4-5 February 2020
Banbury Litho Floodlit Cup - Quarter Final
Tuffley Rovers 3 Shortwood United 0
Dreadful weather had restricted the hosts to a single home match during the first month of a new year. Easington Sports had arrived in Gloucester in 8th position but had left on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline. The next visitors to Glevum Park would, oddly, also arrive with the comfort of being in 8th place in their own division, the Hellenic’s Division One West and although these two clubs would not be meeting in league fixtures in the current season, the Tuffley club had a burning reason for wanting to move on to the semi-final stage of the Floodlit Cup; and that reason was the horrible memory of the 5-0 thrashing they had suffered at United’s Meadowbank ground in Nailsworth in the F.A. Vase on the last day of August, 2019.
In winning a second successive home match by three goals, Rovers exacted some degree of revenge on the opponents who had defeated them by five goals in a different cup competition five months earlier. After a fairly even first half, two Tuffley goals in the opening minutes of the second period put the hosts firmly in control and after a third goal was added as the match passed an hour’s play, the result was never in doubt.
Both teams bore little resemblance to those which had contested the Vase match earlier in the season. Rovers got the match started playing towards the changing-rooms end and won an early corner on the left after debutant Callum Ebanks’ deep cross from the right had been headed behind by a defender. Ebanks, who had a most impressive debut following his signing from Cheltenham Town, then set up Dominik Kent a minute later with another cross from the right but Kent’s close-range effort was smothered by visiting ‘keeper Adam Clark at his near post. Down at the other end Shortwood won a free-kick when Harry Hudson was fouled on the right but Josh Beadle’s chip into the Rovers penalty-area was comfortably claimed by Luke Merchant. Clark was the next goalkeeper to be tested when he punched Isaac Lawrence’s cross clear of danger then had to quickly re-position himself to catch Jack Beardsell’s follow-up cross.
Ben Prictor combined brilliantly with Warren Mann to set Kent running clear on goal. The midfielder skipped past Clark but failed to get enough pace on his left-footed shot which was cleared off the line by Joe Tryner to prevent the opening goal of the match. As Rovers continued to have more of the play a feature of the first half was the way the experienced Mann worked selflessly to receive the ball with his back to ball before bringing the ball under control and bringing team-mates into the heart of the action. One such team-mate was Jake Rhodes, who had a fierce shot deflected over the crossbar for a corner, but United were still making occasionally dangerous forays into Tuffley territory and Hudson’s trickery on the right forced a corner before a worrying incident occurred at the mid-point of the half. Ebanks chased a ball on the left and on the edge of Shortwood’s penalty-area collided accidentally with visiting central-defender Tryner, who fell to the ground screaming in agony. Tryner was treated for several minutes on the pitch before being carried off on a stretcher with what looked like a really serious injury. Luke Soule came on to replace him from Shortwood’s bench.
When play resumed United’s Guy Halliday had a shot which went wide before before the same happened to Josh Beadle, whose effort was deflected wide of the home goal. Substitute Soule was frequently involved as Shortwood came more into the game but there was no more significant action as the interval was reached after six additional minutes due to Tryner’s injury.
Rovers raced out of the blocks at the start of the second half and were soon ahead. Mark Pritchett picked off a cross field pass before feeding Mann, who in turn found Ben Prictor and the left-back’s accurate cross reached the hard-working Ebanks, who headed the ball past Clark. A minute later Clark was picking the ball out of his net again. Ebanks challenged the goalkeeper as the ball came over from the left but the ‘keeper barged him unfairly and a penalty-kick was awarded, which Mann stroked firmly past Clark’s left side.
United brought on Aaron Lowe for Kenneth Mills but five minutes later Rovers were three goals to the good. Mann and Ebanks combined to force a corner on the right. Prictor swung the ball across, Clark came for it but could only push the ball gently up in the air leaving Jake Rhodes with a simple header into an unguarded net. United made their final change by bringing on Mat Blythe for Halliday. Mann also departed for Joe Shutt shortly after being scythed down by Ben Snook, for which the defender rightly received a yellow card. Rovers then used up their own quota of substitutes by bringing on Adam Bloomfield and Antoine Thompson for Harri John and Prictor.
Tuffley could and probably should have scored more goals. Kent smashed a shot against the crossbar and Rhodes connected perfectly with Beardsell’s right-wing corner but his volley cleared the crossbar. The same player then put another shot wide after being set up by substitute Bloomfield. Merchant’s fingertips denied Soule a consolation goal but Rovers were content to slow the play down a bit and used the remaining minutes to carefully protect their lead and take their place in the last four of the Floodlit Cup. The majority of an excellent midweek attendance of just over a hundred could have no complaints about the entertainment that had been served up as the hosts extended an unbeaten home run to five matches in all competitions. Shortwood will be disappointed to be knocked out but their main concern will be that Joe Tryner makes a good recovery from a serious injury.
Hereford Lads Club 3 Malvern Town 3 (away view)
Malvern Town played out a 3-3 draw at Hereford Lads Club in what was an incident-packed encounter.
We were caught cold within the opening minute when a strike from Cowley-Hair was well saved by Jordan Dibble only for Price to fire the loose ball home. As we looked to hit back, Kyonn Evans was thwarted by the home ’keeper before some good link-up play between George Hayes and Matt Turner ended with the latter denied.
A pacy break from Harry Clark with 12 minutes on the clock saw him get in a strike that beat the ‘keeper but the ball appeared to bounce out from inside the goal, however, the referee allowed play to continue. Our search for an equaliser continued as Hayes, Dave Reynolds and Clark all went close before Evans saw his effort blocked in front of goal. Just before the half-hour, Clark curled in an effort that was headed away from in front of goal, but it wasn’t long before the home side’s resistance was finally broken when Louis Loader fired home.
Price went close for the home side before we turned the scoreline on its head as Turner turned well before planting his strike beyond the reach of Bell in the home goal. With five minutes to go until the break, the home side were awarded a penalty. It seemed rather harsh on Phil Harris who appeared not to touch the home striker as he entered the area. Hockey stepped up and made it 2-2.
There was still time at the end of the opening period for the home side to regain the lead when the lively Price found the net only for it to be cancelled out in stoppage time when a free-kick into the danger zone was turned home from close range by Evans.
The second half started with chances at both ends. A corner from Loader flashed across the face of goal, whilst Newbury’s low effort was well kept out by Dibble. A probing ball from Evans just evaded the outstretched Turner who couldn’t turn the ball home, then at the other end, Dibble saved well before the rebound was fired against the post.
On the hour a good chance opened up for Hayes who was off target. Both Reynolds and Loader were booked in quick succession before Cowley-Hair saw a low strike saved by Dibble. Loud appeals for a penalty were waved away following a push on Clark before shortly afterwards, some neat approach play ended with Turner blazing well over.
As the clock ticked down, another sharp move ended with Sam Hunt firing into the side-netting and then Reynolds’ deft header crept just wide. There was a let-off for the home side in the 88th minute when James Febery was brought down just inside the area and as play continued, Evans side-footed narrowly wide of the target. Deep into stoppage time more drama was to follow when the home side were awarded another soft penalty but justice was done as Hockey missed and honours ended even.
Malvern Town: Dibble, J. Sauntson, Hunt, Harris, J. Febery, Loader, Reynolds, Hayes, Clark, Turner, Evans. Subs not used: Fusco, Emblem, Craven, B. Febery, Skidmore.
Wycombe Senior Cup
Risborough Rangers 3 Aston Clinton 0
Aston Clinton arrived at the BEP Stadium as holders of the High Wycombe Senior Cup for this semi-final of the same competition. Rangers were beaten by the holders on penalties at this stage last season and Mark Eaton's men were determined to make amends. In a sometimes feisty and hard fought game on a difficult pitch it was Rangers who were the victors this time, running out three nil winners. Rangers started brightly, creating several half chances, but it was the visitors that had the first shot on target in the 16th minute, which was an easy one for Jack Brooker in the Rangers goal. A minute later and Rangers' Sam Pekun was in on goal with Smith saving with his feet. Shortly after Ben Hammond fired over from a free kick before for Aston Clinton, Greco's run and shot was too high. Rangers enjoyed a good spell with Kyle Faulkner's cross flicked goal-ward by Brian Haule and gathered by Smith. Boro' eventually took the lead in the 26th minute . Pekun did well to feed Brian Haule who turned expertly to cross for Faulkner to score with a diving header. Soon after Hammond set Pekun away again, with the lively winger beating his marker before seeing his cross/shot deflected for a corner. Aston came back with a volleyed shot across the face of the goal from Mason-Williams before their best chance of the game; following some good work down their left the ball was crossed to Mealor at the far post and his point blank header was brilliantly saved by Brooker diving across his goal. The visitors claimed it had crossed the line but to no avail and Rangers sighed a sigh of relief. The home side quickly broke from the resultant corner and Pekun was again through with the keeper to beat, Smith denying him with another good save. The keeper was then sin binned for 10 minutes for complaining to the referee, which was no great surprise! On the stroke of half time Rangers break with Hammond again the orchestrator, this time Pekun's shot parried away by the stand-in goalie.
The second period began with a long shot straight into Brookers hands. Josh Fox then blazed into the trees at the other end after a rushed free kick. After quarter of an hour Rangers force a corner that was cleared of the line as Aston scramble the ball away. The visitors pressed for an equaliser with the home defence standing firm as the game turned a little niggly, with some needless 'handbags' and complaining to the overworked match officials. Eventually football took over precedings again as Haule's turn and shot was turned away for a corner. Then Fox ran through, shooting straight into the grateful arms of the now reinstated Smith. At the other end Brooker dealt easily with a weak shot from Collins before, in the 72nd minute Rangers put the game beyond doubt with a second. Fox raced onto a misdirected header and slammed the ball past the stranded Smith to make it two nil. Aston Clinton's last chance came with 15 minutes remaining with a free kick on the edge of the Rangers 'D' that sailed well over Brooker's crossbar. Boro' got a third four minutes later with a great move, ending with Bertie Squire-Adams and Fox combining well in the Aston area before a far post cross was headed powerfully home by Josh Urquhart. The final minutes saw Rangers enjoy themselves, controlling the game and wasting several chances. It hardly mattered though as they look forward to at least one cup final.
Not the best Risborough performance but yet another clean sheet, this time against a decent Aston Clinton side who pushed them hard for much of the game. Saturday they are at home to Woodley United looking for another all important three points. A word for the referee Gifford Manyange, who had a good night in the face of much intimidation. He kept his cool and more importantly got most of the big decisions right.
Rangers Man of the Match: Ben Hammond. Drove the team on with his energy and some superb defence splitting passes for the forwards to feed off of. Hammo is an integral part of this Rangers side.