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9/11 October

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Tuffley Rovers 0 Longlevens 1
In a game that saw them field three different goalkeepers, Tuffley Rovers’ inability to convert a healthy share of possession into goals scored cost them dearly, as they lost the ‘El Glossico’ derby 1-0 against Longlevens, their second defeat against the Saw Mills side in four days.

After Levens managed to come from behind to win 2-1 at their home on Saturday afternoon, in a Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup tie, both sides made a plethora of changes, with brothers Brad and Craig Martin both recalled to start for the visitors, alongside Jay Kennedy, Shaun O’Connor and influential midfielder, Dave Merrick. Rovers handed a start to new signing, Kieran Alder, with another new boy, Jamie Reid, on the bench. Liam Wright and Warren Mann were also recalled to start.

The game started in typically competitive fashion and the hosts quickly accumulated three cautions, inside ten minutes, with Danny Wallington, Mark Pritchett and Joel White all cautioned for mistimed challenges.

Longlevens had the first chance of note, as Brad Vanstone – one of the goalscorers in Saturday’s win – drew a save from Dave Evans, after he was set clear on goal, but Rovers quickly found themselves on the front-foot and very nearly opened the scoring when debutant Alder showed a deft touch to evade two challenges, before slipping a reverse pass into the path of Brett James, who first time shot appeared beyond Ash Wintle, in the Longlevens goal, but struck the frame of the goal and bounced away to safety.

The returning Mann was next to trouble the visiting defence but his shot, a lobbed effort, lacked sufficient power and Wintle was able to recover his ground and gather the ball comfortably.

Rovers were now in control and Pritchett was next to try his luck, but his hooked volley went narrowly over the bar, as he latched onto a loose ball following the breakdown of a set-piece.

Despite their positive performance, Rovers’ profligacy, coupled with a momentary defensive lapse, saw them fall behind on 26 minutes, as Vanstone latched onto a long ball clearance to find himself one-on-one with Evans; slotting the ball beyond Rovers’ captain, and into the net, as he advanced from his goal.

Falling behind, after Saturday’s defeat at Saw Mills, might have been enough to put Rovers off their stride, but they continued to shade the share of possession, with first Alder and them James having efforts on goal that only went narrowly wide. Rovers’ former Gloucester City man, James, then had another chance to level the score, only to see another well-struck effort hit the post.
As half-time approached, Rovers suffered a blow as Evans was forced from the field with a dislocated finger, after gathering in a routine cross, and he was replaced in goal by Player/Manager, Pritchett, with Reid, who had transferred from Fairford Town, taking his place in defence, a smooth transition that safely guided the hosts through to the half-time interval without Pritchett being called into any significant action.

The second period started without the intensity that had accompanied much of the first, with efforts from Wright, for Rovers, and Kennedy, for Longlevens, the most notable chances.

James was a constant threat to Longlevens, but he lost control, under pressure from Craig Martin, as he looked set to test Wintle, before the game took its next decisive twist.

As Pritchett came out to claim the ball on the edge of his area, he appeared to kick out at Vanstone, resulting in a red-card for the Rovers’ boss and a penalty to the visitors. Following a momentary discussion, Wright became the their Tuffley goalkeeper of the evening, immediately making a contribution, as he dived to block both O’Connor’s penalty and the follow-up effort.

Despite the disparity in numbers, Rovers continued to match their opponents but the ongoing struggle to turn their pressure into chances told and they had to be grateful to Wright, who showed good reactions to block chances from Myron Turner and Brad Martin.

With seconds remaining, Rovers had a chance to restore parity, but Wallington’s free-kick, from 20 yards, bent well wide of the Longlevens’ goal and the visitors held out to claim all three points.


Woodley United 1 Thatcham Town 1
In a closely contested match against third place Thatcham Town on Moday night, United, who has lost 3-0 against the same opponents in August, were good value for their point.

While Town shaded the first half, which required Alex Reed to be at his best, United enjoyed the better of the second half seeing two efforts cleared off the Thatcham goal line and it was against the one of play that the visitors took the lead on sixty eight minutes when a quick break saw the ball played from Thatcham’s right to left wing enabling Josh Helmore to fire into the far post when one on one with Reed.

Undeterred United, continued to press the Thatcham goal winning a number of free kicks and it was from one in the second of six minutes of stoppage time that Michael Porter got the final touch in a crowded penalty area to level the scores and give the hosts their fourth point from three games under the stewardship of new manager James Anderson.

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