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23 September

Emirates FA Cup

Buildbase FA Vase Round 2 Qualifying

Ampthill Town 4 Clanfield 85 0 (away view)
Clanfield 85’s interest in the Buildbase FA Vase ended in the very pleasant surroundings of Ampthill Park in the Second Round Qualifying when four goals by Sam Holmes ended the Division One West Clubs hopes.The Visitors got off to the worst possible start when failure to clear on the edge of the penalty area saw Holmes score with an unstoppable shot into the top corner after just five minutes.The same player doubled the lead on 19 minutes when a low cross was not dealt with and Holmes pounced from close range.

Clanfield rallied and caused the home side some problems.Callum Miller headed over the bar from a corner and various other attempts were blocked or scrambled clear.

After going in at halftime with a 0-2 deficit the Robins opened the second half brightly and went close on a number of occasions without ever being able to add the final touch.The match was sealed on 70 minutes when Holmes scored the goal of the game. After a Clanfield attack had been cleared to the halfway line the striker cut inside a defender and drove the ball home from fully 45 yards.The same player then completed the scoring on 81 minutes with another powerful strike through a crowded goalmouth.The Robins fought to the end but lack of that finishing touch denied them even a consolation goal for their efforts.

Edgware Town (3) 4 Henley Town (0) 0 (away view)
The Red Kites interest in the ‘Buildbase’ FA Vase ended in the Second qualifying round on Saturday in North East London on Edgware Town’s 3G pitch at Silver Jubilee Park, London NW9. The team from the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division won by 4-0 but if the game had taken place a few weeks ago Henley would probably been beaten by at least double the score which shows the gradual improvement of Jock Mowat’s team.

It took the visitors time settle on the plastic pitch and the home side took the lead in the 17th minute when Henley were caught out once again by a cross into the box. Edgware’s player manager Fergus Moore sneaked in at the far post to head a left wing cross past Cosmin Mariah. Henley never gave up and Josh Gillespie came close with a header from a Rupen Limbu cross but they were caught out in the 35th minute when Mikel James chased a long ball to score and make it 2-0. Just before half time Henley were caught out again by a corner on the left and Omalolu Onabolu headed home to make it 3-0.

After going in at halftime with a 0-3 deficit the Red Kites opened the second half brightly and went close on a number of occasions without ever being able to add the final touch. The match was sealed in the 58th minute when Dan Pett scored the goal of the game to make it 4-0. Henley appealed for a penalty on the hour when a Limbu shot seemed to be handled on the line but the Referee waved play on. Chris Hood then had a shot just clear the bar and Gillespie headed over, The Red Kites fought to the end but lack of that finishing touch denied them even a consolation goal for their efforts.

Considering the opposition play a step higher in the National Non-League pyramid and playing on a plastic pitch Henley were not out classed but they conceded easy goals and lack a goal scorer.

Highworth Town 5 Burnham 1
Another sunny afternoon saw the Worthians take up the challenge of making it to the First Round Proper of the FA Vase by getting past fellow Uhlsport Hellenic League side, Burnham. 

With only five minutes on the clock, Aysa Corrick worked some of his magic down the right flank and crossed to the far post where Keiron Gleed was on hand to smash the ball home for the opening score. Five minutes later, an excellent Burnham attack finished with a Callum Betts cross which Barry Dunbar headed downwards to thwart Matt Bulman but the ball bounced up onto the crossbar and was safely cleared. After 20 minutes or so, Matt Bulman smothered another Burnham attack but the loose ball went to Barry Dunbar and although presented with an open goal, the Burnham striker somehow contrived to place the ball on the wrong side of a post.

The Worthians were then quick to mount an attack and Chris Taylor played a great ball over the Burnham back line for Aysa Corrick to run on to and the tireless front man finished cleanly for Highworth’s second. On the half-hour mark, Ryan Stanners split the Burnham defence with a measured pass for Dan Drewett to run on to. The Worthian winger took the ball to the by-line and hit a low, sharp cross to the near post for Ash Edenborough to glance past Sam Bunting for Highworth’s third. Ash Edenborough could have had another shortly afterwards when he rolled the Burnham defence with a superb piece of skill to leave only the keeper to beat but the big Burnham stopper did very well to save with his legs. It was then Ryan O’Hara’s turn to provide that telling pass and a great cross-field ball allowed Dan Drewett to put Aysa Corrick in on goal but the shot was well saved by Sam Bunting. However, another great cross-field pass but this time from Ryan Stanners, found Ash Edenborough out on the left flank and the prolific striker collected the ball and unleashed an unstoppable looping shot from 25 yards out to give the Burnham keeper no chance and put Highworth 4-0 up going into the break.

From the start of the second period, Burnham were on the attack and a well hit corner ball found an unmarked Dan Wilson in a good position, but he headed straight at Matt Bulman. The Worthians then pressed forward again and Aysa Corrick carved out a path right through the heart of the Burnham defence and finished the play with a perfectly weighted shot that escaped the clutches of Sam Bunting but hit the net inside the back post for the fifth of the afternoon.

On the hour mark, Barry Dunbar was rewarded for his hard work up front when he latched onto a soft back pass and slid the ball past Matt Bulman to claim Burnham’s consolation goal.

Although there were a number of attempts to add to the score, the game seemed to lose its impetus and the final half-hour past by without further incident. Burnham had played quite well and were better organised in the second period to keep the prolific Worthians at bay, but on the day, they were unable to stem a first half technical tour de force which found them reeling and out of the FA Vase after only thirty minutes.

Sandhurst Town 2 Ringwood 1 (report by Arthur Strand)
Sandhurst were at home to Ringwood, Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1. The hosts made a steady start with a tentative move into the opposition's half and approaching goal but this was cleared and the ensuing counter saw Ringwood send a useful looking cross into the middle of the box but nobody made contact with the ball as it missed the far post. The visitors were soon back but Sandhurst wriggled out of the situation. After 8 minutes, Adam Barnard pushed the ball through to Kylo Atkinson who, in turn, relayed it to Charlie Oakley who, with no defender to impede him, struck the ball beyond keeper, Trevor Ford.

Sandhurst had an early goal which often either stings the opposition into a rapid response or dents their psyche but Ringwood just carried on as they started. In the 16th minute, Charlie Oakley, with a long shot made it 2 - 0 then after that Kylo Atkinson broke through the defence and hit the post, and the ball was eventually sent clear between the defenders, who had not been too convincing in the first quarter. Freddie Barron swung into action with a sprint along the left flank but was stopped before any more progress could be made. As Ringwood tried to develop an attack, Sam Green emerged in the middle to thump the ball way upfield towards Charlie Oakley and Kylo Atkinson. Myles White was beaten off the ball and Ringwood then Kylo Atkinson prevented an attack on the flank. Sam Green met a hard long shot from the Ringwood wing and the subsequent corner kick was saved by Watson. When Sandhurst were awarded a free kick, Dan Gosling just missed the far post - the wrong side. Mike Johnstone then received the yellow card for tripping up Kylo Atkinson who afterwards took a free kick which rebounded from the wall.

The second half was full of incidents but no more goals since the majority of goal attempts were by Kylo Atkinson. and the first shot rebounded allowing Sandhurst a corner kick which amounted to nothing. Ringwood moved upfield and Matt Steer managed to hit the side netting from an acute angle in from the wing. The Ringwood.forwards put Sandhurst defenders under pressure as they forced a corner and a miscued kick brought about an acrobatic save by keeper Watson. After Ben Harris committed a foul and the free kick that followed, Kylo Atkinson gave chase to the corner flag, won the ball and passed it back to Adam Barnard who missed goal. In the 6 yard box, Kylo Atkinson recieved a long diagonal ball which he managed to knock down to the turf in front of him then bounce and over the cross bar. Another missed opportunity for Atkinson cropped up but he was not the only forward whose strikes never hit the net. Charlie Oakley had a shot blocked by the goalkeeper, Ford. Atkinson was fouled yet again and Sam Green's long free kick was accurate reaching the intended forward. Ringwood wasted a free kick Substitutes were made by both sides as the minutes ticked over then, once more into the breach thundered Kylo Atkinson but Trevor Ford was hit by the ball and conceded a corner. Kylo Atkinson broke away again and Charlie Oakley whacked the ball but Ford blocked the shot. Sam Green provided Atkinson with another chance but the shot bypassed the far post. Ringwood made a last ditch attempt at scoring a goal and then hope for a last minute penalty to gain a replay but 2 minutes into additional time, Lee Vint had the opportunity to shoot beyond Watson and score a consolation goal for Ringwood Town F.C. and Sandhurst Town progress to Round 1 proper.

Tytherington Rocks 1 Longlevens 8
Once again Rocks suffered a heavy defeat in The Buildbase FA Vase Trophy Cup at The Hardwicke Field.

Playing against a very good Hellenic Premier side it was always going to be a hard task, at half time Rocks had conceded three goals and replied with one of the best goals of the game when 18yr old Owen Badham took the ball from half way inside Longlevens half on a run beating two defenders and drawing Levens keeper off his line he lobed the ball from just inside the penalty box over Ashley Wintle to score and bring the Rocks back into the game at 2 - 1, however on half time Levens scored their third goal.

The second half started badly for the home side when Levens scored their fourth goal in the 49th minute by Bradley Martin and from then on the opposition scored at regular intervals as Rocks heads went down and a lack of fitness showed once again.

Manager Ian Giles has recently signed another four players who on Saturdays performance looked likely to improve the team once they have a few games under their belt, Rocks keeper Ben Goode brought off some excellent saves and was named MOM by the opposition manager.

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Brimscombe & Thrupp 1 Highmoor Ibis 3
Brimscombe had a few absentees for their home match against Highmoor Ibis on Saturday afternoon. With Chris Greenhough, Ollie Pitt, Dan Hill and Lewis Skyers away and Ash Caldwell and Ed Major on the last game before their suspension is over, it was always going to be a long day.

A challenge by the Brimscombe defence gifted Highmoor a penalty early on with Dwayne Courtress placing the ball away from Ashley Gale to give the visitors the lead. Jamie Bish was caught in the head with a boot forcing him to leave the game before 20 minutes with manager Sam Prior opting to bring on Sam Blackie. The Lilywhites kept looking for an equaliser but couldn’t not convert before Highmoor doubled their lead with a free kick from a dangerous area finding the head of Sanchez McCormack.

Lee Bowles and Josh Beadle made an appearance before Kyle Pitts was shown a second yellow card for a challenge. Sam Blackie scored in the 75th minute before Highmoor were given another penalty 5 minutes from the end which was put away by Sam Bangura meaning Highmoor took the 3 points back to Reading.


Fairford Town 4 Ascot United 4
Manager Jody Bevan, on as a substitute, scored his first goal in Fairford Town colours as his side came back from 4-1 down to earn a point at home to Ascot United.

The hosts again made a poor start against an Ascot side who set themselves up to attack. The visitors struck first with Samir Regragui netting an early free-kick. It was soon 2-0 with leading scorer Robert Lazarczuk firing home from inside the 18-yard box.

Lee Smith, Fairford’s leading scorer, reduced the arrears with his eighth goal of the season before the Berkshire extended their advantage with a well-taken effort from James Goodey just prior to the break. A half-volley from Lazarczuk deflected in off a Reds’ defender for the visitors’ fourth before the home side produced a second half rally.

Liam Gale made it 4-2 with a 56th minute effort and when Ben Saunders netted his second of the season just after the hour, it was game on at 4-3 with plenty of time remaining. Fairford left it late to level for the first time in the game with manager Jody Bevan, on as a late substitute, scoring his first goal in Reds’ colours.

Fairford Town 4 Ascot United 4 (away view)
Fairford Town fought back from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 against Ascot United in a thrilling draw at Cinder Lane on Saturday. The home side looked dead and buried after 50 minutes, but hit the woodwork four times and had an effort ruled out en route to levelling matters – which they did in the 90th minute – on a nerve-shredding afternoon for both sets of fans.

The first half was a thrilling affair, with Fairford’s Liam Gale rattling the crossbar with a header in only the second minute, before James Goodey’s rasping effort was tipped over by Ben Mitchell at the other end just two minutes later. Goodey impressed in the first half and his cross for Conor Henry after 12 minutes almost led to a goal, although Henry couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Mitchell with a clear sight of goal. However, the Yellamen took a 14th minute lead. Mo Davies was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, and after Rob Lazarczuk stepped over the dead ball, Samir Regragui struck a direct free kick over the wall and into the net via the left hand upright. It was nearly 2-0 moments later when Jono Malone’s deep cross following fine build up play was volleyed into the side netting by Davies from a tight angle, but the visitors eventually doubled their lead after 16 minutes courtesy of Lazarczuk’s thumping effort into the right hand corner having also been involved in the build up to his strike.

At this point, it looked good for the threadbare visitors who had given rare starts to Sacha Ward, Henry and Malone; although the trio acquitted themselves well and Malone was particularly effective in pushing forward from defence.  The home side then rallied, and after James Campbell’s attempted chip was easily saved by Lee Allen midway through the half, Lee Smith pulled a goal back on 26 minutes after latching onto a through ball and firing over Allen – although in truth he should have scored moments earlier when he dragged the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.

At the other end, Goodey saw his goalbound shot headed wide after rounding Mitchell and shooting from a tight angle, but he eventually found the net with a brilliant solo effort; driving into the left hand corner to make it 3-1 after flicking the ball past a defender to tee up the chance. Mitchell somehow prevent Mo Davies from making it 4-1 and then denied Henry with his feet – Goodey the provider once again – but somehow the half ended with just four goals scored.

Ascot began brightly in the second half and were rewarded for their positivity when Lazarczuk added a fourth three minutes in. This time, he found Regragui on the wing, and after Regragui’s cross found its way to the ex-Windsor man, Lazarczuk unleashed a volley which deflected past Mitchell on its way into the net, much to the delight of the two travelling fans.

However, this was as good as it got for the visitors, who were on the back foot for the remainder of the match. Liam Gale struck a post from Campbell’s cross and Allen made a brilliant save to deny Smith, although when Gale’s thunderous effort struck the underside of the bar and bounced out shortly afterwards the hosts must have thought it would not be their day. Gale did stab home past the onrushing Allen after 53 minutes to cut the arrears once again, but Campbell inexplicably struck the post on the hour mark with an empty goal in front of him – Allen behind him – to gasps of amazement from the sparse crowd.

Sam Boultwood limped off to be replaced by Ascot’s only fit substitute – Fernando Li – before Allen made another tremendous save from close range to protect his side’s two goal cushion. That cushion was trimmed further back when Ben Saunders’ towering header from a corner beat Allen, before Fairford saw an effort chalked off for a foul on Allen. Campbell’s vicious effort deflected over as the pressure on Ascot’s defence mounted to unbearable levels – 85 minutes played – before Li’s brilliant block thwarted Josh Morse’s goal-bound shot a minute later.

In a rare counter-attack, Lazarczuk missed the chance to wrap the game up with two minutes remaining, but his flick lacked pace and Mitchell easily saved, but it was veteran player manager and substitute Jody Bevan who rose highest to plant a firm headed equaliser past Allen in the 90th minute after the visitors had wasted several opportunities to clear the ball.

Bevan received lengthy treatment for a head injury shortly afterwards, and this further added to the injury time created when previous treatment for Ascot’s Allen and Davies – by now the walking wounded – was required. Fairford might have bagged a 95th minute winner but Gale slashed at his shot with a clear sight of goal, although in the penultimate moments of eight agonising added minutes, the visitors poured forwards in one final, desperate bid to snatch victory, where Lazarczuk sliced a decent opportunity wide having been teed up in a central position just outside the area.

However, an Ascot winner would have been harsh on the home side who showed great character to fight back to draw, but both sides know they have much work to do to arrest the 45 minutes of terrible defending each had displayed.

Tuffley Rovers 3 Brackley Town Saints 3
Tuffley Rovers finally ended their five game losing streak when a late, late Warren Mann penalty rescued a point against Northamptonshire side, Brackley Town Saints, after a pulsating 90 minutes of action that saw them lead 2-0 and then trail with only a minute remaining.

Following the midweek defeat against Royal Wootton Bassett Town, when Rovers had more than matched their opponents, only to be punished for a failure to convert possession into a genuine goal threat, and despite Rovers’ boss Mark Pritchett’s positivity following the defeat, he decided to make several changes to his starting line-up, with Shayne Bradley, Sam Hill, Marcus Foxwell and Danny Wallington replaced by Alex O’Leary, Pritchett himself, Brett James and Jamie Goodwin. In the build-up to the game, Pritchett had talked about the need for his side to regain confidence and the signs were promising early on, as they started the game very much on the front-foot, with James drawing a save from Ali Worby, in the Saints’ goal, as early as the third minute.

Seven minutes in, Warren Mann swung over a cross, from wide on the right-hand side, level with the penalty area, and after it eluded several players, Worby dived full stretch to turn the ball away with a quality one-handed save. Rovers remained in control as the half progressed but were fortunate that young keeper, Kane Winman, was in good form, as he produced a quality save to deny Matt Johnson. Within moments of that stop, Rovers had the lead. Winman’s clearance eventually found its way to Jamie Goodwin and after he worked hard to beat his man and get to the byline, he was able to pull the ball back, into the path of the on-rushing O’Leary, who produced a controlled finish that left Worby a spectator, to give Rovers a 1-0 advantage after 24 minutes.

Within five minutes, James Hammond should have levelled the scores, as he found himself one-on-one with Winman, but the stand-in keeper, deputising for Dave Evans for the second consecutive game, stood his ground and did well to beat away the Saints’ forward’s shot. Rovers had their tails up and Mason Hathaway’s superb cross was almost turned home by James, but it wasn’t one-way traffic and Winman was once again called into action, on 44 minutes, as he denied Ryan Knight when the Saints man was through on goal. Saints had posed a counter-attacking threat throughout, with Rovers indebted to Winman for his first half display, but their desire to press for an equaliser was to cost them dearly as the half-time interval arrived. When an attack broke down half-way inside the Rovers half, Pritchett was able to seize possession and his long-ball sailed over the Brackley Town defensive line, as they pressed high up the field, leaving Mann to run through on goal, eventually rolling the ball past the advancing figure of Worby and handing Rovers a two-goal lead when the referee sounded the whistle for half-time moments later.

The second period started with roles reversed and Saints very much on the front foot. Johnson, who had been denied by Winman during the first-half, should have reduced the arrears but he headed over the bar from six yards after Knight’s cross found him in space. Lewis Baldwin then hit the frame of the goal direct from a corner, as the pressure mounted and the Saints pressure finally told, after 65 minutes, when a swift attack finally ended with Chris Jordan finishing from close range, to make it 2-1. Winman’s excellent performance continued, as he produced a terrific fingerprint save to deny Knight, before James went close, after good work from Mann and Rovers’ substitute Bradley.

The game was now being played largely in Rovers’ half and it was no surprise when Johnson, who had spurned two opportunities earlier in the game, finally levelled the scores with eight minutes remaining. Given the poor run of results Rovers had experienced leading into the game, the hosts’ performance was now full of tension and when Brackley’s substitute Alex Stott latched onto Pritchett’s failure to deal with a deep cross to the back post, his finish looked to have secured a memorable comeback win for the visitors. However, when James was felled by Lewis Baldwin, in Rovers’ next attack, leading to the Saints captain being shown a second yellow card, Mann was presented with the opportunity to level the scores from the penalty spot; an opportunity he didn’t waste, making it 3-3 and securing a welcome point for Pritchett’s men, bringing to an end a dismal run of results ahead of a trip to strugglers Fairford Town, on Wednesday evening.

Tuffley Rovers 3 Brackley Town Saints 3 (away view)
Saints travelled to Tuffley Rovers knowing that, in previous seasons, they've found it hard going and been well beaten at Glevum Park but this was a day when the Brackley youngsters proved that they are progressing. Under immense early pressure and conceding twice in the first half they produced a second half performance of real quality and character to look odds on to win before having the victory snatched from them once again in the final moments from the penalty spot.

Rovers started fast and much of the early part of the game was played in the Saints half. Just 7 minutes in a terrific cross from the right side eluded everyone except the diving Ali Worby in the Saints goal who made a wonderfully athletic save to keep the scores even. Saints were defending deep and their only forays into the opposition half came on the counter-attack but shots from Ryan Knight, Chris Jordan, and Matt Johnson were all dealt with comfortably by the hosts keeper and defenders.
Tuffley's pressure finally got the reward they deserved after 24 minutes when Jamie Goodwin was able to get behind the Saints defence and his pull-back was perfectly placed for Alex O'Leary to drive home giving the keeper Worby no chance, 1 – 0 Tuffley.

At the other end Saints attacking midfielder James Hammond had a good chance to equalise quickly but Rovers keeper Kane Winman made an excellent save. Throughout the remainder of the 1st half both teams had opportunities, mostly half chances or shots from distance but then, just before the break, a long clearance from Mark Pritchett fell behind the Saints defence and Rover's striker Warren Mann ran through to beat Worby and double the hosts lead, 2 - 0 Tuffley.

It was clear to those watching that the half-time break had brought about a change of formation from Saints with attacking midfielders Ryan Knight and Matt Johnson playing further forward to give support to striker Chris Jordan. This bold approach paid dividends as the home side stayed with their back 3 in place leaving lots of space for the mobile Saints front 3 to exploit with clever movement. Early on good work from Chris Jordan to wriggle free on the right of the Rovers penalty caused problems but he was unable to pick anyone out in the box then Matt Johnson found space in front of goal but put his header just over.

After 60 minutes Johnson picked out Chris Jordan but his shot went wide, however, 5 minutes later the same combination produced another chance and this time Jordan finished clinically to bring Saints back into the game, 2 – 1 Tuffley. Saints Substitutions: Sam Bridges on for Sam Hartley (62), Callum Williams on for Charlie Kille (65)

Most of the game was now being played in the Rover's half as Saints pushed for the equaliser and only another quallity save from keeper Kane Winman denied midfielder James Watts after 75 minutes. A few minutes later there was nothing the Rover's keeper could do to prevent the equaliser which was a mirror image of their 1st goal with, this time, Chris Jordan setting up Matt Johnson to score, 2 – 2.
Saints Substitution: Alex Stott on for Chris Jordan (80)

Saints continued to press forward and right on 90 minutes Matt Johnson played the ball into the path of Alex Stott and the substitute fired home to send the away side in front for the 1st time, 2 – 3 Saints. With very few stoppages in the game most inside the ground must have thought that it was game over but the referee found 8 minutes of added time from somewhere and late into the extra period he saw a tackle by Saints skipper Lewis Baldwin on Rover's Brett James as a foul and awarded a penalty to the home side. To make matters worse for Saints he showed a second yellow card, then the red, to Baldwin. Tuffley captain Warren Mann stepped up and smashed the ball past Worby to leave the game all square, 3 – 3.

Saints will again feel as though they've thrown away, or been robbed of 2 points right at the end of a game but, on reflection, there are many positives to take from a great show of character and a superb second half performance. Going for a more attacking approach to the game meant that the defence and midfield players had to be at their best, which they were throughout the second half, and their hard work was not wasted as they provided a stable platform for the front three to do their stuff. The front three of Ryan Knight, Chris Jordan, and Matt Johnson pulled the home sides defenders all over the place with intelligent movement, skill, and, again, maximum effort.


One East

AFC Aldermaston 1 v Virginia Water 1 (away view)
An entertaining match, even if frustrating that Waters conceded in the last few minutes gifting a goal to the hosts from a hopeful cross forward that their striker somehow managed to head backwards over our stranded keeper. That said, early on we could have been two or three behind as Aldermaston missed a number of good chances.

It was 30 minutes before we got going and dominated from there on. Ryan Curtis missed from close range, after a great run and shot by Josh Hill. We had some corners and shots from distance, but not enough to trouble their keeper. At the other end, our defence held firm, with a particular stand out performance by Finn Evered (MoM) at CB.

In the second half we had the lions share of territory and chances, and took the lead with a terrific run and shot by Lorenzo Di Felice, that gave their keeper no chance. We then had a number of chances to put the game beyond doubt, but did not have our shooting boots on, chipping at the keeper when through on a one on one, a couple of shoots going narrowly wide and over the bar, and many corners and crosses that we failed to convert.

AFC will say they deserved the fortuitous goal, and on balance probably a fair result, albeit they could have snatched it at the death stopped by a great save by Matt Jones in goal.
At the other end, a sweeping move saw Josh hammer a shot goal bound only for their defender to block (with what we all felt – apart from the man who counts) with what appeared to be a fine save? Honours even at the end of the day, and whilst not all 3 points, much improved performance, effort and spirit from the lads.

Bicester Town 0 Didcot Town Reserves 0
Bicester met Didcot Town Reserves just two weeks after drawing 1-1 in a messy, feisty affair with the Railwayman in Didcot. With perfect footballing conditions both sets of supporters anticipated a game with more flowing football. However, this return fixture followed a similar dogged fashion, although the game had plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, with Bicester edging the visitors in the number of chances wasted.

Bicester started brightly enough, with Elliott Powell beating the Didcot offside trap and shooting against the inside of the post, with keeper Stevens well beaten. But within minutes, Didcot had an opportunity to open the scoring, but Hoskin headed over the bar from close range.

The pattern for the game was set, with both teams fully committed in midfield and lots of broken play; and plenty of ‘half-chance’ scoring chances. Powell again beat the offside trap in 16th minute, but a well-timed Didcot tackle denied the Bicester striker. In the 21st minute, Bicester centre back Gavin Kidd fell awkwardly, twisting an ankle, and although Kidd soldiered on, he was inevitably substituted at half—time. It’s to Kidd’s credit that he managed to play on and produce 2 credible headed attempts on goal. The first half ended with Didcot’s Marshall firing a long distance just wise of Joe White’s post.

Bicester started the second half brightly enough. Kicking downhill, the pace of Powell and Benjamin was starting to trouble the Didcot backline. In the 56th minute Powell broke free on goal and his firm drive was comfortably dealt with by Didcot keeper, Stevens. And just 2 minutes late Benjamin tested Stevens with left-footed angled shot on goal. Bicester were enjoying a good spell in the Didcot half of the pitch and Powell missed a good opportunity to break the deadlock in the 60th minute, but blasted his chance over the bar. With Bicester not taking advantage of their chances in front of goal, Didcot created the next chance. An excellent passing move freed Collins on goal, but Joe White in the Bicester goal produced a timely reaction save. The 84th minute produced Bicester’s best football of the game. An passing move involving 4 players found Cameron Macpherson in the penalty box, but his low shot was well saved by the Didcot keeper.

The final ten minutes of the game involved attacks at both ends. Didcot were unlucky when Hoskin’s powerful header hit the underside of the bar and bounced on the line, before White managed to clear the danger. And in the final 2 minutes, Bicester’s Ricardo Benjamin failed to test the keeper when free on goal.

Didcot proved to be a well-organised and motivated side and Bicester might view this result as a point gained, rather than 2 points lost.

Bicester Town 0 Didcot Town Reserves 0 (away view)
A mixture of stout defending and numerous near misses accounted for this goalless but always interesting match at Ardley which saw both teams finish with a point each in this league encounter. 

Early Alex Marshall and Tom Hoskin crosses came to naught for Didcot as they played downhill and then the home teams first chance came when they hit the crossbar with a shot from distance. A good flowing move from Didcot ended with a Hoskin cross and Tom Stone heading over under pressure. In the 10th minute Mikel Filipowicz was fouled 25 yards out and his free kick was well saved by impressive home keeper Joe White. 

Keeper White had a clearance charged down by Matheus Medeiros but the ball fell kindly for Bicester. Joe Parish saved Didcot with a well timed tackle on the edge of his box and at the other end a Marshall shot was easily gathered by White. It was Lewis Wilcox's tackle that stopped another Bicester dangerous attack. Half way through the half and Gavin Kidd and Joe Parish clashed when trying to reach a home corner kick with both receiving treatment. Kidd then headed just under the bar from another corner but Didcot keeper Ashley Stevens tipped the effort over the crossbar.  Madeiros for the Railwaymen then provided two crosses, Stone shooting over and Hoskin heading over from just 4 yards out as the near misses continued to mount from both sides. Marshall's cross saw Filipowicz shoot shot wide of the target next as Didcot finished the half stronger. Three minutes before half time Joe Parish received a knock on the head from a clash with Blossom from Bicester and was substituted by Callum Young. Didcot hadtwo further chances before half time with Jack Kitchener's fierce drive from a clearance just swinging wide of the post and a lovely move involving Marshall and Madeiros finished when Stone headed the wrong side of the post from close in. 

Bicester opened more brightly in the second half downhill and first Wayne Blossom headed wide. Ashley Stevens then had a first class save from Elliot Powell as he bore down on goal and Stevens again saved this time low down from a shot from outside the box. From a knockdown Powell shot over the bar from close in. For a whole ten minutes the match took a bit of a breather which also sawHueller Colonna replace Jack Kitchener and Jaiden Hawkins replace Filipowicz for Didcot.  Joe White had two first class saves to thwart Kieran Collins following a good move that involved Hawkins and Hoskin. Cameron McPherson then headed widefrom a free kick and Callum Young and Hawkins entered the referee's book for mis timed tackles as Bicester ramped up the pressure for the three points. Lewis Wilcox for Didcot then had a period where he appeared to be everywhere as he kicked off the line and had a double  clearance from Bicester attacks and Tom Stone joined in by conceding a corner under pressure. 

As the game entered the last frantic five minutes McPherson shot wide from 8 yards for Bicester. With two minutes remaining Didcot thought they snatched it when Hoskin's header hit the crossbar and appeared to cross the line before being gathered by White in goal. Premier league technology was not available though and the referee waved play on as Didcot appealed for the "goal " to be given. There was time for two frantic Bicester chances with first Blossom heading then shooting wide and also a final Marshall cross cut out with Hoskin lurking for Didcot.  A breathless match finished with a frustrating point each but credit to a committed Didcot performance at a venue they often come a cropper at. 

One West

Letcombe 1 Shrivenham 6
Shrivenham ran away with the game in the last 30 minutes, but Letcombe more than held their own throughout an even first half.

Letcombe could have had the perfect start in the first ten minutes. Tinashe Gwavava raced into the Shrivenham penalty area and appeared to be brought down by visiting keeper Mike Alexander. With the crowd and players shouting for a penalty, referee Connor Smith put his whistle to his mouth, but then waved play on. Play fluctuated from end to end, but Shrivenham took the lead after 32 minutes when Rob Lincoln prodded the ball home from close range after the Letcombe defence had failed to clear.

The game was effectively decided in the first minute of the second half when Lincoln scored again, and Letcombe had to rearrange their defence when central defender Jake Rowe had to leave the field with a recurrence of a muscle strain.Rob Lincoln completed his hat trick on the hour, and the visitors added further goals through Adam Rudman and Josh Fowler. Alex Fragata hit the Shrivenham bar with a fierce shot, and Conor Lynch pulled a goal back for Letcombe with two minutes remaining, driving a rebound firmly into the net. There was still time for Josh Fowler to add a sixth for Shrivenham in added time to complete a disappointing day for Letcombe.

Divisions 2

Virginia Water 0 Long Crendon 2 (away view)
Long Crendon made the trip to Surrey to meet table-toppers Virginia Water Reserves on Saturday and returned with a fully deserved three points. Crendon made five changes to the starting eleven following the defeat to Thame Rangers, with Tom and Oli Lethbridge, Dino Bonwick and James Hawkes all returning, while Brett Collings came in for his full debut.

On a decent surface, there was immediately a greater intensity to Crendon's play this week, with the majority of the play taking place in the Virginia Water half. Both Hawkes and Oli Lethbridge, who were a handful all afternoon, had shots blocked, while Harry Pettingell whistled several dangerous crosses across the face of goal. Skipper Alex Farley then tested the Virginia Water goalkeeper with a low free kick to his left before coming even closer when he latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box and curled a left foot shot against the underside of the bar and out again.

It looked as if the first half would end without reward for Crendon's dominance but right on half time they finally broke the deadlock. Nathan Brownsword, who had already whipped in one devilish delivery that just evaded Scott Hardy, produced another dangerous inswinger and Farley guided a flicked header into the far corner.

The second half was a pleasure to watch from a Crendon perspective with only the Virginia Water keeper preventing a more comprehensive scoreline in the away side's favour. The half started with a big Crendon shout for a penalty - Pettingell burst past two defenders on the right and squared for Oli Lethbridge, who appeared to be fouled as he shaped to shoot but the referee waved play on. Hawkes then got free in the inside left channel but dragged his shot wide. However, Crendon weren't to be denied and a slick counter attack saw Farley slide in Pettingell and he drilled his shot into the bottom corner, deserved reward on a day when he toyed with his marker.

With the back three of Bonwick, Hardy and Tom Lethbridge in imperious form, leaving George Collingwood largely unemployed in the Crendon goal, it was largely a case of whether Crendon could add further gloss to the scoreline. Oli Lethbridge hit the angle of post and bar, while Hawkes and Farley again tested the Virginia Water goalkeeper, before Collings nearly capped an impressive debut display with a rasping drive but the score remained 2-0 at the final whistle.

All in all, a very professional performance on a day when every Crendon player could be pleased with their performance, against a side that has started the season very well.

County Cups

Adderbury Park 1 Headington Amateurs 2
Headington progressed to the second round of this Oxfordshire County Cup competition but not without some anxious moments late in the game against their Oxon Senior league opponents.

Despite dominating territory & possession in the first thirty minutes Headington could not find a goal. Ollie Zaja, Henry Bone & Sam Gordon all had chances but were unable to take them, whilst Adderbury created the best two chances of the half, penetrating runs on both flanks setting up Josh Gibbins but on neither occasion could he make the most of good opportunities.

The visitors took the lead early in the second half, Bone finishing crisply with a left foot volley from ten yards after Zaja & Jay Hill combined on the left wing for Hill to make the cross. Within two minutes the lead was extended, Zaja despatching a penalty despite the efforts of home keeper Jason Clark, after Shaun Jacob was brought down. Hill almost made it three with a shot from twenty yards but Clark saved well. Adderbury now made a big effort, committing more men to attack & pulled a goal back, again from the penalty spot, in the sixty third minute. Their best chance of forcing extra time came three minutes from the end, Rose breaking through & striking a fierce right foot shot that Harry Jenkins did well to block.

Penn & Tylers Green 2 Aston Clinton 2
Penn & Tylers Green went out of the Wycombe senior cup on penalties to Spartan League division two side Aston Clinton.

The game was only two minutes in when Penn mounted an attack from the right-hand side and a good cross was met by the incoming Fred Tripp who blazed over from six yards. After eight minutes Jamie West had a shot from 20 yards which the Aston Clinton goalkeeper did well to save at the second attempt. On ten minutes Aston Clinton, who were now beginning to find their feet in the game stormed forward through the Penn midfield and a right-wing cross was not dealt with by the Penn defence and the Aston Clinton forward took the early Christmas present and slotted home with confidence from 8 yards.

The game ebbed and flowed with both teams carving out chances and on twenty-five minutes Aston Clinton drove forward and after a good one two on the edge of the Penn box, the resulting shot was well saved with his feet by Matt Cannings in the Penn goal. A let off for Penn. 
Then on twenty-seven minutes Penn worked the ball out to Jordan Gumbs who sent over a sublime cross to the far post for the on-rushing Casey Bocarro to expertly volley into the far corner across the helpless Aston Clinton goalkeeper. 1- 1, game on. 

Both teams continued to carve out chances and Matt Cannings had to be alert on a couple of occasions to keep out Aston Clinton efforts. On 55 minutes George Weller had a close-range effort brilliantly save by the Aston Clinton goalkeeper.

After 60 minutes Aston Clinton hit the far post with a floated free kick from the right wing. Two minutes later Matt Cannings made another save from the through run on goal by the oncoming Aston Clinton forward. After 65 minutes, the breakthrough came for Penn when George Weller after an excellent flowing move, was upended in the six-yard box and he duly dusted himself down and dispatched the penalty with aplomb low to the goalkeepers left who dived the wrong way. This should have been enough to win the match and as the minutes ticked away Penn had the opportunity to clear the ball from midfield over the houses and into Penn Pond, but hesitation allowed Aston Clinton to charge forward for one last effort and from a right wing cross the centre forward executed a looping header from the edge of the penalty area up and over the stranded Matt Cannings in the Penn goal. 90 minutes, 2-2.

So, from having the game won, Penn conceded in the last minute and the referees whistle almost immediately after Aston Clinton’s equalizer signalled the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Penn disastrously missed their first two penalties so had a mountain to climb, but still took the shoot out to the last penalty which Aston Clinton dispatched to win 4-3 on penalties.

So, a disappointing day for Penn, with probably too many players having an off day, but all credit to Aston Clinton who came and played well and overall probably deserved to win.

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