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10-12 September

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Abingdon United 2 Ascot United 4 (away view)
Ascot United won 4-2 at Abingdon United on Tuesday to go top of the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division. The Yellamen’s clinical display over the first eighty minutes earned them a well-deserved 4-0 advantage, but were contemplating chewed nails as the hosts’ late rally threatened an unlikely comeback. Despite their precarious position just above the bottom three, Abingdon United boasted better recent form having won their last three matches, compared with Ascot’s one win in their previous five outings.

The first half was an entertaining albeit feisty affair which Ascot dominated, and they would deservedly lead 2-0 at the interval. Ben Hodges’ skill paved for way for an early Jean-Claude Etienne effort which was blocked – itself as a result of Dan Price’s effort being blocked – but Price would give his side a 15th minute lead with a direct free kick that took two faint deflections on its way through the arms and feet of home ‘keeper Jake Pritchard. Sam Gray’s goal-kick for Ascot then took his side from one end of the field to the other in less than ten seconds – Harry Laflin flicking on for Price to cross – although Etienne’s shot on the turn was saved.

Abingdon’s best chance came from Nathan Baker just before the half-hour mark when the striker swept a low shot past Gray after Kyle Moss had picked him out, but George Lock was well placed to clear off the goal-line. However, once Ascot top scorer Nathan Minhas’ legs had been taken away from him in the penalty area after dragging the ball away from his marker, the visitors had the chance to double their advantage, which they duly did when Laflin rolled the subsequent spot-kick in off the right-hand post.

Abingdon defender Joe Green then escaped with a yellow card for hauling down Minhas who would have been clean through, although the decision fuelled both sides as the hosts were themselves aggrieved that Minhas hadn’t seen red for what appeared nothing more than an earlier trip. Minhas might have made it 3-0 five minutes before the break, but Pritchard stood up well to deny him.

The visitors did, however, add a third within two minutes of the restart after a pulsating opening that saw them go close on a number of occasions. However, it was ultimately Laflin’s low shot through a crowded penalty area that did the damage, and at that point his side looked eager for more.

It should have been four-nil when Price failed to find the top left after a fine flowing move – Jean-Claude Etienne had picked out Minhas who picked out Price in full flow – but it was man-of-the match Lock who scored an exquisite fourth with fifteen minutes remaining. This time, Dom Sullivan picked out Lock, and after he had played a one-two with Minhas as the ‘keeper was drawn out of his area, Lock finished first time into the roof of the net with all the composure of a seasoned striker. With Ascot’s feet suddenly taken off the gas, Wharton’s header squirmed over Gray for what appeared a mere 79th minute consolation, but when Jason Smith swept home on 85 minutes to further cut the deficit, the nerves started jangling. Gray had made a smart save to deny substitute Ryan Jackson between those efforts, and Jackson missed a fine chance in injury time to set up a grandstand finale, but the visitors had done enough to reach the summit.

Ascot United: Gray, Lock, F Etienne, Sullivan, Bouwers, Boultwood, Laflin, Hodges, Minhas, Price (Richardson), JC Etienne (Carlisle).

Binfield 3 Brackley Town Saints 1
Binfield cruised to victory against a good Brackley Town Saints side thanks to another fantastic first half display. The first quarter of an hour was controlled by the hosts as they settled quicker into their rhythm and had a series of corners in the first ten minutes, which were dealt with well by the visiting Saints.

The deadlock was broken on the 12th minute as Eddie Lee broke down the left, did well to stay on his feet under a challenge in the box and slid a ball back across the face of the goal, which was pushed out by the goalkeeper to the waiting James Knight who stroked it home to make it 1-0 to the Moles. The home dominance continued throughout the half, with Sean Moore coming close to adding a second after excellently robbing a Saints defender before charging forward and curling just over and wide.

Sean did get his goal in the 22nd minute as he leapt upon a poor back pass from Dan Middleton 30 yards out and calmly lifted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper and plum into the centre of the unguarded net to double the hosts lead. The game was then all but settled 3 minutes later. A long ball over the top found Eddie Lee, who gathered and cut inside, past the Brackley defence and struck a fierce shot that deflected off of a defender, wrong footing the keeper and beating him at his near post making it 3-0.

The game then settled into a rhythm with both sides exchanging possession without creating any meaningful chances. Moore and Johnson both firing from range early in the second half the closest that the hosts came to extending their lead, whilst Chris Grace was forced into a good save from an Alex Stott header that bounced awkwardly high off of the turf.

It wasn't until the 85th minute that another goal came. Leonetti hauling down a Brackley winger inside the box, giving the referee little choice but to point to the spot. Baldwin stepped up and fired home powerfully to Grace's left, with him having little chance of saving it.

However, it was to be just a consolation goal for Brackley as Binfield continued to defend resolutely and denied them any more real sights of goal. The win moved Binfield up to 11th in the table and set us up nicely for our important FA Vase fixture away to AFC Stoneham.

Virginia Water 2 Royal Wootton Bassett 0
Waters recorded their first home win of the campaign with a deserved victory against an excellent Wootton Bassett side, who had the arduous midweek journey along the M4.
In front of a large crowd, the visitors were quickest out of the blocks, and were it not for some great early saves by Matt Jones, we could have easily been two or three down inside the first 15 minutes.

In a very quick game, the home side (missing six regular starters) got a foot hold in the game, and went close themselves with Adam McNamara, Jake Baker, Finn Evered all having reasonable efforts saved or just wide.

It was a thoroughly entertaining match, with both sides playing some terrific football, but despite the fantastic effort shown, no one could break the deadlock in the first half.

With the wind at their back, the home side dominated the second half, and got their first goal, even if a little luckily, on 58 minutes, when the dependable Josh Hill hit a first time shot from a short corner, the looped over the WB keeper, into the net. Waters then kicked on and pushed hard for another goal, with Adam McNamara, Michael Chambers, Scott Jackson, and a few others, all going close, whilst at the other end the defence held out superbly to record a clean sheet.

The second VW goal came after some great work by Jake, who cut out a back pass to round their keeper, and pull the ball back to Adam on 74 minutes, to slot home with a left foot drive into the bottom corner. We could have added to this lead, but despite the odd nervy moment late on, we held on for a great win and a deserved three points. A top effort by the lads who merit all the credit for their tireless display – the best of the season to date!

Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy

Woodley United 2 Holyport 4 (away view)
After two recent displays which have been below the standard the squad set themselves the B&B Cup tie away to Woodley United offered the chance to get back to the levels that the players demand of themselves. With several changes to the squad due to injuries the side shuffled around but stuck to their 4-3-3 formation.

Woodley with an influx of new players started the better of the sides and Quelch need to be sharp early on to save an effort which he tipped over the bar, from the resulting corner Quelch claimed a weak header. Woodley were content with letting Holyport have the ball until they hit the half way line but then pressed in numbers, Holyport struggled with this and Woodley kept coming forward and looked more dangerous. Driffill then had a chance against the run of play but his effort was straight into the arms of ex Port keeper Bradley, who was making his debut for Woodley.

Woodley rightly opened the scoring, a free kick was smashed against the post, Woodley clipped the loose ball back into the box and at the far post the forward struck the ball into the top corner. Port had fallen asleep from the rebound. Holyport had a few corners which were hacked clear by Woodley and on another counter attack Woodley were awarded a free kick. The number 9 scored with a gem of a free kick which gave Woodley a 2-0 lead.

Holyport’s character came through at this point, almost immediately DeFranco volleyed home a corner to make it 2-1, then with Holyport with their tails up a long Ensby cross went straight in as Bradley lost the ball in the lack of floodlights whilst under the challenge of Drake.

The second half and it was Holyport who pressed Woodley high up the pitch and got back to playing how Holyport know best. It was Woodley who were now struggling to create and retain procession as Holyport came closer and closer to taking the lead. In the end it came through a free kick, Driffill was hacked down again on the edge of the box and Feaver stepped up and his free kick hit with pace and dip beat Bradley. Woodley continued to try and get forward but their best effort was a volley from 12 yards out that was hacked wide. With the forward players starting to link up nicely with midfield, Driffill found Feaver with a lovely through ball and Feaver curled home to mark it 2-4 on 80 minutes and game over.

Gloucestershire FA Challenge Trophy

Tuffley Rovers 1 Frampton United 2
At the sixth attempt after five defeats in league and cup competitions, Rovers were attempting to win a home match for the first time this season. Standing in their way and determined to progress in this county competition themselves was Gloucestershire County League club Frampton United who, unlike the club they were visiting, had made a decent start to a new league season by taking 10 points (3 wins and a draw) from their opening five matches with a home defeat by early League-leaders Lebeq United three days earlier being the only negative aspect of their season so far. Rovers manager Mark Pritchett kept faith with nine of the men who had started at the weekend against Windsor, whilst Frampton United included in their team lively forward Sean Lawson, a man with much Southern League experience and know-how.

Frampton kicked off down the slope and saw an early shot by Nathan Dennis deflected for a corner-kick. Rovers won a couple of early corners too but neither of them came to anything. Down the other end, Ryan Vincent sent Lawson away but the Number Nine’s shot drifted wide. Paul Carter was then cautioned for an over-zealous challenge in midfield but it didn’t really inhibit him from playing his usual effective game spraying passes all over the pitch. Vincent had better fortune for Frampton a few minutes later after George Corbett lost possession far too easily and the visiting forward shot past Kane Winman as the goalkeeper came out to try and retrieve his defender’s error.

As Rovers tried to recover from this early reverse Carter’s corner from the left was headed down and towards goal by Macaulay Herbert but Sparrow caught the ball with ease. Adam Cox took a free-kick at the other end but that too was safely gathered by Winman. Jake Rhodes set up Brett James for a shot which flew over the bar and James had another shot soon afterwards which went narrowly wide of Sparrow’s right-hand post. Alder’s pass set up Courtney Hamilton for a shot but that went wide as well.

Rovers’ pressure was mounting, though, and in their next attack Alder’s delightful crossfield-pass found James who was pulled down about twenty-five yards from goal. Alder had scored with a direct free-kick from much the same distance in the previous match so it wasn’t a surprise that he wanted to take this free-kick as well. His exquisite touch sent the ball up and over the wall, only for it rebound against a post, but Rhodes was following up and prodded the ball into the net for the equaliser. Seven minutes of the first half remained at this point and those minutes passed without either team having another real opportunity to take the lead.

Rovers started the second half strongly and won two early corners before a stinging, swinging shot by Carter saw Sparrow make a fine, diving save to his left. James was next to shoot at goal but that effort went wide. Despite the bright start to the half, six minutes after the interval Frampton were ahead again, Vincent profiting from a perfect through-pass to drive the ball past Winman from the edge of the area. Then it was United’s turn to be awarded a free-kick 25 yards out. Vincent, sensing a hat-trick, forced Winman to make a fine save and turn the ball aside for a corner. Winman went down injured but was able to continue without treatment. The same could not be said for Joel White who had to leave the field of play to receive treatment for an injury, after which he was able to continue too.
The Rovers team struggled to impose itself on the game as they chased a second equaliser. Passes were going astray and Sam Hill’s shot from distance which flew wide was not untypical of efforts at goal in the fourth quarter of the match.

Both teams made substitutions with Frampton’s understandably seeming to be more about protecting what they had earned rather than going for more goals. Brett James tried a cross from the left which went straight into Sparrow’s grateful hands. The match official, Mr Berrow played at least five minutes of added time but his final whistle signalled that Frampton had become the sixth visiting team to win at Glevum Park this season. Rovers’ next three fixtures are away and it could be that they will play with less pressure on them at an opponent’s ground because almost nothing is going right for them in home games.

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