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17 April 2021


Congelton Town 1 Malvern Town 0

An early goal was the difference as our Buildbase FA Vase dreams ended with a 1-0 reverse at Congleton Town. Despite having the first foray forward, we were caught out within the opening minute when a long ball forward set Arron Johns through and he opened the scoring.

As we started to settle into our stride, a free-kick fell out to George Hayes who fired well over then on the quarter-hour mark, Harry Clark’s teasing cross was scrambled clear. At the other end, Will Buckley tried his luck but his low strike went well wide of the target. We were seeing more of the ball as the opening period went on but unable to keep hold of it to make things happen as chances were few and far between at either end. A nice touch in the middle of the park from Joe Bullock saw him make room to find Clark but the ball just got away from him.

With half-time approaching, Keiron Blackburn saved well to thwart Buckley’s low drive, whilst at the other end, Lewis Platt linked up well with Clark whose cross was gathered by the ‘keeper. On 44 minutes the ball just wouldn’t fall for Joe Billingham in front of goal as we pushed for a leveller before the break.

The second half started with a raid down the left ending with the ball finding its way to George Hayes whose effort was blocked. A free-kick in a dangerous position out wide was flashed inches wide by Dan Cope for the home side. With an hour gone, Blackburn gathered comfortably from Cope’s strike before doing well to claim Chris Baker’s powerfully-driven cross. A series of corners saw Jay Sauntson fail to direct a header  goalwards at the far post before Clark went close with a header of his own shortly afterwards Joe Billingham had the sting took out of a powerful drive by a deflection and as the ball looped up, the 'keeper was able to claim, then as our pressure continued, Platt saw his inviting cross scrambled clear.

We were asking most of the questions as we searched for a leveller. Clark’s cross to the near post was cleared just ahead of Matt Turner as the home side got numbers back A chipped ball in from Buckley saw Blackburn alert to take the ball off the strikers’ head then the ‘keeper did well to keep out a stinging drive from the lively Buckley. As we pushed up, we were almost caught out as Max McCarthy went through only for Jay Sauntson to put in a timely recovery challenge.

Appeals for a penalty when Joe Bates went down were waved away as we entered stoppage time and it ended in disappointment with a 1-0 defeat.

THE HILLSIDERS: Blackburn, Hayes, Harris, A. Sauntson, J. Sauntson, Febery, Billingham (Bates 74), Bullock, Turner (Chowns Higgs 74), Clark, Platt. Subs not used: Wickett, Paddock, Smith, Fusco, Pinder.

Bateman's Sports Division Two Cup

Letcombe 1 Wantage Town Development 1

With players not available because of injury and work commitments, Letcombe gave Daniel Pear his first team debut in midfield and Ben Brzoska lead the attack. Letcombe were also pleased to welcome back Luke Mulvey who has missed a large part of the season. He replaced the injured Christy Whelehan.

Letcombe almost took the lead in the third minute when Josh Fowler was fouled just outside the penalty area, and Luke Polding hit the inside of the post from the resulting free kick with Wantage keeper Harry Whitehead helpless. Both sides tried to play good football on a difficult surface, but chances were few with both teams well organised in defence. Wantage took the lead as half time approached when the Letcombe defence failed to clear the ball following a long throw-in, and as the ball bobbled around in the home penalty area, Kieran Kerby was quickest to react and he drove the ball low inside the near post from ten yards. Home keeper Danny Joyce got a hand to the ball but could not prevent it from entering the net.

The visitors had the larger share of possession in the early part of the second half without creating any clear chances, and home manager Garry Cook made changes mid-way through the half. He pushed centre back Nathan Haresnape up front and brought on youngster Tommy Barnard in defence for his first team debut. The move paid off soon afterwards when a free kick from Daniel Pear was flicked on by the head of youngster Aaran Mudie for his debut goal for Letcombe. Wantage had a great chance to win the game with two minutes remaining when Sam Mulvey was adjudged to have brought down Calum Pryce, but Danny Joyce dived to his right to save the resulting panalty from Jack Badger.

Both sides will feel that they had chances to win the game, but it was probably a fair result. The teams will meet again in the final of the Faringdon Memorial Cup at Faringdon on Thursday 6th May.

Letcombe are trying to raise funds for Christy Whelehan who sustained a serious knee injury at Hungerford on the previous Saturday and Joe Blackwell who also sustained a serious achilles injury back in August which has prevented him from playing throughout the season. Letcombe wish to record their grateful thanks to the Wantage Town players and management for their generous support to the fund raising efforts. Their help is greatly appreciated and reflects the camaraderie between these two local clubs despite their on-field rivalry.