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26 September 2020


THE BluefinSport Challenge Cup Round One

Adderbury Park 5 Letcombe 0 (away view)
After a successful pre-season campaign, Letcombe were brought down to earth by a talented Adderbury Park side who deserved their win. Letcombe`s cause was not helped by two late withdrawals, one on Friday evening and the other after midday on Saturday.

Two long throws from Mitchell Clynes caused early problems for Letcombe, who managed to scramble the ball clear, but Adderbury took the lead after only 8 minutes. Josh Gibbins raced onto a long through ball, held off two challenges, and placed the ball low into the net past keeper Jack North who was making his Letcombe debut. Playing against a strong wind, Letcombe defended well with Sam Mulvey prominent, but the hosts scored a second late in the first half. A low cross from the right was well saved by keeper North, but Gibbins reacted quickest to place the ball into the net from close range.

Adderbury made the game safe with a third goal early in the second half. Sam Mulvey was penalised when the ball struck his arm, and Gibbins completed his hat trick from the resulting penalty. Two quick goals on the hour finished the match as a contest, Lewis Travers scoring from 12 yards before substiture Lewis Winkworth added a fifth. It could have been worse for Letcombe as Adderbury were awarded a second penalty when Sam Mulvey appeared to win the ball cleanly, but Gibbins hit the post from the spot.

Letcombe continued to battle, and skipper Josh Fowler forced an excellent save from home keeper Jordan Reynolds before Harry Green also had a goalbound shot tipped round the post.

Manager Garry Cook has much to ponder before Letcombe`s league campaign opens next Saturday at home to Wallingford reserves. This was a disappointing result after some good pre-season performances, but hopefully they will give a better display when there are points at stake. One such performance does not make them a poor side, but there is room for improvement.

 

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Premier Division

Ardley United 2 Virginia Water 0 (away view)

Virginia Water got what we deserved from this fixture – absolutely NOTHING!

From the time we arrived, everything seemed lethargic, and sadly we took all that on to the pitch for much of the game. In a much changed side, the home team won every battle, second ball, physicality, and were it not for an excellent performance by Matt in goal, this could have been so much worse!

Needless to say, we once again had a number of chances of our own, two cleared off the line, etc., but this should not detract from an out of character, poor defensive display.
As they say, we draw a line under this one, and move on to the forthcoming local derby with Windsor on Tuesday, where a reaction will no doubt be in evidence.

Credit to Ardley, and with their new signings, in particular at striker, have no doubt they will now climb the table.

Flackwell Heath 2 Tuffley Rovers 1
The Heathens started the game the brighter of the two teams with some early pressure, Howell finding himself some room on the edge of the box and curling just wide of the top right corner in the first minute. 
Half chances came and went for the Reds whilst the away side struggled to find their feet, luckily for Tuffley Rovers the Heathens just weren’t clinical enough. 

That said the breakthrough came after only 11 minutes when Burrell found himself in space down their left wing, his in swinging cross flashed over the head of Thomas, missed the Tuffley keeper and bounced up perfectly for Gray to nod in to an empty net un-challenged. 11’ - 1-0. More chances followed for Flackwell but once again the clinical finishes weren’t to hand. Meanwhile Tuffley Rovers were limited to the odd counter attack which never really troubled the Red defences. On the half hour mark Baines received the ball on the right and immediately lofted a cross in to the back post, Howell was waiting there and with a free header he looked odds on to score. His header however skimmed the cross bar resulting in a goal kick and the score remaining 1-0. As the half wore on Tuffley started to get in to the game but neither side had any meaningful chances before the break. 

The second half started much the same as the first with the home side controlling most of the possession, Tuffley looked more comfortable on the ball but Watkins never looked troubled. 

Just before the hour mark Pryor burst ranks and went on a driving run with the ball in to the Tuffley area, with the defenders hesitating and no meaningful tackle coming in, Pryor was able to get a half shot away which was subsequently deflected out for a corner.  The resulting corner was whipped in but the ball found its way skimming off a yellow head and landing at the feet of Burrell, with time to spare the midfielder set himself and simply caressed the ball in to the left hand side of the goal. 60’ - 2-0. 

The next 20 minutes was relatively uneventful with a handful of chances for both sides mainly consisting of shots from range.  In the 82nd minute the Tuffley No.1 played a long ball upfield, the Red defence dithered and Tuffley’s No.10 Birkett gathered the ball, rounding Watkins he slid the ball goal wards, Mansfield slid in to make a last ditch clearance off the line. It wasn’t enough and on the linesmans say so the goal was given. 82’ - 2-1.  With the wind in their sails Tuffley started to mount a comeback but the storm was weathered by Flackwell who never really looked troubled. 

An entertaining game that could have had many more goals, 3 points on the board and a healthY league position when all said and done. Great start to the campaign with three wins in three and momentum building. 

Flackwell Heath: 1. Watkins 2. Ushiro-Lumb 3. Pryor 4. Burrell 5. Mansfield 6. Ceesay 7. Baines (c) 8. Gray 9. Thomas 10. Howell 11. Hathaway 
Substitutes: 12. Touray 14. Phillips 15. A-Thompson 16. Simmo 17. O’Sullivan 

Flackwell Heath 2 Tuffley Rovers 1 (away view)
Tuffley Rovers dismal start to their 2020/21 season continued when they visited Flackwell Heath on Saturday afternoon and although a late Henry Birkett goal – the first Richard Cox’s side had scored in their four league games - offered some hope, it was another afternoon when a victory had seemed unlikely almost from the earliest moments in the game. By contrast, the three points awarded to the hosts took them to the summit of the Premier Division table. Following the previous week’s disappointing exit from the Buildbase FA Vase, Cox made four changes to his starting line-up, with Miles Ferguson, Toby Lawrence, Rudi McKinnon and James Sunley all included from the outset. Rovers’ most experienced player, Warren Mann, was absent however, due to an injury picked up the previous week.

The hosts were immediately on the front foot and Cameron Gray’s shot, within the opening three minutes, went incredibly close to Luke Merchant’s goal, but whistled narrowly wide with the Rovers keeper beaten. Merchant, making his fiftieth competitive appearance for the club, was collecting the ball from the back of the net ten minutes later and he had to take responsibility for his side falling behind, as he misjudged James Burrell’s cross, allowing Gray a simple chance to head the ball into an empty net from close range.
The hosts were applying constant pressure and Rovers skipper, Macaulay Herbert, then had to make an excellent headed clearance, under pressure, to keep his side in the game, before a wicked cross from Josh Baines left the visiting defence at sixes-and-sevens, only for Ashley Howell to head wide and over, with the goal at his mercy.

It wasn’t until the 30-minute mark that Rovers mustered their first effort on goal, with Birkett’s long range effort, with Flackwell keeper Aaron Watkins way off his line, audacious but misdirected and drifting wide of the goal. Herbert then made two sensational defensive blocks to deny The Heathens and Rovers held out until the interval so that they, somewhat fortuitously, trailed by the narrowest of margins.

The second period started with both sides huffing and puffing, without testing the opposition keeper, but with the hosts having the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, with Rovers picking up a couple of cautions as they sought to keep the deficit to a single goal, including one card for Lawrence, just short of the hour, a consequence of a challenge that saw him both cautioned and collecting an injury that ended his game, as he limped off to be replaced by Jacob Geddes. After his earlier error, Merchant was now looking an assured presence in the Rovers goal and he combined with Herbert to deny Phil Pryor, whose surging run from deep caused problems, but the respite proved temporary as, from the next phase of play, Burrell was given a chance to plant a low, well-struck shot into the bottom corner of the Rovers net on 62 minutes. Cox then made a double-substitution, as Antoine Thompson and McKinnon were withdrawn, to be replaced by Brett James and Joe Shutt after 65 minutes.

The changes seemed to prompt an improvement in Rovers’ game but they were grateful, once again, for some excellent defensive work from the substitute, Geddes, who made a terrific block to keep out Sodike Anyadike-Thompson’s powerfully struck effort. Merchant then made another great stop, this time to deny Khalid Simmo, before the Flackwell Heath man ballooned another effort over the Rovers bar. With seven minutes remaining, Merchant launched a clearance that caused problems for the home defence, as James challenged for the ball, and Birkett showed composure to take the ball around Watkins and roll it into the goal, although a deflection off a covering defender slowed the shot and James Mansfield’s desperate clearance looked as though it might have kept the ball out, before the Assistant Referee, who was well placed, signalled for the goal. Merchant then had time to make another good stop, whilst his teammates pushed hard to try and find a way back into the game, but Watkins went untroubled in The Heathens goal and the game ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.

Division One East

Wokingham & Emmbrook 2 Thame Rangers 0 (Report by Arthur Strand)
The visitors to Lowther Road last Saturday were Thame Rangers, the second string of Thame United. Winning this game has put the Suma's top of the table after 3 games but it is too early to make any predictions yet. Suma's began tentatively and soon had a chance with a header which was an easy save for Mick Rundle who was stretched in the next approach. Joe Cummuskey, defending, was forced to concede a corner kick to Thame which floated in for Sean Woodward to claim the ball.. After Thame took a free Kick, Suma's defended until clearing the ball which fell kindle for a continuation of possession and with some slick passing along the right wing which culminated in a cross into the centre for Jake White to lob the ball smartly over the top of the approaching Rundle, who had left his line, and ending up in the back of the net with only 12 minutes gone. Suma's were in an advantageous position as long as they kept up the momentum. Jake White ran across parallel to the goal line but his effort found the side netting. Calvin Evans reached Suma's area and took a shot towards the far post which deflected for a corner kick to Thame. Suma's cleared the ball out of defence but it returned within seconds and the defenders were required to clear it again. Jake White passed the ball on to Jack Mullan keeping the ball in the Thame half. Thame then cleared the ball very high but Sean Woodward was able to catch it and return it to the Thame end. Calvin Evans and Finlay Murray combined to clear the ball for the visitors but a well placed ball gave Luke Scope a good chase. In the 34th minute Jake White managed to put Suma's further ahead from the spot. There was the occurrence of a disallowed goal but only the referee can explain the situation. As Thame recovered from the pressurised quick fire attacks, they received a free kick within range of goal and a large wall of Suma's confronted Calvin Evans who delivered a low shot straight at the legs of the wall and Suma's were relieved. As the clock ticked towards half time there was a double incident where a Thame player had his arm across his chest when the ball hit it then bounced up and hit a Wokingham player, Nick Bateman, on his outstretched arm. Free kick to Thame because the former was unavoidable and the latter was enlarging the body area which is a more recent explanation of differentiating the ambiguity. At the end of the half, George Weller rose up high to head the ball towards the Suma's’ goal but Woodward was able to deal with it and provide a break away from defence for Suma's.

Starting the second half, Suma's had a two nil cushion which had to be maintained but Thame hoped to play catch up especially when Liam Boushay’s effort had to be saved and cleared by Woodward. Thame Rangers took a free kick and their forwards were pressing and were close and then close again and Suma's cleared the ball away. However, off-side broke the approach. A free kick then put Woodward back into action with one of his trademark claims. Luke Scope who is a very creative and industrious attacker, worked his way forward and a possibility for a strike was met with a poor clearance from the Thame defence which gave Suma's a chance at scoring a third goal. Substitutes were made by both sides. However, Rundle made a great save. Suma's took possession again with a strong approach into the Thame half although the push through was too wide for Scope to reach. Woodward made another useful save after which Suma's had a free kick from the edge of their own area. As time ran out Suma's were passing well but then the final whistle blew to mark the end of the match. Job done and Suma's’ 3 points put them on the top of Division 1 East.

Wokingham & Emmbrook: (GK), O’Connell, Day, Guest, L. Eagle, (c), Cummuskey, Mullen, Byrne, Scope, White, N. Batemean.
Substitutes: Badshah, C. Eagle, Clark. Rowland [not used].

Division One West

Clanfield 1 Wellington 0
Clanfield obtained their first home league win of the season and climbed to fifth in the table as a result of beating Wellington 1-0. The all important goal came at the end of the first half when a cross from Zak Oliver was intercepted by a Wellington defender, but only into the path of Connor Tinsley who scored from close range. 

With a good team spirit, an excellent youth policy and improving attendances things are beginning to look promising for Clanfield who the previous week had progressed in the F A Vase as a result of ending their barren run of results against Tuffley Rovers. 

Early on Clanfield's Alfie Saunders tried an ambitious lob that was not too far off target, while at the other end it was the turn of Paul Jones to come close. Cameron Pirie who like substitute Kyle Chester was the son of a former Clanfield player got on the end of a free kick but could not quite get his effort on target, while Zak Oliver had an effort saved at the expense of a corner. However at the other end Jones was always a threat and Luke Griffiths came close after being set up him. 

However the first half looked like being goalless until Tinsley's opening goal. After the interval Wellington pressed more and Luke Haley in the Clanfield goal was more active in the se7cond half than he had been in the first and substitute Luke Winter came close to levelling the scores. 

However Clanfield were winning a lot of 50-50 balls and were always a threat with plenty of pace up front with Jack Bellenger making a significant contribution to this aspect of the game when he came on and on a few occasions this resulted in a shot that was only fractionally off target. Connor Tinsley made one excellent run evading several challenges, but could not quite produce the final product. Nevertheless it was a welcome hard earned win for Clanfield in game in which was never a classic. 

Malvern Town 3 Hereford Lads Clubs 2
Malvern Town emerged from a pulsating local derby against Hereford Lads Clubs with a 3-2 win. Some neat early football saw Joe Bates denied in the third minute as the ‘keeper tipped over well before Matt Turner saw an effort land just over in the next raid. A couple of the opposition players were spoken to by the referee for robust challenges and from one of the free-kicks that resulted, we hit the woodwork as the ball found its way through the area.

However, it wasn’t long until the deadlock was broken when some pacy wing play from Harry Clark saw him cross for Matt Turner who made no mistake with nine minutes on the clock. As we continued to threaten, a corner was not properly cleared as Clark powerfully fired just over. The visitors’ first sight of goal came as Jamie Cuthbertson saw a deft header from a corner creep wide of the target. A foul out wide on Bates gave us a free-kick in a promising position which was delivered invitingly by Sam Hunt for Bates who went close, whilst at the other end, Cowley saw a header fly just over.

The wind was playing its part in proceedings as a corner from Hunt caused problems as Bell managed to get a fist on the ball under pressure. A teasing free-kick from Mark Hibbard was well watched by Keiron Blackburn who made a good claim under pressure as the visitors looked for a way back into the game. We were awarded a free-kick of our own shortly afterwards and whilst Louis Loader’s effort was on target, it was comfortably gathered by Bell. A marauding run out wide by Hunt saw his delivery half-cleared after it deflected off Turner as Bates’ low drive was deflected just wide.

Our advantage was doubled with just under ten minutes to go until the break when a delicious ball whipped in by Harry Wickett was guided home by the head of Clark. In the wake of the goal, Turner went close, then great feet from Bates saw him make room for a strike that he curled just over. On the stroke of half-time, a good ball from Jay Sauntson to set Turner away out wide and his cross headed inches wide by Clark.

A header from Levi Ellis was off target and then Blackburn saved well as the visitors looked to make an impact at the start of the second half. Despite our opponents having the edge in the early exchanges of the second half, we had the best chance when Clark’s low ball into the area found Bates who was narrowly wide. We were made to pay for the miss when we conceded a goal as Cuthbertson found space inside the area to guide home. With 64 minutes on the clock, the scores were level when Ellis broke the offside trap before firing home.

Some better play ended with Clark’s cross bravely gathered by Bell as Nathan Chowns Higgs looked to capitalise, then George Hayes was denied by a block from the ‘keeper. With the game finely in the balance, Ellis went close with a low drive then Cowley was inches wide. On 84 minutes we found ourselves back in front as Clark twisted and turned before tucking the ball home. In the closing stages, Sam Plane went close for the visitors whilst a break from Chowns Higgs saw the visitors forced to scramble clear. At the death, Blackburn did well with a reflex save from a header following a corner then in stoppage time, the visitors hit the woodwork from a corner and as the ball was scrambled clear, a breakaway saw Bell forced to clear well out of his goal. It was end-to-end stuff as this pulsating local derby ended in a 3-2 win.

Malvern Town: Blackburn, Smith, Hunt (Hayes 66), Bullock (J. Febery 85), J. Sauntson, Billingham, Loader, Wickett, Turner, Bates (Chowns Higgs 66), Clark. Subs not used: A. Sauntson, Fusco.

BOOKING(S): Billingham, Hunt

Stonehouse Town 3 Moreton Rangers 2 
Stonehouse Town playing their first Home game of the season at Oldends Lane, virtually won the game in the first 20 minutes. Chris Earle latched onto a great through ball from Alex Kibble and out paced the Moreton defence to fire past keeper Jack Curzons after 11mins. He repeated the feat again 4 minutes later this time after a great run and pass by Tim Williams.

4 minutes later a fluid piece of play from Stonehouse produced the third goal this time from Alex Kibble who after crossing from the right hit the cross bar, the ball 
falling to Tom Palmer who played the ball back into the box for Kibble to smash home from near the penalty spot.Doug Wallace picked up a yellow card for Moreton after 20mins but went on to plant a powerful header past Will Pedrick after 40 minutes to claw a goal back for Moreton.

The second half was a tight a fare with Moreton looking dangerous on the break. Ryan Thwaite collected a yellow card on 75 minutes but still produced a man of the match performance for the Magpies. Moments later Tim Williams produced a long range shot which just went over, and 5 minutes later a great header from Lee Keveren was briliantly saved and pushed over by Curzons. Stonehouse with the wind at their backs continued to push foward but the 4th goal would not come. Joe Jarvis was next cautioned for Moreton after a foul on Tom Palmer. With time running out Moreton produced a great run out of their defence with the ball being played across goal for center half Harry Smith to score Moretons second goal. All in all a good performance from the Magpies who after collecting the 3 points look foward to next week with a visit to Newent Town. 


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