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26 - 28 March 2018

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Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup - 3rd Round

Didcot Town Reserves 5 Thatcham Town 8
A question that grips every football supporter before every match. What’s the score going to be today? Safe to say no one would have guessed the score of this game. The home team riven by illness, injury and withdrawals scraping together 12 players that finally turned up and not having played a game in over 4 weeks and the away team squeezing a cup tie between two very important matches, all played in five days. Hmm.

Okay so two minutes in and Thatcham are two up courtesy of two fine finishes by Liam Ferdinand and the home goalkeeper is led off the pitch with a hamstring injury and replaced by an outfield player Joe Parish with Didcot using the only fit sub that turned up. Time to rethink that scoreline guess ?

Didcot reorganised but Thatcham continue to press and further goals from Gareth Thomas and a Mark Hughes header make it 4 nil at 16 minutes. Scoreline hmm. A lovely ball played in to the box is not cleared by the away team and Ross MacDonald chips the keeper for 1~4.  Tom Browne and Joe Blount added to Thatcham score before MacDonald was fouled on the edge of the box for Didcot, Collins fired in the free kick and Caelen Isaac hit home the rebound off the keeper for 2~6 at half time.

So half time found a team Didcot re grouping but with only ten taking the field as illness struck the 11th player. Hmm scoreline ?  Maybe this and the team talk helped galvanise Didcot but the young team seemed to have a spring in their second half step and started closing down everything. Joe Parish was making some brave saves in goal and in 59 minutes Henry Horton was brought down in the box and MacDonald hit home the penalty. 3~6. Three minutes later and Kieran Collins chipped home a sublime goal from 40 yards and suddenly it was 4~6. Probably at this point the spectators gave up guessing the score and to be fair most had a bemused look about them. Tom Browne made it 7 with a penalty for Thatcham. A lovely ball released MacDonald for Didcot and he outsprinted the defence and thrashed a shot in to the roof of the net for 5~7 and his hat trick. Jemel Johnson scored the final goal of the match to provide. a final scoreline of 5~8.

Top marks to particularly the ten Didcot players for the second half and of course to Thatcham whose players and supporters mostly took this bizarre match in good stead. A final word to Thatcham and Wembley, you don’t need a good luck messages although we wish you well, just do your thing and you will win.

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Binfield 0 Bracknell Town 1 (away view)
Kensley Maloney's second goal of the season could not have come at a better time. The midfielder struck early in the second half to earn Bracknell Town their 1-0 win at Binfield on Monday that gives their Hellenic League title hopes another boost. But victory certainly didn't come easy with the Moles pushing them all the way and going close to snatching a late equaliser. Predictably, it was a fiercely-fought local derby with both sides going flat out for the entire game.

In front of Binfield's biggest gate of the season of 312, the Robins had more of the possession, but they were chased and hustled by the Moles who played better over the entire 90 minutes than they had against Highworth although without managing to take their chances on this occasion. There were few scoring opportunities at either end in the first half with both defences standing firm. As they so often do, wide men Joe Grant and Seb Bowerman provided Bracknell's main threat and they helped to set up half chances for Adam Cornell and TJ Bohane. But the forward who most caught the eye, particularly in the first half, was Binfield youngster Carlo Santoro, who was prepared to take on defenders with his close control and acceleration, and it needed a timely challenge by Ryan Parsons to deny Binfield a first-half goal.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Santoro started to run out of steam in the second half. Moles manager Roger Herridge fielded a more experienced side than he had on Saturday with Joel Jacobs coming in at left-back and Jack Broome into midfield for the first time in three months and they contributed to frustrating the Bracknell attack who were on a real high after scoring 10 times against Fairford on Saturday. But Herridge will have been very disappointed with the way his side conceded the goal as they had two attempts to clear the danger before the ball fell to Maloney close to the edge of the area, and his shot took a deflection as it soared into the top right-hand corner. It was his first league goal this season, having only previously found the net in the League Cup win at Ardley in January when it also proved the winner.

Woodley United 4 Windsor 4
United's first game in a month was a remarkable match that saw Woodley go in at the break 2-1 behind; score twice in two minutes immediately after half time to turn things around, add a fourth on seventy minutes before being pegged back in the final stages.

The opening five minutes saw both sides have chances that failed to test either keeper. Windsor winger Nadir Shafi's cross-come-shot from eighteen yards missed to the right whilst a great cross from Haydon Richardson found Greg Beckett who fired narrowly over.

Windsor opened the scoring on ten minutes when a low shot was parried by Alex Reed into the path of Matt Woods who tapped in from close range. The away side were looking dangerous down the left; a low cross was cut out by United skipper Idris Kamara at full stretch. Woodley levelled the scores on seventeen minutes and once again it came courtesy of Richardson combining with Beckett. The former whipped in another inch perfect cross from the right which Beckett headed into the top left corner. Two minutes later Windsor went ahead for the second time when United lost possession on the right side of their box; this allowed Shafi to nip in, round Reed with quick feet and roll into an empty net. After a frantic opening twenty minutes, the following ten was quiet with the game played mainly in midfield.

Thirty two minutes gone, Kamara once again was in the right place; this time to block a Jack Denton shot after the lively Shafi had beaten his man and cut the ball back from the left. United finished the half well. An attack down the left eventually found central midfielder Toby Bridges who had his shot from twenty five yards blocked before a nice reverse ball by Beckett on the edge of the box found Danny Horscroft who had his cross blocked at the near post.

The hosts pressed on looking to level the scores for a second time. A left wing cross picked out Owen Davies at the back post; unfortunately the winger could not generate sufficient power on his header which Henry Poole saved. An entertaining forty five minutes ended with Woodley left back Carl Prestidge going close with a dipping half volley from distance that narrowly went wide of Poole's right post.

Twenty seconds after the restart United levelled the scores for a second time when Richardson charged down a Poole clearance; with the ball rolling goalwards the Woodley forward made sure by sliding the ball in from close range. A minute later United were presented with a great chance to go in front when Davies was fouled inside the box. Poole dived the right way but couldn't keep out Beckett's well struck penalty that found the right corner. Woodley keeper Alex Reed kept his side ahead on fifty five minutes. First. he showed good hands to claim a free kick fired into a crowded penalty area before diving to his left to keep out a powerful shot from fifteen yards.

Midway through the half, Beckett had a great chance to get his third when a Horscroft corner found him unmarked at the back post; taking the shot first time he put the ball into the side netting from close range. With twenty minutes to go, United increased their lead when Beckett completed his hat-trick. Horscroft's free kick on the right fell to the winger who lashed into the bottom left corner. Before Windsor could kick off Woodley made a change when Bridges made way for Luke Turner. This saw Sam Guze move into midfield with Turner slotting in at right back. A further change was made with fifteen minutes to go when Liam Wilson replaced Richardson. Between the substitutions, Reed saved from Shafi at his near post after a shot from a tight angle on the left.

Windsor got back into the game on seventy six minutes when Denton flicked a left wing cross into the top corner from twelve yards. Minutes after the goal, Turner, who was the last man back for United, did superbly to block a shot as a Windsor player bore down on Reed's goal. The game was now stretched with Woodley looking to hit the away side on the counter. Wilson squared to Beckett who had his shot blocked as the game entered its final ten minutes. At the other end Reed pulled off the save of the evening, diving at full stretch to turn behind a shot destined for the right corner. United made their final change on eighty three minutes. Joe Barley came on for Guze.

With three minutes to go Denton saw his effort from twenty five yards whistle past the left post before Woodley were cruelly denied a welcome three points in added time when a run down the right ended with a ball into Woods who fired into the top right corner from close range.

Woodley United 4 Windsor 4 (away view)
The Monday night football saw a goal fest for the few who turned up at Scours Lane last night.

Windsor made changes from Saturday and included 10 under 19s in the squad of which 8 made an appearance either from the start or off of the bench. Three goals in the first 20 minutes was a big clue to what was going to be seen. Matty Woods opened the scoring for the visitors when he got on the end of Barry Hayles pin point cross. The lead lasted 5 minutes before Greg Beckett cut in from the left to equalise. Five minutes later Nadir Shafi restored the Windsor lead.

If you left the warmth and comfort of the bar after the break late you missed the home team not only equalise but go into the lead within 3 minutes of the restart. Firstly Haydon Richardson charged down a poor clearance almost from kick off to level and then Andy Ingram conceded a spot kick on 47 minutes that saw Beckett convert. Beckett further extended the lead on 69 minutes for the home team and they may feel annoyed that they did not take a golden chance to further extend the lead. On 76 minutes Jack Denton closed the gap to make the last 15 minutes interesting.

It was 3 minutes into time added on that Matt Stockill found Denton who fired into the top of the goal to see Windsor take a share of the points. A good night's entertainment on another cold night. A word for referee Charlie Bullock who kept the game flowing.

One East

Virginia Water 2 v Penn & Tylers Green 0
Another bumper crowd witnessed a very tough, tense and physical top of the table clash at Stag Meadow, that saw VWFC win – just!

To be fair to Penn, they dominated the first 15/20 minutes of each half, but could not get the goal their play deserved. This was down to some exceptional saves (including a penalty save) by Matt Jones (MoM) and the strong defensive display of our back four, and replacement, Max Samyint. Having seen out the first quarter, Waters got the early break, when on 24 minutes Lorenzo ‘lennie’ Di Felice, hit an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box, from one of many corners. As our passing game started to grow, a left foot cross by Louis Sanders was handled in the box, and Josh Guichard slotted home the penalty to make it 2-0 on 35 minutes. Penn pushed forward and missed a couple of good chances of their own, but at 2-0 up at the break, we were in a good place.

Penn started the second half the stronger, in a repeat of the first half, even if there were less clear cut chances. The last half hour saw discipline tested on both sides, but it was the home side who had most efforts on goal, and were it not for some excellent saves by their keeper and the cross bar, Waters could easily have added to their lead. Lennie, Josh (who had a terrific second half), Adam McNamara, Steve Williams, Finn Evered, all went close on a number of occasions. Thankfully we saw out the game and achieved a huge morale boosting win in our attempt to win back to back promotions – hopefully as league winners – but still work to do. We wish Penn every success with their promotional aspirations also.



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