Withers flicked on towards the far corner with Bohane making sure, and so being credited with the goal.

Town doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark. Bowerman was brought down by Joe Green as he weaved his way into the box and picked himself up to score from the spot. Soon afterwards, Joe Grant and Bohane set up McClurg, who fired low into the net, but, unfortunately, was ruled offside by a linesman. It looked a very close call.

Helped at times by Abingdon's reluctance to close them down, the visitors continued to dominate in the second half, but had a let-off when Abingdon's Luke McCormack shot wide of an open goal after keeper Chris Grace had allowed the ball to slip from his grasp. But apart from one other chance when Justin Clayton raced back to deny Dejon Noell-Williams a clear shot on goal, Town's defence never came under any serious pressure during the afternoon. That allowed Gater to push up field and in the 62nd minute he lashed the ball through a crowed goalmouth to find the back of the net. Three minutes later it became 4-0 with. McClurg's quickly-taken free-kick finding Bohane, who from outside the area hammered the ball home with the help of a deflection.

Town made three substitutions in quick succession with Bowerman, Withers and Bohane giving way to Khalid Senussi, Bennett and Cornell. Senussi sent a shot wide from distance before Bracknell scored their fifth in the 85th minute. Abingdon keeper Eddie Cavanagh made a poor clearance towards the centre circle, from where the quick-thinking Grant lobbed it straight back over him into an empty net to treat himself to an early 21st birthday present.

Binfield 3 Woodley United 0 (away view)
On a bitterly cold Friday evening played in front of a crowd of well over 100, the game started with both sides playing at a frantic tempo.  Sam Guze saw a cross go into the side netting for Woodley before Binfield's Carlo Santoro's shot from the right was tipped wide by Alex Reed.  United were easily the more energetic of the two sides. Toby Briggs picked out Liam Wilson who made minimal contact on a difficult chance which Henry Craven in the home goal dealt with. More pressure from the visitors came courtesy of captain Idris Kamara; picking up the ball on the halfway line, he shrugged off a challenge before firing a shot from thirty yards that was blocked. 

Fifteen minutes in saw the sides trade shots. Santoro was once again denied by Reed whilst Danny Horscroft had a low shot from the right kept out by Craven.  Woodley were now comfortably on top with the majority of play in the Binfield half. Midway through the half they had the ball in the net when a corner was bundled in from close range but the goal was ruled out for a foul. 

Despite seeing his team have a lot of the ball, Reed was the busier of the two keepers. He pulled off another save to keep out an Owen Powell effort from just inside the box.  The final chance of the half fell to United. Horscroft combined with Carl Prestidge on the left; the former swung his leg at the pass from Prestidge only to see it go behind off a defender. The resultant corner saw Woodley once again penalised. 

Both sides made changes at the break. Teddy Thomas replaced Prestidge whilst the hosts made a double change adding more pace to the side.  After not making the most of being on top in the first half, United were punished after the restart finding themselves two behind after just nine minutes. 

Ian Davies, who scored a brace for Woodley when the sides last met in the league, got the opener on fifty-one minutes turning in a right-wing cross from Santoro.  Three minutes later United were punished when they gave up possession just outside their own box. This saw some fine trickery from Santoro cutting inside and out before beating Reed with a low shot into the left corner. 

Woodley were stunned. Their only shot of the half so far fell to Briggs who was thwarted by a good block by a defender.  Falling two behind saw another change when Abdul Kamara make way for Jake Nicholls in the middle of the park. 

An hour in saw a good spell from United. Horscroft went narrowly over from a free kick after a crunching foul on Guze before some excellent play from Briggs on the right wing ended with a cross that was a fraction too high for Horscroft.  With twenty-one minutes left, Woodley made their final change when Jaydyn Englefield came on for Kieran Sengelow. This saw a change to four at the back.  United fought on. Some fantastic skill just inside his own half saw Horscroft wriggle clear of four Binfield players; playing it out to the wing, the move ended when the next pass saw the linesman's flag go up for offside. 

Binfield sealed the victory with nineteen minutes to go when substitute Usman Lalustani tapped home from close range after a right-wing cross was parried out by Reed.  Two minutes later it was nearly four; however, Idris Kamara, who was superb all evening, cleared off his own line.  In the final minutes Guze shot over after arguably the best passing move of the match.

Highmoor Ibis 2 Ascot United 5 (away view)
Ascot United fended off a mini-fightback by Highmoor IBIS to win 5-2 at Scours Lane on Saturday. The visitors raced into a 4-0 lead before Highmoor scored twice to cut the arrears, only for Ascot to kill the game off late-on.

Defeat for either side would deal a crushing blow to their respective chances of survival, and whilst Ascot had improved enough in recent weeks to list them just outside the drop zone, the bitter reality was that they possessed the worse away record in the league. However, that record of one win, one draw and eight defeats on the road was made a mockery of, on an afternoon where Ben Hodges starred.

Conditions underfoot were appalling, although the Yellamen made light work of the mud as they raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening half-hour. Early-on, Lee Allen had denied Michael Parker for Highmoor and Hodges saw an effort tipped over by Aaron Watkins, but the impressive Matt Jones opened the scoring on the quarter-hour when he powerfully headed home from Jonny Denton’s cross. Jones almost added his side’s second – heading Hodges’ corner goalward – but Trevor Mutero applied the final touch to give Ascot a 2-0 lead after 23 minutes. And, the Yellamen made is 3-0 just three minutes later when Denton’s corner got stuck in the mud, and Ryan Cooper was in the right place to prod home the loose ball.

Highmoor rallied and Parker’s excellent angled effort beat Allen but cannoned back off the inside of the right-hand post before Allen saved again moments later following Parker’s cross, but the visitors missed the chance to take a 4-0 lead into the break when Mutero latched onto Jones’ flick-on and rounded Watkins, only to miss form a tight angle. Debutant Phil da Silva entered the action for Mutero at half time, and his deft flick would create a scoring chance for Ross Seldon late-on, only for Seldon to shoot tamely at Watkins.

Before all of that, Allen tipped Jamie Porter’s free kick onto the bar after 59 minutes, with Joe Joslyn heading the rebound over the bar, but Ascot added a fourth when Louis Bouwers bundled home direct from another Hodges corner; 65 minutes played. Highmoor pulled a goal back with fifteen minutes remaining when Bouwers cold only divert Parker’s dangerous free-kick past his own ‘keeper Allen, before Parker capitalised on a ball over the top to cut the deficit to 4-2 with eight minutes left. At the other end, Watkins stood up well to deny Da Silva, but Seldon would bag a deserved goal in the 89th minute when he slotted home after the Yellamen had worked the ball out of a short corner routine; Hodges inevitably involved once again.

Thatcham Town 8 Lydney Town 0
The Kingfishers benefitted from several postponements to local matches, with a good turnout against visitors Lyndey Town. The crowd was treated to a show of the dominance that has seen Thatcham Town on a winning streak that stretches back to October, and extending that run was never really in doubt.

Liam Ferdinand had the best of the early chances, twice stinging the hands of the Lydney keeper. The Thatcham side was incredibly well set up from the off, with our solid defence keeping Lydney's attack on a tight leash, which enabled our tough midfield fulcrum of Melledew and Bayley to see plenty of the ball and get the opportunity to release our dangerous forward four, time and again. On twenty minutes the deadlock was broken as, first Lydney contrived to concede an indirect free-kick for a backpass (a rare sight), which Shane Cooper-Clark drilled low and hard when teed up. The ball was blocked, but our attackers stayed in the box which paid off when Cooper-Clark was able to meet a cross from deep by Tom Browne to head home.

Lydney did well to keep Thatcham out for the next 20 minutes, seeing a couple of dangerous square balls go across the face of their goal. Their keeper continued to frustrate Ferdinand with a good save, meeting him at the edge of the box when the number 10 was through on goal. They even managed their first real chance in this period when a ball into the area posed a threat, but Rackley kept them out. On fourty minutes, however, the Kingfishers doubled their lead as Browne and Cooper-Clark combined again. The left back crossed from deep to Cooper-Clark who nodded the ball back across goal for Ferdinand to bury from close range. Just two minutes later, Thatcham made it 3-0, with Cooper-Clark sliding in at the far post to see the ball home for his second.

It took just six minutes of the second half for Thatcham to increase the scoreline, with Dan Rapley dribbling into space and surging into the area before cutting inside and squaring for Ferdinand who turned this way and pirouetted that way, before burying left-footed. That was to be his last contribution, as he was substituted for Ekow Elliott shortly after. Elliott was involved straight away, posing a threat in an unfamiliar centre forward position and earning a penalty in the 58th minute, being brought down when through on goal, which earned a red card for the Lydney defender. Cooper-Clark smashed the spot-kick into the top corner to seal his hat-trick. The goal of the game came just three minutes later as Elliott seized the opportunity to hit a left-footed volley from the corner of the area which sailed into the top corner of the goal; the keeper had no chance.

Lydney were beginning to tire, with only their player-manager an option from the bench, and the Kingfishers were looking in ruthless form as they broke on the visitors with pace, time after time, but a seventh goal continued to elude the home team. That was until the 82nd minute when substitute Jordan Brown was cut down from behind to earn a second penalty, which Cooper-Clark obligingly hammered home for his fourth. The eighth goal was a testament to the strength of Thatcham's bench with all three subs combining. The third sub of the day, Nathaniel Robinson, was causing major problems on the left wing, and he got his rewards when providing a cross for Elliott who knocked the ball into the path of Brown who nodded the ball past the keeper.

There was still time for drama with Lydney going down to 9 men before Lewis Brownhill had the ball in the net for the ninth time of the afternoon, but it was ruled out for an earlier infringement. The win sets Thatcham up for an intriguing midweek encounter away to league leaders Highworth Town, who are just three points ahead in the table.

Windsor 2 Brimscombe & Thrupp 3
Windsor have suffered a second consecutive loss in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division after 3-2 defeat to Brimscombe & Thrupp at Stag Meadow.

The home side started the brighter and took the lead inside 10 minutes with a goal from debutant Matty Woods. However, Windsor had keeper Hugo Sobte to thank for keeping them in front at the break. Sobte correctly dived to his right to deny Ollie Pitts from the penalty spot on 25 minutes - his third spot-kick save this season.

The hosts were guilty of missing a number of chances in the match and none more so than captain Keiron Knight. His penalty coming back off the post on 55 minutes. Sam Blackie equalised on 57 minutes, but the visitors were on level terms for just two minutes as Woods got his second of the game. Bradley Pearce was unfortunate to have a shot cleared off the line but Brimscombe & Thrupp always looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Blackie went on to complete his hat-trick and secure the three points with goals on 76 and 83 minutes.

Windsor’s frustrating afternoon was made worse in the final minute of normal time when Matt Stockill was dismissed for a second caution.


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