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Hellenic League Match Report

19-20 November

uhlsport football kituhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division

Flackwell Heath 1 Brackley Town Saints 2

Flackwell Heath recorded back-to-back league defeats for the first time since March as they conceded twice on the break going down 2 v 1 against high flyers Brackley Town Saints at Wilks Park on a bitterly cold night under the lights. Marcus Richardson made a couple of changes to the side that fell to Shrivenham at the weekend. Gray, Gregory and Morgan made way for Vicos, Eaton and Sinclair. The visitors came into the game having won 3 league games on the bounce, sitting in the top 4 of the uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division. 

Flackwell made their usual fast start. Ushiro-Lumb hitting a lovely strike that tested the Brackley ‘keeper who made a hash of it and had to rely on his centre half to clear the ball away for a corner. The visitors continued to soak up the early pressure and were rewarded after just 7 minutes as Ryan Knight broke for the Saints. He slid in James Hammond who made no mistake with his first chance of the game, striking the ball past Watkins into the bottom corner. 

After stunning the Heathens with their pace the visitors began to pin the reds back. George Ball looking particularly lively on the break. Hammond almost had his second after 20 minutes. He picked the ball up around 30 yards out. Flackwell failed to close Hammond down and allowed him to hit strike which pinged off the post and out for a goal kick.  Just before the half-hour mark there was controversy as Simeon Weekes was hacked down with his back to goal just inside the Saints penalty area. The referee blew his whistle seemingly to point to the spot. Only to make his way over to the area and give a free-kick the other way for simulation. Both sets of players bamboozled at the decision. 

At the break, it was 1 nil to the Saints. Flackwell were forced into a change at half time. Marcos Ushiro-Lumb limped off with a suspected twisted ankle and was replaced by Ashley Howell.  The second half started much the same as the first, Flackwell pressuring the Saints and making them defend for their lives. Richardson changed things up with just over 20 minutes to go bringing on Mansfield & Gray for Taylor & Burrell. 

Just 6 minutes after those changes the Saints doubled their lead. Soaking up the pressure again and catching Flackwell on the break. This time roles were reversed as Hammond turned provider and slid in Ryan Knight who rounded Watkins and slotted home. Nothing less than the Saints deserved as they soaked up pressure from the first minute. Flackwell changed their shape and pushed to get themselves back in the game. Looking for a bit of luck to help them back in the tie. With 10 minutes to play it wasn’t luck that helped them, it was the brilliant youngster Khalid Simmo. Spotting the ball around 25 yards out Simmo hit a lovely curling free-kick that gave Crowther in the 
Saints net no chance. 

For the next 10 minutes, the pressure was relentless. The Saints defending well but giving away silly free-kicks which allowed the Heathens to go direct. Both Bailey & Mansfield acting as centre forwards at times.  The referee added 5 minutes on at the end of the game in which Flackwell threw the kitchen sink at it. Watkins joining his teammates in the penalty area for corners and free kicks. 

Despite a stoppage-time surge the Saints ground out the result. The Heathens catalyst to their own downfall again, conceding soft goals on the break and not taking their chances.  Their next two fixtures see them travel to Royal Wootton Bassett Town and Lydney Town, whose ground is currently under 2 feet of water.

Flackwell Heath : Watkins, Vicos, Eaton, Burrell (63’ Gray), Bailey (c), Ceesay, Ushiro-Lumb (44’ Howell), Taylor (60’ Mansfield), Sinclair, Weekes, Simmo. 

Westfields 5 Tuffley Rovers 1 

Westfields continued their impressive uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division form with an emphatic 5-1 win over visiting Tuffley Rovers last night at allpay.park. 

Westfields got off to a terrific start when Aidan Thomas shot them into an 8th minute lead before Thomas doubled the lead on 18 minutes. 

Craig Jones then produced a cracking left foot drive to make it 3-0 before Aidan Thomas grabbed his hat-trick shortly before the interval to send Westfields in 4-0 up at the break. 

After the interval Tuffley came more into the game and Westfields’ goal-scoring was restricted to just one strike when Richard Greaves rifled home from close range to make it 5-0 before the visitors scored a late consolation goal with a curling shot from Sam Hill.  

Westfields now entertain Virginia Water at allpay.park on Saturday, kick-off 3pm, in another Hellenic League Premier Division game.  Westfields have no midweek game next week but then have their important FA Vase Third Round tie v Lutterworth Town, kick-off 3pm, at allpay.park on 30th November.

Westfields 5 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)

After a vital win at Holmer Green on Saturday, Tuffley Rovers travelled to Herefordshire, to face Westfields, on Tuesday evening and came away beaten, but not bowed, after a spirited second-half performance against a side who could conceivably continue as league leaders until the end of the 2019/20 season.

It was a much different line-up for the visitors when they arrived at Allpay Park, as Luke Merchant returned in goal, following Freddie Lapworth’s debut on Saturday, in one of five changes from the weekend victory, as Isaac Lawrence, Niall Priday, Ollie Price and Sam Hill all started, with Harri John, Ben Prictor, Kieran Alder and Warren Mann all unavailable for selection. Westfields fielded Ian Havard in goal, as a replacement for former Rovers keeper Harvey Rivers, who has left the club to play in Australia, in one notable change.

In the opening five minutes it might have proved difficult to immediately notice which side was which (although Rovers were playing their yellow and black change strip, rather than the normal claret and blue, which was Westfields’ colours) but the first action of note provided a clear differential between a side hoping to win the Hellenic League and a team probably more focused on achieving a safe position, as a platform to move up the table.

Havard started the move, launching a booming kick up the field that caught Rovers’ defence square, and the pacey Aidan Thomas raced through, unchallenged, before slotting the ball calmly beyond the advancing Merchant, to make it 1-0 on 8 minutes. What followed was a period of pressure for the hosts and18 minutes in, despite the efforts of Isaac Lawrence, who twice blocked goal bound effort on the line, before the second rebound fell to Thomas, who smashed the ball home to double both his and the hosts’ tally.

If Rovers, who have mounted spirited comebacks on several occasions this season, had hopes of recovering the situation, that optimism would have been largely extinguished sixty seconds later, as Craig Jones latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box to fire a precision effort into the bottom corner, beyond Merchant’s despairing dive. Mark Pritchett’s side then found a way of keeping their hosts at bay, at least temporarily, and although their own forays into the opposition half were few and far between, Westfields’ own opportunities to score were limited, by comparison to the earlier siege on the Rovers’ goal. However, any hopes Pritchett might have had that a 3-0 interval score would be recorded, so that he could look to galvanise a team who had already recorded a treble of 3-3 draws this season, were extinguished in the final moment of the half, as Thomas showed his clinical ability and completed his hat-trick, from close range.

Westfields had already recorded several thumping victories in the season to date, so the travelling Rovers support, making up about 20% of the 129 attendance, were probably fearful of what might follow, but Pritchett’s side showed a good spirit, married to a much improved performance, and managed to restrict their hosts to a handful of difficult chances that were comfortable to Merchant. When Thomas turned provided, to give Greaves a straightforward finish to make it 5-0 on 63 minutes, there were fears that Rovers might be on the wrong end of a crushing victory, but they continued to work hard, with Tyreece Briscoe energetic and tidy on the ball in midfield, and the second period had started to turn into an excellent contest, albeit one the hosts were comfortably shading.

Substitute Joe Bates might have extended the Westfields’ lead, only to waste two opportunities and draw a good save from Merchant, who was excellent in the second period, but the score remained at 5-0 until the dying moments, at which point Hill, who was playing for the first time since 31 August, curled home a shot that a backpedaling Havard was unable to keep out of his net. When the final whistle sounded just a few minutes later, Rovers were left to rue their defensive vulnerability against hosts who were immeasurably superior on the day, but Pritchett could also advise his squad to acknowledge that they had shown some qualities in the second period; qualities that should stand them in good stead.

Division One East

Marlow United 3 Long Crendon 1

Leading scorer Chris Hurst announced his return to first team action with a quick fire opening goal as Marlow returned to winning ways against Long Crendon. Playing his first game in over 6 weeks he sent out a warning to Hellenic League defences opening the scoring for United on 5 minutes.

A pinpoint cross field ball from Jamie Tripp picked Charlie Bull on the left and his inviting low cross was guided over the line by the predatory Hurst at the far post.  An excellent goal which the home team would have added too if they had donned their shooting boots, this on a heavyy bumpy pitch that did little to encourage passing football. George Weller found himself unopposed after a one two set him free on goal but his shot lacked power and keeper Taunton was down quickly to save. Weller then crossed a ball into Bull, his weak connection allowing Taunton a regulation save, Ryan Britnell later volleying over from a corner. 

The visitors worked hard to contain Marlow and enjoyed their fair share of possession but rarely did they threaten Partridge's goal, that is until late in the half when a through ball caught out a square defence, a last ditch Woodward tackle sending the loose ball across the area where it was fired wide. They didn't have long to wait for the equaliser though with keeper Alex Partridge gifting the visitors a goal as he attempted to shift a Tripp back pass he was caught in possession by Crendon's Archie Pettingell who having robbed Partridge calmly slid the ball over the line. 

Spurred on by this reverse Marlow upped their game as went in search of a second goal. Bull won a corner after bursting through the visitors defence which Britnell headed wide and it was Bull who eventually made the breakthrough, ploughing through several tackles whilst maintaining his balance he eventually forced the ball over the line with the referee waving play on after each attempted tackle , this on 58 minutes.  The scorer was replaced injured by Liam Bushay along with Paul Rake replacing Jack Harding and it was Bushay who broke the back of the visitors resistance 5 minutes later, his pace taking him past several defenders before slotting the ball past Taunton. 

Long Crendon battled on in vain, attempting to pull back a goal but in the process they left themselves open to the counter and United could have added a fourth with Rake firing over a Hurst cross when well placed and Bushay finding the side netting after another impressive run before missing the target with a spectacular overhead kick from a Hurst cross. For Marlow it was a hard won three points in a competitive if at times untidy game with positive performances from a number key players in front of an excellent attendance of 78 on a cold night. The win consolidates United's second spot in the league and they next meet Kidlington Development away next Tuesday in the second round of the BanburyLitho Floodlit Cup. 

Marlow : Partridge, Woodward, Harding, Tripp, Britnell, Prudden, Hardie, Weller, Bull, Hurst, Lucas Subs. Bushay, Rake, Etienne  

Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup

Malvern Town 2 FC Stratford 5

A second half collapse saw us (Malvern) make our exit from the Smedley Crooke Memorial Charity Cup at the first hurdle with a disappointing 5-2 home defeat at the hands of FC Stratford.

An inviting ball into the danger zone from George Hayes within the opening couple of minutes saw the offside flag go up against Bryan Craven as he looked to get on the end of it. A good spell of possession ended with Matt Fusco firing over whilst for the visitors, Atkins over-hit a cross as they started to see more of the ball. There was a great chance for the visitors on 17 minutes as Williams played through Atkins who beat the offside trap but was put off by the presence of Craven as he pulled the trigger.

With the visitors starting to ask a few questions, a break by Kyonn Evans saw him link up with Fusco whose cross found Phil Harris and he was brought down on the edge of the area. The resulting free-kick was on target from Craven but pushed out by the ‘keeper. A high free-kick into the area on the half-hour mark was headed into the path of Evans whose effort was saved before Harris had a strike in the next raid shortly afterwards that was pushed away by Compton in the visitors’ goal.

We opened the scoring on 33 minutes when a defence-splitting ball from Craven set Evans racing clear and he stayed cool to slot home and make it 1-0. A foul on Poulson gave the visitors a free-kick which was struck goalwards and produced a fine tip-over from Charlie Weaver. The resulting corner wasn’t properly cleared and Gifford was on hand to level matters with 37 minutes on the clock after Poulson’s strike was blocked. Within a minute Gifford had his second to turn the scoreline on its head as he curled home to make it 2-1 after collecting the ball from Percival. As we looked to hit back, a strike cannoned off the woodwork as we went in at the interval trailing by two goals to one.

Our equaliser arrived on 54 minutes when Fusco led the charge with a positive break out of defence and as the ball came in from Hayes, there was Craven to guide home. With our tails up, Moran poked an effort just wide, whilst at the other end Weaver was down well to gather from Daccus. Some more neat approach play ended with Evans curling over as we looked the most likely side at this stage, but our opponents were dangerous on the break and Weaver had to be alert to save at the feet of Daccus. Moments later another key save from Weaver saw him deny Stoute. Quick feet from Moran saw him make room for a strike that he curled just wide.

The visitors regained the lead when a high ball was pumped into the area by Wilkes and Weaver appeared to be fouled by Atkins as Stoute found the net from close range. Two minutes later a slip in defence allowed Gifford through and he made no mistake to complete his hat-trick and make it 4-2. Some more poor defending ended with Stoute’s low strike making it 5-2 as we fell apart. A couple of headers late on, from Hayes and James Febery, went close as a shot on the turn from Hayes in stoppage time was dragged wide as we made our exit from a competition that we won last year.

Malvern Town: Weaver, Hayes, B. Febery (Wickett 82), A. Sauntson, J. Sauntson, J. Febery, Fusco (Reynolds 73), Harris, Evans, Craven (Turner 73), Moran. Subs not used: Skidmore, Hooper

Gloucestershire FA Challenge Trophy

Bitton 2 Stonehouse Town 1 (away view)

On Tuesday night uhlsport Hellenic League Division One West Stonehouse lost out to the Western League Premier Division Bitton, who won the game with a last gasp Josh Egan goal. The Stonehous 'Magpies' had produced a sterling performance, often out playing Bitton for long periods of the game. 

In the first 10 minutes Skipper Alex Kibble produced 2 long range strikes that had Sam Burgess in the Bitton goal struggling to keep out the second from near the half way line. After 24 minutes a great chance fell to Nathan Beachus who couldn't follow up Chris Earles shot. Bitton had a free kick on 26 minutes which Egan fired into the wall. On 38 minutes Kibble once again tested the keeper .From the start of the second half Bitton took the lead with a dubious free kick on the edge of the box scored by Egan.

5 minutes later a horrible tackle on Tom Palmer which went unpunished spelt the end of his game. On 59 minutes Stonehouse leveled with Nathan Beachus firing home from close range after good work from Adam Harley and a cross from Chris Earle. On 65 minutes Stonehouse substitute Brad Bird was dismissed for a late tackle. The game was looking like it was going to penalties, when Egan produced the winner with a sweet shot that went in off the post. Stonehouse can be proud with the way they played and all players produced great performances with Liam Gale back to his best and defenders all outstanding, Elliott King probably MOM.