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Hellenic League Match Report

10 August

emirates fa cup

Extra Preliminary Round

Abingdon United 1 Brimscombe & Thrupp 2 (away view)

Brimscombe lacked some crucial finishing in their league opener against Binfield last week despite having all the chances and it seemed the same when they faced Abingdon United in the Extra Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup. The Lilywhites travelled to Northcourt Road with the later kick off of 4pm due to an early game at the ground. Brimscombe took a strong following with them on the coach and independently and it certainly showed around the Stadium.

The Gloucestershire side started off brightly and the Abingdon goalkeeper had to be alert with Jack Smith, Sam Blackie, Ollie Pitt and Henry Birkett all hammer shots in his direction. They would have felt aggrieved to not have taken the lead early on and it felt like it was going to be another one of those days. Abingdon had spells of their own and looked very dangerous moving forward. Ash Gale was called upon numerous times throughout the game and did a fantastic job in keeping the scores level. The Lilywhite’s came the closest when a goal ward effort ricocheted off the post but both teams went in for half time at 0-0.

The rain fell during half time and the surface glistened as both teams came out for the second half. A defensive mistake gifted the home side a goal coming up to the hour mark. Sam Prior’s men battled hard and threw everything forward. Referee Tom Green awarded the visitors a penalty in the 65th minute with Ollie Pitt slotting it away sending the Abingdon goalkeeper the wrong way. Edd Major, James Campbell and Tom Pass all took to the field replacing Birkett, Smith and James Bremner. The minutes ticked down and a replay at the Meadow looked likely, Pitt whipped the ball into the box and found the head of Chris Pates, Pates made no mistake in putting it away with a rocket header and sending the travelling support into raptures.

Brimscombe now face Southern League Aylesbury United at the Meadow on Saturday 24th August.

AFC Croydon Athletic 1 Virginia Water 0 (away view)

Virginia Water entered the FA Cup for the first time in their history, and exited to a narrow defeat away at South Eastern Counties League AFC Croydon. It was a good enough performance, but we were left to rue many missed opportunities, a disallowed goal, and most of the territory and possession.

Both teams competed well in extremely difficult windy conditions, and Waters should have gone ahead when Joel Drew twice went close, his second effort superbly saved by their keeper. Further shots came and went wide from Louis Sanders, Jake Baker, Liam Whyte, whilst at the other end Matt Jones kept out a few shots, and some difficult set pieces, with our defence holding firm.

After the break, VW dominated, but conceded against the run of play, when we sloppily allowed ourselves to be turned on the dead ball line, for the cross to be simply tapped in from close range. Try as we did, we could not find a deserved equaliser, with many shots on goal, from Paul burrows, Jack Hall, Steve Williams to name a few, with Adam Mills having a goal disallowed late on.

AFC Croydon had few attempts, one superbly saved by Matt, and they hit the post, but on balance VW will be frustrated not to come away with at least a draw. We wish AFC Croydon well in the next round.

Clanfield 1 Shortwood United 3 (Shortwood report by Harry Ash)

Clanfield’s first ever home tie in the FA Cup ended in defeat as Shortwood turned the game on its head with three goals in as many second half minutes to set up a second round tie away to Dunstable Town.

The wind was certainly in Clanfield’s favour in the first half, as they were able to put Shortwood under pressure simply by clipping passes into the channels behind Shortwood’s defence. The wind was in fact so strong that Adam Clark’s goal kicks would often be blown back towards him, landing well before reaching the halfway line.

This pressure produced the first chance of the game for Clanfield with less than ten minutes played, as Tom Hoskins played the ball across his own box straight to Nathaneal Robinson, whose first touch forced him wide before he fired his shot over the bar. A minute later, Shortwood worked their way into the attacking third for the first time, with the ball being switched from right to left for Lee Bowles to cross, but an unmarked Joe Wilton badly miskicked his finish to send the ball well wide. Clanfield made it 1-0 in the thirteenth minute when Josh Gibbens whipped a free kick into the box, inviting Isaac Oliver to glance a header into the far corner.

Shortwood struggled to build concerted pressure due to the conditions, but created a second good chance with half an hour played. Fin Byrnes’ cross found Lee Bowles free at the far post, but his right-footed volley crept just wide. Ten minutes later, a Shortwood counter-attack led by Troy Budd was snuffed out by a last ditch challenge from Callum Davies, as Budd attempted to play Bowles in on goal.

Inevitably, by the time the second half kicked off, the wind had died down somewhat, but it is debatable as to whether Shortwood would have prospered as much as Clanfield had in the first half if conditions had stayed the same, due to Shortwood’s lack of pace in behind the opposition defence. In any case, Clanfield created the first opening after the restart, with front two Oliver and Kevin Davies combining before the former blasted over the bar from just inside the penalty area.

Shortwood’s aforementioned frenzy came between minutes fifty-nine and sixty-two. Budd powered in the equaliser from the edge of the box having been found by Bowles. Whether the ball moved in the wind or whether Jamie Zoldan was simply unsighted it is difficult to say, but either way the ball arrowed low into the middle of the goal, exactly where you would have expected the goalkeeper to be. Less than two minutes later, Wilton advanced through midfield before unleashing a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner from about twenty-five yards. The third came largely through the work of Tom Black, who went on a run through midfield, something which is swiftly becoming a trademark, before being felled in the penalty area by Callum Davies. Budd made it 1-3 from the spot, despite Zoldan getting a hand on it.

Having gone from a goal down to two up within a few minutes, Shortwood can perhaps be forgiven for allowing Clanfield back into the game in the closing fifteen minutes or so. But it really should have been 1-4 by the time that happened; Bowles found Budd as he burst into the box, and Black latched onto the pullback, but his shot was blocked before the follow-up was saved, only for the ball to fall to Wilton, who headed over the open net from about five yards.

Clanfield’s chances in the final ten minutes were rarely clear cut, but the pressure certainly mounted on the Shortwood goal. Craig Connor’s effort from range clipped the top of the bar, before Clark misjudged a bouncing ball, allowing Chris Blackley to cross, but Josh Kerr cleared before the ball reached the waiting Kevin Davies. From the resulting corner, Kerr once again cleared, this time off the line from Blackley’s header, to preserve the two-goal margin until the final whistle five minutes later.

Shortwood will now travel to Dunstable Town in the next round on Saturday 24th August and will be running a coach. Details can be found on the Shortwood Web Site

Shortwood: Adam Clark, Ben Langworthy (Josh Blunt 68’), Jacob Nowell, Tom Hoskins, Josh Kerr, Fin Byrnes, Joe Wilton (Finn Blythe 85’), Guy Halliday (C) (yellow card 41’), Troy Budd, Tom Black, Lee Bowles (Tom Leonard 90+1’)

Clanfield: Jamie Zoldan (yellow card 90+5), Chris Blackley, Callum Davies, Adam Pendall (C) (Frankie Cato 79’), Josh Gibbens, Ryan Moore, Nathaneal Robinson, Craig Connor, Kevin Davies, Isaac Oliver (yellow card 71’) (Joey Hiscock 90+4), Jack Kennedy


Congleton Town 1 Westfields 1 (away view)

Westfields travelled to Congleton Town from the North-West Counties Premier Division on Saturday and forced a 1-1 draw in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. 

Westfields travelled without leading goal scorer Aidan Thomas and ace midfield player Craig Jones who were both missing from the line-up but Westfields performed admirably and worked hard throughout the game. In fact Westfields surprised the home side by taking an 8th minute lead when Dan Stoneman fired home through a ruck of players after good work by Ben Hayes on the left flank. However, the home side hit back and drew level in the 15th minute through Saul Henderson who tucked away a near-post effort.  

The home side then began to take the initiative and Harvey Rivers in the Westfields goal saved superbly and then twice Ryan Green and Kane Kahaki eased situations with timely tackles. At the other end Richard Greaves had a half chance but the home keeper Craig Ellison dived bravely at the feet of the Westfields striker. 

After the break both defences remained on top although Billy Murphy flashed a free-kick across the face of the Congleton goal and then at the other end Kane Kahaki cleared off the Westfields line and then another Congleton effort was scrambled clear in the latter stages. 

Both sides worked hard in a very evenly matched cup tie and now they will meet again on Tuesday evening, 13th August, kick-off 8pm at allpay.park, to decide which side goes through to the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup with a home tie against Lutterworth Town on Saturday 24th August. 

Leighton Town 4 Thornbury Town (away view)

The Road to Wembley proved to be a short one for Thornbury Town on Saturday after a defeat in their first ever venture into the Emirates FA Cup. After a 3 hour coach journey to Bedfordshire Thorns found themselves a goal down in the first 5 minutes against their Spartan South Midlands League opponents.

Leighton pressed from the kick off and after a goalmouth scramble from a 4th minute corner, Jim Brock cleared off Town’s line but the ball fell kindly for Tommy Bryant who hammered home from the edge of the area giving Rob Davies no chance. Thorns settled after this but without creating any chances of their own but in the 16th minute Mark Viner was penalised for a challenge 25 yards out and Leighton’s Danny Webb curled his free kick round the wall and into the bottom corner to give them a 2-0 lead.

The hosts continued to press and Davies saved well from Towell and Bryant had another effort, this time finding the side netting. Thorns gradually played their way into the game and a cross in from the right found Craig Lancastle but he was quickly closed down and his shot went over the bar. Leighton’s Towell fired wide when well placed and then with 10 minutes before the break Jim Brock set brother Harry free and as he outpaced the defence home keeper McKenzie snuffed out the chance.
With just a minute left before the break Town conceded a third when Webb’s cross from the right was steered home at the far post by Campbell. Thorns almost pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Lancastle set up Jim Brock whose effort was tipped away by McKenzie at the second attempt.

The second half saw Town playing with the wind but they still found it hard to create clear cut chances and Davies had to be alert to save a couple of shots from Murrell early on. Craig Lancastle had a shot from a corner blocked and Luke Franklin’s free kick on the hour mark went narrowly over the bar. Franklin’s long ball in the 20th minute saw Lancastle hold off Murphy and lob the ball over the head of keeper McKenzie but went narrowly wide of the post.
Although Thorns were more than matching their higher ranked opponents it was Leighton who were creating the better chances with Silford screwing a free kick narrowly wide of the post with 20 minutes left. Franklin’s crossfield ball found Marcus Wormwell and his cross cum shot flashed wide of the far post as Lancastle tried to get on the end of it.

With 10 minutes left Thorns got the goal their play had deserved when Wormwell was brought down by Silford in the penalty area and Craig Lancastle stepped up to drive the penalty past McKenzie. However Town couldn’t build on this and Leighton scored a flattering fourth goal in the 86th minute when Fredericks ran across the edge of the area before curling in a shot into the far corner of the net.

Thorns did not disgrace themselves with a hardworking performance and hope to have another opportunity of FA Cup glory next season.

Malvern Town 1 Whitchurch Alport 2

Malvern pushed the higher level opponents all the way in the Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round but in the end we succumbed to an undeserved 2-1 defeat.

In blustery conditions, it was Louis Loader who had a couple of early strikes at goal, the second of which was  free-kick in a promising position which dipped just over after Curtis Smith had been fouled. Some neat link-up play between Loader and Kyonn Evans ended with the latter dragging his low effort wide before Cuff was denied at the other end as our visitors looked to get into their stride.

We fell behind just past the quarter-hour mark when a sharp break down the right ended with the ball played in to Hughes who fired home. As we looked to get back into the game, a good ball picked out Ethan Moran, but as he progressed into the area, his strike from a tight angle lacked the necessary power. A loose ball was picked up in the middle of the park by James Febery who fed Moran but his strike was straight at the ‘keeper. At the other end, a cross from the left by Cuff carried in the wind and struck the crossbar before Hughes was denied as he looked to turn the ball home.

The visitors doubled their advantage just past the half-hour when Cuff shows good feet before seeing his shot pushed out by Haydn Whitcombe and Johns was on hand to turn the rebound home.

A good effort from Loader was pushed around the post by the ‘keeper and then just before the break, Clark put a good chance wide. We were finishing the half strongly and Curtis Smith was denied by a good save from his low strike and then right on the stroke of half-time, a foul on Phil Harris gave us a penalty which Louis Loader stepped up to convert and make it 2-1 going into the break.

The early action of the second half saw a great ball from Evans set Clark away out wide but his low cross into the danger zone was cleared without too many problems. Moran flashed an effort just over as we searched for a leveller and then on the hour-mark, a break out of defence saw Harris find Clark who forced a corner, the first of which was tipped over by the ‘keeper under pressure and then the second was cleared out to the edge of the area where Moran went close.

As we continued to press, Harris and Loader combined for the latter to see his effort go just over and then another neat move saw Clark thwarted by the ‘keeper. Then a high, hanging cross from Harry Wickett saw Evans’ header saved before another sweeping moved ended with Clark denied as the ‘keeper came to his side’s rescue again.

There were cautions in quick succession for Harris, Febery and Smith before Johns went close on the break for the visitors as he lifted the ball just over the crossbar. As we continued to press for an equaliser, a breakaway by the visitors ended with Cuff firing into the side-netting, whilst at the other end, Smith’s attempt was tipped over by the ‘keeper. In the end we just couldn’t find a way back into the tie as we pushed our higher level opponents all the way.

Malvern: Whitcombe, Smith, Wickett (Chowns-Higgs 85), A. Sauntson, J. Sauntson, Febery, Loader (Craven 70), Harris, Moran (Turner 70), Clark, Evans. Sub not used: Hooper.

Shrivenham  1  Holmer Green  1 

Hopes were high as the sun shone down on the Barrington Park pitch ahead of kick off, as the first of this seasons home fixtures finally got underway on Saturday afternoon – but just like the windy conditions brought in the rain, Shrivenham’s hopes were left dashed as they conceded a late, late equaliser in the cup. 

shrivenham v holmer green fa cup 2019The home side began the brighter of the two teams, however the first real chance of the game didn’t come around until the 10-minute mark, when the lively Tom Ballard forced Ian Pykett in to a superb block – followed up a short time later with another great effort – but sadly – again equalled by the resulting save. Ballard went close six minutes later after Ryan Stanners had put him through, before captain Sam Ockwell saw his effort saved from the resulting corner.  The breakthrough however, finally came in the 26th minute. Stanners produced another superb cross and this time Ballard made no mistake with a header at the back post – to give the home side a thoroughly deserved lead. 

Following the goal, Shrivvy remained in control, but failed to step up a gear and by the time the half time whistle sounded, supporters were left hoping that they wouldn’t be left to rue their missed opportunities in what had been a thoroughly entertaining half, despite the windy conditions. 

The second half was a totally different affair.  Although both sides had to settle more in to the worsening conditions – showers were beginning to sweep in, it was the visitors who had the lion’s share of the ball as well as possession and with the home side virtually camped in their own half, Assistant Manager Alex Stanley replaced Aaron Dainton – who looked to have picked up a knock with 61-minutes on the clock, but the game continued to be niggly and by the time Lewis Petrie came on for Ballard (70-minutes), Shrivvy were facing an uphill battle to get a foothold back in the match. 

Despite Holmer failing to deliver the final ball on several occasions, another amazing save from a Petrie effort with 12-minutes to go would have been harsh on the visitors for all their second-half gusto. In truth, Petrie’s effort was a rare moment for the home team after the break as Holmer continued to press for the lifeline their performance certainly deserved and with Shrivvy hanging on, in the now terrible conditions, Josh Morse looked to have dealt a final blow when he produced a cracking effort with three minutes remaining, however Pykett produced another outstanding save to keep his side in it, before his side delivered the killer blow they deserved. 

A minute later, Ockwell was bundled over near his own penalty area right in front of the assistant referee, but his efforts to stay on his feet went unrewarded and Stanley could only mistime his tackle giving the officials no question but to award a free kick about 21-yards out. A two-man wall was set up well, but the resulting wind-assisted effort beat Mike Alexander and was met by delight by the travelling supporters and players alike. Despite the blow, Stanley almost restored Shrivenham’s lead on the stroke of full-time with a great header, but it was well caught by Pykett and both sides will meet again – hopefully in better conditions on Tuesday night where the result will be decided. 

Shrivenham: Mike Alexander, Nathan Blackford, Matt Horsell, Sam Ockwell ©, Aaron Dainton (Alex Stanley), Liam Edmondson, Jamie Prictor, Ollie Rejek, Ryan Stanners, Josh Morse, Tom Ballard (Lewis Petrie). Subs: Rob Hendry, Dan Lawrence (GK). 

Holmer Green: Ian Pykett, Luke Ryll, Martin Lancaster, Ben Booker, Ryan Parsons, Kyle Bestley, Harrison Holbrook, Matt Wooster ©, Olly LynchLiam Griffin & Alex Rice. Subs (TBC): Alex McDonald, Bailey Page, Luke William, Adam Riley.

Tuffley Rovers 1 North Greenford United 1

A year, less a day, after meeting Hertfordshire club London Colney at Glevum Park in the opening round of the F.A. Cup, Rovers would again host a club from the Premier Division of the Spartan South Midlands League in North Greenford United, whose 2018-19 exit from this competition had come with a heavy defeat at Bishops Cleeve in the Preliminary Round. Both teams had disappointing league seasons in 2018-19 (Rovers 15/19, Greenford 16/20) so both would be keen to get their 2019-20 campaigns off to a good start by progressing in this famous knock-out tournament.

tuffley rovers v north greenford unitedTo prove how much a football club’s playing personnel can change during a twelve-month period only three members of Rovers’ 18-man squad against London Colney (Macaulay Herbert, Jake Rhodes and Warren Mann) in 2018 would start against North Greenford in 2019; two others (Ashley Bird and Dominik Kent) who were substitutes against Colney would play some part in the match against Greenford.

Rovers started this home cup-tie brightly. In only the second minute visiting goalkeeper Norbert Kesse-Adu fumbled a right-wing cross from Ryan Caddock and although the ball fell invitingly to Kent he could only shoot over the crossbar. The next cross came from Warren Mann on the other side. Again, the visiting goalkeeper struggled to deal with it and could only push the ball behind for a corner-kick.

For all their early pressure, the good work was eroded in the 19th minute. Central defender Sam Olanipekun came up for a Greenford free-kick, wide on the left, and was on the end of the cross to steer the ball into the Rovers’ net with home ’keeper Alex Avenell probably feeling that on a different day he would have kept the ball out.

Rovers’ response was immediate; Kent’s low shot drifted wide from twenty-five yards before Luke Troke had two attempts at goal that missed the target. Daniel Clifton was seeing plenty of the ball in the left-wing position for the visitors but he then received a caution for hacking down Caddock. As half-time approached a Tuffley equaliser seemed more likely than not, as they earned a succession of set-pieces. From almost the final corner kick of the half, Rhodes powered a header against the North Greenford bar, meaning that the visitors, possibly a little fortunately, hung on to their slender lead as the half-time whistle blew.

Rovers had the advantage of a strong wind in their favour in the first half but it was North Greenford’s turn to try to use the wind to their advantage and they replaced Clifton with Sam Molyneaux as the second period began. There was an early yellow card in the second half for Jack Beardsell, before a shot from Joe Mills was pushed away for a corner by Avenell at full stretch, as the visitors tried to increase their lead. Jai Maisey went into the book moments later, for a foul on Molyneaux, quickly followed by Mark Pritchett, who was cautioned for bringing down a North Greenford forward who was chasing a through-pass. It got worse for Rovers shortly afterwards, as Maisey’s afternoon was ended by a second yellow card, leaving his team a man down as well as a goal down with 25 minutes remaining.

Rovers reshuffled, with Lewis Bainbridge replacing Kent, and within seconds Rovers were level. Beardsell drove the ball forward down the right-hand side, using a clever pass from the outside of his boot, with Rhodes already on the move. Despite still having much to do, the Rovers striker raced clear and, as the goalkeeper came out to meet the threat, he produced a very composed finish, curling up into the top corner of the net, bringing Rovers deservedly level. Ashley Bird was then introduced for the hard-working Caddock and almost immediately Rovers nearly had the lead. Warren Mann won a header against a much taller man and the ball fell nicely for Bainbridge, but he shot narrowly wide of Kesse-Adu’s right-hand post from ten yards out.

North Greenford then made two more substitutions of their own, and one of them, Issouf Coulibaly, seemed certain to score but his shot was deflected for a corner on the left. Then, Joe Mills was through on the left but with only Avenell to beat he lashed his shot wide. The final change of the afternoon saw Ellis Waugh replacing Rhodes for the hosts. The visitors continued to look menacing on the break but couldn’t make the final pass or shot count as they looked to force the tie in their favour, avoiding the need for a replay. Rovers had one final chance of their own, as the game moved into added-time, when Luke Troke was needlessly fouled on the left, but the resulting free-kick by Beardsell came to nothing and time was up.

It had been an absorbing cup-tie to witness. North Greenford United deserving praise for being positive after taking the lead and not changing their tactics for a more defensive formation; they also pushed hard for a winning goal after conceding. As for Rovers, to come from behind and to have to play the last twenty minutes with a man less was very commendable and this was a much more resilient performance when compared to the capitulation at Bishops Cleeve four days earlier. The referee was a busy man in the second half but this wasn’t a game that turned nasty, it was a very competitive cup-tie and it was a match which either team could have won with slightly better fortune but a draw was a fair result in the end.

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Chalvey Sports  1 Wallingford Town 0 (away view)

Wallingford Town left East Berkshire empty handed as the home side profited from an excellent goalkeeping display and some resilient defending as the visitors missed an opportunity to kick start their season. 

After a solid opening day display against Aldermaston, manager Glenn Goudie kept with the same starting 11 and the early exchanges were evenly matched. After 10 minutes, Jake Smith was booked for a slightly late challenge that set the tone for the game. An early free-kick tested Wallingford custodian Garry Aulsberry who smartly dived to push it wide for a corner. 

The visitors slowly began to get a foothold in the game and striker Euan Aitchinson struck the base of the post from 20 yards and a minute later, left-back Alberto Villar played in winger Sam McDermaid but he fluffed his shot when well placed in the home side box. This miss was to prove costly as from the resultant goalkeepers fly kick, the ball was flicked into the path of Chalveys Aydn Coomber who calmly lobbed the ball over Aulsberry to put the home side 1-0 up. 

The visitors hit back and a McDermaid delivery found Ben Rusher whose header hit the crossbar and fell into the path of Stuart Walker. The ball was bundled home but the referee felt that Walker used a part of his arm to knock the ball over the line. Centre Half Lawrie Aitchinson was booked for a robust challenge on the halfway line as Wallingford frustrations began to grow as a number of opportunities just passed the Wallingford forward line. 

The second half began with the visitors dictating proceedings as the home side looked to counter when presented with the opportunity. On the hour, Charlie Silkstone replaced E Aitchinson and he sprung into action immediately when he linked with Ashley Searle, whose right-foot shot was brilliantly tipped wide by Giacobbe in the Sports goal. From the resulting corner, the Chalvey defence failed to clear the ball and it fell to Rusher but his powerful shot was cleared off the line. 

As the game entered the closing stages, Wallingford brought on Tommy Elmore and Chace Jewell as the visitors looked to grab a late equaliser. Giacobbe made a smart save to his right from a Silkstone effort as the game finished with midfielder Max Mohan-Triggle trying his luck from long range on two occasions however he failed to hit the target. 

The hosts defended resolutely and won their first points for the season. The visitors will be disappointed with the result but put in a performance that saw the positives far outweigh the negatives. Next up, Wallingford host Premier Divison side Burnham in the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup at The Hithercroft. 

Penn & Tylers Green 1 Kidlington Development 2 (away view)

Kidlington’s development team backed up a midweek victory against Marlow United with a superb 2-1 away victory versus Penn & Tylers Green. The match was played at Beaconsfield Town’s stadium whilst Penn’s stadium is undergoing upgrading. The match had spells of dominance for both teams and this result means Nick East and Barry Hiles young side have had an excellent start to the season. 

jack gaul kidlington hellenic leagueNew striker Elliott Powell scored within 2 minutes after Aaron Mortons 25 yard strike came back off the post. Powell makes it two goals in two games. The first 20 minutes was dominated by the greens but the middle period of the match saw Penn & Tylers Green in the ascendancy. The greens juggled the pack in the second half and substitute Ahmed Farah went on a mazy run before cutting it back for the impressive Jack Gaul (pictured) who smashed home a deflected winning goal. This was the second time in a week that Gaul has come up with a decisive strike following his great strike versus Marlow. Powell should have made it 3-1 late on but the ball flashed post the post and wide. 

This was a match that could easily have gone either way but the win leaves Kidlington's young development side with a great start to the season with six points from the first two matches. 

Kidlington: Lacey, Quarterman, Hayward, Spearman, Kidd, Anderson, Gaul, Morton, Powell, Johnson, Southam. Subs all used: Farah, Quainton & Elbro. 

Woodley United 1 Abingdon Town 2 

For the second season running, United’s first league game of the new campaign ended in defeat to Abingdon Town. The hosts had the game’s first shot. David Stevens’ effort from distance was off target. Town then had their best spell of the game as Woodley struggled to find their rhythm. Josh Browne saw his half volley excellently saved by stand-in keeper Tim Green. However, the following corner ended with Rhys Kilbane heading in on fourteen minutes. Minutes later the teams traded chances. Abingdon’s Zach Tull’s curling shot just missed to the left before Jon Malone headed a Max Laschok cross onto the roof of the net. 

The visitors’ keeper had a great game. He was called into action midway through the half to gather at the feet of Freddie Barron who had done well to beat several players on the left flank. On the opposite wing, Harry Swabey had three quick fire chances. The first effort from thirty yards was straight at Omar Edwards-Holmes, the second, also from distance, went wide whilst the final shot was also kept out after a long kick by Green. United equalised with the last kick of a frustrating half when Laschok got his second of the season, placing past Edwards-Holmes into the right corner from the left side of the box. 

Despite Woodley starting the half with a lot of the ball, it was the away side who had the first chance after the restart. Matt Coddington, who was an unused Woodey sub on the opening day last season, failed to hit the target. Town retook the lead on fifty two minutes courtesy of a fine Browne strike that arrowed into the left corner from twenty five yards. 

Woodley made a change three minutes later when Stevens made way for Teddy Thomas. This saw Barron take up the most advanced role of United’s midfield three and Thomas play on the left wing. After Green showed a safe pair of hands to hold a Tull free kick, Woodley completely took hold of the game. Laschok had a shot from the edge of the box blocked before doing brilliantly to wriggle past multiple challenges only to see his cross-come-shot cleared off the line. 

With twenty five minutes left, Edwards-Holmes did superbly to get down and turn behind a Laschok effort after the United forward got on the end of a Barron through ball. Abingdon’s final two chances saw Browne shoot over following a counter attack before Green kept out another Tull free kick, this time diving to his left. Woodley pressed on for a deserved equaliser. Harry Hawkins set up Swabey who forced a save after a shot on the turn. The same two players then combined with Swabey making minimal contact from the left of the box. 
Swabey was at the heart of most United chances. Getting on the end of a fine Laschok pass he tried to round the keeper who did well to claim the ball. 

With the game entering the final ten minutes there were claims for a penalty when Laschok took a kick in the process of shooting wide after good play by Thomas and Barron on the right wing. Edwards-Holmes then showed great athleticism to turn behind a curling Barron strike from the edge of the box after Swabey had passed his free kick square. It wasn’t to be Woodley’s afternoon as the match fizzled out with a Luke Axton-Hall header missing from a corner whilst a Swabey free kick went into the wall in added time. 

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