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5-7 March 2018

Premier Divisionuhlsport football kit

Tuffley Rovers 1 Wantage Town 2
A well-timed header from Wantage Town skipper Chris Jackson proved to be a poorly timed moment for Mark Pritchett’s Tuffley Rovers, as the visitors’ last minute winner saw them leave Glevum Park with all three points on Tuesday evening.

With Courtney Hamilton suspended following his sending-off against Ascot United, Pritchett was forced into one change to his starting line-up, with Ashley Davies handed a first start, in the centre of midfield, after his return from a spell with Shortwood United. The Rovers line-up was otherwise unchanged from the win against Ascot United ten days earlier.

The game between the teams lying in third and ninth place in the Hellenic League, Premier Division table started competitively, with some robust, albeit well-timed challenges, on an extremely soft pitch, with Davies and Wantage’s Ryan Markham to the fore. Clear chances were few and far between, with neither Dave Evans or his opposite number, Curtis Meare, called into serious action, although Rovers had half chances through Kieran Alder, Shayne Bradley and Davies; whilst the visiting team had opportunities for top-scorer Steve Robertson and wide-man Jack Dunmall both comfortably saved by the Rovers skipper.

Despite the absence of clear attempts on goal, the first half was played out in entertaining fashion, with the assistance of a sensible refereeing performance, and the crowd of 56 were unlikely to complain about the lack of entertainment, despite the teams entering the interval with the score at 0-0.

The second period started at break-neck speed and Rovers were quickly onto the front foot, opening the scoring after just seven minutes of the restart. Ashley Bird, who was a threat to the visitors, in a high energy performance, found space out wide and swung a cross over that skidded past the front post and across a line of retreating defenders to find Davies at the back post. The returning midfielder made no mistake and tucked the ball home from close range to make it 1-0.

If they had been buoyed by taking the lead against one of the promotion contenders, Rovers were knocked back just two minutes later, as Wantage Town equalised. This time it was the turn of another wide-player, in the form of Wantage’s Jim Glover, to play provider. Having worked himself into an opportunity to shoot, he didn’t waste the chance to test Evans and although the Rovers keeper made a good low stop, Macaulay Herbert’s efforts to clear the follow up were thwarted, as the ball appeared to slow on the heavy surface, and Robertson nipped in to steal the ball and knock it in from close range.

Bird, who was spent much of his Rovers career in a more central position, was revelling in a wide role and twice delivered excellent crosses that only narrowly missed their intended targets, as the home side threatened to regain the advantage. Excellent defensive work from Pritchett’s back four – Herbert, the impressive Joel White, Shayne Anson and Cheltenham Town work experience signing, Ryan Davis – ensured that the prolific Robertson and his team-mates were denied chances to test Evans, and the teams looked set for a share of the spoils, as the game entered a period of injury time.

With the game almost at its conclusion, Sam Hill, introduced as a late substitute, recovered to clear another attack, but the ball went out for a corner which presented Wantage with a chance they didn’t waste. Markham had delivered some excellent set-pieces all night and his corner was perfectly measured to find Jackson’s header, seven yards out, and the ball flew beyond Evans and into the net. No sooner had the game restarted than the final whistle sounded and the visitors were left to celebrate a hard fought three points that cemented their third place in the table and left Rovers in ninth.



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