Binfield 2 Virginia Water 0 (away view)
This will be the view of VW, who on reflection probably deserved the win from this local derby, with our friends and rivals at Binfield. During an excellent first half performance, Waters yet again were left to rue a number of clear cut missed chances.
As soon as the 8th minute, we should have had a stonewall penalty, when Dale Wright was clean through on goal from a pinpoint Scott Jackson cross, to be brought down in the process of shooting. Dale went close soon after when through on their keeper, then Joel Drew, who caused havoc in the Binfiled defence in the first half, then agonisingly hitting wide from an acute angle. Joel, Liam Whyte and Scott all had further chances to put VW ahead, but sadly not to be.
From a direct ball on 30 minutes, for once, our defence failed to clear, and allowed their striker to follow through on our keeper, and as Matt saved at his feet, the rebound fortunately (for the home side) fell nicely to their striker to slot home, completely against the run of play.
Undaunted VW continued to press, with no luck in front of goal, which am sure will improve soon. We can only blame ourselves as to why we were 1-0 down at the break, and having to chase a game in the second half, when we should have been out of sight in the first.
To be fair to Binfield they were better in the second half, mainly down to VW chasing the game, and again somewhat controversially, added a second from a hopeful cross, that their striker (who many thought was offside), clearly handled the ball to control it, before shooting home from close range.
Adam McNamara, Joel, Scott all had further efforts on goal, as we fought to the end, and we had Matt in goal to thank for a few terrific saves, including a trademark penalty save late on. All those in the 175 crowd who were there, will, I’d like to think, feel some sympathy for VW, who were certainly on the receiving end of some harsh decisions, but that’s football, and if you don’t take your chances, you don’t win.
We wish Binfield, a real quality outfit, the best of luck for the season, and congratulations to VW for their performance, and, who for long periods, were the better side.
Division One East
Woodley United 4 Marlow United 3
Woodley won their first league match of the new season, against promoted Marlow United, in dramatic style in a match that had seven goal scorers and saw the home team twice come from behind and score the winner in the ninetieth minute.
The first half was an end to end affair with both teams forging opportunities before Chris Hurst opened the scoring for the visitors in the tenth minute in controversial fashion with the home defence thinking the ball had stuck Hurst’s arm before he fired home from close range.
The hosts responded with Max Laschok’s pace causing problems and it was no surprise that five minutes later Woodley were level when Teddy Edwards reacted first to a deflected cross. Laschok gave Woodley the lead in the twenty second minute when he outsprinted the visitors defence to steer his shot past Alex Partridge. However, the lead was short lived as a Marlow cross from the right to the far post was headed home by Jean-Claude Etienne.
With Laschok continuing to be a threat he won a number of free kicks but was forced to leave the field with an injury five minutes before the break which saw Miguel Camacho make his Woodley debut. Marlow took the lead a few minutes before the break when a low cross from the right was driven into the net from the edge of the penalty area by Charlie Bull.
The second half was a quieter affair with neither team creating chances in first twenty minutes, However, Woodley were gradually creating a threat with their running at the back four. Camacho was dangerous but it was Freddie Barron’s run into the penalty area which resulted in a penalty kick that man of the match Jon Malone converted to level the scores with eighteen minutes remaining. An immediate double substitution saw another debutant Bailey Hill and Dave Stevens enter the game as Woodley started to exert pressure on the visitors and were rewarded as the game entered stoppage time with centre back Joe Sissons heading his first goal for the team from a Stevens corner to secure the comeback.
Woodley United 4 Marlow United 3 (away view)
Marlow were unable to capitalise on a goal lead at Woodley, conceding two second half goals to slump to a second league defeat.
Marlow have now conceded seven goals in their two opening fixtures, a situation that needs addressing immediately if they are not to lose sight of the leading teams. Against old foes Woodley they began brightly taking the lead on ten minutes as a Thomas free kick into the area was knocked back across the six yard box by Al Mckie were the predatory Chris Hurst headed home from close range.
One ahead and Marlow were looking comfortable but the home team were soon back on terms as a cross from the Marlow right was met by an unmarked Thomas on the edge of the area, his shot deflecting off a defender for the equaliser. Five minutes later and Woodley were ahead, this time indecision in the centre of defence allowed Max Laschok the space to collect a through ball, evade his markers and slot the ball past a diving Partridge, all this in the first twenty minutes!
Despite this reverse Marlow continued to play some excellent football Prudden and Hardie being prominent in midfield with Bull and Etienne troubling the Home defence, the latter proving to be a particular thorn in their side. Marlow equalised with a goal of quality on 25 minutes, Thomas commencing a three pass move that eventually saw Waldron's cross into the area for Etienne to head firmly past Sangwell. The visitors were in control of the game at this stage, Prudden, Hurst, Bull and Thomas all seeing efforts cleared or saved as Woodley defended grimly, relying on quick breaks to stretch the Marlow defence. The third goal belatedly arrived on 38 minutes with another move involving Hardie, Gray and Waldron, the latter setting up Charlie Bull who picked his spot from the edge of the area. Two minutes later Prudden met a cross at the far post which skimmed the upright when it appeared he must score, a chance which the visitors would come to regret.
The home team began the second period in a more purposeful fashion , pressing and quicker to the ball they matched their opponents across the park. The game had become a stalemate, Prudden heading a Thomas corner wide on the hour in a rare chance, Prudden then crucially injuring his calf and being replaced by Sutherland with Bushay replacing an injured Bull. Etienne got behind the Woodly defence, his cross evading everyone as it skidded across the area, the same player then seeing two efforts blocked.
Marlow paid for these lost opportunities as yet again defensive frailties saw Al Mckie penalised for a last ditch tackle in the area, Malone slotting home the resultant penalty on 70 minutes. The game was now up for grabs and Marlow hit back with a cross from Gray finding sub Harman, his ball finding a falling Etienne who was unable to make a clean connection with a clear sight on goal. Hurst mishit another good opportunity to add a fourth but it was the home team who were upping the anti pressing back the Marlow defence.
Marlow conceded a number of corners and free kicks as the game entered its final stages and there was an inevitability about the final twist in the game as a corner on 88 minutes from the Marlow left was met by an unmarked Joe Sissons who gleefully headed home from the edge of the six yard area to the delight of his team mates. Marlow sit second bottom of the league with nil points, but on the bright side the only way is up. They will need to solve their defensive problems before they meet local rivals Flackwell Heath in the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup this Saturday KO 3pm if they are hoping for a cup run.
Marlow; A Partridge, J Waldron, J Gray, J Hardie, A Mckie, J Woodbridge, Q Thomas, F Prudden, JC Etienne, C Hurst, C Bull Subs R Sutherland L Bushay A Harman
Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup
Abingdon United Development 1 Letcombe 2 (away view)
Manager Garry Cook described this performance as one of the best he has seen since joining the club two years ago. With five potential first team players missing, including two strikers, Letcombe moved James Wright from defence and Luke Polding from his usual wide position to lead the attack. They also included two 16 year-olds, Aidan Ormrod at centre back and Alex Harrison at right midfield.
Both sides tried to pass the ball on an excellent playing surface which resulted in an entertaining game. The Letcombe defence looked solid throughout the first half, with Mikey Annetts forming a great partnership with young Ormrod, and full backs Jordan Smith and Chris Whelehan covering the flanks well. Keeper Danny Joyce also did well, handling crosses cleanly and leaving his line quickly to deal with through balls. Captain Sam Mulvey again lead by example in central midfield, and he was well supported by Callum Little who had moved centrally from his usual wide role. Letcombe created the best chance of the half with quick passes on the right, but Luke Polding`s low cross shot came back off the far post, and with both defences playing well, the interval arrived goalless.
Declan O`Hanlon replaced Aidan Ormrod at half time as he was suffering from a stiff calf muscle, and it was Abingdon who took the lead ten minutes later. Danny Joyce came racing from his area to clear the danger, but the ball fell to Sam Wharton, who controlled it and sent a forty yard shot over the head of Joyce as he tried to regain his position. Letcombe were not to be denied, and equalised mid-way through the half. Good work on the right from Alex Harrison put the home defence under pressure, and James Wright reacted quickest to place the loose ball into the bottom corner from eight yards. The winner came with fifteen minutes remaining, and it was worth waiting for. The ball fell to young Alex Harrison 25 yards from goal, and he spun before driving a superb shot into the far top corner.
Letcombe have every right to feel very proud of this performance, which must give them great confidence going into their Hellenic programme. It was good to see another solid defensive display, and pleasing to see the two young lads looking completely at home, with one of them scoring the winner. There will be real competition for places, which should keep everybody focused on their own performances.
Letcombe play Premier Division Tuffley Rovers in the Bluefin Sport Challenge cup at Letcombe on Saturday, and even though they will again have players not available, they can look forward to the game with optimism.
Faringdon Town 2 Cricklade Town 4
Monday Night football was back at Tucker Park this week, as Town took on Cricklade Town from the Wiltshire Senior League in the Quarter Final of the Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup Competition. Town’s preparations were hampered slightly with a couple of late withdrawals due to illness, but it did mean the fines were not in force due to the Fines Master being unavailable. However, we still had a five–man bench to bolster the strong starting eleven. Cricklade who finished in the upper half of their league last season had come through the first round with a 7-6 penalty victory over Ashton Keynes following a 3-3 draw in 90 minutes. Town had beaten local side Clanfield (85) FC, 3-2 6 days ago. The match started with Town in the ascendancy and won themselves a corner at the Playground End. The corner was poor, cleared and Cricklade found themselves three on two on the counter attack. The ball was played to the left and with Town trying to recover, the cross was headed home for a first minute 1-0 lead for the visitors. The goal gave Cricklade an early boost and Town’s heads were down. Within the opening 10 minutes, two further half chances were created by the visitors. Town really struggling to get going, however striker Dave Coleman did have Town’s first effort on goal as he stole the ball from a defender, before striking well, but straight at the keeper. The positivity for Town was short lived, as the next forward play saw Cricklade keep the ball, before finding the number ten, thirty yards from goal. He took one touch, a second touch and still not closed down by the Town rear-guard or midfield, fired at goal, taking a massive deflection which took the ball away from Town keeper Justin Yates and into the net for 2-0. The Town performance was still wildly below average and it was no surprise as the half came to a close, it was 3-0 as Cricklade were awarded a penalty, well dispatched by ex-Town player Max Scholefield. The Town half-time changing room was noisy, loud and aggressive, but this was from the Manager and not the players! Town had to replace Yates in goal due to injury with Lee Murby and Harry Platt came off in a tactical change, which saw the introduction of James Tranter, following his Far East travelling. The lads knew they hadn’t performed and had to go and at least win the second half. The requested work-rate re-appeared in the second period as Town were now pressing and competing for every ball and created some half chances, but didn’t have the right people, in the right place at the right time. Cricklade then hammered the final nail into the coffin. They broke away after Town lost the ball cheaply in midfield with twenty minutes remaining, the winger rounded Murby before calmly slotting home. Matt Morris was introduced into the ten role and had an immediate effect as he made the visiting keeper pull off a full length save to his left from 20 yards. Moments later and Town pulled back a consolation, Matt Pill continuing his good run of goal-scoring to swivel and shoot from 8 yards for 4-1. Moments later, it was then full-back Joe Hoskin who decided to try his luck at goal as Town applied some late pressure, he opened up from 25 yards, finding top bins for 4-2 with a fantastic strike and with five minutes remaining Town and the healthy Tucker Park faithful hoped for a late, late comeback. Cricklade tried to play out the remaining moments of the game and despite Town grabbing late corners and a couple of near-misses, Town were out of the competition and Cricklade Town go on to face Wantage Town Development in the semi-finals, April 2020. Team: J Yates (L Murby 45), H Platt (J Tranter 45), A Lynham, L Davenport (M Morris 70), J Forth(c), A Goodchild, J Vaughan, S Creeley, J Hoskin, M Pill, D Coleman. Subs not used: O Baker, J Evans.
The Town squad now need to turn their attentions to another Cup Competition, with Brimscombe & Thrupp FC the welcome visitors to Tucker Park on Saturday 17th August in the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup. Kick off is 3.00pm and Town will be massive underdogs, against last seasons uhlsport Hellenic Premier Runners Up.