Shortwood United Development 2 Clanfield Development 2
On a bitterly cold night at Shortwood both sides warmed the spectators with a cracking game that both sides will feel disappointed not to have won. Clanfield because they were 2-0 up and Shortwood because they missed a penalty. Both sides brought out the best in the keepers and both sides hit the Woodwork. Both sets of management carry the philosophy that the result is not as important as the performance and the development of the players and both sets of management will be pleased with the effort and the craft shown by their charges. For all that Shortwood will be pleased to have picked up their first point. Performances of late have shown a steady upturn and all are to be commended for their excellent attitude and commitment.
Tom Connor shot too high in an early chance for the Wood and Clark saved well from Bellinger. The game rapidly became an open affair as both sides attacked at will and Roger James was the outstanding threat for Clanfield while Wood used the flanks to get behind the Clanfield defence. Adam Philp, on his return to the club, rounded the keeper but under pressure from Weller could not find the net from a tight angle. After 33 minutes Clanfield took the lead when James cut in and drove a low shot across Clark into the far corner. Wood lost the dangerous Mathews on the stroke of half time.
Clanfield started the stronger in the second half and doubled their lead after 55 minutes when James ran on to a through ball and finished comfortably. James then smacked the bar from fully 25 yards. Woods response was instant and Wood passed their way up field and Bennett was unlucky to see his effort rebound off the post to safety. Wood really started to attack with a will and with Hoskins pushing forward more they took control. Aaron Lowe also hit the bar from 25 yards and Philp sent a header too high. After 74 minutes Philp forced Foote into save and from the resultant corner Tom Hoskins headed home. The excellent James forced Clark into a fine save as Clanfield threatened again but it was Wood who had the upper hand. When Hoskins was fouled with 10 minutes to go Philp had the chance to level matters from the spot but Foote saved his penalty.
Still Wood pushed Foote again saved point blank from Philp with two minutes to go and it seemed Wood’s young guns would go down to an unlucky defeat but with time running out Hoskins got down the flank and his cross to the far post was headed home by Philp to give them the point.
This was true team performance from the Wood youngsters and they can all take a great deal of credit and heart from this performance.
Shortwood United Development: Clarke, Hicks, Whiting, Hoskins, Antell, Leonard (Aaron Lowe 70), Bennett, White, Philp, Tom Connor (Allsop 55), Mathews (Jake Lowe 45)
Malvern Town 4 Tuffley Rovers 4
(Rovers win 1-4 after penalty shoot out)
Malvern Town put in a dominant second half display to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 draw as we ultimately lost the penalty shoot-out to Tuffley Rovers as we exited the Banbury Litho Floodlit Challenge Cup.
The visitors took the lead in the fourth minute when a free-kick on the edge of the area was initially fired into the defensive wall by Pritchett before he planted the rebound home. With eight minutes on the clock, Matt Fusco did well to win the ball and feed Dave Reynolds whose cross was headed goalwards by Kyonn Evans and produced a good save by Merchant. There was a great save at point-blank range by Chris Pinder to deny Rhodes, but from the resulting corner, Pritchett was able to double the advantage. As we started to get into our stride, an inviting cross from Harry Clark was scrambled clear before Fusco had an effort blocked as Louis Loader put the rebound narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
Despite getting on top, we went 3-0 down as a low strike from Shutt found the net and then on the half-hour we fell further behind as Pritchett fired home from the penalty spot. A sweeping move ended with Sam Hunt firing over before we reduced the arrears on 36 minutes when Reynolds was played through and he stayed cool to slot home. As we started to put some more pressure on as the clock ticked down at the end of the first half, Loader was crowded out as he looked to line up a shot before Hunt’s low drive was deflected inches wide. The resulting corner saw Bryan Craven put the ball goalwards as Reynolds just failed to get his head to it in front of goal, whilst at the other end, Pinder was alert to save at the feet of Idowu.
Despite looking lively in attack, we went in at the break trailing 4-1 and the early action of the second period saw a strike from the visitors take a big deflection as the ball went wide. On the hour, Reynolds put a low ball across the face of goal before an effort from distance by Craven was off target. A great strike from Reynolds was superbly tipped over by Merchant then from the resulting corner we went close again.
We further reduced the arrears on 66 minutes when Loader’s long ball set Matt Turner away and he slotted home to make it 4-2. We were asking all the questions as a teasing ball from Craven almost put Turner in as the ‘keeper was alert to clear before the visitors scrambled off the line from the corner that followed as Prictor found himself in the right place, at the right time. A great ball in from Hunt picked out Clark who got in front of his marker but fired over from close range.
Clark then battled his way through only for his attempt to lack the necessary pace before a flicked header from Reynolds was off target as we continued to dominate. In the closing stages, Reynolds went close before he fired home our third goal on 89 minutes. As we entered stoppage time, Craven rattled the woodwork from distance as we searched for a leveller but we levelled with the last kick as Reynolds completed his hat-trick.
With both teams preparing for penalties, Pritchett was sent off for the visitors as the game ended in dramatic fashion. The penalty shoot-out ended in a 4-1 defeat but nevertheless it was a brave display by the lads against higher level opponents.
Malvern Town: Pinder, Hayes (Smith 79), Wickett (J. Febery 54), Craven, Griffiths, Loader, Fusco (Turner 46), Hunt, Reynolds, Evans, Clark. Subs not used: Skidmore, Mole. GOAL(S): Reynolds (3), Turner.
Malvern Town 4 Tuffley Rovers 4 (away view)
(Tuffley Rovers win 4-1 on penalties)
Two footballing clichés operated in tandem at the HDAnywhere Stadium on Tuesday evening, as a game of two halves well and truly proved that football is a funny old game! With poor weather blighting a number of fixtures scheduled for the evening, there was little risk that Division One (West) Malvern Town would fail to host their visitors, Premier Division side Tuffley Rovers, with the game taking place on an almost new 3G pitch and when the game kicked-off, with a strong wind swirling around the ground, what followed was a highly entertaining encounter, full of incident, full of goals and ultimately concluding with a penalty shoot-out victory for the visiting side. Following their 2-2 draw at Windsor on the previous Saturday, Rovers were forced into one change, as captain Macaulay Herbert was absent with an ankle injury, meaning that Cheltenham Town youngster Isaac Lawrence moved inside to play centre-half alongside Mark Pritchett. There were three changes for The Rovers, as Harri John replaced Herbert, whilst Ben Prictor and Jerry Idowu came in for Sam Hill and the cup-tied Liam Wright.
Rovers’ manager Pritchett had scored twice in the Windsor match and it didn’t take long before he bagged another goal, to give Rovers the lead on 7 minutes. After Idwou had been fouled five yards outside the penalty area, Pritchett’s free-kick was powerfully struck, cannoned back into his path off the defensive wall, and was then despatched beyond Malvern keeper Chris Pinder, with a well struck right-footed effort, from the edge of the box.
The hosts immediately went on the attack and only a good save from Rovers’ Luke Merchant denied Dave Reynolds the chance to level scores almost immediately. Fifteen minutes into the tie Pinder produced a fantastic save to beat Jake Rhodes’ header, from four yards out, away from goal and out of play, but that proved to be a temporary reprieve. Sixty seconds later, Joe Shutt played a short corner to Tyreece Briscoe and when he rolled the ball across to Pritchett he produced a nonchalant side-footed effort from 20 yards that curled around Pinder and into the net, to make it 2-0.
Malvern continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, using their familiarity with the surface to help them move the ball side-to-side and end-to-end, at pace, forcing Rovers to defend stoutly in order to protect their advantage. Just before the half hour, however, Rovers moved into a seemingly dominant position, when Rhodes was able to intelligently steer Prictor’s free-kick into the path of Shutt and his shot, from 15 yards, was drilled low and hard into the Malvern net, to make it 3-0. Prictor then had an effort on goal, as Rovers looked likely to score at every opportunity, and two minutes later they had an opportunity to make it 4-0, when Pritchett was hauled down as a set-piece from Shutt came into the box. The referee awarded a penalty and the Rovers boss got up to despatch it beyond Pinder, making it 4-0 and completing his hat-trick in the process.
Despite the scoreline, there was still plenty to play for and Rovers conceded a goal 8 minutes before the interval, as Reynolds found himself one-on-one with Merchant, after some incisive build-up play cut the visiting defence apart, and confidentially finished to make it 4-1. Warren Mann had been a pivotal figure in the Rovers performance but picked up an injury shortly after play restarted and was replaced by Adam Bloomfield. The hosts then had another fantastic chance, only for Louis Loader to be denied by a fantastic block from Lawrence, then Idowu had the chance to latch onto some good work from Bloomfield, Dominik Kent and Rhodes, but was denied as Pinder advanced quickly off his line to save a the Tuffley forward’s feet.
That was to prove the last action of the first period and Rovers went into the interval with a comfortable lead, after a display of clinical finishing. Rovers were forced to weather a storm at the start of the second period, as Malvern Town laid siege to their goal, although they defended resolutely to keep chances to a minimum and when the defence was finally breached, after 65 minutes, Merchant produced a stunning save to turn the ball over the bar from Matt Turner.
Turner wasn’t to be denied moments later, when another fluid, fast-paced move tore through the Rovers defensive line and he finished with aplomb as Merchant came out to narrow the angle. It was almost 4-3 on 70 minutes, but Prictor cleared the ball off the line after Malvern sought to capitalise on a set-piece.
A moment of controversy then ensued. Lawrence was left flattened by a collision with a Malvern player and although Rovers defended the attack well, despite his absence from the action, when Merchant rolled the ball out of play to allow his team-mate to receive treatment there was an expectation that the throw-in would see the ball returned to him. The Malvern players refused to return the ball – despite pleas from both the Rovers players and the match official – and with the play now deep in Rovers territory, the hosts were able to turn up the pressure and eventually scored their third, as Reynolds forced the ball home, as the game approached the end of normal time.
By now, Malvern Town were dominant and Rovers were hanging on, trying to hold onto the slimmest of margins, and they thought they’d managed a second-half great escape, as Bryan Craven’s shot cannoned away off the bar, with Merchant beaten, but a long diagonal pass in the 95th minute fell to Reynolds, who managed to connect amidst a crowd of players and make it 4-4 with the last kick of the game, completing his own hat-trick in the process.
Pritchett, clearly incensed by the earlier incident when Lawrence was injured, was dismissed for comments made to the Malvern Town players, as the teams met at the end of the game, but if he was concerned that his side might miss his goalscoring prowess in the penalty shoot-out that would now follow, he needn’t have worried.
Rhodes, Briscoe, substitute Lewis Bainbridge and Bloomfield all scored their efforts and with Merchant saving two of the first three efforts he faced, Rovers secured their place in the quarter-final, winning 4-1 on penalties at the end of a game which had ebbed and flowed in every direction through the course of the evening.