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13-15 November

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Didcot Town Reserves 5 Bourton Rovers 2
The Railwaymen are through to the Bluefin Challenge Cup Third Round but not before a disjointed first half and spirited display from Bourton gave them a scare along the way. Several changes from Saturdays league game saw an unfamiliar 11 line up to start the game as Manager Chris Hurley sought to utilise his squad and give a couple of starts to first team squad players needing minutes on the pitch. 

Aaron Davies was brought down on the edge of the Bourton box early on and Taylor Janes free kick was deflected for a corner which Josh Pinn headed over the bar. Bourton Connor Teague then had two glorious chances putting the first past the post and then Ben Little in the Didcot goal saving bravely. Josh Pinn had a header cleared off the Bourton line and Danny Way sent a free kick wide of the post for Bourton. Shortly after Chris Murphy played a through ball to Ross MacDonald and his fine cross should have been put away by David Murphy but the Bourton keeper somehow kept the ball out. MacDonald this time passed for Josh Pinn to head over. 

Another cross from MacDonald and David Murphy just failed to get to. The profligacy proved fatal when Josh Fielding cut inside and swept a beauty in to the corner of the net and put Bourton ahead and again Connor Teague should have done better just before half time. 

If Didcot were read the riot act at half time it immediately did not work as Bourton scored so early most of the crowd missed it , this time Daniel Smith the scorer to put Bourton two up. Another MacDonald cross went begging with Pinn just failing to get to it before Didcot really found their feet with Taylor Janes rattling home a low effort off the post to reduce the deficit. Three minutes later and a fine MacDonald run and cross was tapped home by Josh Pinn and the Reserves had their tales up now. Within 8 minutes of their first goal Didcot were ahead as Taylor Janes headed towards the box at pace and played a sublime 1-2 with MacDonald and finished with a good first time shot high in to the net. Further goals could have ensued as Janes pass to Pinn was just short and MacDonald poked the ball wide when on the ground in a melee. 

Despite second half dominance the game was only put to bed four minutes from time when some fine interplay ended with MacDonald again beating his man and providing an excellent cross for Alex Marshall to crash in to the roof of the net first time. Couple of minutes later and David Murphy perservered outside the box and hit a low drive through the keeper to provide a slightly flattering score line. 

Binfield 2 Ascot United 0(away view)
Ten-man Ascot United lost to Binfield for the third time this season as Josh Howell’s early strike and Ian Davies’ late effort sent them crashing out of the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup. The defeat left Ascot’s hopes of silverware resting on the county cup, whilst focussing on their quest to move off the bottom of the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division.

Harry Sheridan made his debut in the Ascot defence – a rearguard who were looking to avoid adding to their nine goals already conceded against Binfield this season – most recently in a 6-2 league defeat just six days earlier. The opening stages were all too predictable as Howell cut in from the left and opened the scoring for Binfield with a deflected effort in the 11th minute, although the visitors responded well and Josh Dillon headed narrowly wide from a corner.

For the Ascot faithful it must be hard to believe that this was a trophy they lifted in Kidlington just over 18 months ago, having since fallen on difficult times. Indeed, the only survivor from that night, Samir Regragui, delivered a good cross in the 44th minute for Dillon to force a good save from Henry Craven, but there would be no equaliser before the break.

Ascot were bright in the early stages of the second half and Craven was forced into a brace of saves from Dillon once again, but the visitors’ plight would worsen when Jonny Denton received a second yellow card and his marching orders in the 69th minute. Lee Allen then saved Ascot when he turned an effort onto the crossbar after 72 minutes before the highlight of the evening saw Matt Jones make his re-appearance from the Ascot bench after a lengthy absence undergoing knee rehabilitation.

But it wouldn’t be a fairy tale return for Jones, who watched as Davies rounded Allen to bag a second goal for Binfield in the 84th minute, ultimately ending the visitors’ resistance.

Brackley Town Saints 5 Wantage Town 3
Having gone out of all other cup competitions at the first hurdle Saints, hoping for a change in fortunes, welcomed high flying Wantage Town to a pristine St James Park in the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup. 
Regular attendees at the home of Brackley Town football club are used to late autumn cup drama and Saints and Wantage Town served up an absolute thriller, 8 goals, 4 penalties, 2 scored and 2 saved, a bizarre sending off, and 120 minutes of see-saw, end to end, football that was a credit to the Hellenic League and the game at step 5.  
With centre backs Dean March and Joe Ward still absent through injury, skipper Lewis Baldwin started alongside Dan Middleton in the middle of the Saints defence again and young midfielder Keegan Giles partnered James Watts in the centre of midfield. Manager Gordon Kille also brought Khris Oti back in to his starting line-up with Alex Stott dropping to the bench. 

Wantage Town started the game quickly and Saints keeper Alastair Worby was called upon to make a smart, low save in the 1st minute.  In this early period Saints were being fully tested by the away sides frantic start but with just 8 minutes gone striker Josh Bowden powered forwards drawing Wantage defenders and the goalkeeper out to stop his run. Saints attacking midfielder Matt Johnson reacted quickest to get to the loose ball and floated a perfect shot over everyone into the goal despite the desperate attempt to clear from the Wantage defender, 1 - 0 Saints.   Stung by the setback the visitors piled the pressure on the Saints goal however keeper Alastair Worby was equal to everything thrown at him particularly when saving a well struck shot from the edge of the box on 19 minutes and 10 minutes later holding on to an attempt from close in after a mazy dribble into the area by the Wantage striker.  When Worby's heroics, and the impressive defending in front of him from Lewis Baldwin and Dan Middleton, couldn't stop the visitors, right-back Sam Bridges pulled off a brilliant goal line clearance to ensure that Saints ended the half on top. 

In a mirror image of the 1st half Saints stopper Alastair Worby was called on to make another 1st minute save in the 2nd half as Wantage started quickly again.  Saints fought back and only a last-ditch tackle stopped Josh Bowden from a counter attack before Khris Oti fired a shot across the visitors goal and out for a goal kick. At the midpoint of the half midfielder James Watts drove a shot just over for Saints and moments later the Wantage keeper made a great save to keep his side in the game.  With 70 minutes played the visitors finally got the equaliser scoring from a cross from the Saints left side, 1 – 1. 

Unfortunately for Wantage, a loss of concentration following their goal was punished when Saints attacked from the restart and a Matt Johnson shot proved too hot to handle for the keeper and he could only push the ball out to Chris Jordan who smashed it back past him to restore Saints lead, 2 – 1 Saints.  Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the mistake made by their opponents Saints made a substitution following the goal thereby slowing down the restart however whilst they were sorting out their self-imposed re-organisation Wantage went straight through and gleefully grabbed a 2nd equaliser in just 4 minutes, 2 – 2.

With Saints now shell-shocked Wantage went in search of a winner and with 10 minutes remaining they were awarded, and scored a penalty, 2 – 3 Wantage.  It is not the way of the youngsters from Brackley to feel sorry for themselves and with just 5 minutes left to save their cup hopes for the season they threw everything at Wantage who, despite defending impressively, couldn't hold out and in the 87th minute the home sides Khris Oti powered a shot past the keeper to level the game, 3 – 3.

With the 90 minutes all but done and players, officials, and fans taking a deep breath in expectation of extra-time what followed was extraordinary.  2 minutes into added time an innocuous disagreement over the return of the ball for a free-kick led to an unexpected, and probably unwarranted, booking for the Wantage keeper. In a moment of complete farce, possibly as a result of something said, the referee then turned and flashed the keeper a second yellow, then the inevitable red card. 

Full of astonishment, disbelief, and frustration Wantage replaced the keeper with centre back Bradley Cox and the game restarted with his long kick downfield that ended up in the Saints penalty area where the madness was completed by the award of a last minute, second penalty of the game to the visitors.  The final act of the game then was a straight shoot-out between the Wantage penalty taker and Saints impressive keeper and it was Alastair Worby who won the battle making a fantastic flying save to take the game into extra-time. 

Full-time: Brackley Town Saints 3 v 3 Wantage Town - Down to 10 men and playing against much younger opponents the extra 30 minutes was always going to be tough for Wantage Town and so it proved.  6 minutes into the first half Saints were awarded their 1st and the games 3rd penalty which was perfectly dispatched into the corner of the goal by skipper Lewis Baldwin, 4 – 3 Saints.  3 minutes into the second period of extra-time Alex Stott ran into the visitors penalty area and beat the keeper to extend the lead, 5 – 3 Saints.  Just to balance things up with 10 minutes left Saints were awarded their 2nd, and the games 4th penalty, and this time it was Wantage's stand-in keeper who pulled off a superb save to deny Josh Bowden the goal his play probably deserved. 

uhlsport football kitOne East

Thame Rangers 1 Penn & Tylers Green 3
Two early goals for the previous two season’s league winners Penn was the difference in a game where a young Thame side did themselves proud and can hold their heads high as the majority of the game was evenly contested.

As early, as the first minute Penn took the lead with a well directed free kick and soon after made it two using their long ball style of football to catch the home defence unaware. A tactical switch in formation for the home side preventing Penn from executing their game plan got Thame back in the game and they soon began to threaten. Craig Faulconbridge moving from centre half to centre forward had an excellent opportunity to reduce the deficit but his double effort somehow ended up wide. Then Matt Johnston was beaten to the ball by a defender when it looked like he was favourite to tap in from close range. The half was played out with both sides battling hard and the score line remained the same.

The early stages of the second half were pretty even and then a double substitution and fresh legs was the start of a period of play that Thame were on top but failed to take full advantage. Kieron Moreton came on at full back and Joe Brittain making his debut in central midfield. Brittain alongside Christian Deste began to set attacking moves up which allowed Moreton and Charlie Attwell on the other flank to get forward. Crosses came in from both sides within this period and Faulconbridge should have done better with two opportunities. Deste then produced the best out of the visiting keeper with a goal bound effort. Additional shots from Brittain, Abdi Farah and Patrick Buston came before the pressure paid off and Dan Hatton scored. Yet another foul from the visiting side resulted in Hatton beating both wall and keeper from 25 yards. Unfortunately, for Thame the visitors responded within a minute to regain their two goal advantage. Thame never gave in and a spirited effort in the remaining period of the game was not enough as the visitors took all three points.

Thame Rangers 1 Penn & Tylers Green 3 (away view)
Penn & Tylers Green FC travelled to Thame Rangers on Tuesday night and came away with an impressive 3-1 win in a very competitive excellent match which saw them move closer to Bicester at the top of the league with two games in hand.

To say Penn started well would be an understatement as in the third minute Casey Bocarro gathered the ball on the half way line and went on a mazy run through the Thame defence until he was unceremoniously hacked down 25 yards from goal which also resulted in an early booking for the Thame No.5. From the resulting free kick Casey Bocarro executed a brilliant low free kick around the Thame wall and into the bottom right hand corner of the net leaving the Thame goalkeeper no chance. 1-0 In the next 20 minutes, more chances came Penn’s way as Fred Tripp and then Jamie West failed to connect with good low crosses. Jamie West then headed over from a precision cross from Fred Tripp. Corners were scrambled away and then in the 23rd minute Penn added to the score line when Josh Fox made one of his trademark 25 yard across the pitch diagonal passes over the defender’s head right into the path of Fred Tripp who honed in on goal and waited for the advancing goalkeeper to commit before expertly chipping over him for goal number two.

Thame gradually came back into the game and caused Penn some problems with their quick counter attacking moves and had chances of their own. One notable chance was a low free kick around the Penn “D” which evaded defenders and attackers alike, only for the ball to come back off the post for a relieved Penn defence to finally clear. Penn had a good penalty appeal turned down in the 40th minute when Fred Tripp was pushed over In the Thame penalty area, and this proved to be the last action of the first half and Penn took a deserved lead of 2-0 into the half time break.

Thame came out for the second half and immediately began to enjoy their best spell of the match and had a couple of good chances with a header narrowly over and some shots blocked by the resolute Penn defence. Penn were now the team counter attacking and from one break Jamie West put in a low cross from the right which was just behind the onrushing Fred Tripp. Jordan Gumbs also came forward from right back to thunder a shot over the bar. On 65 minutes Thame were rewarded for their pressure when a foul by Brad Holland resulted in a free kick on the edge of the Penn area and it was superbly despatched low to Matt Canning’s right hand and into the bottom corner. 2-1 Game on!

They say you are most vulnerable when you have scored and so it was to be as Penn kicked off and after a neat interchange of passes involving George Weller and Adam Davies, Josh Fox, as he was all night, was released down the left wing and he evaded two robust challenges to deliver a precise cross which was a gilt-edged invitation for the incoming Fred Tripp to tap into the net from six yards; 3-1, two goal cushion restored immediately. Penn survived a determined Thame effort to get back into the game and for the last ten minutes had to show their defensive qualities to quell a number of Thame forays into Penn territory. A couple of good headed chances were squandered and a great diving save from Matt Cannings maintained Penn’s two goal lead.

Penn finally had the last word in the last minute when an beautifully weighted pass from Jamie West released Penn substitute Nile O’Meally Newell to race clear on goal and he was brought down outside the penalty area by the Thame goalkeeper which resulted in a red card for the goalkeeper and a free kick to Penn which was well taken by George Weller but the stand in goalkeeper made an excellent save low to his right. That was the last action of the night and Penn could look back on an excellent team performance and a deserved win on the night against a very good, resilient and skilful Thame Rangers side

One West

Kidlington Reserves 3 Letcombe 4 (away view)
Letcombe returned to league action after two postponements with a difficult trip to Kidlington who had a 100% home record. New signing Danny Lechacz made his debut in midfield, and former keeper Danny Joyce deputised in goal for Charlie McCready who was on holiday.

Both sides looked dangerous going forward but vulnerable at the back in the opening exchanges, and Harry Whitehead gave Kidlington the lead after 15 minutes with a free header at the back post following a corner. The hosts added to their lead a minute later, Will Leach driving home a shot following a low left wing cross. Harry Monger shot narrowly wide for Letcombe and home keeper Nick Lacey saved well from Conor Lynch who had raced clear of the home defence. Lynch was not to be denied however, and he reduced the arrears with a header from an Owen Cummins cross. Letcombe were level in the last few seconds of the half, Lynch being on hand to drive home the rebound from close range after Lacey had saved Harry Monger`s initial shot.

Letcombe dominated the early exchanges of the second half, with Lynch having a shot saved and Monger and Ben Hummell both shooting narrowly wide. A flowing move saw Letcombe take the lead after 54 minutes. Sam Mulvey won the ball near his own corner flag before finding Ben Hummell, whose pass sent Lynch racing clear to place the ball into the far bottom corner to complete his hat trick. He added a fourth ten minutes later following a cross from Monger, spinning to drive the ball into the top corner from twelve yards. He could have scored a fifth, but shot straight at Lacey with only the keeper to beat. Harry Monger grazed the crossbar, and Letcombe looked secure until Kidlington scored with three minutes remaining. Danny Joyce turned a shot onto the bar and then saved the follow up shot, but Harry Whitehead was on hand to bundle the ball over the line and create an anxious few minutes for the visitors, but they held on for a deserved victory.

The game was played in a good spirit by both sides, with not a bad challenge throughout the match. Great credit to the young Letcombe team to again come back from a two goal deficit as they had done a month before at North Leigh, and to gain three points which moved them to second place in the league. Man of the match was goal hero Conor Lynch, but he would be the first to admit that this was a real team effort.

Reading Senior Trophy

Virginia Water 0 v Woodley United 2 AET
The learning curve continued for Division One East "Water's", albeit we were on the receiving end of a harsh result on the night against an organized Woodley team from the Premier Division.

The visitors were the better side in the first 20/25 minutes, although found our resolute defence a tough nut to crack. We got into the game midway through the first half, and for most of the match, were the better side, sadly failing to convert many chances. Adam McNamara, Steve Williams, Jake Baker, Mark Lansdowne, Adam Mills, Josh Hill, all had opportunities that on another day could have gone our way, but not to be tonight.

The last thing any team wanted was extra time, and all the Waters thought it would go straight to penalties, but the officials, equally unsure, decided it was extra time. Both sides had chances, then an unfortunate break for Waters on 101 minutes, when a defensive lapse allowed in their striker, who Matt forced wide, and his shot came back off the post, only for another striker to tap in the rebound, when clearly off-side in the strictest sense of the law, as he was beyond our keeper and the striker who took the original shot, nevertheless the goal stood.
As Waters continued to push, with a couple more chances, quite a few from our set pieces, that went begging, Woodley sealed the game with a goal on the break on 118 minutes. Even more disappointing for us was for Finn (a colossus at Centre Back), picking a straight red, when he had clearly been kicked from behind, that strangely went unpunished?

Not a welcome result for the Waters, but many positives, with us more than holding our own, in a match we should have won in normal time.

Virginia Water 0 Woodley United 2 (away view)
United progressed to the second round of the Reading Invitation Senior Challenge Cup for the first time in three seasons and in doing show brought Division One East high flyer’ Virginia Water’s unbeaten eleven game run to an end.

Woodley started strongly playing good passing football in the hosts’ half that saw Owen Davies and Danny Horscroft fire over the cross bar in the opening five minutes and Callum Samuel-Harman narrowly failing to connect at the far post from a Jordan Goddard free kick in the twelfth minute.

Briggs was blocked by home keeper Matt Jones for a corner that resulted in Davies again shooting over the cross bar and Briggs steering the ball wide of the upright on twenty five minutes.

Water’s first worthwhile effort came on the half hour when Adam McNamara’ deflect shot was stopped by Alex Reed. This gave the home side heart who enjoyed the final stages of the first have with Reed gain denying McNarama who was becoming an increasing threat to the visitors. The half ended with Sam Guze, who had enjoyed the opening period, shooting wide.

The second half was notable for Water’s most likely root to goal being the long throw by Finn Evered which on more than one occasion United scrambled clear or in the case of Jake Baker put wide when unmarked in the sixty fifth minute in what was his first touch as a substitute.

The hosts started the first period of extra time lively that saw a goal mouth scramble end when a player strayed off side and a corner in the fourth minute cleared. Reed did well to block Steve Williams with his feet in the eleventh minute of extra time when one on one in what was the hosts’ last worthwhile attempt of the game.

Three minutes later Davies put man of the match Brigg through on goal. The forward rounded Jones but saw his shot hit the upright and rebound into play where the oncoming Horscroft scored from inside the goal area.

With Woodley managing play well in the second period of extra time Virginia became increasingly frustrated which culminated with Evered being dismissed in stoppage time, two minutes after Davies had secured the victory with his first goal for the club following good play from Marvin Hinds and Briggs pass splitting the defence to leave the midfielder with just Jones to beat from twelve yards.

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