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13 - 15 March 2018

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Thatcham Town 3 Windsor 1
Just two days after appearing in Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division action, the first team were playing again under the floodlights at Waterside Park in the aptly named Floodlit Cup, sponsored by Perpetua Press. The starting line-up was much changed, perhaps with an eye on Saturday's FA Vase semi-final first leg, with on-loan keeper Aaron Holt deputising for Chris Rackley, an ever-present between the sticks so far this season.

We were at strength up front though with striker Shane Cooper-Clark creating the first good chance, breaking through on goal between the Windsor defenders, but the onrushing keeper did well to deny him. Just four minutes later Cooper-Clark opened the scoring after a corner from the right was ushered into his path by Ashleigh James. Straight away at the other end, Windsor went close earning a corner, with the resultant header going over.

Play settled down for a period, but we doubled the lead when Jemel Johnson seized the opportunity to beat the keeper off his line. Windsor's number 1 had done well to snuff out a threat from Cooper-Clark but he couldn't get back in time as JJ picked up the loose ball and thumped a fine effort into the net from 25 yards.

After another quiet spell, Windsor had the next chance with a shot from distance forcing an athletic diving save from Holt in the air and to his left. Just a minute later we were up the other end and extending our lead. Tom Browne put a trademark cross in from deep on the left and Cooper-Clark took a touch before hammering a left footed shot past the keeper. The final chance of the first half came when the ball fell to a Windsor forward in a central position in the penalty area. His fierce drive was expertly kept out by Holt, who was proving to have a fine debut in our colours.

Windsor came flying out of the blocks in the second half with a sustained period of pressure on our goal which culminated in an effort cleared off the line by Curtis Angell. Unfortunately for the neutral, that was about all there was to get excited about for quite some time as any fluency went out of the game, with numerous stoppages for fouls of all sorts: some niggly, some professional, some borderline vicious with defender Gareth Thomas having to limp off with a nasty gash on his shin.

In a rare period of uninterrupted play we played some neat possession football to approach Windsor's area, with substitute Jordan Brown threading a precise through ball to release Tom Melledew into the area, but his chipped effort with the outside of his boot didn't have enough height to beat the keeper. Windsor were able to grab a late consolation as sub and ex-Premier League striker Barry Hayles evaded a challenge from Holt to bundle the ball home. Shortly after, the referee blew the final whistle to see us into the quarter-finals where we will host Brimscombe and Thrupp.


Virginia Water 1 Binfield 3
Waters returned to some football at last, with the daunting task of taking on a strong Binfield side, who are well placed to finish in the top six of the Premier Division. With the late withdrawal of three players hampering preparations, the team still proved to be more than a match for our talented opponents, and came close to a major upset.

Indeed, Waters went ahead with a brilliant goal by Adam McNamara (MoM) on 27 minutes, having earlier been denied by the post. Binfield equalised a few minutes later, when we allowed their striker to ghost past three defenders, before feeding their winger to curl a cross shot into the far corner. There were not many clear cut chances, with both keepers looking comfortable, albeit the Binfield keeper produced a great save to deny Josh Guichard late in the first half.

The second half for the major part was very tight, with both sides pushing for the win, and extra time looming, but despite the effort of the home side, with stand out performances by Steve Williams and Adam Mills, the opponents match fitness proved decisive, as they netted twice late on against the fatigued home side.

Binfield probably shaded it, although it was a spirited and strong performance by VWFC, who certainly could become a competitive force if our promotional aspirations come to fruition. We wish Binfield every success in the semi final


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Shrivenham 5 Cheltenham Saracens 0
A competitive start from both sides ensured that Tuesday night at Barrington Park was going to produce a real game of football and with a free kick from captain Jamie Prictor going close on 10-minutes, it was the home side that eventually made the breakthrough.

Five minutes after going close, it was Josh Morse who began a neat little run which saw the ball passed around the side finishing with Morse with the ball at his feet and rounding Charlie Cook and calmly slotting the ball in to the back of the net to open the scoring. Continued pressure from the home side saw Prictor twice going close before Leigh Brown blazed an effort over on the 17-minute mark.

Saracens had a fantastic effort six minutes later, but Sonnie Burrows effort went narrowly wide and that error was to prove costly when Morse put Lewis Petrie through just four minutes later, and he lashed home to double the home sides lead on 27-minutes. Despite Shrivvy playing some scintillating one-touch football, it was the visitors who next went close on 35-minutes but Connor Johns pulled of a good stop low down but it was situation normal five minutes later after Aaron Dainton put Petrie through, but his following effort was well saved by Cook in the visitors net. A minute later however, a poor clearance saw Prictor capitalise and steered home number three, and the final four minutes of the half were played out with ease to end an enjoyable 45-minutes for the home side.

With the second half underway, it took 11-minutes for number four – after Leigh Brown saw his initial effort saved, he was on hand to follow up as the visitors began to look tired. With a commanding 4-0 lead, Tim Cook came on for Fraser Little on 57-minutes, before Morse fired a stinging shot that was saved by the palms of Charlie Cook and by the time Leigh Brown made way for Mani Roper (63 minutes) and Rob Hendry swapped with Tyler Sheppard (72 minutes) the game was all but won.

With the fresh legs however, the home side were to make it five when a minute later Petrie was brought down in the box and after Morse saw his spot kick saved, none of the visitors had bothered to run back so he was given an easy ride with the follow up and he made no mistake the second time and he made it 5-0 with 73-minutes on the clock.

Prictor had a chance to add to his tally a minute later, however although the Saracens defence were switching off, Charlie Cook remained alert to the threat and pulled off a great stop and likewise when Dodson made an attempt to get his name on the score sheet two minutes later, he too couldn’t find a way through and his shot went just wide. With ten minutes to go, Nathan Blackford hit a superb free kick which was unfortunately saved and with the game won, the remainder of the match was played out and the home side gained a massive three points against a tough opposition.


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