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13 October

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Brackley Town Saints 4 Tuffley Rovers 1
Another solid and, at times, fluent display from the Saints with victory meaning that they have taken 13 points from the last 5 games moving them to the top of the division. At the beginning of September Saints won the reverse fixture against Rovers and were lucky to hold on to a 2-1 victory on a day when Rovers spurned plenty of good goal scoring chances. Today was a different story, and although the game was still finely balanced until the 75th minute Saints were always on the front foot and in the ascendancy.

Saints made a couple of changes from the win over Shrivenham in midweek with Lewis Baldwin pulling up in the warm up. Hammond returned from illness. The early stages saw Hammond released down the wing on 2 occasions but each time his dangerous crosses were well dealt with by the TR defenders. Saints took an early lead on 7 minutes when excellent approach play from Knight and Watts released Charlie Kille who finished clinically to notch his 3rd goal in 2 games (1-0)

Surprisingly Saints were sloppy for the next 10 minutes and Goddard was required to make a good defensive header from a dangerous cross from Rovers Birkett who proved to be lively all afternoon. 4 minutes later Rovers tested Worby from a free kick but he saved well and Middleton was on hand to clear the danger. Saints finally sprang back into life when Godfrey broke strongly from central midfield and dinked a lovely ball through to Knight whose volley was pushed over the bar by Merchant in the TR goal. Hammond then cleverly played in Knight but he was thwarted by Merchant. Knight retrieved the loose ball and played in Hammond but he was unable to create the space to get his shot away.

On 26 minutes Birkett ran strongly through Saints midfield and into the left channel where he put in a pinpoint cross for Rhodes at the far post whose volley was well kept out by Worby. From the resulting corner James held off Worby’s challenge and had the strength to turn and strike a fierce shot into the net off of the post (1-1). Immediately Saints were at the other end where Stott got into a good position on the end of a Brock corner but his goal bound effort was cleared off of the line. Rovers broke quickly and from the resulting move Godfrey conceded an unnecessary free kick in a dangerous area, which fortunately came to nothing more than a corner. Godfrey atoned immediately picking up the ball just outside his own area and knocking a pinpoint ball that pierced the heart of the Rovers defence and which put Knight through one on one with Merchant. Knight toe poked the ball past the keeper and then won the race to catch the ball and slide it into the empty net (2-1) On 36 minutes Stott was substituted having been on the wrong end of 2/3 strong challenges. He was replaced by Ball who was immediately in action getting on to the end of a Kille cross, but he was unable to keep his header on target.

Rovers started the second half brightly and James had a great run cutting in from the left side and forcing a good save from Worby with Middleton again the first to react to the rebound. But Saints were soon back in the driving seat and on 55 minutes Hammond collected a Middleton throw and played Watts into space. He cleverly drew a couple of defenders and slipped the ball to Godfrey whose shot was well directed but Merchant again refused to be beaten. Hammond and Watts then combined well and Watts outstripped the full back. His vicious cross nearly resulted in a cracking own goal by the Centre Half who was thankful for the assistance of the post and the keeper. On 66 minutes Rovers were the breaking dangerously but Joe Ward showed great anticipation intercepting the ball and driving out of central defence. The break was fast and Ward found Kille wide on the left and his first time pass was perfect for Hammond who didn’t waste the chance, making a great run and beating the last defender, before delivering a cross that took everyone out of the game except Knight, who tapped in from close range. 3-1.

Rovers made a few changes and on 73 minutes substitute Gale cut in from the left and fizzed a wicked right foot shot across the face of the goal. 2 minutes later Saints sealed the match. Hammond once again found acres of space on the left and a cracking pass from Godfrey eluded Kille but ran on to Hammond who cut in and smashed a shot past the despairing Merchant (4-1). That was the last action for Hammond, who was replaced by Jordan, and shortly after Saints made their final substitution with Steele replacing Knight.

Birkett fashioned another chance but Worby was not to be beaten keeping out his low shot with Alder only able to direct the rebound back into Worby’s arms. At the other end Jordan was prominent and he set up Steele for a shot which Merchant did well to keep out with his legs. Shortly after there was a great spell of Saints possession which ended with Jordan flighting a perfect ball to the back post for Kille, whose first time volley was very well saved by Merchant. Jordan had one more opportunity but his well struck volley just drifted past the post. Birkett who was a strong force for the visitors had the final say with a good run and a great strike at goal which was just too high. Overall a very satisfactory performance by Saints which sees them sitting at the top of the table. Next game is away to a strong Royal Wootton Bassett side on 20th October.
SAINTS: Worby, Middleton, Ward, Goddard, Brock, Kille, Godfrey, Watts, Stott (Ball 40), Hammond (Jordan 75), Knight (Steele 80) Subs not used: Bridges

Brackley Town Saints 4 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
Brackley Town Saints moved to the top of the Hellenic League, Premier Division table, as they produced an emphatic demonstration of counter-attacking football that saw Tuffley Rovers leave St. James Park having recorded a second consecutive defeat in the league, following their midweek loss at home to Abingdon United. Following that defeat, Rovers manager, Mark Pritchett, was forced into several changes, with recent signings Lee Smith and Jack Phillips both unavailable, so there were starts for Macaulay Herbert, Paul Carter, Jake Rhodes and another new signing, Henry Birkett, as the visitors looked to return to the form that had seen them record three consecutive wins before the reverse against Abingdon.

The early moments of the game were fairly even, with neither goalkeeper seriously troubled, but the hosts were to grab an eighth minute lead, with the first chance of note, when Charlie Kille was set clear by James Hammond, before smashing the ball beyond Luke Merchant in the Rovers goal.Rovers responded well and Kieran Alder created space for himself, only to shoot well over Ali Worby’s goal, before the Brackley keeper was called into action to deny Brett James, who produced a well struck shot from the edge of the area. Alder then had a second effort, a free-kick, that went narrowly wide of the Saints’ goal. The hosts’ were playing excellent football but they were at their best when given the opportunity to counter-attack and they almost extended their lead when a Rovers attack broke down, but Merchant produced a super stop to keep out Ryan Knight’s powerful strike after seventeen minutes. The Rovers keeper was on-form again, just a few minutes later, as he used his legs to keep out another Knight effort, before Hammond sent the ball narrowly wide as it flashed across the Rovers goalmouth.

Rhodes, recalled after a spell on the bench, almost converted James’ cross, after fine play by Birkett, but it wasn’tto be long before the visitors drew level, as James capitalised on Worby’s indecision to turn the ball home from ten yards out, with thirty minutes gone. Having fought their way back into the game, Rovers proved the authors of their own misfortune less than three minutes later, as a short corner saw them lose possession and Jordan Godfrey’s long ball saw Knight beat Merchant to the ball and although Sam Hill tried hard to recover ground, the Brackley Town man beat everyone to the ball before forcing it over the line from close range. Rhodes almost conjured up an equaliser, producing an excellent leap before heading Carter’s corner narrowly wide, and then Pritchett almost capitalised on another excellent set-piece delivery but the ball ran away from him as he looked to have found space. Neither side could conjure a further, clear opportunity and entered the interval with the hosts leading 2-1, with all to play for in the second period.

Rovers came out on the front foot and almost scored straight away, only for Worby to produce an excellent one-handed stop to keep out another James effort, before Saints had a chance of their own, with Merchant making a good, low stop to keep out Godfrey’s effort. The visitors were looking threatening, but when another attack broke down they were made to pay for their profligacy, as the hosts broke quickly and scored their third of the game, with Hammond producing an excellent run and cross which gave Knight the chance to fire the ball into an unguarded net on 65 minutes. Another new signing, Liam Gale, had been introduced for his debut moments before the score became 3-1 and he very nearly had a significant impact on the game, having beaten two players before smashing the ball across the face of the Saints’ goal, but the ball flashed wide, without a Rovers player getting a touch on the ball. With just sixteen minutes remaining, the result was sealed, as Saints once again showed excellent technique, with Godfrey combining with Hammond, before the latter found space to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.
Rovers pressed and half-chances came the way of Hill, Joel White, Birkett and Alder, before substitute Harry Walker fired a good chance into the side-netting, and it might have been worse for Pritchett’s side if Merchant hadn’t beaten away efforts from Steele, Kille and Jordan. When the official sounded the final whistle, Saints were left to celebrate their climb to the top of the table, whilst Rovers were left to lick their wounds for the second time in five days.

Fairford Town 5 Holmer Green 0
Fairford Town swept aside Holmer Green with a ruthless performance ensuring a 5-0 win, extending their unbeaten run to five games. The Reds were in complete control of the Premier Division encounter and could have scored more. Defender Robbie James opened the scoring with a close range finish in the 12th minute and it remained 1-0 going into the break, thanks to a smart low stop from home ‘keeper Harrison Ellis to deny the visitors an equaliser.

After the break Fairford showed determination and pinpoint finishing to wrap up their biggest league win of the campaign to date. Youngster Charlie Bailey produced an excellent solo effort, thrashing the ball into the top corner to make it 2-0 on the hour. Straight from the restart John Thomas capitalised on a poor defensive touch before running clear and smashing home his eighth goal in ten games for the Cinder Lane side. Dan Bailey volleyed home a measured 67th minute left-footer from just inside the edge of the box to make it 4-0 before doubling his personal tally for the day with an audacious first time finish from distance shortly after.

It was a polished display from the home side, who now have a two-week break from league action taking on AFC Aldermaston in the Challenge Cup this Saturday 20th October (3pm).

Fairford Town: Ellis; Watson, James, Saunders (Hawkins), Oakes; D Bailey, Preece (c), Morris, C Bailey; Thomas (Wanless), Thompson (Cairns)

One East

Wokingham & Emmbrook 3 Milton United 2 (report from Arthur Strand)
Milton United visited Larges Lane, Bracknell last Saturday for a Hellenic League Division 1 East fixture. Suma's were soon at the corner flag and when the ball reached the central area a defender hoofed the ball forwards but it bounced off the back of a forward which helped Milton to clear the ball away from goal. Josh Harris worked the ball to Jake White whose shot was delivered direct to Mitch Parmen. A free kick was awarded to Suma's which George Marsh took but as a cross arrived into the centre of the area, Parmen was fouled. With 10 minutes gone, a niggledy foul and retaliation by Suma's gave Milton the free kick. Ensuing from there came the first goal by Nat Robinson, an accurate shot beyond the reach of Sean Woodward from the edge of Suma's' area. Milton had made early inroads. Suma's continued, undeterred, pressing forward but, losing possession, were back defending, escaping and the eventual cross from the flank was accepted by Parmen. Robinson attempted to breakthrough Suma's' defence but was thwarted In the 23rd minute, Then the Suma's mounted an attack which saw 3 attempts blocked until, after regrouping, Josh Harris scored the equaliser. A low shot by Elliott Rushforth gave Suma's a chance to overtake the score but missed. On the half hour, Ellis Day received the ball and Suma's had a second chance to go ahead when he netted the ball. With a goal to the good, Suma's needed to defend but conceded a corner kick which Suma's cleared but Milton countered. Regaining the ball, Suma's took a free kick which, with the ball entering Milton's area and a foul ensuing, brought about a penalty awarded to Suma's. Jake White made no mistake, giving Suma's a 2 goal cushion before half time. Steven Prior sent the ball sailing over Woodward's cross bar and the latter made a very good catch.

Nick Bateman was replaced by Sam Jones and the Suma's proceeded along the right wing but Milton won back the ball and Sean Woodward had to save as Milton then took a corner which was headed away. Suma's on the counter with Josh Harris approaching along the line, were blocked again and Milton went forward gaining a corner but nothing more. Suma's took the ball to the opposite end and Ellis Day threaded the ball to Josh Harris who just missed the upright. After a Suma's free kick, Milton's Nat Robinson sent the ball diagonally and a corner kick to Milton followed on from the swift counter attack. Luther Headford arrived as a substitute for the visitors and the next highlight was when Sam McDermaid took a shot which bounced off the top of Woodward's cross bar. A yellow card was shown to a Milton player in midfield for deliberate handball. Headford had a race to the ball with Woodward but the ball went out of play. Suma's free kick saw Milton Break and gain a corner. Andy Griffiths headed but onto the head of a Suma's defender and Woodward collected the ball. Milton sent Henry Bone on instead of Andy Griffiths and Woodward made a great save. Milton were still seeking another goal and an incoming cross and Jordan Goddard's shot sailed over the top. A Sam Lawrence free kick was headed away and a corner followed up after a long run by Ellis Day.With just over 10 minutes left, a clumsy tackle gave Milton a Penalty and Natan Robinson smashed the ball into the back of the net. The final 10 minutes were spent defending the now slender lead but the manager, Dan Bateman, gave liver Pritchard a few minutes on as substitute. Jack White missed a sot as Milton persevered to find the elusive goal that would have levelled the scoreline. The visitors sent a free kick over the bar and several other attempts were off target..
Wokingham & Emmbrook: Woodward,(GK), Carter, Rushforth, Commuskey, Marsh, Dean,, Lawrence, N.Bateman, Jake White, E.Day, Harris. Substitutes: Jones, Pritchard, Clark, Davies (GK), Winship.

One West

Cheltenham Saracens 2 Easington Sports 0 (away view)
This was your classic game of two halves with the wind blowing straight down the pitch providing the attacking side with much assistance. In a tight game Easington mistakes were punished in the first half giving Cheltenham a two goal advantage to hold onto in the second half. Sports ended the game with 5 up front but just could not get the breakthrough that might have allowed them to get something from the game.

Defending into the wind in the first half, Easintgon made a slow start to the game and allowed Cheltenham to build up some early pressure. The home side played with good width and were able to get in behind the wing backs delivering good early balls into the box. Sports were punished in the 4th minute for failing to deal with this and Adam Loveridge scored his first of the game heading a bouncing ball over Adam Rimmer to make it 1-0. Sports then found themselves 2-0 in the 23rd minute after Adam Loveridge converted his penalty kick.

Easington game back into the game slowly adapting to the condition and the surface. The visitors managed to make it a more end to end game and Andrew Stidder became more of an attacking threat as the half wore on. The Easington striker was involved in the only notable chance of the half managing to slide a pass through the organised Cheltenham defence. Unfortunately, Craig Robinson had his shot well blocked by a last ditched challenge.

In the second half, there was only one team dominated play and this time it was Cheltenham’s turn to battle the elements. Tim Griffiths was the Cheltenham hero in goal, making a number of fine saves whilst demonstrating excellent handling which took the pressure of the defence. The home keeper tipped a low effort from Andrew Stidder around the post just after the restart. Sports continued to pile on the pressure throughout the half but perhaps snatched more at efforts in front of goal as the need for a goal wore on.

George Coombes came on and had a chance with virtually his first touch in the game, whilst Joe Eyre smashed a shot over the bar and Craig Robinson had a glancing header that went just passed the post. To be fair to Cheltenham, they defended well and worked hard to keep their fourth clean sheet in a row. There was still time for Griffiths to pull off another top drawer save to tip a Dan Watkin header over after a great free kick in from Callum Convey.
The afternoon went from bad to worse for Sports in the final 5 minutes of the match. Both Ali Robinson and Josh Rose were sent from the dugout for retaliation after the Cheltenham Saracen coach needless started a fracas by leaving his technical area to snatch a ball back from Robinson. The game was eventually restarted but Sports could not manage another chance on goal and so the game end 2-0 with Sports dropping their first points of the season.

There will be no chance for Easington to put things right in the Hellenic division in October with cup matches to follow against high flyers Wantage Town at Addison Road next week followed by an Oxford Senior Cup match away to Stoke and Woodcote the following Saturday.

North Leigh United 0 Clanfield 85 3 (away view)
Clanfield completed a league double on Saturday against West Oxfordshire rivals North Leigh United when they ran out comfortable 3-0 winners on a blustery afternoon at the Eynsham Hall Sports Ground.

After an even opening period when both sides created enough openings to take the lead it was Nathan Kimber that fired the Robins ahead. On thirty-eight minutes he found himself inside the penalty area with time and space to fire across the Leigh keeper and into the far righthand corner of the net, nothing more than the visitors deserved. Both sides continued to create several chances but with both defences on top there were no further goals before the interval.

Ten minutes into the second period Kimber went about adding to his afternoon tally when firing a tremous long distance effort against the hosts cross bar. On sixty-nine minutes Clanfield doubled their lead and effectively ended the contest when Josh Gibbens found himself unmarked in the penalty area and thundered a header into the back of the home sides net from a Dan Garner corner.

To their credit the hastily arranged home side never gave in and continued to look for a way back into the game, however they found Robins keeper Jamie Zoldan in fine form keeping his first and well deserved clean sheet of the season, when he did find himself in a spot of difficulty his central defenders of Matt Knapton and goalscorer Gibbens were there to help him out, together these two were solid at the back and as they have all season performed to a very consistent level.

Football is all too often about goalscorers, but midfield veteran Adam Pendall once again put in a massive shift, such an example to the younger players that if you look after yourself and do the right things you can play at this level for many seasons, Adam is a real legend at the club. The game concluded with another first of the season when in the third minute of stoppage time Zac Oliver fired home a twenty-yard free kick for his first goal, Oliver fired up and over the Leigh defensive wall and beyond the keeper to complete the victory and return the side to winning ways in the Hellenic League. 

Clanfield now return to cup action on Saturday when they entertain Woodley United in the Bluefin Challenge Cup at Radcot Road, the tie kicks-off at 3:00pm.

Thornbury Town 7 New College Academy 0
In gale force winds on Saturday Thornbury enjoyed a comfortable win against bottom of the table New College. Against a young but game opponents, Thorns got off to the perfect start when Jim Brock netted from a free kick after just 3 minutes.

They doubled their lead 5 minutes later when Craig Lancastle netted before Luke Franklin scored the third on 13 minutes. Town totally dominated the game with New College defending in depth and struggling to get out of their own half. Thorns created, and missed, a number of good chances before Lancastle scored his second 10 minutes before the break.

The second half continued in much the same vein and it was no surprise when Town went nap, with Luke Franklin scoring his second on 58 minutes. Craig Lancastle then completed his hat trick in the 69th minute, before Asher Budd made it 7-0 a minute later. 

The game finished on an unhappy note when Scott McLoud suffered a serious injury 7 minutes from time requiring an ambulance to be called. All at the club wish Scott a speedy return to action.

Two East

Yateley United 0 Langley 4 (away view)

Langley were back in league action this weekend and were looking to bounce back from their cup defeat on Tuesday night. Langley faced a tricky away trip to a Yateley side that would be high in confidence coming off the back of a an 8-0 win. 

However, Langley meant business from the kick off and even on the uneven pitch were moving the ball around nicely, the two central midfielders were controlling the game and both wide players were causing all sorts of problems for the Yateley full backs. Langley has some early chances and opened the scoring on 10 minutes, Chris Martin-Thomas beating his man down the left and his low cross caused panic in the box which resulted in Abdul Ally putting the ball home from 10 yards. Langley were in the mood and the lead was doubled on 20 minutes after a good move that started from a throw in that was flicked on, crossed in to the box and finished off by Brandon Granville to give Langley the breathing space they deserved. Yateley responded well with plenty of crosses into the Langley box which gave the defence something to think about, but the game was effectively put out of reach shortly before half time when Jerrell Gumbs received the ball 25 yards out, took one touch to set himself and curled a fine effort into the top corner. 

The second half would see Langley pick up where they left off, with a mixture of winning the ball back quickly and pressing high, Langley created chance after chance to only be denied by either last ditch tackles or poor finishing. The 4th goal was inevitable, woth a Langley corner kick being headed home by central defender Luke Paris, which was no more than deserved. Credit to Yateley who never gave up despite the score line and had some half chances of their own, the most notable a shot being cleared off the line by Ricardo Cannon to preserve Langley’s clean sheet. All in all, a decent performance on a not so decent pitch and great attitude from the lads to bounce back after a defeat. Many thanks to Yateley for the game, who we see again next week in the cup! 

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