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Hellenic League Match Report

2 November


Faringdon Town 2 Letcombe 2 
(Faringdon won 3-0 on penalties)
After the disappointment of last weekends league defeat at Fairford Town Development, Town were back in cup action on Saturday, with local side Letcombe FC the visitors to Tucker Park in the Chairmans Challenge Cup second round.  Just as the teams went out for their pre-match warm ups, the heavens opened and with a stiff wind blowing down the pitch towards the Playground End of Tucker Park, it made any kind of consistent play hard for both sides, during the whole 100 minutes of play. 

The visitors started on the front foot and had an early overhead kick effort at goal, but this sailed over the crossbar. On 12 minutes, Town had their first sight at goal as a quick break from Sean Creeley released Andy Munns past the last defender, but his left footed effort failed to hit the target. The deadlock was broken on 20 minutes, when the ball was stolen in the Town midfield and played quickly to the Letcombe No. 10's left foot, who made no mistake shooting across the Town goal and into the far post side netting for 1-0. Town were struggling to get a grip of the game, playing into the wind and rain, but did create a couple of openings, however the final ball just didn't fall for the intended target. Town management were hoping to get the lads to the break with the one goal deficit, but were given a lifeline on 43 minutes when Luke Davenport challenged for a high ball in the Letcombe penalty area, where he was clearly having his shirt pulled, which the match official saw and awarded the spot kick. Andy Goodchild stepped forward and despite the visiting keeper getting a hand to the ball, it was too powerful and Town were now level. Moments later and a massive penalty area goalmouth scramble ensued with Town trying to take the lead, but credit to the Letcombe defence as they threw bodies on the line as the ball was eventually cleared to safety. Skipper Adam Rudman picked up a yellow card as the half came to a close with a dubious handball decision as the visitors looked to make a quick breakaway, so the score remained at 1-1. 

Towns now customary slow start to each half continued as they went behind for a second time on 50 minutes as a ball into the penalty area was mishit volleyed by the No. 10 of Letcombe which wrong footed Connor Guinness-Smith in the Town goal and the visitors were back in front. Letcombe were on the front foot and a smart save by Guinness-Smith and finally cleared by Rudman kept the scoreline 2-1. Then came a contentious decision as Rudman was turned by the winger right in front of both benches and appeared to pull the player back. Letcombe were bellowing for a second yellow card for Titch but the match official thought otherwise and let him go with a word in his ear. Town management made the wise decision to withdraw Rudman and Dinesh Gurung entered the play. The match was now fairly scrappy as Letcombe sat on their lead, especially with their goalscorer having to come off injured, whilst Town introduced Kam Muhid and Christian Wills in search of a second goal. With the game coming to a close on 89 minutes, Town played arguably their best passage of play as a number of passes opened up the Letcombe back line and Creeley hit a goal bound effort which the Letcombe keeper did well to get down to and turn around the post for a corner. The resulting retake saw Town score the equaliser their endeavour probably deserved as the corner was half cleared to the edge of the penalty area, where Muhid took a touch, before hitting the ball hard and low into the corner of the left hand side of the Letcombe goal to take the match to extra time with almost the last kick of the game. 

With the weather still being foul and the light fading fast, it was decided the game would have 10 minutes each way for extra time. The only strike on goal worth any merit came from Letcome when from 25 yards the ball was whipped with pace and hit the angle of the upright and crossbar. Town withstood the pressure against the wind and looking to push in the second period of extra time, however the referee decided for player safety we would go straight to penalty kicks with the sides still level and not play the final 10 minute period of play. 

Letcombe took the first spot kick, which was well saved to his right by Guinness-Smith. Creeley stepped up for Town's first effort and calmly stroked home for a 1-0 lead. The next visitors strike, hit the crossbar and despite hitting Guinness-Smith on the way down, the ball went to safety. Adam Sly came up for Town's second and put the ball in the same place as Creeley's sending the keeper the wrong way for 2-0. Letcombe's third spot kick went into orbit and sailed over the crossbar, leaving Town penalty taker Goodchild to step forward and send the keeper the wrong way for a 3-0 penalty victory for Town and into the third round of this Hellenic League Division 2 competition. 

The result was probably a little harsh on the visitors, however Town never gave up and created as many chances as Letcombe but saw less of the ball. This was a great morale booster with league leaders Highworth Town Development the visitors to Tucker Park next weekend in Division Two West action, kick off 2.15pm. 

Faringdon Town:C Guinness-Smith, Adam Rudman(c)(sub 65 D Gurung), A Lynham (Sub 70 K Muhid), J Vaughan, A Goodchild, L Davenport, M Pill, A Sly, A Munns, R Bradbury (sub 75 C Wills) S Creeley. Sub Not Used: M Morris 

Faringdon Town 2 Letcombe 2 (away view)
(Faringdon won 3-0 on penalties)

With Michael Annetts injured, 16 year old Aidan Ormrod played at the heart of the Letcombe defence alongside Fraser Little.Letcombe chose to play with the wind and slope in their favour, and dominated the opening exchanges.Josh Fowler went close on two occasions, and he gave Letcombe the lead after 20 minutes, firing the ball low into the far corner after a clever flick from James Wright had created the opening.With man of the match Chris Rivers controlling midfield, Letcombe went in search of a second goal, but Faringdon equalised five minutes from half time.Sam Mulvey was penalised for holding following a free kick, and former Letcombe player Andy Goodchild scored from the resulting penalty.

Letcombe regained the lead early in the second half when a chip from Chris Rivers found Josh Fowler, and although he did not connect cleanly with his shot, it looped over home keeper Connor Guinness-Smith and into the far top corner of the net.Faringdon pressed forward, but the Letcombe defence looked solid, with Fraser Little dominant at its heart.Faringdon skipper Adam Rudman was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a deliberate grab of an opponents shirt, and was immediately substituted.Josh Fowler limped off for Letcombe and was replaced by Luke Polding. Letcombe had chances to make the game safe before Faringdon equalised in added time, Kameran Muhid driving a low shot into the net from 25 yards through a crowd of players after a corner had been partially cleared.

Kias Bonner-Shea hit the post with a curling shot in extra time, but with the light fading and heavy rain falling, it was agreed to decide the game on penalties without completing extra time.Luke Mulvey, Sam Mulvey and Luke Polding all failed to score for Letcombe, and with Faringdon converting all 3 of their kicks, the last two penalty takers from both sides were not required.

Letcombe continue in cup action next Saturday when they visit Aldermaston Reserves in the Berks & Bucks Intermediate cup, kick off 2.00pm.

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Premier Division

Royal Wootton Bassett Town 2 Brackley Town Saints 5 (by Stuart Smedley)

A spirited, much improved second half display may have allowed Royal Wootton Bassett Town to emerge with a smidgen of pride still intact from their home defeat against Brackley Town Saints. However, a miserable performance in the opening period meant they were on the receiving end of a heavy 5-2 loss that keeps Sam Collier's side mired in the bottom three of the uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division. Two soft goals conceded from corners, a deflected free kick and a well-worked move that easily carved open the hosts' defence saw Bassett enter the half time interval 4-1 down against a Saints side who, although neat and tidy as usual, were certainly not as strong as the team who came close to landing the title in 2018-19. And although Bassett matched - and arguably bettered - their opponents following the restart, the damage done in the opening 45 minutes proved fatal for their chances of getting anything from the game.

Collier's side were a goal behind after just four minutes as Ollie Goddard lost his marker and steered in Harry Brock's hanging corner. The visitors' lead barely lasted five minutes though, Carl Evans beating Saints 'keeper Matt Crowther to the ball to head in from Caine Bradbury's free kick delivery. After that equaliser Bassett appeared to be in the ascendancy. Brad Pagliaroli blazed narrowly over from a tight angle before dragging inches wide of the left post with a right-footed shot after Wayne Turk's interception in the middle of the park. However, after failing to translate that brief spell into anything positive, midway through the half Bassett found themselves behind again. It was a rather unfortunate goal to concede, Dean March's free kick deflecting off the wall and leaving a wrong-footed Declan Lehmann no chance to keep the ball out.

The response from Bassett was pitiful – and they quickly folded. 2-1 became 3-1 when another Brock corner was flicked on at the near post by an unmarked March and fell at the feet of a wide-open Sam Hartley at the far post to guide home. Then, after Alex Stott had twice spurned opportunities when through on goal, dangerous teammate James Hammond showed the forward how it was done, latching onto his partner's through ball before lifting a deft chip over a stranded Lehmann.

Whatever strong words were said in the Bassett dressing room at half time, they had an immediate effect. Bassett pulled a goal back within two minutes of the restart. Pagliaroli and Gio Wrona played a short corner and the latter delivered a cross from the right to the far post, which Evans headed in for his second of the game. Minutes later, substitute TJ Bohane, whose introduction made a positive impact, came close, forcing a Crowther save with his header from an Alfie Presley cross.

In contrast to Bassett, Brackley had started the second period somewhat nervously. But they soon settled and twice came close to re-establishing a three-goal advantage. First, Jordan Godfrey's deep left-wing cross caught the wind and Lehmann was forced to smartly redirect himself in order to tip wide. Lehmann then guided Goddard's rising first-time effort from the edge of the area over the bar. Bassett continued to ask questions at the other end, Bohane seeing a low free kick parried by Crowther with the 'keeper doing well to get his body in the way of Matt Bennett's rebound shot. A rash decision to come off his line then presented Callum Parsons with a half chance to steer a shot in from the left side, but his attempt was headed away. With nine minutes to go, Bassett had the ball in the back of the net, Bennett brilliantly adjusting his body to hooks in from Parsons' clever reverse pass. However, a questionable offside decision ruled it out. There were no doubts over Brackley's goal at the other end with four minutes remaining. Catching Bassett on the break, Stott's switched play from right to left, picking out Hammond, who stepped inside Aaron Oakley before coolly slotting away. That was game over. Yet Parsons, Pagliaroli and Bohane all came close to grabbing what would, at this point, have been consolation goals in the dying minutes of the game.

If any spectators had only observed the second half, they'd have been forgiven for thinking it was Bassett who were on top. But that had followed a pitiful opening 45 minutes in which the hosts seemed devoid of any fight once they found themselves behind for a second time.

Royal Wootton Bassett Town 2 Brackley Town Saints 5 (Saints View)

Brackley Town Saints made it two wins on the bounce with a great performance at Royal Wootton Bassett Town on Saturday, the three points moves Chris Hurley’s men up to fifth place in the Hellenic Football League Premier Division table.

Olly Goddard poked home a Harry Brock corner on just three minutes, the hosts levelled through Carl Evans but Dean March restored the Saints lead from a free kick on twenty-one minutes. Sam Hartley at the back post headed a third moments later, and before the interval James Hammond made it four with a deft chip over the Wootton keeper.

The home side pulled another goal back immediately after the restart, but it took until three minutes from the end for Hammond to bag his second and finally put the game to bed, Brackley host Lydney Town next weekend at St James Park.