uhlsport Hellenic League
Shrivenham 4 Virginia Water 3
Shrivenham returned to winning ways in yet another very tight game against Virginia Water. The visitors began the game slowly and after anearly hack on Antonio Gerrish saw referee Isaac Blakey brandish Harrison Duff an early yellow, it wasn’t long before Shrivvy won their first corner and a loose ball conveniently dropped to Nick Stanley, who smashed it home with just 5-minutes gone.
The goal woke up the Waters and they began to create chances of their own – producing a decent save from Dan Lawrence after 15 minutes, while at the other end captain Sam Ockwell crafted a brilliant opportunity passing the ball across the goalmouth, but there were no Shrivenham players there to poke the ball home. With the game flowing end to end, it was another defensive mix-up that allowed the Waters back in the game when Joel Drew found himself unmarked with the ball and so thrust himself forwards along the left wing and midway inside the Shrivenham penalty area, before slotting the ball along the ground comfortably in to the back of the net to tie the score.
It was anybody’s game, and while the visitors were looking more composed on the ball, Shrivenham’s range of passing was giving them the edge and on 33-minutes, another Shrivvy attack saw Gerrish pick out Josh Morse who took three touches around the keeper to steady himself, before thumping the ball in to the back of the net. Both sides continued to battle as they had in previous encounters and although there was not much in it, Shrivenham deservedly went in to the interval ahead – but knowing they had a lot to do in the second half if they were to secure the points.
In a mirror image of the first half however, it was Virginia Water who came out of the starting blocks firing on all cylinders and within a minute, they had levelled the score courtesy of Drew. Josh Dillon raced down the left channel from an absent Shrivenham challenge and was allowed to reach the by-line before pulling the ball back towards the danger area and remarkably Drew was all on his own and gifted the ball which he poked home in to the roof of the net with his left foot. The visitors continued to press and saw a long range effort fly over the goal before Adam McNamara won the ball on the edge of the centre circle in a tussle with Ockwell on 50-minutes. Ockwell believed he was impeded so appealed to the referee who clearly thought otherwise, and McNamara was left to awkwardly control the ball as he rushed towards the penalty area before letting loose his shot which found the back of the net – putting the visitors ahead for the first time in the game and there really couldn’t be any arguments.
Ockwell almost made up for his earlier rare lapse in concentration two minutes later, when he saw a brilliantly taken free kick unfortunately smash against the crossbar and out to safety, however with Shrivvy now enjoying a purple patch, another inch perfect pass found Gerrish at the edge of the penalty area unmarked on 55-minutes, and after he chested the ball down, despatched a ferocious left footed half volley which almost broke the back of the net.
Both sides continued to create half chances – with Gerrish going close on two further occasions, before Jamie Prictor made way for Dan Reynolds who was making a return from injury, on 75-minutes. A minute later, substitute Jake Barker had a golden opportunity to restore his sides lead after he beat the Shrivenham defence, however through on goal his well-placed effort curled round Lawrence and unfortunately – for him – struck the post and although the rebound was smashed back in and wasn’t able to be held by Lawrence, the ball eventually went out to safety when it really had deserved a goal for such great play. While a draw would have been a fairer reflection of the match, you couldn’t begrudge either side from edging all three points and fortunately it was to be Shrivenham’s day. With 9-minutes remaining, Nick Stanley provided a hopeful free kick in to a crowded box and Macauley Dodson leapt highest and looped a header over Matt Jones in to the back of the net to restore his side lead.
Both sides had another half chance each before Nick Stanley became the first Shrivenham player to be sinbinned with five minutes remaining, but the score remained the same and it was the home side who took all three points in what had been a thoroughly entertaining game – especially for the neutral.
Shrivenham: Dan Lawrence, Luke Cordery, Matt Horsell, Sam Ockwell ©, Macauley Dodson 1, Ollie Rejek, Jamie Prictor (Dan Reynolds), Nick Stanley 1 (SB), Josh Morse 1, Antonio Gerrish 1 and Tom Ballard. Sub: Liam Edmondson, Beyazit Durdu and Mike Alexander (GK).
Virginia Water: Matt Jones, Harrison Duff (Y), Joshua Hennah, Joe McBride, Finn Evered ©, Ryan Whyte, Paul Burrows, Josh Guichard, Adam McNamara 1, Josh Dillon & Joel Drew 2. Sub (TBC): Jake Baker, Ruben Bande & Michael Chambers.
Shrivenham 4 Virginia Water 3 (away view)
Virginia Water were on the wrong side of a 7 goal thriller away at Shrivenham. A terrific match for the neutral, with neither side deserving to be losers on the day.
Waters, minus 9 squad players on the treatment bench, started well, with Paul Burrows prominent out wide with some telling runs and crosses. A little against the run of play, the hosts went ahead when VW failed to clear a corner, and we were robbed of possession in our own box, for their midfielder to shoot home from close range. Somewhat harshly, the terrific Harrison Duff, was then carded for what seemed an accidental challenge, but responded with a great performance of his own.
Back came VW, when from a pinpoint long kick, Matt Jones put the excellent Joel Drew through, who calmly slotted passed their keeper. As the half approached, from a long clearance for the home side, our CB tripped over, and they scored from the resulting two on one.
The start of the second half saw Waters equalise within a minute, when a storming run and cross by Adam McNamara, was smashed home again by Joel. On 53 minutes, we went 3-2 ahead, when Adam robbed their CB and slotted home.
VW in the ascendancy, but dealing with long balls proved to be our downfall, when another was not cut out by our defence, and allowed their striker to score unmarked in the box, when it should have been a comfortable clearance.
Undaunted VW went upfield for the win, and Jake Baker was put through on goal, only to see his shot rebound out agonisingly off the post.
From a needless free kick on half way, with time running out, a long diagonal free kick was headed from deep, and lopped over Matt, into the far corner. A final push saw Joel, Adam, Josh Dillon all go close, but a harsh defeat for VW, despite a much improved effort with a depleted squad. Food for thought ahead.
Tuffley Rovers 3 Windsor 3
Having scored three times, in a third consecutive Hellenic League fixture, it might at first seem unusual to hear that Tuffley Rovers’ points tally in a three match unbeaten run was as low as five points. However, defensive frailties were evident, once again, as Mark Pritchett’s side were indebted to a never-say-die spirit that once again secured a point, in a manner not completely at odds with their last home fixture against Brimscombe & Thrupp. On that last occasion, two late goals saw Rovers rescue a point against their visitors and on this occasion, goals in the 84th minute and deep into time added on repeated the trick.
Coming off the back of a first league win of the season against Shrivenham in midweek, Rovers were forced to make three changes to the starting line-up, as Lewis Bainbridge, Declan Earwaker and Jack Beardsell all returned, replacing Ben Prictor, Isaac Lawrence and Paul Carter, who were all unavailable for selection. The visitors, Windsor, are expected to name a new management team in the coming days, but the uncertainty arising since Mick Woodham’s departure meant that caretaker manager, Luke Brooks-Smith, was short of numbers and he included himself as one of only twelve players available to travel.
After a fairly quiet opening, with neither keeper troubled in the early stages of the game, the game sprang into life on fifteen minutes, as a Brooks-Smith free-kick was headed back across goal by Andy Ingram, giving Teddy Woodisse the chance to apply a simple finish from close range. Rovers went on the attack following the restart and Beardsell produced a fantastic pass to set Brett James away, but the Rovers wide-man was denied by a stunning save from Windsor’s debutant, 16-year-old goalkeeper Danny Clements, who pushed a fierce shot up and over the bar. Beardsell’s pass had been impressive, but is next involvement was of an even higher quality. After a gradual buildup of pressure, Tyreece Briscoe fired a 35 yard pass across from one side of the pitch to the other and although the ball seemed slightly behind him, Beardsell caught the ball on a volley with power that took it past Clements before the young keeper could react. The equaliser, after 24 minutes, was no less than Rovers deserved and should have been the catalyst for them to take a grip on the game.
However, Kingsley Etefia’s pace was troubling Pritchett’s side and he might have done better than firing straight at Alex Avenell, on 27 minutes. Briscoe then presented James with another chance, but his shot went narrowly wide of the Windsor goal, then Beardsell twice turned creator, only to see the chances spurned, as he set-up Ross Langworthy and James, again. With Rovers in the ascendency, the half-time interval arrived with the score at 1-1 and everything to play for.
Early in the second period, James almost had another chance, but Langworthy’s cross was just beyond him, then Pritchett had a chance himself, but fired over from seven yards, after Beardsell set him up. The game then took a decisive turn, as Pritchett made a furious protest to the Assistant Referee, earning himself a place in Rovers’ record books, as the first player to be sin-binned in a Hellenic League fixture, and whilst he was off the field, the visitors took the lead.
A well delivered set-piece found its way to the back post, where Windsor’s nineteen-year-old captain, Luke Appleton, was afforded time and space to dispatch the ball beyond Avenell and hand his team a 2-1 advantage. Windsor were then convinced that they’d added a third goal, as Appleton forced the ball towards the goal, but Avenell clawed the ball away and despite the visiting side’s protests, the Assistant Referee determined that the ball had not crossed the line.
Pritchett then returned to the field, restoring Rovers’ numbers to a full complement and Jeremiah Idowu was then introduced for his debut, replacing defender Declan Earwaker, as Rovers in search of an equaliser. Clements looked anything but a 16-year-old debutant as he pulled off a remarkable save to keep out Briscoe’s effort from the edge of the box, and it looked very much like that intervention was to prove the catalyst for a smash-and-grab victory, just a couple of minutes later, as Appleton was once again given too much room and headed home from close range on 81 minutes.
Langworthy had been troubling the visiting defence all afternoon and he was to turn provider six minutes from time, as he beat his man before crossing low to Briscoe, who powered home a shot from 10 yards to make it 3-2.
Rovers introduced another striker, Adam Bloomfield, for right-back Lewis Bainbridge, as they went in search of a goal to level the scores, but the additional attacking threat left them a little exposed and Windsor might have extended their lead but for a good stop from Avenell, diving low to his left. With the game deep into injury time, there was to be one final moment of drama, as James was fouled on the edge of the box and Langworthy stepped up to hammer a free-kick under the defensive wall, as the players jumped to block an anticipated effort, and the power of the shot took it beyond Clements and into the net. Just moments after the restart, the game came to an end, with the sides sharing the points and both probably leaving the field with a sense that they might have achieved a better result.
Westfields 5 Ardley United 1
Westfields recorded a 5-1 home win over visiting Ardley United from Oxfordshire on Saturday when the rampant Westfields side followed on from their 6-1 midweek victory at Wootton Bassett to score another 5 goals in a polished performance against the visitors.
Westfields were given an early start when Craig Jones put them ahead in the 4th minute with a neat chip past the visiting keeper. Westfields began to play some good approach work on a beautifully prepared allpay.park pitch and increased their lead in the 17th minute when central defender Paul Hurrell was free in the box and put Westfields 2-0 ahead.
However, the visitors came back and their most impressive player Billy Gillett weaved his way past Sam Gwynne down the right flank and cut in and beat Harvey Rivers with a low shot into the corner of the net to pull back a goal before the break.
However, after the interval Ben Hayes scored a spectacular goal within 4 minutes of the re-start when he lobbed the visiting keeper and then fans’ favourite Richard Greaves got on the end of a Ben Hayes cross to put Westfields into a comfortable 4-1 lead before Dan Stoneman scored a spectacular 5th solo goal into the top corner of the net to give Westfields a fine 5-1 win and send them to the top of the Hellenic Premier Division.
Westfields were impressive in their home victory in front of their newly-announced official club sponsors CJ Insurance of Hereford who presented Phil Glover and Sam Gwynne with their new home and away kits before the game. James Clarke, the Managing Director of CJ Insurance, was present at the game.
Westfields now go forward with a home game on Tuesday night in the Banbury Litho Floodlit Challenge Cup when they meet local rivals Lydney Town, kick-off 7.45pm at allpay.park. Westfields have no fixture next Saturday.
Division One East
Risborough Rangers 3 Didcot Town Development 1
Risborough Rangers showed their experience over a youthful Didcot Town Development side who will feel the 3-1 scoreline flatters the hosts after going in at the break a goal up.
In an entertaining first half Rangers had some good chances to be leading but as Diddy grew into the game they too will feel that they should of hit the target but were restricted to distance shots which really didnt trouble Jack Brooker in the Rangers goal but the visitors stunned thier hosts on the stroke of half-time when a superb pass over the Rangers back-line by Ross MacDonald found Ty Hamilton who from out wide on the Didcot left beat the on rushing Brooker to the ball and lofted the ball over him and as the ball dropped most thought he had put the ball over for a goalkick but the ball dropped into the far post to give Diddy the lead, a goal which was the first conceded by Risborough from open play this term.
Rangers were forced into a half-time substitution with Laurence Clark coming on for Gary Rymer who had picked up a injury prior to the break, the start of second half very similar to that of the first with Risboro' trying to find a equaliser. The tide of the match was to change in the 65th minute when a corner on Rangers left was put into the area as the ball bobbled around the Diddy area, Kyle Faulkner latched onto the loose ball nd slammed the ball into top corner to restore parity. This buoyed Rangers and they gradully started to show their experince over younger opponents. Rangers went ahead for the first time in the 78th when Sam Pekun worked an opening from the edge of the area and planted the ball firmly into the bottom past the despairing Sam Eeles in the Didcot goal. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of our visitors and as the game drew to it's conclusion there was still enough time for Brian Haule (pictured) to notch his tenth of the season as he shot into the far corner from thr right side of the box to seal the points and extend Rangers unbeaten run in all competitions to nine games.
Next up is an away trip to Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division outfit Wembley in the Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round.
Thame Rangers 0 Marlow United 2 (away view)
With five players unavailable the benefit of a strong squad was never more evident as United took the field with five changes from Tuesdays draw with Risborough Rangers as they dominated Thame Rangers, eventually cruising to an emphatic victory and recording a clean sheet in the process.
The first half was a tepid affair with few chances to either side although Marlow dominated possession without really threatening the Thame goal.
It was the home team who really should have taken the lead with a through ball catching out a square United defence, the looping shot just evading the outside of the left hand post. That though was as good as it got for Thame with Marlow dominating possession , winning a number of corners but failing to test home keeper Lang. Sutherland , Hurst and Harman all failed to hit the target from half chances as the game drifted toward half time, the United forward line in desperate need of an an injection of pace to stretch the home defence.
With half time approaching skipper Hurst jarred his knee and the injury resulted in Alfie Lucas replacing him at the commencement of the second period. The substitute added that missing pace and suddenly the visitors looked a more dangerous outfit. Lucas playing wide on the right constantly ran at the Thame defence, taking on and beating his marker and crossing the ball into the danger areas.
Despite this Marlow continued to squander a number of decent opportunities with the visiting supporters beginning show their frustrations at the profligacy of the forwards. United continued to earn a number of corners and it was from one of these on sixty three minutes that they took the lead. Qwam Thomas swung over the ball from the Thame right and centre half Al Mckie powered an unstoppable header home from ten yards.
United suffered a further injury with the industrious Harman suffering a knee injury, coach Adan Dickens being thrown into the fray as the visitors bench was being stretched. Marlow really should have settled the game soon after as Ramel Sutherland collected a through ball inside the area, firing high and wide with only Lang in his way. Thame won the first of a number of corners, United being indebted to Mitch Woodward throwing his body in the path of the subsequent shot before clearing.
Marlow continued to create a number of chances Sutherland hitting the side netting and volleying at the keeper, Dickens also found the keeper with Lucas seeing a number of crosses being cleared. Eventually the pressure told on eighty minutes with Dickens converting from close range following a cross from Lucas that Sutherland scuffed goal ward, Dickens gratefully guiding the ball over the line. Conner Singleston was replaced by sixteen year old debutant Charlie Flint on ninety minutes and he saw a brilliant double one two in the box between Lucas and Thomas, the latter seeing his shot ping back off the post with Lang beaten. The game ended shortly after, the visitors delighted with the win that elevates them into fourth position in the league but left counting the cost with a number of injuries.
Marlow:A Partridge, M Woodward, J Waldron, J Woodbridge, A Mckie, A Davis, R Sutherland, Q Thomas, C Hurst, A Harman, C Singleston
Subs, A Lucas, A Dickens, C Flint
Woodley United 0 Penn & Tylers Green 6
(Arthur Strand Independent Report)
Fielding a virtually new squad, Penn & Tylers Green visited Woodley United at Scours Lane yesterday. They started reasonably briskly and soon approached Woodley's back line on the break but the defence soon cleared the ball away. A wing cross to the forwards missed all. After going back and forth, both teams, Penn then approached the Woodley defence but the ball was aerial and Luke Axton-Hall headed the ball away. Then Penn moved up from the other side and Ollie Saunders hit the far post. Penn took a corner kick and Dean Munday headed wide. As the visitors worked back again Axton-Hall intercepted but James Hancock regained the ball and Woodley took a free kick. Penn's turn for a free kick not far outside the penalty area but Rashid Hamid missed. Good work by Freddie Barron gave Woodley a brief spell in the vicinity of the Penn area but in the process the ball was extricated by about three defenders as the Woodley man ran into traffic. A spate of free kicks went to Penn until Dean Munday, unmarked, deposited the ball in the back of Thomson's net in the 24th minute. With a goal to the good, Penn were interrupted and Hamid took the free kick which glided over the crossbar. Woodley took a corner kick with no outcome and Penn returned as James Hancock added a second goal in the 36th minute Freddie Barron worked his way forward but Anthony Tyson saved an effort. Just before half-time, James Hancock narrowly missed the near post and, from a quick brea, Penn watched the ball sail very high over Woodley's bar.
In the second half, Penn were far more meaningful although it was not long before Harry Swabey took a opt shot which was far too high. Pushing forward, Penn lost possession When the ball returned Hancock, made ground rounded the last defender and popped the ball into the net beyond the reach of Thomson.with 52 minutes gone. However, Most of the rest of the half was dictated by the visitors as Fifield took a long range shot which went high and wide of Woodley's goal. A corner kick found Munday whose header went over the top. Substitutions were made and then Tom Fifield added goal number 4 in the 68th minute and Fred Tripp made certain with a fifth goal for Penn in the 72nd minute. Luke Axton-Hall was sent to the Sinbin for 10 minutes and Penn had a similar situation when Ethan Holland went off for the 10 minutes. Introduced this season, it was my first time to witness this in person. The referee also visited the dugout and waved the yellow card after having words with the managers but I could not quite get the jist of that. When Dean Allen fashioned the 6th goal, fortunately for Woodley, the floodgates closed for the last 10 minutes of the game during which Freddie Barron had the opportunity to find the net with a free kick which went quite high over the bar. Penn created a good chance for a 7th, however Joe Palmer smacked the ball into the side rigging. A later free kick taken by Curtis Stone was followed up by a corner to Penn before Woodley arrived at the opposite end and Teddy Thomas sent the ball in which was nodded down and a grubber missed goal. A hard day for the hosts who must find the way up the table although Woodley face Wallingford Town in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy at Rivermoor, Scours Lane next Saturday.
Woodley : Thomson, [GK], Clarke, Hill, Wood, Axton-Hall, [c], Sissons, Barron, Malone, Swabey, Briggs, T. Thomas Substitutes: Anderson, Laschok, Stevens
Woodley United 0 Penn & Tylers Green 6
After picking up a credible point at Aldermaston in midweek, Woodley were well beaten by a very good Penn side on a windy September afternoon. United actually started the better of the two teams, moving the ball around well and putting a couple of dangerous crosses into the away side’s box. However, as has been the case recently, there was no one on the end of the deliveries.
Ten minutes in saw the visitors gain a foothold on the game and, to be truthful, the last ten minutes aside they outclassed Woodley in all areas of the pitch. The first shot of the match fell to Penn’s Ollie Saunders. His low drive from the left of the box beat Adam Thomson but cannoned back off the right post.
More action in Thomson’s box followed. Dean Munday was left unchecked to head wide a left wing corner whilst Rashid Hamid went very close from a free kick. A goal was coming and it came on twenty four minutes when a Tom Fifield free kick on the left found Munday at the back post. Bringing the ball under control, the centre back fired past Thomson. It took till the half hour for United to register their first shot. Toby Briggs’ shot from outside the box was comfortably saved. After Dean Allen was denied by Thomson, the away side doubled their lead on thirty six minutes with a coolly taken goal. Gaining the ball in the box, James Hancock turned his man and placed into the left corner. Hamid was the best player on the pitch, running the game in the centre of the park. A couple of stepovers freed up space for a shot that was kept out by Thomson. A difficult half for the home team ended with a Briggs effort from the left deflecting into the side netting.
Penn carried on the pressure as soon as the second period began when Fred Tripp headed a cross wide from close range. It was 3-0 moments later when Hancock got his second after a good run. Just past the hour, Woodley made a double change when Ben Anderson and Max Laschok replaced Briggs and Harry Swabey. Ninety seconds after the substitutions, Teddy Thomas fired a half volley wide before United came desperately close to getting back into the game when Laschok rolled in Anderson on the right of the box. Keeping his shot low, Anderson beat Sam Butcher but saw his shot come back off the post. Penn increased their lead further on sixty eight and seventy three minutes when Fifield and Tripp got their names on the scoresheet with well taken finishes. Fifield curled into the right corner from the edge of the box whilst Tripp latched onto a long ball and lobbed over Thomson.
The rout was completed with fifteen to go when Allen rounded Thomson and rolled into an empty net.
Just when you thought the afternoon couldn’t get any worse, captain Luke Axton-Hall was sin-binned for the hosts. However, a minute later it was ten aside when Ethan Holland joined him. The final ten minutes saw by far and away United’s best spell. Freddie Barron shot over from a free kick before a Laschok effort on the turn was saved. A really good passing move involving Laschok, Barron, Joe Sissons and Sam Wood on the right of the pitch ended with Laschok hitting the side netting after a Sissons through ball. The game ended with a Sissons drive headed clear a few yards from goal after a Thomas corner whilst Saunders missed to the right at the other end.
Division One West
Cheltenham Saracens 2 Cirencester Town Development 1
Saracen's match against Cirencester Town Development started badly for us when Cirencester’s Jack Holder was left unmarked, with a clear shot on goal, and buried the ball in the back of our net from close range to put them 1-0 up in the 19th minute.
Things didn’t look good for Sara's for much of the first half when most of our chances came to nothing. It seemed as though luck was against us, Harlie Price and Adam Loveridge found great positions in the box, but they had nothing to show for all of their effort.
After a frustrating first half, the mood changed in the 60th minute when Cirencester’s Tom Phillips picked up his second yellow card and headed back to the changing rooms for first shot at the shower gel. A combination of the man advantage and more great substitutions from Ryan Betteridge really turned the game around for us. Substitute Gareth Jones latched on to a great through ball, giving the Keeper no chance and scoring to bring things level in the 84th minute.
And things got even better for the home side just 2 minutes later when Kai Mahon scored from a well angled shot on the edge of the area, putting them 2-1 up with less than 5 minutes to go. Cirencester tried to level the score in the dying minutes of the game, but our back line held firm and managed to keep them at bay to the final whistle. After a frustrating, challenging first half, Sara's regrouped and reshuffled and managed to turn the game around and add another vital 3 points on to this seasons tally.
Shortwood United 3 Malvern Town 1
Malvern came to the Wood as red hot favourites to win this division but left pointless after a superb exhibition of attacking football from both sides that kept the crowd entertained throughout. Malvern will rue missing a couple of golden opportunities but Wood created more and deserved this victory. Credit must also go to the match officials led by Chris Binney who had an excellent game in the middle and let the game flow and showed excellent man management skills!
Wood lost Guy Halliday with a knee injury and Jacob Nowell with an apparent hamstring and with Joe Wilton already missing it is hoped that these players are not going to be missing for too long with the stern tests coming up – starting at Fairford next Saturday! The depth of the squad is such that the side more than coped with the loss of these two players and Max Harper-Emerson again showed he is a real threat to any side while Tom Hoskins earned his man of the match award with a dominant display at the back.
The game was goalless at the break but not for the sake of trying as both sides got down the flanks and created several chances. Whitcombe, in goal for the visitors, kept his side in it with some fine stops and Wood’s fine attacking football created several other shooting opportunities as well only to see them go over the bar. For Malvern Kyonn Evans found himself through, rounded Adam Clark but somehow side footed the ball wide!
Wood deservedly took the lead after 50 minutes. Harper-Emerson cut through the Malvern defence and shot low and although Whitcombe made a fine parry Tom Black was on hand to sweep home the rebound. Town responded and Clark saved well from Evans before Wood swept up field again. Tom Black cut in from the left only to be tripped by ex-Wood man Nick Hancock and Luke Soule smashed home the resultant penalty. Malvern were on the back foot and with Bowles and Harper – Emerson creating from the flanks Wood looked dangerous. The third goal after 74 minutes was an early contender for goal of the season. Picking the ball up on the half way line, wide on the flank, Harper-Emerson ran at the defence, evaded tackles, cut in and fired across Whitcombe into the bottom corner. A superb goal.
With 9 minutes to go a cross to the far post found Harry Clark who managed to squeeze the ball home and give Malvern hope. Malvern pressed and it Wood’s turn to be on the back foot. Clark saved well from his namesake. Hoskins made a superb block to deny Miller and the Wood defence battled hard to keep the Town attack at bay.
When the whistle blew both sides left to warm applause from the appreciative crowd who knew both sides had given everything.
Shortwood:Adam Clark, Ben Langworthy (Fin Blythe 80), Jacob Nowell (Josh Kerr 60), Tom Hoskins, Joe Tryner, Ben Snook, Tom Black, Guy Halliday (Max Harper-Emerson 21), Luke Soule, Finlay Byrnes, Lee Bowles
Shortwood United 3 Malvern Town 1 (away view)
Malvern came out of the blocks with purpose and a burst out wide on the right by Matt Turner within the opening two minutes ended with his inviting cross headed out at the far post. The home side had a free-kick in a promising position that was fired goalwards by Black and gathered at the second attempt by Haydn Whitcombe.
As our hosts started to ask a few questions, Bowles saw a strike deflected over before Tryner was denied by a smart save from Whitcombe. There was another good stop from Whitcombe as he tipped Bowles’ strike over on 20 minutes . As we looked to get into the game, there was a great chance for Kyonn Evans after Turner did well to bring the ball out of defence. Evans was played through but with only the ‘keeper to beat, he placed the ball just the wrong side of the post.
It was a let-off for the home side and Evans tried his luck again as half-time approached when he cut inside only for his effort to have the sting took out of it by a deflection. Just before the break, Whitcombe did well once more to thwart Harper-Emerson who found space at the far post. There was still time at the end of the half for Evans to use his strength to find Nick Hancock on his debut and his whipped in cross found the head of Turner who was just off target.
The second period was just five minutes old when the hosts edged in front when Whitcombe made another good save only for Black to gobble up the rebound. As we looked to hit back straight away, Evans was denied at close range by the ‘keeper but then after Black’s rasping effort was pushed away by Whitcombe, the home side won a penalty which Soule stepped up to convert without any problem.
A corner just past the hour caused problems for the home ‘keeper as he pushed over the crossbar under pressure and then another in-swinging flag-kick caused problems for the home side who were forced to scramble clear right in front of goal.
The home side made it 3-0 with quarter-of-an hour to go when lively substitute, Harper-Emerson lashed home. It gave us a mountain climb but we kept plugging away and got our reward as we reduced the arrears with ten minutes to go when some neat football ended with Evans crossing for Clark who stole in at the far post to get his name on the scoresheet. We upped the pressure in search of another goal and Ethan Moran fed Ben Miller whose strike was blocked inside the area before Moran himself tried his luck only for the ‘keeper to gather. There was a good fingertip save by the home ‘keeper from Clark’s low drive in the closing stages as we fell to our first League defeat.
Malvern: Whitcombe, Hunt, Wickett, J. Sauntson, Hayes (Smith 60), Craven (Fusco 60), Hancock, Clark, Miller, Turner (Moran 55), Evans. Subs not used: A. Sauntson, Weaver.
Division Two West
Letcombe 7 Shortwood United Development 0
This was was over after twelve minutes, by which time a rampant Letcombe side had already scored four goals. In the absence of Josh Fowler, Letcombe moved James Wright into attack from his usual defensive role, and he almost had a hat trick in the first five minutes. He raced clear on the right in the first minute before cutting in and driving a shot over the bar. He opened the scoring two minutes later, tapping in from close range after a good run and cross from Luke Polding, and he hit the post with a header after only five minutes. Wright supplied the pass for Boyan Thorpe to race clear and add number two after eight minutes, and Wright increased the lead two minutes later, side footing home following a corner. It was 4-0 after only twelve minutes when Kias Bonner-Shai raced away to lob the ball over an exposed visiting goalkeeper.
It was to Shortwood`s credit that they continued to try to play good football, and home keeper Ben Beasley had to race outside his area to deny Aaron Lowe, who had another chance soon afterwards, but shot over the bar. James Wright had a great chance to complete his hat-trick, but headed over from a free kick when well placed, but Letcombe were not to be denied, and Boyan Thorpe added a fifth in the last minute of the half.
Inevitably the second half was not as exciting with the game apparently won, but Kias Bonner-Shai robbed Shortwood keeper Alex Sukoso on the hour before spinning and chipping the ball over his head and into the net for number six. Home keeper Ben Beasley did well to punch clear two dangerous crosses, and Fraser Little was denied his first goal for Letcombe when his powerful header from a corner hit keeper Sukoso. Man of the match James Wright had moved into his more usual defensive role to give a debut in attack to new signing Taylor Gill, but he went forward for a corner with two minutes remaining, and scored number seven to complete a deserved hat-trick.
A very accomplished performance by Letcombe, with a well organised defence keeping a clean sheet, and plenty of penetration going forward. Sterner tests will lie ahead, but they can be faced with confidence. Letcombe entertain Chippenham Town development in the league on September 14th, with another home game on 21st against East Hendred in the Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup.