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9 September

Emirates FA Cup

Buildbase FA Vase Round 1 Qualifying

Ascot United 1 Farnham 3
Ascot United’s interest in the Buildbase FA Vase ended at the first hurdle with defeat against Farnham Town. The home side levelled matters before half time after Farnham had struck inside the opening fifteen minutes, but another second-half horror story paved the way for their second 3-1 defeat inside a week. It was a welcome break for each side from their league struggles – both sides occupied relegation berths after just one win each in their respective divisions – and with a decent prize fund available there was an added incentive for victory as Sunday football returned to the Racecourse.

The visitors benefited from the windy conditions in the first half and George Spiers dragged an early shot wide for the Surrey outfit. At the other end, Samir Regragui’s sweet volley into Adrian Giles’ midriff was easily saved, but it was Farnham who enjoyed the best chances before they took a thirteenth minute lead. The goal was, in truth, a calamity for the home side as ‘keeper Lee Allen failed to gain control of a bobbling ball, allowing Josh Stepney to nip in and scored from close range before Allen received four minutes of treatment for a head injury sustained in the preceding melee.

Allen atoned for his own poor clearance after 22 minutes when he tipped Charlie Bath’s shot onto the inside of a post – Bath’s effort coming in the following passage of play – although the hosts found themselves level after 25 minutes following their first meaningful attack. Rob Lazarczuk earned his side a corner,  Jonny Denton swung it deep, and after Louis Bouwers had nodded the ball down, Lazarczuk’s deft flicked volley with the outside of his boot looped into the top right hand corner. Bouwers would limp off before half time as Ascot improved leading into the break, but the one-all scoreline was a fair reflection of the opening 45 minutes.

With the wind now behind them, the home side started brightly and had Lazarczuk’s first-time shot from Rory Knibbs’ cross been either side of Giles then Ascot would have been ahead inside two minutes of the restart, but as it was, Giles stood up well to beat a fierce effort away. Knibbs might have done better than shooting wide with a clear sight of goal after 50 minutes although Jack Dillon wasted a golden chance for Farnham with an air-shot when he should have forced Allen into a save with the goal at his mercy. Dillon then turned provider for Josh Stepney who inexplicably headed over at the far post with Allen stranded, but Farnham finally restored their lead from the spot after Allen fouled Dillon with his feet; captain Max Meaton firing the penalty into the left hand corner via a glove and a post.

Ascot’s miserable afternoon was compounded when Bath slotted home in the 83rd minute and although Lazarczuk’s 45 yard effort bounced narrowly wide and substitute Mo Davies’ shot struck the bar, the home side could not force a grandstand finish.

Clanfield 85 2 Holmer Green 1
Returning to the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time since season 2012/13 Clanfield 85 came from behind in the First Qualifying Round to defeat Spartan South Midlands League Holmer Green at the UK Building Plastics Direct Arena Radcot Road.

The Visitors play at Step Five in the Non League Pyramid a level above the Robins but it was the home side who made the early running.Holmer Green began to assert their authority and Dean Powles was denied by a fine tackle by Matt Bearne.The striker was not to be denied however putting the visitors ahead in the 24th minute with a good finish.Both sides went close but it was Holmer Green who held the halftime advantage.

The second half continued as the first with neither goalkeeper being seriously troubled with the defences in front of them standing firm although the visitors hit the bar and failed to convert in a goalmouth scrimmage.There were however signs that Clanfield were beginning to assert their authority and in the 75th minute they were back on terms when Callum Miller got on the end of a fine free kick by Jack Kennedy to drive the ball home and five minute later they were in front.Substitute Karl Roberts latched on to a through ball to slide the ball home and secure the Robins place in the next round.

Crawley Green 2 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
An 87th minute goal from Charlie Clayton ended Tuffley Rovers’ hopes of progress in this year’s Buildbase FA Vase at the first hurdle, as Mark Pritchett’s side lost 2-1 to Luton based Crawley Green on Saturday. Played out in front of a sparse crowd of just 29 spectators – 10 of whom had travelled the 234-mile round trip from Tuffley – at the home of Crawley Green’s landlords, Barton Rovers, the outcome of the game was ultimately determined by a combination of Rovers’ inability to create enough chances and their hosts’ more ruthless edge, which saw them capitalise on two opportunities, three minutes from the end of each half.

With Warren Mann and Jack Overthrow both unavailable, Jamie Goodwin suspended and three players – Harry Walker, Tristan Haswell and Ben Tunnicliff – absent with long-term injuries, Pritchett made four changes to his starting line-up, following the FA Cup defeat against Swindon Supermarine, as he recalled ‘keeper Dave Evans, Shayne Anson, Brett James and Shayne Bradley. Given the number of absent players, Pritchett’s bench was made up of himself and two promising seventeen year old reserve team players, Cameron Williams and Will Emery, as Rovers named only three substitutes. One of the returning faces, Brett James, might have given Rovers an almost immediate lead but his header, from an Alex O’Leary corner, was headed wide when he might have expected to test Dean Bull in the Crawley Green goal.

Rovers controlled the early exchanges but had to be grateful that another returning player, Evans, was well positioned to pull off a smart stop to keep out Michael Moss’ header on 14 minutes. O’Leary was looking in good form on the right-hand side of Rovers’ midfield and twice had efforts that went narrowly wide of Bull’s goal, before Bradley might have broken the deadlock, only to see his header, from Sam Hill’s free-kick, drift narrowly wide, too.

Despite having the greater share of possession, Rovers were occasionally tested by their hosts and Aaron Browne shot narrowly over, from the edge of the box, as a reminder that Rovers needed to be on their mettle. They were further reminded of the need to be alert when Marcus Foxwell, Macaulay Herbert and Sam Hill all combined to block out efforts from Clayton and Browne. The warning signs went unheeded and three minutes from the half-time interval, Rovers fell behind, when Pat Daly produced good work, before unleashing a shot that cannoned back of Evans’ goal frame, before falling straight into the path of Lee Hawkes, who smashed the ball into the now unguarded net, from close range. Joel White almost volleyed Rovers level, but his shot was well saved by Bull and the half-time score saw Crawley Green holding the narrowest of advantages.

In a moment of perfect symmetry, Rovers, who had fallen behind three minutes before the break, levelled the scores three minutes after the restart with an excellent goal. Having picked up the ball out wide and evaded two challenges, before slipping the ball out to Hill, James ran on to meet a beautifully measured cross with a header, from six yards out, that flashed beyond Bull before he could react. The goal was no more than Rovers deserved and should have been the catalyst for Pritchett’s team to go on and progress their claim for a place in the next round of the competition, following a controlled display, only punctuated by the hosts’ first half goal and for the next quarter, the tie looked like it would only go one way.

Rovers dominated possession and although clear chances were few and far between, there seemed little threat to Evans’ goal, as he was left with a spectator role for much of the half. O’Leary, who had played a vital role in many of Rovers’ attacks, was starting only his second game since joining the club and visibly tired as the half wore on, resulting in Cameron Williams’ introduction on 76 minutes and he almost made an immediate impact, heading Bradley’s goalwards and drawing a clawed save from Bull, who was scrambling back across his line.

Crawley Green seemed reinvigorated and started to apply a little pressure, resulting in Evans producing two routine saves, but neither side seemed capable of changing the scoreline and extra-time looking increasingly likely. However, Clayton latched onto a loose ball wide on the Crawley Green left and with time and space, he produced a terrific low effort that flashed beyond Evans and into the bottom corner, to seize the lead, with just three minutes remaining. Pritchett introduced his physical presence into the attack, alongside the energetic Emery, who was making his first team debut, and although they helped add a little late energy, Rovers couldn’t break down the hosts stubborn defensive effort in the closing minutes and were left to rue their inability to turn a sound performance into a place of the Second Qualifying Round of this year’s competition.

Highworth Town 4 Easington Sports 0
This was the Worthians' first foray into the FA Vase this season and the tie offered up a potential banana skin to slip up on in the shape of Division One West Easington Sports. The Worthians were on the scoresheet very quickly after Aysa Corrick had charged down the right flank and cut the ball back to Chris Taylor who then guided it between the keeper and post with geometric precision for an early lead.

Dan Drewett had a shot blocked on the line after a quarter of an hour and then Adam Rimmer made a great save from Aysa Corrick five minutes later. Dan Drewett then had another good opportunity to add to the score-line, but his well-struck effort went straight to the grateful Sports keeper. Mike Spaull then had a shot from distance for the visitors but Garry Aulsberry was only required to dodge the falling conkers as the ball flew into the trees. However, with just five minutes of the half remaining, more pressure saw the Worthians awarded a corner kick and in a repeat of the previous week, a great ball in from Ryan O'Hara to the near post saw Callum Parsons drift across a static defence to head home the second of the afternoon.

Easington's first chance of getting back into the game came a quarter of an hour after the half-time break when Mike Spaull drove down the left flank and lifted the ball into the path of James McMahon but the shot flew tamely over the bar. 

The industrious Callum Parsons then seized an opportunity to round the keeper and slot the ball home, but his celebrations were thwarted by a goal-line clearance. However, shortly after, Nick Stanley carried the ball down the left flank and passed back to Josh Jones who crossed to the back post for substitute, Kias Bonner-Shea to head home with his first touch of the ball. Adam Rimmer then saved well from Kias Bonner-Shea and somehow managed to dive across the goalmouth to keep out Ryan O'Hara's testing volley. The Easington keeper then parried a Callum Parsons thunderbolt and Kias Bonner-Shea should have scored from the rebound but instead he blasted the ball over the bar from less than three yards out.

Easington's best chance of the afternoon came when Joe Eyre had a mazy run for the Sports down the left flank and delivered an excellent ball into James McMahon but the burly forward's deft touch saw his shot evade the flailing arms of Garry Aulsberry but drift agonisingly wide of the far upright. 

Normal service then resumed with Adam Rimmer keeping out a thunderous strike from Keiron Gleed and then as the contest was coming to a close, Nick Stanley crossed from the left for Keiron Gleed to flick on with his head to leave Callum Parsons with time and space to slot home his second of the afternoon. The Worthians went about their task in a professional way and were good for their tally of two goals in each half, but credit to Easington who played some good football, never got disheartened and worked hard up to the final whistle.

Leighton Town 3 Brimscombe & Thrupp 1 (away view)
Brimscombe travelled to Leighton Town on Saturday afternoon for the First Round Qualifying of the FA Vase.

There were a few good chances in the first half with Sam Blackie coming close on two occasions, Ollie Pitt had his dangerous free kick tipped onto the bar before Kyle Pitts’ rebound was judged offside. Ed Major was on hand in the 34th minute to give the travelling side the upper hand when he ran on to a low cross and knocked it in.

With the second half underway it didn’t take long for Leighton to find the net, scoring in the 50th minute and again in the 52nd. Elijah Simpson replaced Christien Turner in the back line and David Woodfield replaced Sam Blackie in the midfield. Ed Major was shown a straight red for a challenge before late on Ash Caldwell was also given a red by referee John Perry. Leighton got another one just before full time. Lorell Smith and Alex O’Brien on the scoresheet for the hosts.

Lydney Town 4 Winslow Town 2
Lydney came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders and after only 3 minutes forced a corner. Dan Morgan swung the ball into the box and the ball landed at the feet of Jamie Addis who swept the ball home. On 5 minutes Lydney were awarded a free kick on the left and Morgan once again caused havoc with his cross into the box and with the ball falling to Ross Gabriel on the far post he made no mistake with his header. On 9 minutes nearly increased their lead when Gabriel disposed a Winslow defender and his cross into the box found Billy Guest who screwed his shot narrowly wide. A minute later another free kick into the box by Morgan found the head of Dan Barnard but somehow his effort was cleared off the line for a corner. On 12 minutes the home fans were cheering once again when the ball was played through to Keelan Hamblett who beat his man and then fired past keeper Ash Jenkins. Lydney continued to pile on the pressure and in the 17 th minute Addis disposed a defender and crossed to Gabriel but his overhead kick went just over the bar.

Gabriel again went close when a Morgan corner kick found Hamblett who laid it into Gabriel’s path but again his shot went over the bar. On 25 minutes with virtually their first attack Winslow pulled a goal back when Sean Coles fired into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of keeper Mac Sadler. After being under the cosh for 25 minutes the visitors now found new confidence and on the half hour mark Grant Karwacinski broke through but screwed his shot wide. On 35 minutes ex-Liverpool Academy player Aaron King nearly pulled another goal back but his shot was blocked by Tom Shaw. Lydney weathered the storm and just before the break a Gabriel cross found Addis in the box but his shot was cleared for a corner. The ball into the box from Morgan found Sam Elliott whose shot was cleared only to be fired back into Gabriel on the far post who missed connecting with the ball by inches.

As expected the visitors came out fighting in the 2 nd half and in the 48 th minute they reduced the arrears when a long range shot by Kevin Mealour nestled in the net. Lydney immediately went back on the attack and a Liam Sheppard effort was palmed away for a corner by keeper Jenkins. Morgan swung the ball in finding the head of Elliott but his effort hit the bar and then cleared to safety. On 53 minutes the ball came out to Kerry Hale on the edge of the box and he immediately hit a tremendous shot past a helpless keeper. The game became a little scrappy but on 68 minutes Winslow broke through but the attack was halted by Tom Shaw at the expense of a free-kick on the edge of the box. The dangerous King stepped up but the Lydney defensive wall stood firm and his shot was cleared to safety. Lydney pushed forward and a Hale effort slid tantalisingly across the bar. On 75 minutes Lydney caught the visitors pushing forward and with 4 on 2 substitute Frankie Johnson fired his shot just over the bar. The visitors tried to push forward to retrieve the situation but Lydney held firm to see the game out.

This was certainly a well deserved victory for Lydney with everyone playing their part. If Lydney had taken all of their chances during the opening 25 minutes they could have well been out of sight and avoided the nervous period just after the break when the visitors pulled back to 3-2. With the team now settling down and players returning from injury and unavailability prospects look good for the future.

Royal Wootton Bassett Town 3 Fairford Town 1
Royal Wootton Bassett Town prevailed 3-1 in a lively FA Vase first qualifying round tie against local rivals Fairford Town on Friday night. 

Rich Hunter’s side were indebted to a pair of outstanding first half goals, which put them in a commanding position in an end-to-end derby contest that saw both teams create numerous chances.mHarvey Scholes’ 15th minute opener was particularly special as the midfield curled a stunning first time effort from just outside the area into the top right corner. His strike was followed by Sam Collier’s acrobatic volley seven minutes before the break. 

While Bassett put together one of their best attacking performances of the season so far, they were guilty of spurning a pair of further fantastic opportunities that could have then put the game to bed.  And when Fairford grabbed a lifeline courtesy of Liam Gale’s deflected effort, the tie was well and truly up for grabs.

However, man of the match Sam Packer – who had played the role of creator for Bassett’s opening two goals – finally sealed victory with a late strike, racing onto Chris Jackson's ball before shrugging off the attentions of Luke Bairstow and firing beyond Ben Mitchell.  Bassett will host Spartan South Midlands League Division One side Codicote in the second qualifying round.

Welwyn Garden City 3 Brackley Town Saints 1 (away view)
For the second season in a row Saints were drawn against opposition from the Spartan South Midlands Premier League. Welwyn Garden City had made a strong start to their season, unbeaten in the league and their only setback coming in the FA Cup where they lost 4 - 2 to North Greenford United. Saints themselves have had a reasonably good start to the season but are yet to find their rhythm and put together a run of consistent performances.

With Greg Kaziboni being called up to the Brackley Town first team squad for their visit to Salford City, Saints manager Gordon Kille opted to recall Chris Jordan to the middle of the attacking midfield moving Matt Johnson out to the right and James Watts replaced Joeb Evans in the centre of the midfield. Although Saints striker Josh Bowden had the first chance of the game, drawing a good save from City keeper Charlie May after 2 minutes, the hosts started well and took control from the outset. The Saints defenders cleared a couple of early chances before, on 9 minutes, Welwyn Garden City's Josh Bronti beat Ali Worby with a tidy finish to break the deadlock, 1 – 0 to City.

Just 5 minutes later Saints switched off after clearing a corner leaving 3 City players unmarked in the box and it was Jon Clements who took charge and comfortably headed the hosts 2nd goal past Worby, 2 – 0 to City. Saints were able to create a couple of chances to get back into the game, Matt Johnson set up another shooting chance for Josh Bowden that was saved and James Watts's well struck shot from distance went just over the bar, but they were given a mountain to climb when Josh Bronti was given far too much time in the penalty area to pick his spot and beat Worby again for his 2nd and City's 3rd goal of the game, 3 – 0 to City with 35 minutes played. With the hosts perhaps relaxing a little Saints continued to work hard despite the scoreline and were rewarded after 40 minutes when after good quick play in the middle of the field a through ball set Josh Bowden clear and his pull back was perfectly placed for Chris Jordan to fire home, 3 – 1 to City.

A change was made at half time for Saints with manager Gordon Kille replacing Chris Jordan with Lewis Baldwin who had missed a couple of games through injury but before he could affect the game in any way the hosts were offered a chance to extend their lead from the penalty spot when Saints defender Charlie Kille was adjudged to have handled the ball following a corner. Welwyn Garden City's Josh Bronti stepped forward to take the kick looking to complete his hat-trick but Saints stopper Ali Worby pulled off a superb save to keep the visitors slim hopes alive. Saints responded to the let off with an attack of their own with Matt Johnson being set free on the left but his first-time ball into the box just failed to reach the on-rushing Lewis Baldwin.

A second substitution for Saints was made with Sam Bridges replacing Charlie Kille and Bridges first involvement saw him penalised by the referee for a foul leading to another opportunity for the home side before, at the other end a chance for Ryan Knight was saved. After 30 minutes the game was halted following a late challenge on Saints keeper Ali Worby resulting in a yellow card for the attacker and 4 minutes of treatment for the injured player. With the game opening up as players from both sides tired Saints pressed forward to try to get back into it but they were unable to create any clear-cut chances. Striker Josh Bowden was replaced by Alex Stott to freshen things up and shortly afterwards the visitors were awarded a free kick just inside the City half. The free kick led to Saints closest opportunity to score again with centre back Joe Ward leaping well at the far post but his header went just the wrong side of the post. In winning the ball Ward and the Welwyn Garden City defender had clashed heads and both remained on the ground requiring treatment.

For the second time in the half a significant stoppage in play of around 5 or 6 minutes with both players being unable to continue and as Saints had already made all 3 substitutions they played the remainder of the game with 10 men. Bizarrely the referee deemed it appropriate to only play 5 minutes added time but this made no difference to the result and the home side were able to maintain possession of the ball to deservedly win the game and take their place in the next round.

Premier Divisionuhlsport football kit


One East

Ghalfont Wasps 2 Wallingford Town 1
After a tough start to the seasons Wasps found their sting in this return fixture and their first home fixture of the season. Thanks to Den and Booey for all their work on the new pitch, and also to Gatty and Co for all the works in the changing rooms – things looked good, and all ended well too.

After an even first 5 minutes Wasps began to apply some pressure. Chris Hurst headed into the keeper arms from a Tom Fifield cross. Then followed a number of Wasps corners and free kicks. Wallingford sent a couple of free kicks into the Wasps box, but the home side’s rear guard cleared any danger. Wasps then conceded following a ball over the top, James Stuart finishing neatly into the far corner. 0-1 11 mins. Wasps continued to threaten. Skipper Ryan Sweales header over from a Fifield corner; Pardeep Ghattoara and Jack Pearce combined well on the right to feed Fifield who’s shot whistled just over; Hurst’s free kick clattered into the defensive wall; Mason Wright pace and trickery on the left caused issues and Wallingford survived a number of other Wasps raids into their half. The match then became a little scrappy for the final 10 minutes. 0-1 at half time.

Wasps were out first for the second period and set about their business with enthusiasm. A Wright run fed Fifield, shot gathered by the visiting keeper. A Sweales shot following a corner was half cleared and Fifield’s follow up effort was booted away. Wright then made things level at 1-1 with a super strike across the keeper from a tight angle. 1-1 65 minutes gone. Josh Urquhart caught a half volley sweetly, it just cleared the bar. Wallingford then regrouped for 5 mins, Wasps stood firm, no major scares. Some great Hurst and Fifield’s interplay was snuffed out by a last ditch tackle. Wasps made a number of substitutions as legs got tired on the softish new surface. Wasps forced a number of corners but could not force home a winner. Ghattoara won the tackle, passed to Hurst who netted, but he was adjudged to be offside. Then Wasps got their well-deserved second. Hurst with the goal with 7 minutes of normal time remaining. Final score 2-1, a reverse of the score from a few weeks ago. The Stingers are up and running!

Didcot Town Reserves 1 Bicester Town 1
The Railwaymen were again without several experienced regulars for this league fixture at Loop Meadow Stadium however those coming in to the squad performed well against muscular opponents fresh from a 5-1 home win midweek. 

The away team started better with a deep free kick being headed well wide and shortly after Benjamin for Bicester shot wide from 12 yards after a defensive mistake. Ashley Stevens had a fine save in the 8th minute following a free kick. Didcot started to get to grips with their formation and Jack Hollister played in Keiren Collins but keeper Gareth Tucker got there first. Home debutant Brett Gardner had a long range chip which had Tucker back peddling fast to save under the crossbar. 

A deep free kick from Bicester was held by Stevens in the home goal who was fouled and not long after Bicester captain Dean Smith was booked. From a Didcot free kick Joe Parish headed across goal and Jack Hollister headed just wide. Joe Parish was next to go in to the referees book before Matheus Madeiros went on a fine run but was fouled outside the box. Direct from the free kick Michal Filipowicz fired a glorious shot in to the roof of the net to put the home team one up. 

Gardner for Didcot had a good cross cut out for Didcot however 5 minutes before half time Robert Johnson shot home after a defensive lapse to equalise.Wayne Blossom for Bicester was next to be booked on the stroke of half time. 

The second half opened with Keiren Collins shooting home from outside the box however it was disallowed for an infringement. Harry Brock for Bicester was booked for dissent before Blossom had a header saved by home keeper Stevens. Didcot nearly took the lead when Ross Tanner crossed and Lewis Wilcox headed across goal but Joel Thompson just failed to connect five yards out. Jack Hollister shot over the bar and Stevens saved well at a Bicester forwards feet. 

In the 72nd minute Jack Hollister was given a red card when he appeared to overstretch going for the ball and collided with a defender. Bicester captain Smith was sent off for taking the law in to his own hands and not long after Giroud for Bicester was also booked. A period of Didcot pressure found Wilcox heading over from a Collins cross and Filipowicz shot over towards the end. With some relief the ref brought proceedings to an end and both teams had to be content with one point each. 

Thame Rangers 1 Virginia Water 1
Top of the table with a 100% record and having beaten Henley 9-0 in their last game, league new comers Virginia Water were our visitors. They made only one change to their starting line-up that beat Henley the week before. Conditions were perfect after some over-night rain.

Our opponents started strong as you would expect but the game began to even itself out on the 15-minute mark once we had settled. We began to create chances and should have gone ahead in the 20th minute when Charlie Attwell headed a Dan Hatton corner onto the post. The opening goal came on 29 minutes. A well-worked set piece by our visitors was finished off in style by Paul Burrows from the edge of the box giving 17-year-old Archie Davis no chance in goal. We reacted well and created three great chances in quick succession. Chid Onokwai headed just over from a Hatton cross, Finlay Murray sliced a shot wide from close range, and Nick Harrison headed over from another Hatton corner. Then just before the break Matt Jones in goal was forced into action with the save of the game from another effort from Onokwai. Our visitors had a few chances in the first half but Davis in goal was never troubled as long range efforts flew high or wide.

The second half was played in the same fashion. We came out looking to get back in the game and started the half stronger. After a series of corners, the game was back on level terms with James Keeble equalising from close range. Keeble reacted the sharpest and drove the ball low into the bottom corner. Efforts from both sides never troubled either keeper from then on as defences held firm. Our opponents were awarded an unbelievable penalty late on, but young Davis dived the right way to save. That was the last notable effort of the game and the points were shared which on the day was a fair reflection.

Whilst Virginia Water had more chances Davis only had the penalty save to make, their efforts being from distance, we had the better chances and on another day could have sealed all 3 points. Still a great result against an unbeaten team who had only one change from the week before’s thrashing of Henley Town.

Thame Rangers 1 Virginia Water 1 (away view)
Waters were left to rue so many missed opportunities, as they surrendered their 100% winning start to the season against a resolute and courageous defensive display by the home team. Whilst we are disappointed not to have taken all three points, Thame too would have been disappointed not to get a draw their effort deserved. A great game for the neutral, Waters had so many chances on goal, with at least 20 or so shots, a disallowed goal, hitting the post and missing a late penalty.

We started slowly, clearly missing the 8 players, who were not available for a variety of reasons (not that that’s an excuse), but soon got into our rhythm. Paul Burrows, Jake Baker, Adam McNamara, all having a few efforts on goal, as well as forcing a number of corners. At the other end, our defence stood firm, with Matt Jones in goal only having one terrific save at the feet of their striker to make. We went ahead from a short corner, which was controlled and smashed in by Paul on 30 minutes. A couple more half chances followed, but we failed to capitalise.

Early in the second half, the home side got an equaliser, when a long throw was not dealt with by our defence, and scrambled home, despite our protestations that Adam Mills (MoM) was up ended in the box. To be fair Matt did not have another shot to deal with the whole second half, as Waters pressed for a winner. Liam Hill, Steve Williams and Joe McBride dominated the midfield, but as hard as they tried, we could not find that all important second goal. Adam Mills hit a post and had a goal bound shot deflected wide. Louis Sanders, Paul, Jake, Adam, Liam, Steve, all had further efforts, but found their keeper in good form and we lacked some of our usual composure. We introduced young Jack Deabill for his debut, and he too almost scored.

In the 80th minute we were awarded a penalty, which sadly we again failed to convert, albeit some will say it was a little harsh. Further chances came and went, and whilst it was a good point for the improving home side, it was seen as two points dropped by Waters. Nevertheless we remain unbeaten and for the moment proudly sit top of the league at this early stage.

Wokingham & Emmbrook 1 Penn & Tylers Green 2 (report by Arthur Strand)
Penn, last seasons Div 1 East champions, visited Lowther Road on Saturday, and the game started quite steadily until Penn waded deep into the Suma’s territory forcing the hosts to defend. With that probing foray behind them, Penn conceded a free kick, allowing Wokingham to press forward and carve out some time when they could set up an attack on the Penn defence. Jack Gibbs, on the left flank, ran past Penn players and sent the ball forward to Ben Knight but the defence held firm and prevented Knight from any opportunity of opening the goal scoring account. That came in the 11th minute when Penn moved into a threatening position and the ball arrived quite close to goal and low but Jordan Gumbs spotted it early enough to dive forwards and head the ball beyond Steven Fairchild. Suma’s then had to defend again as a long pass entered the area but Fairchild was there to claim the ball. There was a short stoppage when Wokingham sub Ben Broadhurst was dismissed (red card) from the bench for disrespecting the referee. Play resumed and Wokingham faced a free kick by Penn but the defence cleared the ball away from any risk. It was Penn's turn to face a free kick by Suma’s and Casey Bocarro ran round defenders but the ball went out of play behind the goal line. With 10 minutes to go before the break, Sumas’ approached goal and Luke Scope provided Sam Lawrence with a chance to score an equaliser.

After the break, Penn survived a long shot which went over Josh Cockerill's cross bar so the score remained even. The rain started once more as a thunderstorm approached and play was affected with torrential rain, which was driving hard at one point . The players ploughed on through the driving rain with the ball going from end to end. During this, Penn had infiltrated the Suma’s area and Casey Bocarro managed to score in the busy box. Penn began to dominate play until 10 minutes from the end when Suma’s spent much of that time in the Penn half seeking the equaliser. Penn's earlier shots at goal included a scorcher straight over Fairchild's goal, Danny Blatchford hammered the ball which rebounded from Suma’s crossbar, Casey Boccaro over the cross bar, a save from Bocarro by Fairchild. Wokingham persevered and were close to scoring a couple of times but the clock ticked to zero. Penn remain in second place, one point behind leaders, Virginia Water, with a game in hand and Wokingham drop to 5th place in the table.

Wokingham & Emmbrook 1 Penn & Tylers Green 2 (away view)
Unbeaten Penn played their first away league fixture of the season and it couldn’t have been a harder task and test for them than away to a full strength and also unbeaten Wokingham & Emmbrook. So, something had to give and thus it was Penn who came out victorious in a healthy competitive and sometimes niggly game which did justice to both team’s commitment and a game which gave value for money to both sets of supporters. Penn had several enforced changes to the line up from the previous week but such is the strength in depth of manager Giovanni Sepede’s squad the difference was virtually unnoticeable.

Penn started the stronger and settled straight into the pace of the game and were winning most of the midfield battles and composing some good passing moves and testing the Wokingham defence on a few occasions with the direct running of lone striker Casey Bocarro causing some problems and forcing the two Wokingham central defenders onto the back foot on a number of occasions. On 12 minutes the breakthrough for Penn came after a period of pressure and, after some tantalising crosses whizzing across the goalmouth crying out for that finishing touch, Penn worked the ball across the pitch via George Weller and captain Danny Jordan from right to left to Alex Sethi who whipped in a perfect low cross and Jordan Gumbs, from the right back position and with great anticipation, came steaming into the penalty area like the preverbal express train and stooped to head in from eight yards into the bottom corner. This was a dream start for Penn and a much-needed early advantage and a great goal befitting the match. To state the obvious, Wokingham were always going to have their fair share of the game and after the Penn goal they began to rise to the occasion and played some excellent football and were looking dangerous with their two forwards Knight and Scope causing some problems and a couple of through balls did cause Penn some concern but excellent last ditch defending from Zak Martin and JJ Lofthouse-Smith quelled the attacks. On 36 minutes, following Wokingham’s period of ascendancy in the game the equaliser came but it was a little fortunate as a clearance smacked into the face of a Wokingham player and the ball landed conveniently right into the path of the Wokingham forward who was through on goal sprinting into the left side of the Penn penalty area and although Josh Cockerill made a good brave save, the ball, fortunately for Wokingham, fell to the feet of Lawrence who slid the ball into the empty net for the equaliser. On 39 minutes with Wokingham dictating the game a fantastic strike from Wokingham from 25 yards rattled the Penn crossbar. This was a let off and a wakeup call  The last six minutes of the half were played out with Wokingham shading the play, but Penn were defending resolutely, and holding their ground and dealing competently with all that Wokingham could muster against them. 

The half time break was obviously used well by Penn to re-group as they started the second half as they did the first half and once again were looking comfortable and not having too many problems from Wokingham. The match was becoming a midfield battle and neither goalkeeper was really being tested. After 51 minutes Brad Holland on the overlap down Wokingham’s right-hand flank whipped in a near post low cross which was well defended and cleared by the Wokingham defence. Penn were now beginning to show signs of dominance and were working some good moves down either flank. On 57 minutes Casey Bocarro from the left wing, also whipped in a clinical low cross which was eventually scrambled away to safety  Wokingham were always, as is the case with good teams, threatening and a couple of very good free kicks and corners did cause Penn some defensive problems but all were overcome with some fantastic last-ditch tackles and interventions.

With 75 minutes on the clock Penn won a corner which was expertly delivered by Danny Blanchard low across the six-yard box and there was that man Casey Bocarro to tap the ball over the line from five yards for a well-deserved goal and a fitting reward for all the unselfish hard work he had contributed to the team effort. Penn were resolute in their desire to hold on to their lead for the rest of the game and if it was not for some fantastic “back to the wall” defending and some timely tackles Wokingham may have found that elusive equaliser. Penn substituted Adam Harman for Jerell Gumbs (another one !!), and the fresh legs were a welcome addition in midfield for Penn
Wokingham were reduced to ten men after a robust challenge on Brad. Ten-man Wokingham showed admirable spirit and desire to get something out of the game and in the last five minutes plus five minutes added on for the sending-off incident, Wokingham mounted a number of attacks but Penn are made of stern stuff at the back and the defensive line comfortably held out and repelled Wokingham’s mini bombardment of crosses and corners.

The referee finally concluded proceedings and a happy Penn & Tylers Green management team, players and supporters can be extremely satisfied with a well-deserved three points in the bag gained against a very good Wokingham side.  Man-of-the-match for Penn & Tylers Green FC today was Jordan Gumbs, but every player can take credit for a very workmanlike team effort.

One West

Letcombe 0 North Leigh United 0
Letcombe secured their first ever point against bogey team North Leigh in an enjoyable game.  

A good run down the right by Tinashe Gwavava in the second minute resulted in a low cross which was cleared, and Alex Fragata had a similar run down the opposite flank soon afterwards, but once again no forward could get
on the end of his low cross. At the other end, Chris Wharton twice shot narrowly wide, but two well organised defences  allowed few clear sights of goal. As half time approached, Harry Monger did well to win a 50:50 ball in the North Leigh penalty area, but his driven cross was held by visiting keeper Jack Griffiths, who was making his North Leigh debut.

The visitors had the better of the first 15 minutes of the second half, but the Letcombe defence, with Shemar Pettet outstanding in the centre, seldom looked likely to concede.  The visitors best chance fell to Craig Wharton,
but his header was straight at home keeper Charlie McCreadie. Letcombe gradually took control of the game, and Jack Griffiths did well to tip a header from Jake Rowe and a long range effort from Joel Mumby over the bar. Letcombe`s best chance came following a pacy run from Alex Fragata, whose pass gave Harry Monger an opening, but his shot from 20 yards cleared the crossbar.

Despite the lack of goals, this was an entertaining match for the spectators.  The game was played in a good spirit by both sides, and was well refereed by Paul March, who allowed the game to flow.   A draw was probably a fair result, as neither defence deserved to end up pointless.

Shrivenham 3 Headington Amateurs 1
Shrivenham made it two games unbeaten at home on Saturday afternoon, with a workmanlike performance against a tough Headington Amateurs. The A’s entered the game on the back of an impressive 8-0 away trip thrashing of Tytherington Rocks the previous week, but left Barrington Park empty-handed as individual errors cost them dear.

Shrivvy took an early lead when a low ball deflected off a stranded A’s defender who had thrown himself in front of a half chance and midfielder James Rayner found himself free to head the high ball goal wards from 8 yards out and saw his effort loop over Harry Jenkins and drop nicely in to the bottom right hand side of the visitors net with 9 minutes on the clock.

The early lead put Shrivvy on the front foot and just ten minutes later, Tyler Sheppard doubled their lead when the forward managed to hold off Kyle Harris-Steele on the edge of the penalty area following a corner, before confidently spinning around and firing a shot which dipped over Jenkins and dipped under the crossbar and in to the back of the net to make it two. With the wind and rain adding to the disorganisation within the visitors ranks, the home side continued to press and on 32 minutes, their efforts paid off when Leigh Brown scored the goal that ultimately sealed the win when he latched on to a low crossed ball and his first time effort from the edge of the penalty area scooped the ball inside the left hand post before settling in the back of the net.

Despite being in the ascendancy, it didn’t take long before the A’s gave themselves a lifeline in the form of a beautifully taken free kick converted by Jay Hill. Having won the ball 20 yards out, Hill took his time before stroking his effort at low level with apparent ease around the four man Shrivenham wall and found the perfect spot between the righ hand upright and the outstretched hand of the diving Mike Alexander giving the Shrivvy shot stopper no chance five minutes before the interval.

The visitors came out in the second half the much better side but with Shrivenham content to hold on to their two-goal advantage, they proved too difficult for Headington to break down and although they were to carve out the better chances during the following forty-five minutes, they never really threatened to decrease the home sides lead the final whistle sounded with the score line unchanged and meaning that Shrivenham completed the double over their visitors for the first time this season.

Tytherington Rocks 1 Cheltenham Saracens 4
The home game on Saturday at the Hardwicke Playing Field, between two teams that struggled last season in the Hellenic League Div1 (West), went with the form-book when Cheltenham Saracens took all 3 points with a confident 4:1 win against Tytherington Rocks.

The first 10 mins included chances for the 2 teams when inviting crosses at either end went unconverted. An early injury forced Rocks into an unscheduled substitution at the end of the first quarter of the game and this prompted Cheltenham into a period of pressure resulting in several half chances without threatening the home goal. The pattern of play, with Tytherington frequently failing to link defensive distribution with the movement of the forwards, allowed the visitors to maintain the pressure in the Rocks half of the pitch

However the first real sign of a goal fell to the home no 8 when, on a rare sortie into the away penalty area, hit a speculative shot which brushed the outside of the Cheltenham right hand post.

On 35 mins, a defender's nightmare occurred when the ball was given away as a gift to the visitors and Daryl Charman finished off an accurate cross form the left.Five minutes later the pattern of the goal was repeated, this time from
open play, with again a cross from the left converted by Jamie Hammond. There was still time for further gloom before the interval, a penalty to Saracens following a defensive hand ball. To the relief of the home team the spot kick sailed high and wide to the right.

The second half began in a similar way to the start of the game. Early pressure at both ends of the pitch interrupted by an Injury to a Rocks player. The home team battled enthusiastically without success and dealt
adequately with the visitor's challenges even when all 3 visitor substitutes were used simultaneously.

The decisive 3rd goal went to Jamie Locke, this time heading in a cross once again from the right. By now Rocks, having used their substitutes were reduced to 10 men and, almost inevitably a 4th goal came from the right wing, and headed home by Gareth Jones.

With added time being played, Reece Tuberfield salvaged some consolation for the home team with a crisp shot from the right into the bottom left hand corner of the Cheltenham net, to add a glimmer of respectability to the scoreline. Rocks 1:4 defeat was numerically an improvement on the previous 2 weeks and manager Ian Giles will look to further strengthen his squad before next week's away game at newcomers Kidlington Reserves.


Divisions Two

Virginia Water Reserves 4 Chinnor Reserves 1
Both teams played well the home side went a head away. Chinnor made it 1-1 just after half time before having a man sent off, Water's then went on to win 4-1

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