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Hellenic League Match Report

23 November

uhlsport football kituhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division

Royal Wootton Bassett 2  Flackwell Heath  1 (away view)

Flackwell continued their dismal run of form on Saturday as they slumped to a third straight league defeat. Also the third 2 v 1 defeat in as many games. The Heathens travelled to Wiltshire with a depleted squad. Dean Morgan, Jack Taylor, Marcos Ushiro-Lumb and Khalid Simmo all out of action with bouts of illness and injury. The Heathens starting XI was changed somewhat and included the gaffer himself, Marcus Richardson, starting in the Number 9 shirt. 

The opening period of the game went to the Heathens. A number of half-chances created. The first after 8 minutes from as Mansfield slid in Howell who whipped his shot just past the far post. 5 minutes later it was Richardson who leapt to knock on a Watkins drive which fell nicely for Leius Sinclair who could only hit it straight at the Bassett ‘keeper.  Up the other end, it was Watkins who was keeping Bassett at bay. Collecting a number of deliveries from wide areas and making a superb save with his shin to deny Bassett a certain lead after 25 minutes. 
The remainder of the half was relatively uninspiring and the sides went in at the break level. 

Bassett flew out the traps in the second half. Their fast start was rewarded on 50 minutes. The ever-reliable TJ Bohane found half a yard on the edge of the Heathens penalty area and whipped a strike past Watkins. 
10 minutes later Bassett doubled their lead. This time it was the Heathens who gifted Bassett the goal. James Mansfield seemingly not seeing Mark Francis lurking, hit a loose back pass which Francis latched onto. Watkins superbly denied Francis initially but the Bassett man then squared to Gio Wrona who slammed it home. 

Flackwell made 3 changes. Richardson, Weekes and Mansfield departing for Burrell, Phillips & Hathaway. 
With 15 minutes to play Flackwell were left dismayed as Ceesay who’d now turned centre forward was clean through bearing down on the Bassett goal. He was yanked back by a chasing defender but kept his balance and his shot was blocked. The referee did not take retrospective action for what was a cynical foul by the Bassett player. Flackwell scored a consolation goal in the 90th minute. Burrell chasing a lost cause won the ball and hit a low cross which Ceesay got on the end of and turned home. Unfortunately, there was no time for any further action as the referee brought the game to a close. 

Flackwell will have to wait a week until the weekend to bounce back as they are scheduled to play Lydney Town who’s ground was under two feet of water as recently as Wednesday last week. 

Flackwell Heath : Watkins, Eaton, Vicos, Mansfield (Hathaway), Bailey (c), Ceesay, Howell, Gray, Richardson (Burrell), Sinclair, Weekes (Phillips).

Tuffley Rovers 2 Reading City 2

A change of name from Highmoor Ibis to Reading City in the summer of 2018 appeared to do the Berkshire club no favours at all. Although they won 3-1 at Glevum Park on the last Saturday in August, it was only a brief high in a series of subsequent lows which saw them finishing in 18th place with only 31 points from the 36 league fixtures. A year later they were looking in much better shape and certainly their away form was. Thirteen away league defeats in 2018-19 was not a figure they would look back on with any fondness but in the new season they already had two wins and two draws from their opening six matches on the road.

Hosts Tuffley Rovers would be looking for their first clean sheet of the season (this would be their 21st match in league and cup). The Rovers had been involved in some high-scoring matches (three 3-3 draws and one 4-3 victory) but had become far too easy to score against and that would surely be something their coaches had been looking at in the days leading up to this match.

On a cold and grey afternoon, a rather tepid match only burst into life after the interval with all four goals coming in the second half. Rovers nearly always score; and they did (they have only two blanks in twenty-one matches this season) but they always concede; and did so again today so are still looking for their first clean sheet of the season.
Oddly, this could be described as a game of two goalkeepers. Tuffley’s Luke Merchant, normally so confident and self-assured, was culpable for both of City’s goals. Reading’s Charlie York did not have a significant save to make, could not be blamed for either of the two goals which went past him but caught crosses with ease all afternoon and launched some massive clearances to put the home defence under pressure. The two teams tested each other out in the opening exchanges but it was seven minutes before the first shot at goal which came from Reading’s Tyreece Weekes after Dan Davies had set him free on the left. A couple of minutes later came Tuffley’s first shot with Jack Beardsell making ground on the right before firing high and wide just as Weekes had done earlier.

A Reading corner from the right on the quarter-hour mark was punched up in the air by Merchant who then caught the ball as it came down but seemed to accidentally injure his own full-back, Isaac Lawrence, as he landed and the defender needed brief treatment but was able to resume. When Rovers won a corner of their own Mark Pritchett rose high to reach Jack Beardsell’s flag-kick but could only direct his header over the crossbar. Chances were few and far between at both ends, especially after the rain arrived with half an hour played.

A goal-less first period looked more and more likely but the deadlock was almost broken a minute before the interval. City’s Tyreece, Weekes, tried a shot from twenty yards which deflected off Macaulay Herbert and hit the base of a post before rebounding into Merchant’s grateful hands. The visitors would not have to get through much more playing time before they did take the lead. Within two minutes of the re-start a loose ball inside the home penalty-area led to Merchant calling out “keeper’s ball” but he arrived a fraction too late and clipped Dan Davies as the Reading forward took the ball past him. Davies got up and struck the spot-kick right-footed to the goalkeeper’s right with Merchant diving the other way.

Both Adam Cashin-Murray and Jerry Foumboua had shots at goal as Reading looked to increase their slender advantage. They thought they had done so when Ellis Cowd got in front of Merchant to head the ball into the net but one of the assistants had his flag up for an infringement. The reprieve for the hosts was only temporary though because when Merchant raced off his line after 62 minutes his attempted clearance hit Fergus Burton’s body and rebounded into the goal at speed. Tuffley’s response was to send Adam Bloomfield and Joe Shutt on for Harri John and Sam Hill and it only took a few minutes for those changes to have some effect. In trying to take the ball clear of a challenging defender, Dominik Kent was fouled by Butcher as he tried to move into the Reading penalty-area in a central position. Liam Wright and Mark Pritchett stood over the ball but it was the player-manager who took responsibility and his thunderous shot nearly took the net away as it flew past York’s right-hand side.

With momentum on their side Rovers poured forward in search of an equaliser…and it soon came when two substitutes combined beautifully with Bloomfield’s neat cross from the right being turned into the net by Shutt, who recorded his first goal for the club. Ten minutes remained for either side to find a winning goal but there were no significant scares at either end. Rovers deserved credit for not throwing the towel in when they went two goals behind, but City must also be praised for the part they played in an entertaining second half. In the end a point each was about right.

Westfields 3 Virginia Water 0

Westfields extended their lead to 8 points at the top of the Hellenic League Premier Division with a solid performance on Saturday against visiting Virginia Water from Surrey.

It was the first ever meeting between the 2 sides and Westfields gave early notice to Virginia Water by taking a 4th minute lead when a neat move involving Cameron Peters put in Aidan Thomas on the left and he cut in to fire a low shot past the visitors’ keeper to give Westfields a dream start. Virginia Water did come back into the game briefly but new keeper Joe Gorman in the Westfields goal twice fisted away difficult crosses before the visitors were reduced to 10 men before the break when their striker was dismissed for a comment made to the referee.

Westfields went in at the break 1-0 ahead but after the break they came out and again produced opportunities with both Dan Stoneman and Aidan Thomas looking dangerous on the flanks. Westfields increased their lead on the hour when a shot from outside the penalty area was parried by the Virginia Water keeper and the ball ran free to Cameron Peters who was able to be on the spot to secure his first goal for the club from close range.

The home side then created further chances but the Virginia Water keeper twice made good saves to keep out the Westfields attack. The visitors were finding it difficult to break down Westfields’ defence in which Kane Kahaki and Paul Hurrell were outstanding.

Westfields then introduced new striker Boo King and the Ghanaian striker soon made his presence felt when he burst through the Virginia Water defence and smashed his shot against the upright but right at the end Westfields secured a third goal when Aidan Thomas lashed home a left-foot drive from the edge of the box which flew into the bottom corner of the net, giving the visitors’ keeper no chance.

Westfields  3  Virginia Water  0 (away view)

 Virginia Water undertook an arduous 7 hour round trip to table toppers Westfields, and returned empty handed, but put in a terrific effort. A big thank you to the lads who made the journey!

The match itself started brightly, with Adam McNamara twice getting in behind the home defence, but we could not capitalise on the crosses. At the other end, our usual rock solid defence, were caught napping on 4 minutes, when their striker ran through unmarked to side foot home – not the start one would want.

The match finished as a contest in dramatic style, when on 15 minutes Louis Sanders was shown a straight red card a decision most of the people attending felt was incredibly tough.

VW organised themselves and for the next hour or so, dealt with all Westfield could throw at us quite comfortably. Matt in goal had a couple of good saves to make, and the excellent Josh Hill cleared calmly off the line, ably supported by a great performance at left back by the returning Casey Bocarro, who covered the position for us, and so we held out for a long period.

The second and game clincher, also had some controversy, when on 60 minutes, Matt parried a shot, dived on the ball with their striker (who had every right to go for the ball), and we thought he was impeded (so his damaged hand testifies to), but as the referee ran over to give, what we thought was a foul, he dropped his whistle in the mud, took time to pause, went over to consult his linesman, and after what seemed an eternity, awarded the goal. Chaos!

VW pushed as hard as they could, but Westfield were always a threat and could have added a couple more, albeit their third came with the last kick of the game. A little harsh all round on VW and we wish Westfield well.

Division One East

Woodley United 1 Wokingham & Emmbrook 6 (Report By Arthur Strand)

Sumas' in a local derby with Woodley Utd. began positively with a first minute goal by Jake White, striking from an angle as the ball arrived at his feet.. Nick Bateman won the ball before Sumas' took a free kick and a similar occurrence arose a few moments later but a corner kick was taken. and the header towards goal was then cleared. Jon Malone took a free kick for Woodley then Kylo Atkinson gave chase and a useful cross was intended for Marcus Guest with no outcome. In the 10th minute, Sumas' were in the goal mouth area with defenders and the ball spilled out of the crowd for Elliott Rushforth to tap in for the second. Freddie Barron was required to replace Joe Sissons whose ham string was too uncomfortable to continue. Woodley gained a free kick and with that made no headway and Kylo Atkinson was battling for the ball. The next attack was flagged offside and Woodley regained possession as they took 3 free kicks in a row. White pushed upfield. but Woodley took the ball back and a high cross into the area missed everybody and Liam Eagle cleared the ball. Arriving at Woodley's end the ball jinked around both teams until Jake White lashed the ball into the net. Back into the Woodley area went Sumas' but the next attempt was headed wide of the target. Having imposed domination after the first half hour, Sumas' then occupied the Woodley half of the field until Woodley won back the ball and forced a corner kick. The follow up went wide but Toby Briggs soon found time to take a shot at Sumas' goal giving Sean Woodward a task which he dealt with accordingly. Harry Swabey spent 10 minutes in the sin bin that stretched over the break.

The first action after Sumas' took the ball was when Woodley countered and Sam Wood crashed the ball over the top of Woodward's cross bar. Atkinson was fouled handing Sumas' a free kick and in unspecified time the ball was bobbling around in front of the Woodley goal the ball popped out of the melee just right for Jake White to increase his personal tally to hat-trick status and the team's lead to 4 - 0 in the 61st minute. Back into action, White supplied Atkinson with a useful cross but nothing gained. Woodley did get a chance to score after substitutions when Sam Wood slotted the ball into Woodward's net. Luke Scope, on as a substitute, ensured a fifth goal and the sixth was scored after 78 minutes by Adam Edwards. Throughout the half Sumas' had several near misses which kept the score down and Woodley also had opportunities to score blocked or saved. Sumas' efforts gave them the second 6 - 1 win since they beat Langley by the same score on the previous Tuesday at Summerleaze Village.

Woodley United: Thomson,[GK], Swabey, Pele Haggar,Swift, Sissons, Malone, Ward, Hawkins, Laschok, Briggs, Blatchford. Substitutes: Barron, Guze.
Wokingham & Emmbrook: Woodward,[GK], Carter, O'Connell, Guest, L.Eagle,[C], Joe Cummuskey, Callum Eagle, Nick Bateman, Kylo Atkinson, Jake White, Rushforth. Substitutes: Edwards, Scope, Day, Byrne, Winship.

Division One West

Cheltenham Saracens 3 Stonehouse Town 0 

Cheltenham Saracens fine form continues with a good 3 -0 win over Stonehouse Town in an eventful game to say the least, both teams came out strongly with both teams sharing possession and looking dangerous. 

After a spell of Saracens pressure Shonehouse cleared the ball form a Saracens corner which fell to Liam Brignull to fire home from long range, a rare goal for Liam but a great strike. 

The first have played out with both teams enjoying good possession and half chances, the second half had been under way for under 5 mins and Saracens had been awarded a penalty, in amongst the chaos Alex Kibble was sent to the sin bin, up stepped Matt MaGee, shoots to the keepers left and a fine save from William Pedrick, Stonehouse down to 10 Men !! not 2 mins later Nick Jones the Saracens keeper was sent off for a hand ball outside of the box, Saracens now down to 10 men !! up steps Ben Tunnicliff as stand in keeper, and what a job he did making some great saves. 

With Stonehouse now back to a full side, they continued to push hard for that equalizer, Saracens stayed strong and maybe should have scored with harlie Price just shooting wide of the post after some fine football, but on the 75 min Saracens hit Stonehouse on the counter attack with Harlie Price rounding the keeper, turning a defender and slotting home for Saracens 2nd, Stonehouse continued to push but again were hit with a Saracens counter attack this time substitute Adam Loveridge rounded the keeper and calmly slotted home to make it 3-0, Stonehouse didnt lie down though and kept coming with stand in keeper Ben Tunicliff again making a fine save to keep the clean sheet and a fine 3-0 win for Saracens. 

Cheltenham Saracens 3 Stonehouse Town 0 (away view) 

In difficult conditions Stonehouse fine recent run came to an end at Saras. The magpies had the first real chance following an Alex Kibble freekick Liam Gale tested keeper Nick Jones. Saras chance came after 16 mins a shot from Sam Mason was well saved by Pedrick. The first goal came after a sweet strike from Liam Brignull from the edge of the box after 27mins.The second half started the same as the last game for Stonehouse conceding a penalty after 1 minute of the restart. This time Will Pedrick produced a great save from Matt Magee. Minutes later Jones in the Saras goal came rushing out of his box to stop a Stonehouse attack but handled the ball in mid field to stop a certain magpies goal,resulting in him being sent off.

This produced 20 mins of good football from the magpies with Ryan Thwaite having a header cleared of the line then Tim Williams rattling the cross bar and seconds later the sub keeper Ben Tunnicliff making an excellent save. Elliott King received his second yellow card of the game and was dismissed for Stonehouse after 60 mins.The game was won for Saracens with 2 breakaway goals,the first from Harlie Price and the second from Adam Loveridge 5 mins before the end of the game.Overall a disappointing result for Stonehouse but Saracens handled the conditions far better and deserved the win. 

Ben Tunnicliff who took over in goal for Saracens produced many great saves to be our MOM. 

Division Two West

Faringdon Town 0 Letcombe 1 (away view)

With top scorer Josh Fowler and both centre backs missing, Letcombe were forced to shuffle their line-up, with Jordan Smith moving from right back to partner 16 year old Aidan Ormrod at the heart of the defence. Faringdon started strongly, and former Letcombe player Andy Goodchild had two chances in the first ten minutes, but both were well saved by keeper Danny Joyce. Letcombe grew in confidence, and Chris Rivers was unlucky to see a header from a free kick come back off the far post. Kias Bonner-Shay had two great chances to give Letcombe the lead with only home keeper Connor Guinness-Smith to beat as half time approached. On the first occasion his attempted chip was saved the the keeper, and the second chance went over the bar. At the other end, Joyce turned a low shot from Goodchild round the post before Letcombe finally got the goal they had been threatening. New signing Chad Abrams broke from midfield, evaded two tackles, and calmly placed the ball past the advancing keeper.

Letcombe should have made the game safe early in the second half, but Boyan Thorpe shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy after good work from Abrams. A shot deflected off a defender and crashed against the bar as Letcombe continued to push forward, but Faringdon captain Josh Forth headed narrowly over the bar from a free kick. An even last twenty minutes saw Faringdon push forward in search of an equaliser, but the well organised Letcombe defence remained solid to secure another three valuable points.

This was very much a team effort, but mention must be made of Sam Mulvey and Chris Rivers who worked tirelessly in midfield, and James Wright who held the ball superbly in attack, well supported by Bonner-Shay. Luke Mulvey and Chris Whelehan were as reliable as ever at full back to form a formidable back four with Smith and Ormrod, with Thorpe and Abrams always looking dangerous when they attacked from wide positions.

Letcombe visit Highworth reserves on Thursday 28th in the Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup, and have no game on Saturday 30th.