4 March 2017
Bluefin Sports Hellenic Challenge Cup 4th Round
Headington Amateurs 2 Brackley Town Saints 1
Played at St. James Park Brackley
Headington claimed a semi-final place in the Bluefin Sports Hellenic Challenge Cup, squeezing home by the odd goal in three after a pulsating match at St. James Park that was attack & counter attack for the full ninety minutes.
These sides spent little time ‘feeling’ each other out, Headington’s Sean Hurcombe getting the first shot on target after just four minutes although comfortably fielded by ‘keeper Josh Easterbrook. Brackley were quick to reply with Josh Murphy high & wide from distance & then Kyle Wynne pouncing on a defensive error before stinging Harry Jenkins hands. With fifteen minutes played Headington’s Ben Green & Josh West worked an opening for Yannick Nkwanyuo but he could not keep his shot down. Brackley swept upfield, Josh Bowden clear with Jenkins to beat but he dragged his effort wide. Easterbrook had to scramble an overhit back pass away & following another poor clearance Hurcombe shot straight at the ‘keeper. The end to end pattern continued as Brackley’s Wynne almost got clear, Jay Hill intercepting at the cost of a corner kick. On thirty minutes Headington’s Green, set up by Ben Strong, had a left foot shot well saved by Easterbrook before an instant counter attack was only foiled by a fine tackle from Kyle Harris-Steele. Luke Cuff, for Headington lifted a shot over after fine combination play involving Strong, Hurcombe & Nkwanyuo before Brackley’s Matt Johnson produced a snap shot from the edge of the penalty area that was only just wide. The deadlock was finally broken on the stroke of half time, Strong & West setting Harris-Steele free on the right wing, his fine run & cross superbly dispatched on the volley by Hurcombe.
There was to be no let-up in the pace of the game or the attacking intent in the second half, Jenkins quickly off his line to foil a Brackley attack & Nkwanyuo twice getting clear on Headington’s right flank, both crosses defended well. Two goals in two minutes were to settle this tie, Brackley equalising through substitute James Watts who finished off a fine move with a clinical finish from Minnott’s cut back. Almost from the restart Benji Cuff & Strong brought the ball out of defence, Hurcombe found Luke Cuff with a lofted pass & Cuff lobbed the advancing Easterbrook from twenty five yards out. Brackley put everything into their search for another leveller, their best chance falling to Minnott on the hour mark but he blazed high from just a couple of yards out. Jenkins saved with his feet from Dan Wilkin, Callum Wilkins unable to control the rebound. With time running out Jenkins was again in action, gathering from Chris Jordan’s strike at the second attempt. Headington saw out the last minutes with some good possession football to secure a fine win & a semi-final place for the first time in this competition.
Bracknell Town 2 Ardley United 1 (away view)
Ardley United made league favourites Bracknell Town work hard for their victory, and maybe with a full strength line up maybe would have taken something from the game. Taking the lead in the sixth minute through a Nathaniel Lewars close range effort after a fantastic lofted pass over the defence from Jack Ross, Matt Cruse almost doubled the lead when he blasted at goal but was denied by a good save from Town keeper Chris Grace.
Whilst Bracknell had most of the possession, it took until the fifty third minute for the home side to equalise, an initial shot inside the box was well saved by Ardley custodian Nick Bennion, but as the ball looked like it was rolling out for a corner the ball was retrieved and fired back in and inside the six yard box Gavin Smith tapped home. The winner came on sixty four minutes, a cross was fizzed in from the left and on the goal line Terence Bohane made no mistake to give the home side the three points.
Brimscombe & Thrupp 4 Highmoor Ibis 0
Brimscombe and Thrupp welcomed Highmoor Ibis to the Meadow on Saturday where conditions were tough for both sides.
Dave Woodfield opened the scoring when a mistake in the Highmoor defence gifted him the ball at the back post, Jack Holmes then hit the net when he headed home from a in-swinging Ben Prictor corner. Sam Blackie came close soon after thanks to another defensive error but Blackie found his shot blocked well. The mistakes still came and Jack Smith failed to convert from close distance leaving the score at a comfortable two goal lead at half time.
John Evans replaced Ash Caldwell at half time after Caldwell seemingly took a knock in the first half. Highmoor tried their luck after the break but Skyers comfortably dealt with it before Josh Jones replaced Dan Hill. Ed Major found Jack Smith with a fantastic cross before Smith’s tap in was ruled out by the assistants flag. Ben Deakin replaced Dave Woodfield for the Lilywhites final substitution.
John Evans found the net with a fantastic effort 10 minutes from time before Josh Jones powered home a penalty towards the end of the game giving the home side a great 4-0 win.
Thame United 2 Longlevens AFC 0
Extensive work on the pitch on Saturday morning ensured that this match could go ahead, and United will be thankful that it did. Save for Aiden Bailey replacing the unavailable Matt Johnston in defence, United set up as they had done in their last outing, a 5-0 win against Flackwell Heath.
The opening exchanges saw both sides trying to adapt to the soft conditions underfoot, with the wind blowing straight down the pitch. Whilst United were playing in to that breeze, they were the quicker to settle and opened the scoring on five minutes. Dan West received the ball in the centre of the pitch, before neatly turning and playing in Lynton Goss, who raced through on goal and placed the ball wide of Merchant.
United continued to press, with Ben Connelly seeing a header clear the bar and Goss again forcing a save from Merchant. However, it was by no means one-way traffic, with the visitors not only disrupting the United play, but also creating goal-scoring opportunities. The best opportunity fell to Shaun O’Connor on 23 minutes, striking an effort from the edge of the box that Henry Craven in the Thame goal superbly pushed on to the post, with the danger then cleared. Shortly before the break United had a great opportunity to extend their lead, when West found himself with time only six yards from goal. However, his goal bound effort was cleared off the line.
The second half started with United pressing their opponents and, ten minutes in to the half, the second goal arrived. Neat inter-play down the Thame right saw Goss pull the ball back to West on the edge of the penalty area and he side-footed the ball in to the far corner of the goal, giving Merchant no chance.
The remainder of the match saw few goal scoring opportunities for either side, with Goss going closest for United with a drive that cleared the bar whilst, in the final few moments, the visitors thought they had secured a penalty, only for the referee to wave play on.
Finchampstead 6 Holyport 0
Finches were hosts to lowly Holyport last weekend and had no idea of the outcome. With absentee first team players, Holyport arrived with a less capable squad although that was not immediately apparent. As it happened, Finches had a revitalised squad with Greg Alexander back but on the bench with his knee strapped up. Sam Gore and Sean Ennis were both substitutes with Sam Green back from his head injury all keeping each other company on the bench until 3 were required in the 2nd half. Initially, Holyport tested Finches defenders but the ball cleared for the hosts to counter Holyport returned and skipper Barnard headed away an incoming ball effectively. Chace Jewell then approached the penalty area but the ball was deflected for a corner. Lee Ovens attempted a header but the that was blocked and Finches set up a good move through a series of accurate passes, Swabey was offside but regaining the ball, Finches forwards congregated in the penalty area with Freddie Barron sparking the proceedings and Chace Jewell hitting the cross bar with the ball rebounding into the players in the box. The hosts did everything but score but Kylo Atkinson soon caused Holyport defenders problems although he merely gained 50 yards in territory, but Danny Bl;atchford missed with his attempt at goal and a ball squeezed high into the air from a defender was collected by Leo Smith, keeper for Holyport. Kylo Atkinson gave Finches the lead in the 25th minute and barely had play restarted when Harry Swabey followed in with a second a minute later. With 2 goals to the good, Finches began to dominate the play but Atkinson hit the ball over the bar. Finches pushed upfield and this time the long ball went too far for Jewell to reach. However, Holyport tried to counter but Griffith was able to collect the incoming ball. Harry Swabey chose to go on a long run goal wards but, once more, the ball decided to sail over Smith's crossbar and his free kick after Freddie Barron was tripped, went straight to the Holyport keeper. A ball in space made a race for it but keeper, Smith, beat Atkinson to it. Matt Wright combined with Atkinson but when Jewell received the ball he placed it over the bar instead of under it. After an approach by Holyport attackers, Griffith was called upon to make a commendable save. Then Atkinson had another contest with Smith but the latter beat him to the ball again. A short counter by Holyport gave Griffith work to do in goal although Nathan Shamiyuro took a pot shot which went very wide of the target.
The second half began with Holyport forcing a save from Griffith, but Finch regained composure with a free kick and corner kick which Smith dealt with at hte time but next Finch ball caught him way off his line so Atkinson danced round him and netted the ball in an open goal in the 50th minute. Harry Swabey, Chace Jewell and Kylo Atkinson kept the defenders busy until Swabey was well placed to add a fourth in the 57th minute. Ben Wall struck the ball which terminated its trajectory in the arms of Griffith to the disappointment of the flagging visitors as did his next free kick which occurred after Atkinson just missed a shot adjacent to the far post. Harry Swabey was blocked out then Freddie Barron lobbed the ball over the approaching keeper, Smith, but too high to go under the crossbar. Holyport escaped the next onslaught but Paul Rake sent the ball over the top of Griffith's goal. Jon Laugharne made a double substitution, Dan Blatchford was replaced by Ben Winship and Sam Dunn was replaced by Sam Gore. 2 penalties made it 6 for Finches with the first in the 72nd minute and Atkinson depositing the second in the 89th. 3 more points for Finches and 2nd place in the standings but several other teams have games in hand.
Hook Norton 0 Shortwood United Reserves 0 (away view)
Shortwood made the trip to high flying Hook Norton on Saturday and returned with a valuable away point.
In the first half Wood defended well against a strong side and a strong blustery wind. After 25 minutes Shortwood lost Andy Lewis to a groin strain and was replaced by Callum Lazarus, who did a great job as an emergency centre half.
In the second half with the wind at their backs Wood started to play some decent football on a deteriorating pitch. They managed to create 4 or 5 good opportunities but were unable to convert any of them.
Afterwards Nick Ackland commented “I can’t fault the players’ effort and work rate today against a top 3 side. All in all me and Dan are happy with a point and we move on to the next game at Cirencester next week”.
New College Swindon 0 Fairford Town 2 (away view)
Town opened up a ten-point gap at the top of Division One West after a 2-0 away win at New College Swindon. The game was far from a spectacle and played in difficult conditions, but the result left the Reds one step closer to promotion back to the Premier Division. Fairford’s side showed four changes from the team that lost to Flackwell Heath in the Floodlit Cup in midweek, with Luke Cordery, Matt Boucher, Dan Reynolds and new recruit Ryan Stanners all coming into the starting-line-up.
New College battled well in the opening exchanges but the deadlock was broken six minutes before the interval. Jason Milhench collected a through ball before beating his man and sliding the ball across goal into the far corner on a slick pitch following a downpour.
The Reds made changes and introduced Levi Cox, Nathan Blackford and Steve Hall from the bench in search of a second goal, which arrived just before full-time.
Stanners blazed over with a few minutes remaining with top scorer Lee Smith adding to his tally in the 90th minute to put the seal on another away win for the Cinder Lane side.
Chalfont Wasps Reserves 2 Wokingham & Embrook Reserves 0
Wasps Reserves gained a place in the league table with a comfortable win at home to Wokingham & Emboork. A waterlogged pitch had meant the first team’s match away against Woodley Town was postponed.
Wasps struck in the first minute; Josh George rounded the ‘keeper and netted from a tight angle. Wasps continued on the offensive, created many chances, forced numerous corners and generally kept the visitors in their own half for much of the first period. It was 2-0 after 20 minutes. Ollie White forcing home a knock down from close range.
The second period started a little more evenly but Wasps resumed their siege on the W&E penalty box again after 10 minutes of the restart. Wasps were knocking the ball around well in their approach play. A number of substitutions were made, the pattern of play continued. W&E had only a few half chances, Wasps remained on top but were unable to force home a third.
Shrivenham Reserves 0 Brimscombe & Thrupp 4 (away view)
The Development team travelled to Shrivenham where Josh Beadle found Craig Mills in the early stages before Beadle played a through ball to Nick Rieger who slotted home. After the break Reece Davis’ cross found Rieger for his second of the afternoon before George Blythe knocked in a rebound also giving the Brimscombe Development a 4-0 win.
Fairford Town Reserves 6 Clanfield 85 Reserves 5 (away view)
An intriguing encounter at muddy Fairford saw the home team go second in the table while their visitors more than doubled their previous seasons total goals scored total in suffering an undeserved defeat.
When you are beleaguered at the bottom of the table perhaps you feel that the world is against you and it seemed that way when a penalty was awarded with less than a minute gone for an offence unseen by many, but awarded nonetheless. Right or maybe wrong it was well despatched by Ben Saunders but it only served to strengthen the resolve of the visitors who took the lead within ten minutes with goals from Connor Dettmar and Oliver Hawkins. Saunders restored parity with a header but thereon in Clanfield kept plugging away taking the lead three more times with goals from Chris Blakely, Hawkins again and Craig Brizell but each time being pegged back to reach half time at five goals apiece. The deciding goal came for the home team after five minutes of the second half with Saunders now having four goals to his name and Scott Chilcott two.
The encounter descended into some petty exchanges that maybe deserved better handling, but after eleven goals in 50 minutes of play there were to be no more in the last 40 minutes. Fairford's determination to hang on to the points was best demonstrated by their taking the ball to the corner flag on numerous occasions late on and inviting Clanfield to get it back. Good luck with that tactic as the season comes to an end ! More than a hint of desperation against the division's bottom team.
Clanfield's new management and recruitment of players may yet see their season achieve a better outcome than seemed likely a couple of weeks ago. There was certainly a good display of teamwork and spirit in the squad that should achieve some positive outcomes in the weeks ahead.