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16 March 2018

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Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup 

Stokenchurch 2 Woodley United 1 (away view)
Woodley made the trip to Buckinghamshire for their Bluefin SportSupplementary Cup quarter final on a very windy Saturday mid-March afternoon. 

With the wind behind them and kicking down the slope, United started the brighter of the two sides. Midfielder Ben Clark tested Steve Kirkland in the Stokenchurch goal from just outside the box before Leon Mannion volleyed over.  The weather was seriously affecting the ball’s flight, with balls played from Woodley’s half catching in the wind and being carried crazy distances. A free kick in the United box seventeen minutes in saw Max Laschok gain possession on the right wing; cutting into the box and evading several challenges, the forward curled an unstoppable shot into the top left corner. A moment of real quality in a game where both teams struggled to play. 

Ninety seconds after the goal, Laschok was denied a second when his powerful shot from the right of the box was well saved by Kirkland at the near post. Midway through the half, Laschok rounded Kirkland who was way off his line but couldn’t get control of the ball with Mannion waiting for a cross at the back post. 

The hosts levelled the scoreline on the half hour after Woodley failed multiple times to clear a right wing cross allowing Jack Blesson to prod past Tom Bryant from six yards.  United responded well with Kirkland pulling off a fantastic stop to keep out a low Mannion effort destined for the left corner. The resultant Chace Jewell corner was headed onto Clark who missed to the right.  In added time Stokenchurch came within inches of going into the break ahead when Connor Carney’s shot from the right of the box crashed against the underside of the crossbar. 

Woodley changed from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 at the start of the second half with Laschok and Jewell either side of Mannion. The three centre midfielders remained the same, with Pele Haggermoving from centre back to left back and captain Teddy Thomas dropping from wing back to an orthodox right back. Joe Sissons and Harry Swabey were the two centre halfs. 

Despite kicking into the wind, United were still on top. A deep Hagger cross picked out Laschok who missed the target whilst Jewell had a powerful drive blocked after being set up by Mannion.  Mannion again turned provider when he squared to Laschok; unfortunately, the ball bobbled up allowing Kirkland the split second to challenge for the ball which a defender ended up clearing. The away side continued to press; Mannion missed the target after a Jewell pass down the line.

With seventeen minutes to go, Woodley made a change when Toby Briggs replaced Mannion. As the match entered the final fifteen minutes, rain started to fall and the wind remained just as strong. A second change was made on eighty minutes; Adam Barnard made way for Richard Thomas who took over from Barnard just in front of the back four. A minute from time some good play by Hagger saw him turn his man and pick out Laschok. With just Kirkland to beat, the United man was again denied by a good save. 

In injury time Woodley thought they had won it when Jewell tapped home, however the goal was ruled out for a handball in the build-up.  From the free kick that followed a long ball was launched forward. Misjudging the flight, Hagger gave possession to Blesson who put his team through when he rolled past the advancing Bryant. 

Puhlsport football kitremier Division

Binfield 4 Tuffley Rovers 2 (Away View)
Binfield saw off the threat of Tuffley Rovers on Saturday afternoon, as a controlled second-half performance proved enough to defeat the visitors, who had come into the game in a rich vein of form. Somewhat unusually, both teams were forced to change their squad moments before kick-off, with the hosts losing Jack Thomson-Wheeler to injury during the warm-up, with Carlo Santoro promoted to take his place in the starting line-up, and Rovers forced into a change on their bench, with Paul Carter’s tight hamstring seeing him withdrawn and Player/Manager, Mark Pritchett, added to the playing squad.

The game started at a fast pace, in exceptionally difficult conditions, with a strong wind more than playing its part, and Santoro looked dangerous in the opening moments but his early shot went high over the Rovers goal, when he found himself in a little space. That let-off didn’t offer Rovers a significant reprieve and the fell behind, as early as the 8th minute, with a wind assisted effort, as Charlie Tuttle’s cross deceived Rovers’ keeper Luke Merchant and ended up in the back of the net; with Tuttle’s slightly reserved, possibly embarrassed celebration reflecting the good fortune that had come his team’s way.

Rovers came straight back at their hosts and Jake Rhodes might have done better on 12 minutes but he couldn’t quite reach Kieran Alder’s free-kick. Having delivered that set-piece, Alder then had the visitor’s next effort, as he shot from 30 yards, having seen the hosts’ David Lyons well off his line, but the Binfield keeper recovered to comfortably gather the ball. The diminutive Rovers’ midfielder has been in excellent goalscoring form, of late, and he was at the centre of the action again, on 15 minutes, completing an excellent move that had started with Brad Loveridge and Ty Briscoe, to roll the ball beyond Lyons and into the hosts’ goal, to make it 1-1. Eddie Lee almost had a chance to quickly restore Binfield’s lead, as they cranked up the pressure, and Jeff Brown also went close with a free-kick, before Jemel Johnson drew a solid block from Merchant, as the 20 minute mark arrived. Rhodes almost turned provided, but his header back across goal, from another Alder free-kick, was slightly behind Macaulay Herbert and the ball was cleared to safety.

The game continued to be an end-to-end affair, but it was hosts Binfield who seized the initiative, once again, when Stephen Peacock cut in from the left, evaded a couple of challenges and hammered a shot low into the bottom corner of the net, to make it 2-1 on 35 minutes. Another Alder free-kick whistled narrowly wide of Lyons’ goal, as Rovers went in search of an equaliser, but they were rewarded for another piece of enterprise, just two minutes before the interval, when they conjured up an equaliser. Brett James, who had been recalled to the team after an injury lay-off, struck a shot that cannoned back off the post and although Rhodes was unable to capitalise on the loose ball, he did enough to earn his team a corner.

After the initial ball from Alder was only half-cleared, the ball found its way to Herbert, who was felled by a rash challenge from Tuttle and Rovers were awarded a penalty. Warren Mann, who has resumed penalty taking duties since returning from injury, stepped up to make it 2-2 moments before the half-time interval arrived.

The weather continued to inhibit both sides in their endeavours early in the second period and a slightly scrappy opening was finally punctuated with a moment that saw Santoro go close to scoring, but his shot was eventually wide of Merchant’s goal. Will Dawes then had a half-chance for Rovers, shooting over the bar from 25 yards, before Lee and James Knight both had stunning efforts from distance, the first cannoning away off the crossbar, and the second well stopped by Merchant’s diving save.

The hosts were now having the better of the game and might have led through Johnson, before they did finally make their supremacy count, with Idris Kamara netting, on 70 minutes, after Briscoe had blocked a first effort on the line. Both sides now introduced several substitutes and Binfield’s first change saw Ian Davies enter the fray, with the striker going close to scoring within five minutes of coming on, only to blast his first effort over the bar.
Rovers’ changes saw them change shape and as they pushed men forward, in search of an equaliser, they eventually saw the game taken out of their reach, as Davies netted from close range, as the hosts found space behind the visiting defence. It might have got worse for Pritchett’s side, as Brown and Davies both had further chances to score, but the game ended with no further goals and Binfield running out 4-2 winners, a scoreline that the visitors would be hard-pressed to argue with

Binfield 4 Tuffley Rovers 2 (Independent report by Arthur Strand)
Binfield managed a home win against Tuffley Rovers in the HFL Premier Division last Saturday which places the first team 10th in the table. Blustery conditions affected the game but the Moles' forwards made a series of passes that took them deep into Tuffley's half although the ball went out of play After collecting the ball from the Tuffley keeper's goal kick, the defence provided Binfield with a chance to take an early lead. That did not happen because Carlo Santotro's effort sailed over Luke Merchant's cross bar. Rovers pushed upfield but Warren Mann could not engineer a finish. The early goal came on 7 minutes when Charlie Tuttle curled the ball towards the top corner as Merchant made a fist of it and the ball dropped into the back of the net. Binfield had made the start they wanted but htis was to be a bit premature as Rovers returned with an attack that saw the ball right in front of goal going between attacking forwards and Binfield defenders. Dave Lyons made the crucial save. On 14 minutes the Gloucestershire team had equalised when Kieran Alder prodded the ball low past Lyons. Eddie Lee then took a low shot at goal but no joy and Tuffley's skipper, Joel White, took a free kick which produced no follow up and Jeff Brown took a free kick for Binfield which was hooked clear by a Tuffley defender. The Moles then made a wing move which led to an easy save by Merchant. Rovers then countered with a close shot deflected behind for a corner kick which bore no fruit and Idris Kamara took the next free kick for Binfield. It was Jemel Johnson who took the next initiative for the Moles as he cut inside from the wing along the line but Merchant was in position to make the save. Alder took a free kick for Rovers but Moles returned with Stephen Peacock running in and shooting low into the back of Merchant's net in the 33rd minute Tuffley kept plugging away although Binfield had the edge, although the visitors gained a free kick. Just before half time Charlie Tuttle forced a corner but Rovers moved the ball forward after a foul on Merchant meant the goal for Binfield was disallowed giving Tuffley an opportunity to attack Binfield's goal which they did but the ball hit the upright quite low, deflecting off a defender conceding a corner kick and the Rovers gained another chance when a tackle in the penalty area gave Rovers a penalty on the 43rd minute which Warren Mann took and scored. Half time 2 - 2.

With adverse conditions still prevailing, Binfield took a free kick, trading a series of these before play settled down, then both sides efforts failed to score. Tuffley broke out of defence and this produced a shot by Will Dawes that went over the bar. Another two free kicks later and Jeff Brown found a man and the shot hit the bar. Brown hit a low shot soon after and the keeper conceded a corner. Lyons dealt with a long diagonal ball as Tuffley made a substitution, Adam Bloomfield on for Jake Rhodes. A long ball up to Jemel Johnson who managed to run on and take a shot which was saved by Merchant. Tuffley had soon moved back to attacking Binfield's goal but Josh Howell pulled Binfield out of defence although the forwards were caught offside on the counter. The goal that clinched the points and demonstrated the fact that Binfield had dominated most of the second half was scored by Idris Kamara in the 66th minute. Ian Davies replaced Stephen Peacock with less than a quarter of an hour left and Tuffley also made a sub Brad Loveridge was replaced by Dominik Kent then Liam Baker came on for Binfield instead of Carlo Santoro. Tuffley kept trying to make a game of it but Ian Davies sealed the win with a 4th in the 83rd minute. Jeff Brown took a shot but Merchant saved a 5th goal. Alder took a free kick direct to Dave Lyons. After the final whistle the score stood at 4 - 2 , a home win for Binfield. Manager, Roger Herridge said afterwards that the blustery conditions were testing for both sides but his team were dominant, especially in the second half when there were a number of chances that Binfield did not finish although they showed quality with accurate passing sequences. He thought that the penalty was a bit harsh but it could have been debatable. Binfield, he went on to explain, deserved the 3 points which puts them 10th in the table.
Binfield: Lyons, (GK), Howell, Tuttle, Brown, Kamara, Gavin, Johnson, Knight,(c), Lee, Snatoro, Peacock.
Substitutes: Thomson-Wheeler, Davies, Baker.

Brackley Town Saints 5 Ascot United 1
Given the dreadful windy conditions this was a very entertaining game in which both teams had their moments but in which Saints were absolutely clinical in front of goal. The first 15 minutes or so were very even as the 2 teams tried to come to terms with the strong and gusting wind which was blowing straight down the pitch. Ascot chose to play with the wind at their backs and found it hard to find their range of pass with many overhit throughout the first 45 minutes. 

On 17 minutes Saints burst into life. First Harry Brock worked a great throw in routine with Charlie Kille and burst into the box after a cute one two. Brock pulled the ball back to James Hammond whose shot was headed for the bottom corner but was tipped round the post by Sam Gray in the Ascot goal.  But Saints took the lead 3 minutes later when a flowing move from back to front involving Dan Middleton, Jordan Godfrey and George Ball saw Ryan Knight cleverly played in behind the Ascot defence and he calmly slotted past Gray. 

Saints continued to knock the ball about smoothly and nearly doubled their lead on 23 minutes when a dangerous Brock corner found Joe Ward who flashed his header wide. Ascot had not created a scoring chance but on 36 minutes Geoff Kibaki showed a rapid turn of speed as Ascot broke following a Saints corner and only a good one on one save by Worby preserved the Saints advantage.  Saints remained in the ascendancy and on 38 minutes Godfrey released Kille down the left wing. He put over a fantastic cross, given the conditions, which arrived exactly where Knight wanted it and his right foot volley was too powerful for Gray to keep out. Saints continued to press and another quick break saw Hammond and James Watts slice through the midfield and release Ball who squared for Knight who pulled his shot just wide of the post. However Knight did not have to wait too long for his hat trick. In the first minute of the second half Hammond and Godfrey exchanged passes. Hammond moved forward at pace and played Knight into the box where he was taken down by a late challenge. Knight jumped up and despite having trouble getting the ball to stay on the spot kept his calm and cooly slotted the ball home for his and Saints third goal. 

Saints were in the middle of a purple patch and on 49 minutes Watts broke free on the half way line only to be taken out by a desperate challenge by Chris Ellis who was shown a yellow card. From the free kick Saints worked the ball around the area to Kille whose right foot shot was curled just the wrong side of the post. Ascot then enjoyed a 10 minute period where they settled into the game and were finding some rhythm and it took a good save by Worby at his near post to keep out George Lock. Ball was having a growing influence for Saints and finding space on the right wing. On 60 minutes Worby found him with a long clearance. His first touch was excellent followed by a great turn at pace to skin the full back he cut in on his left foot and struck a powerful drive which Gray managed to keep out and although the rebound came back to him Ball could not get his follow up shot on target. On 70 minutes Brock made a good tackle on the edge of the Saints area. He played an accurate ball down the line to Knight who attacked the full back and played in a tantalising low cross/shot which Gray could only parry out to the onrushing Ball who gleefully stroked the ball into the empty net. 

Ascot shot themselves in the foot a minute later when Ellis was sent off for a second bookable offence for another late tackle on Ball. He was not happy but it looked pretty clear cut from where I was sat. Within a minute Saints extended their lead when Ball again showed the defence a clean pair of heels and squared for Kille to slot home Saints 5th. Ascot had a good final 10 minutes where they hit the post and Kibaki forced a good save from Worby. They got the consolation goal that their performance deserved when Worby came to punch a cross, but missed and James Richardson was left to head into an empty net.  All in all a very positive Saints performance. Some strong individual performances but more importantly a great team performance. Other results have made matters very interesting, and Saints are still in their battling.

Brackley Town Saints 5 Ascot United 1 (away view)
Ascot United endured an afternoon to forget on Saturday as they slumped to a 5-1 defeat at Brackley Town Saints and saw defender Chris Ellis dismissed for two bookable offences.

The expected windy conditions materialized, and a combination of the weather and a proliferation of early free kicks inhibited any momentum.

’Keeper Sam Gray was then alert to tip a shot around a post after 17 minutes, but he would be beaten twice before half time when Ryan Knight finished a slick passing move after 20 minutes before slamming home at the far post seven minutes before the break.

Geoff Kibaki had a shot well saved between those goals and threatened again approaching the hour mark, but the hosts were already three-nil up at that point after Knight converted an early second half penalty to complete his hat-trick.

Saints added their fourth and fifth goals after 64 and 72 minutes through George Ball and Charlie Kille, before Kibaki struck a post for Ascot after chipping home ‘keeper Alastair Worby.

Substitute James Richardson did at least give the travelling faithful something to cheer with a header over the ‘keeper eight minutes before the end, but that was as good as it got.

Ascot United: Gray, Lock, Carlisle, Ellis, Haworth, Kibaki, Denton, Laflin (Price), Regragui (Kassim), Walters, Campbell (Richardson). Subs unused: Sankoh, Sullivan

Brimscombe & Thrupp 2 Royal Wootton Bassett Town 0
Strong winds and rain battered the Meadow on Saturday when Brimscombe hosted Royal Wootton Bassett Town in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier.

Conditions were heavy and both teams struggled to start with but as both teams settled into the game the players adapted to the playing surface and the ball moved freely. The Lilywhites had the best chance of the half 18 minutes in when Jack Horrell decided to shoot goal ward but his wayward effort hit Jack Smith at the back post and found its way into the empty net but the assistant had deemed Smith to be offside. The rest of the half was pretty uneventful with neither team really threatening the others goal.

It was a slow start to the second half, the first event being a substitution which saw Sam Blackie come on in place of Edd Major with the scores still level at 0-0. The hosts were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Bassett box, both Jack Horrell and Ollie Pitt stood over it but it was Horrell who whipped it into the bottom corner away from the wall and away from Garry Aulsberry. Sam Prior made another change bringing on James Campbell for Jack Smith before replacing Chris Greenhough with Chris Pates. The home side were very close to a two-goal cushion when some fantastic link up play saw Sam Blackie breakaway with the ball at his feet before passing it out to the right where Pitt was waiting, Pitt crossed it into Horrell who was at the backpost before thundering it against the woodwork. With 90minutes on the clock Brimscombe finally reaped their rewards when Ash Caldwell’s low cross into the ball found Campbell waiting in the middle who hit it into the ground past the Bassett goalkeeper meaning the game was all but over.

Reading City 0 Virginia Water 2 (away view)
A good away win for Virginia Water in difficult conditions at Reading City. Playing into a gale force wind in the first half, we defended superbly to quell all RC could throw at us, with make shift CB and LB (Steve Williams and Scott Jackson) having terrific games in particular.

Matt Jones in goal did not have too many shots to deal with and looked comfortable on an aerial/set piece threat. At the other end, Adam McNamara and Jamie Read both went close on a few occasions, with a goal looking increasingly likely. On 39 minutes, Scott hit a long shot, which their keeper parried, then Liam Whyte headed on to the bar, and from that rebound their CB saved with his hand, a stone wall penalty, and got a red card in the process. Former RC player Eddie Lazarcuk slotted home the spot kick.

With the elements in our favour in the second half, we controlled the game, with Scott, Liam, Jamie all going close. Then on 71 minutes, from another Scott shot, their keeper fumbled for Harrison Duff to slot home the rebound. The match petered out in the strong wind, but also worthy of note was the strong performance of Liam and Jack Simmons in the centre of the park. A welcome three points, that consolidates VW comfortably mid table in the league.

Wantage Town 1 Shrivenham 1 
It would be nice to be writing a report on a free-flowing football match between two side who are doing well in the league, but unfortunately the game was ruined as a spectacle by the strong wind blowing from one end to the other. With goal kicks and free kicks into the wind more often than not finding the side lines, and forward balls the other way running long neither side were able to be anywhere near their best. 

Wantage had the wind at their backs in the first half but the first real chance of the game fell to Shrivenham’s Luke Cordery who latched onto a cross from the left but under pressure could only find the side netting. But Wantage went ahead on 16 minutes as Nick Thorne crossed in from the left, Steve Robertson’s drive as superbly turned away by Shrivenham keeper Matt Crowther, but Ben Cook was on hand to latch on to the loose ball and fire home. 

Thorne and then Robertson failed to find the target with shots as Wantage looked to rack up a good lead that would probably be needed when defending into the wind in the second period. And Robertson was again denied by Crowther on 32 minutes as the striker’s overhead kick had the keeper back-peddling and in the end pushing the dipping ball over the bar. Cook then headed over when well placed as he met a Mark Flanagan cross four minutes later but Wantage couldn’t add to their tally before the break leaving a difficult 45 minutes to come. 

Wantage looked to be coping with the conditions in the second half and although Shrivenham were using the wind to try their luck from afar there was not much to unduly trouble keeper Curtis Meare. But Shrivenham did find an equaliser on the hour as they capitalised on some uncertainty in the Wantage defence, Tom Ballard’s shot was blocked but Wantage couldn’t clear the loose ball and Ryan Stanners was on hand to level things up. 

Wantage went looking for a second and when they managed to get the ball down showed they can play. Jack Dunmall was getting some joy down the left and balls into the box for Kaylem Patterson and Robertson called Crowther in to action to repel the danger. A couple of late efforts from the visitors went harmlessly wide leaving the teams to share the spoils. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination but given the conditions a hard earned point nonetheless. 

One East

Penn & Tyler’s Green 2 Thame Rangers 3 (away view)
Thame Rangers travelled to Penn & Tyler’s Green who switched this fixture back to their home ground instead of playing at Amersham Town without regular strike partners Jordan Rogers, leading goal scorers Patrick Buston and others, with their squad stretched to its limits which included Manager Craig Faulconbridge in the starting line-up. The conditions for this game caused problems for both sides and after finding themselves two goals down Rangers showed great character to hit three in reply and go on to claim victory.

With the wind behind them Rangers started bright as the home side found it difficult to clear their lines as a hurricane blew in their faces. The first opportunity of the game fell for Rangers Christian Deste. His effort lacked power and was easily collected by home keeper Kamil Zelechowski. Soon after Miles Baxter watched agonisingly as his direct free-kick sailed just over the bar. Penn’s first attack of note fell to Tom Stables who volleyed over when well placed. Rangers then as you’d expect laid siege in Penn’s half with the wind playing a major part. A succession of corners followed and from one an over stretching Finlay Murray headed just wide, taking the ball off a better placed Faulconbridge who appeared to have an easy header on goal. In another a penalty claim was turned down as Murray was held back by Joe Dulieu preventing him from breaking free. The home side then opened the scoring. The referee failed to spot a clear foul as Dulieu pushed Matt Johnston out of the way to head back across goal for Tom Stables to tap home from close range. Rangers Calvin Evans then got in on the act and his goal bound direct free kick was saved. The very same player rattled the woodwork soon after. The home side had the last opportunity of the half in a rare attack. Matt Clark crossed to the far post and a Mason Wright effort hit the side netting from a very tight angle. Penn can take a lot of credit for defending well in poor first half conditions and going into the break a goal up.

With the wind in their faces it was Rangers turn to battle the elements, but it was Penn who doubled their lead soon after the re-start, with Wright breaking free down the left and placing his effort in the far bottom corner. Rangers responded well and got to grips with the blustering conditions, and a subtle change in their formation was a key factor in their comeback. From a corner Dan Hatton headed over and a minute later from another Murray headed home from close range. Penn appeared shaken at this point and Rangers took full advantage and equalized within minutes of their first from another corner which Faulconbridge slotted home at the far post. Five minutes later and Rangers took the lead. Faulconbridge with his second and pretty much a repeat of his first. This was a lead that remained to the end with only a well saved effort from an Ethan Holland effort to note. Another good result for Thame Rangers against a very good Penn & Tylers Green.

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