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Hellenic League Match Report

25 January 2020

uhlsport football kituhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division

Tuffley Rovers 3 Easington Sports 0

Oxfordshire club Easington Sports had been promoted as the champions of Division One (West) in 2018/19 and arrived in Gloucester in the comfortable position of 8th in the Hellenic’s top division. They also arrived with an impressive away record of six wins from ten matches on the road, a total only bettered by the clubs sitting in first and second place, Westfields and Fairford Town. Rovers’ efforts to move up the table had been thwarted by dreadful weather which had seen them play only three league matches in December and just one so far in January. That was a 4-2 defeat at Fairford, where The Clan had won 2-1 in September. It was by no means a foregone conclusion that Tuffley’s longer tenure in the Premier Division would make them favourites for this fixture.

By the end of the game, Easington suffered a second 3-0 defeat of the season to a Gloucester club, having lost by the same score to Longlevens on the opening day back in August. But this was not as comfortable for the hosts as the scoreline might suggest because Tuffley had to work really hard for their second successive home win as well as equalling their biggest margin of victory of the season, since beating Binfield 4-1 in early-October. Rovers’ player-manager Mark Pritchett kept faith with the eleven who had started at Bitton four days earlier, while Easington could call on some of the men who had played in the Wantage Town team which had held Rovers to a draw at Glevum Park just over a year earlier.

Rovers Manager Mark Pritchett in defensive action Image credit Brian Rossiter @BrianRossiter1On a grey, cold but dry afternoon when the floodlights were on right from the start Easington got the game under way and mounted an attack inside the opening minute which was halted by an offside flag. When Tuffley won an early free-kick on the left Ben Prictor’s high ball led to a foul on the visiting goalkeeper, Adam Rimmer. Rovers continued to press and Dominik Kent’s neat pass found Warren Mann but the shot went wide of Rimmer’s left-hand post. At the other end Luke Swann’s deep cross was held by Luke Merchant at full stretch. Joe Shutt was busy on the right-hand side making life difficult for the visiting defenders and he forced a couple of corners but nothing came of them. Then Sports broke but from Thomas Smith’s cross Ryan Markham shot wildly high and wide. Markham was the pick of the Easington players throughout the match and worked hard in midfield to try to create chances for team-mates who were further forward.

Sports’ captain Joe Eyre shot over from a good position, then Kent set up Lewis Bainbridge whose low effort was held by Morgan down by his near post. Good, quick passing between Mann and Shutt nearly led to an opportunity for Kent but the ball ran away from him and out of play for a corner. With nearly half an hour played Rovers’ Sam Hill was caught by a wild challenge from Ashley Johnson and the Easington forward received a yellow card from referee Mitchell Terry.

Rovers were having more of the play without being able to make a breakthrough. The visitors had struggled to put any dangerous moves together until Markham fed Jack Dunmall but Johnson’s shot was again off target and he seemed to receive an injury in the process and had to receive treatment as he lay prone in the home penalty-area. Neither goalkeeper had been called on to make a really significant save but two minutes before half-time Rovers took the lead. Shutt’s cross from the right ought to have been comfortably caught (or punched to safety) by Rimmer but he dropped the ball leaving Mann with the simple task of driving it back past him into an empty net.

When the second half started, danger man Shutt had moved over to the left but he eventually moved back to the other side where he had had plenty of joy before the interval. After Sam Hill needed treatment on the pitch Shutt’s foul on Swann led to a decent chance for Jack Dunmall but he fired the ball wide of Merchant’s left-hand post. Shutt then intercepted a crossfield pass and made ground before being tripped by Josh Rose, who joined Johnson in the referee’s book. The ball from the free-kick fell to Kent but his shot was saved by Rimmer. Easington won a free-kick on the left which saw Lewis Bainbridge cautioned for the infringement. As the ball came over Hill went down injured again and he trotted off to be replaced by Isaac Lawrence. Sports brought on Jack Fountain for Johnson a minute later and a minute after that Rovers doubled their lead. An enormous clearance by Rimmer was returned with interest by Mark Pritchett leaving Lewis Bainbridge running clear on goal with no defender close enough to challenge him. As the goalkeeper advanced he chose to head the ball rather than striking it with his foot and the ball looped gently over Rimmer and dropped inside the far post.

With the match now in its final quarter Jake Rhodes came on for Bainbridge and Liam Wright for Warren Mann. Sports responded by putting on Ben Coleman for Joey Cowlishaw. Coleman had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes when he was cautioned for tripping Ben Prictor, who had made a strong run down the left to the edge of Sports’ penalty-area. Wright took the kick which was half-cleared but the ball rolled out to Kent and he struck a crisp shot through a crowd of players and into the far corner of the net to make it 3-0, with eight minutes remaining.
Both teams now knew that the result was no longer in doubt. Markham continued to work hard trying to create something but Tuffley’s defenders worked just as hard with both Pritchett and Macauley Herbert comfortably heading away anything that looked like causing a problem for the goalkeeper behind them. Easington remain in 8th position but Tuffley have moved up to 14th place ahead of Royal Wooton Bassett Town, who were beaten 3-1 at Brimscombe & Thrupp.

Westfields 2 Shrivenham 0

Westfields completed an uhlsport Hellenic League double when they beat visiting Shrivenham 2-0 at allpay.park on Saturday. This followed on from the 3-2 away win that Westfields had secured at Shrivenham earlier in the season.

Westfields had to work hard for their 3 points on a heavy surface but they had a match-winner in youngster King Baidoo who scored a goal in each half to secure the 3 points for Westfields. Westfields gave a full league debut to goalkeeper Steven Sarkodie and the Hartpury College student excelled in between the sticks for Westfields with a number of important saves throughout the game.

However, it was his fellow Hartpury College student King Baidoo who took the eye with a devastating display, non-stop running and the youngster could easily have snatched a hat-trick. Baidoo was only inches away in the opening stages of the game when a near-post header flashed wide of the upright with the Shrivenham keeper beaten. However, in the 35th minute Westfields took the lead when from a right-wing cross Baidoo got onto the end of the cross and put in a firm header which gave Westfields the lead. Shrivenham were dangerous on the break and twice Sarkodie did well to keep the visitors’ attack at bay.

However, after the break Westfields increased their lead with a tremendous goal when, from a right-wing cross, Sarkodie darted in between the Shrivenham defence to head home powerfully at the far post. Westfields built on their 2 goal lead and substitute Aidan Thomas had a good opportunity to have increased the lead as did his fellow substitute Richard Greaves who both had shots blocked by the visitors’ keeper. It looked then odds-on that King Baidoo would gain his hat-trick when he burst through the Shrivenham defence but the visiting keeper saved brilliantly with his legs.

Westfields worked hard for their 3 points which maintains their lead at the top of the Hellenic League Premier Division in readiness for Tuesday night’s away game at Tuffley Rovers and then on Saturday they return to allpay.park when Easington Sports are the visitors at 3pm.

One East

Didcot Town Development 0 Risborough Rangers 5 (away view)

An experienced and in form Risborough Rangers took the field at the Loop Meadow Stadium to face a youthful Didcot Town Development team in this uhlsport Hellenic League Division One East fixture which, on paper looked likely to be a awkward encounter for the league leaders. With Didcot sitting mid table and boasting a decent home record this was a potential banana skin in Rangers' quest for the title. They needn't have worried though as they ran out comfortable winners in a five nil victory. The scoreline could have been greater but for the woodwork with Rangers hitting the frame three times. Despite this, the young Didcot side never gave up, playing some neat and attractive football on a difficult surface and the Rangers back four had to work hard for their 14th clean sheet this season.

Rangers began brightly and were one up after six minutes after Josh Urquart expertly nodded down a cross from the left and Brian Haule swept home. Four minutes later and they doubled their lead. Josh Fox's free kick was headed back across goal by Joel Read for Haule to stab home his second of the match and 26th of the season. Soon after, midfielder Ben Hammond's goal-bound strike was deflected away as Rangers turned the screw. The sticky pitch did not suit the purist but the visitors still managed to carve out chances with Adam Morris going close following a good move started by Read. 18 minutes in and Rangers made it three. Davis Haule's clever header set Kyle Faulkner away down the right and his pinpoint cross found Marcus Wyllie lurking at the back post. Wyllie made no mistake with a smart finish. Didcot rallied and played some nice possession football but with the Rangers defence in their usual mean mood, few chances came their way. As the half entered the final third Brian Haule appealed for a penalty which was rightly waved away by the referee Mr. Paul Herbert, who had an excellent game. With six minutes to the break Brian Haule's header set up Morris whose powerful shot was brilliantly tipped onto the bar. Bertie Squire-Adams joined in soon after, shooting just wide after being set up by Morris. Didcot enjoyed a short spell with the impressive Bradley Walton going on a mazy run before shooting straight at Jack Brooker in the Rangers goal. Shortly after Brooker punched away a dangerous corner and was glad to see the follow up shot go just wide. With a minute until half time Hammond's superb pass found Wyllie who rifled a shot against the bar from 15 yards. Moments later Wyllie scored a super goal to send the visitors in four nil up. Cutting in from the left he glided past several challenges before striking his shot from the edge of the box into the far corner, leaving the Didcot keeper stranded.

If the 30 plus travelling Rangers supporters were expecting a goal-fest in the second period they were very much mistaken as a resilient Didcot worked hard to contain Rangers who continued to pin them in their half for long periods. A combination of inspired defending, brave goalkeeping, some poor finishing and the crossbar again, restricted the visitors to a single goal in the final minute. In the opening minutes Hammond blazed high, wide and not so handsome when well placed. Read joined in, heading Hammond's free kick wide from a good position. Brian Haule was next when he headed another Hammond free kick just wide before Faulkner set Wyllie away with a lovely cross field pass. However, Wyllie could only shoot tamely at the keeper. All this in the first ten minutes; somewhere in between Didcot had a shot from 25 yards that sailed well over the Rangers bar. Urquart was on target shortly after with a good header from another Hammond free kick, this time well saved by the Didcot custodian. 65 minutes in and a good move involving Faulkner and Wyllie saw the industrious Davis Haule set up Sam Pekun for an angled shot, which was again well saved. Yet another superb Hammond free kick was met by the forehead of a leaping Faulkner, who rattled the bar with a thumping header with the goal at his mercy. As the game entered the final twenty minutes Pekun had the ball in the Didcot net after intercepting a goal-kick, but he had strayed into the area first and the goal was correctly ruled out. Rangers continued to dominate with Faulkner shooting straight at the keeper and then combining with Morris before hitting the side netting. Walton again caused problems for Rangers with another driving run and a thumping effort that just cleared the bar. Pekun was tormenting the Didcot left back with some great wing play, setting up Faulkner in the six yard box, a despairing block denying the striker. With five minutes to go Fox surged up the left before delivering a low cross, just evading the sliding boots of Faulkner and Wyllie. Another Rangers move ended with Wyllie's close range shot somehow cleared off the line with the keeper well beaten. Wyllie got his revenge and his hat-trick in the final minute, and if his second goal was good, this was even better. Picking the ball up in the left wing position he cut inside his marker before seemingly ghosting past three more challenges and with all the composure in the world slotted the ball past the advancing keeper into the bottom far corner. It was an excellently crafted run and finish from the talented teenager and worthy of rounding off a very strong performance from the league leaders.

Next Saturday Rangers face Penn & Tylers Green at home in the league, eager to reverse the defeat at Penn in the County Cup earlier this season. With both sides in good form at the moment it looks likely to be a highly competitive game.

Rangers MOM: Marcus Wyllie. All three finishes were top drawer with the second and third worthy of goal of the season. Does this young man realise just how good he could be?

Marlow United 4 Thame Rangers 0

It was a much changed United team, fielding three debutants, who handed a youthful Thame Rangers a four goal defeat ending their poor run of results in the process You have to go back to November 19th to find United’s last victory so long had been their run of poor form and the relief was palpable amongst both the team and management at the conclusion of the game.

Manager James Pritchard faced with the prospect of losing eleven of his squad through injuries, suspensions, holidays and retirements used his extensive contacts to make several signings over the past two weeks. Four of those signings figured prominently in the victory over Thame with youngster Zayd Ait-Fahim scoring a sensational goal, Kamal Mcewan determined not to be outdone scoring four minutes later. Eighteen year old central defender Jack Corden displayed a maturity beyond his years with experienced Ryan Parsons, signed from Windsor, solving the left back problems. It was though leading scorer Chris Hurst with a brace who eventually stole the limelight, opening the scoring in the fifth minute with a crisp shot from a Danny Jordon through ball before finishing off a three man move involving Danny Blatchford and Kamal Mcewan on sixty one minutes to settle any doubts about the outcome.

In between those goals the ninety five in attendance witnessed a remarkable goal from seventeen year old Ait-Fahim on nineteen minutes. The youngster had already showcased his close control and dribbling skills as he took the ball past his marker on the Marlow left touchline. Running on he looked up before firing a twenty five yard angled shot over stranded keeper Archie Davis, the ball dipping under the bar at the last minute to nestle in the back of the net.

The crowd barely had time to savour that effort before Kamal Mcewan added number two. Receiving the ball on the right edge of the Thame area and surrounded by defenders the debutant tripped his way through the defence like a Strictly professional before guiding the ball into the net. At three nil with twenty three minutes played Marlow were in complete control of proceedings with the visitors rarely troubling the United defence, the central midfield of Flint and Blatchford pretty much in control of proceedings and half time arrived with no further score.

Thame commenced the second period in a more determined fashion knowing they needed an early strike if they were to get back in contention. They won an early corner and certainly had more possession in those first fifteen minutes only for United to strangle any hopes they had of a comeback with a fourth goal on sixty one minutes. Blatchford broke from midfield and played a pass too Mcewan, he in turn threaded a through ball to the predatory Hurst who took the ball to the edge of the six yard box, slotting a shot past past a diving Davis.

With the comfort of a four goal lead Marlow bought on Charlie Flint and Alfie Lucas for Ollie Flint and Danny Jordon with twenty minutes to play, Vinnie Cuva arriving five minutes later, Ait-Fahim receiving an ovation from the United supporters as he left the field. Marlow keeper Matt Cannings made a double save to preserve a clean sheet being called into action from a corner soon after as Thame looked for a consolation. The game ran its course with Cuva embarking on a mazy run that ended with a shot missing the target late on before the final whistle saw smiles all round from the Marlow camp.

Marlow United: Cannings, Holland, Mckie, Corden, Parsons, Blatchford, O Flint, Jordon, Hurst (c) Ait-Fahim, McEwan Subs. Lucas, C Flint, Cuva.

Wokingham & Emmbrook 3 Long Crendon 1(report by Arthur Strand)
Long Crendon, in mid-table, visited Lowther Road last Saturday in the Hellenic League Division 1 East. The hosts have worked the way up to the top four since Christmas and New Year with games in hand although Risborough look set to finish top. moments after the kick off Long Crendon took a free kick from outside the area and this , being conveniently aerial, was taken by Sean Woodward, Sumas' Keeper who was under pressure as Harry Pettingfell took aim but Woodward saved with his legs and Long Crendon took a corner kick. There was no outcome and Luke Scope collected the ball and made an effort to get through the defence but the ball ended up in the other half. Marcus Guest was forced to concede a corner and Nathan Brownsword's shot rebounded and the ball went out for a goal kick. The next foray saw the ball with Ben Taunton but Sumas took a free kick which Taunton dealt with. The visitors countered but were deemed offside and Wokingham pushed up-field with players around the penalty area. Luke Scope was directly in front of goal and pushed the ball across for an unmarked man to try a shot which never reached the net. Attacking once more, Long Crendon gained a corner, this kick arrived for James Hawkes to score from in front of framework, the first goal of the game in the 12th minute. Often an early goal either lands that team in a dominating role for the duration of the game or it sparks the opposition into action. Sumas mounted an attack and the pass going towards a striker was intercepted by an alert visitor. The counter attack which was repelled and Nick Bateman closed in on goal but the shot went to the wrong side of the upright. Sumas then returned as Dan Carter went on one of his trade mark long runs, forcing a corner. It was Long Crendon's turn to hit back and from that attack Sean Woodward made a crucial save. Sumas made another effort and the ball by-passed the far post. In the 28th minute, Josh Harris, moving in from an angle sent a shot beyond Taunton to level the scores with 33 Minutes played. No more goals in the first half although Long Crendon missed an effort which screwed low and wide.
Returning from the break, Sumas lost possession of the ball as it went out of play and needed to defend but they took a free kick as eyes followed the ball rise over the top of the crossbar. Two separate substitutions for the visitors James Shrimpton for Oli Lethbridge, 54’ and Joe Russell for Ben Sykes,75’ took place in the second half.. Long Crendon missed another chance with a weak effort and Sumas played a brief but uplifting spell culminating with Nick Bateman finishing as Sumas stretched the lead in the 75th minute. Elliott Rushforth replaced Josh Harris and a rare handball gave Sumas a free kick which saw the ball hit the right hand upright, bounce upwards hit the crossbar centrally then downwards hit the other upright then scrabbling about in the 6 yard box, the defenders managed to clear the ball away from goal. Chris Byrne managed to reach the aerial ball but his header went to Ben Taunton. Attempting to reduce the arrears with little time left, Long Crendon approached Sumas area and created an opportunity to score from a corner set-piece of hope but the ball was headed out over the crossbar at the far post. A free kick was a very good delivery but, again, the ball sailed over the bar. Sumas were compelled to complete the end-game with some tough defending and Woodward .making a crucial save once again. A 3 - 1 win to Sumas and 3 points - now 4th in Division 1 East. Next week, the 1st team is at home to Langley.

One West

Malvern Town 7 Bourton Rovers 1

Malvern Town chalked up another emphatic victory but we had to come from behind to beat Bourton Rovers 7-1. The visitors defied their lowly position in the table by taking the lead against the run of play as Jake Oakey found the net.

We remained patient and got back on level terms through Matt Turner on 36 minutes before Dave Reynolds put us in front right on the stroke of half-time. Within seconds of the restart, we were able to extend our lead through Kyonn Evans before he grabbed his second goal of the game on 53 minutes.

Harry Wickett got in on the scoring act with our fifth goal as we continued to ask all the questions. Late on both Reynolds and Turner added their second goals of the game to make it 7-1 and give the 240 crowd plenty to cheer about.

Malvern Town : Dibble, Smith, Hunt, Harris (J. Sauntson 75), Wickett (Skidmore 82), Turner, Hayes (Fusco 77), Loader, Evans, Reynolds, Clark. Subs not used: Emblem, Craven GOAL(S): Turner (2), Reynolds (2), Evans (2), Wickett.

Two West

Faringdon Town 3 Fairford Town Reserves 0 

Another home fixture for Faringdon this weekend, with Fairford Town Reserves the visitors to Tucker Park in this latest uhlsport Hellenic League Division Two West fixture. 

In the opening stages, both sides made attempts on goal. It was Town first with 17 year old Sam Saunders who was making his full Town debut, overlapping Jack Green on the left and his ball across the goal evaded the Town frontline. From the goal kick, Fairford attacking the Playground End, saw a looping effort just miss the target. Fairford gained momentum and over the next 15 minutes had three attempts on goal, but none of them troubled Town keeper Connor Guinness-Smith. The breakthrough happened on 27 minutes when Saunders on the edge of the Fairford penalty area, hit a well struck left foot shot, taking a slight deflection, which was enough to lift the ball over the diving keeper, 1-0 Town. Saunders wasn’t finished there though! Four minutes later and Town doubled their lead when a cross from the right, found its way to Saunders 25 yards from goal and on the volley, he hit the sweetest of left foot strikes to give the keeper no chance. Welcome to Faringdon Town, Sam Saunders! As the half came to a close, Fairford did push Town back and had a shout for a penalty, but it was not to be and the correct decision from the match official. 

Town started the second half brightly and Saunders had the first shot on goal of the half, as he hit a thunderous strike on the left, which was well saved by the Fairford keeper, but Ash Piotrowski was offside trying to put in the rebound. The visitors continued to probe and push for a way back into the game, but the Town squad stood firm and on the hour, the game was put to bed. A great ball from ‘rotund’ right back Adam Rudman, found the diagonal run of left winger Sean Creeley. With the keeper coming to meet the ball out of his area, Creeley lofted the ball high and into the net to spark celebrations from the Town players, bench and supporters. Town introduced their three substitutes to give fresh impetus and Creeley could have made it four, had the keeper not made a fine save with his feet. Guinness-Smith managed to pull off a late save and was also brave towards the end of the game, putting his body on the line, when feet were flying. 

Overall, this was probably Town’s most complete 90 minutes of the season. The introduction of new signings has given the squad a good depth and we move onto next weekend trip to Kintbury Rangers, hoping to keep the momentum going. 

Faringdon Town : C Guinness-Smith, A Rudman, A Sly, J Vaughan (sub 63 W Bazen), J Forth(c), L Davenport (sub 74 M Morris), M Pill, J Green (sub 59 A Lynham), A Piotrowski, S Creeley

Shrivenham Development 4 Letcombe 0 (away view)

Letcombe welcomed back Fraser Little and Jordan Smith, but were missing the injured Luke Mulvey, and they decided to change their usual formation to play 3-5-2.

Shrivenham won the toss and elected to play with the slope in their favour. The first quarter saw defences on top and neither side created any clear chances, although Shrivenham had more of the possession. The hosts took the lead mid-way through the half when a poor back-pass was intercepted, and although Letcombe twice blocked shots on the line, Bradley Hirst eventually slid the ball into the net. Letcombe had a great chance to equalise four minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for handball, but home keeper Justin Yates did well to save Josh Fowler`s fiercely hit spot kick. Shrivenham increased their lead after 35 minutes with another preventable goal. Letcombe keeper Danny Joyce spread himself to block a shot, and Luke Saunders was quickest to react as the ball appeared to be going out for a corner. He stopped the ball on the line, and then flicked the ball home from close range to give Shrivenham a deserved two goal lead.

Letcombe came out with a more determined approach at the start of the second half, and Ali Thorp and Josh Fowler both went close. It looked a matter of time before Letcombe reduced the arrears, but Shrivenham broke away to increase their lead with a deflected shot from Luke Saunders. Letcombe continued to have most of the play, but the Shrivenham defence blocked a number of shots with last ditch tackles, with Alfie Griggs always prominent at its heart. Fowler shot inches wide, James Wright hit the bar, and two headers went narrowly over the bar as Letcombe pressed forward, but it was not to be their day, and Dylan Boulton added a fourth for Shrivenham after a flowing counter-attack with 8 minutes remaining.

Letcombe were left to reflect on what might have been. They gave two sloppy goals away in the first half, and failed to turn their second half possession into goals, although the ball did not run kindly for them. Congratulations to the young Shrivenham team who deserved their win on the day for their all action display. Letcombe will need to show the same work rate and commitment when they entertain Highworth reserves in a top of the table clash next Saturday, 1st February.