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Hellenic League Match Report

28 September

Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup

Cheltenham Saracens 1 Tuffley Rovers 4 (away view)

Tuffley Rovers advanced to the third round of the Hellenic League’s Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup after a comprehensive 4-1 victory at Cheltenham Saracens on Saturday, despite a much changed line-up as manager Mark Pritchett rotated his squad. There was a first senior start for seventeen-year-old Niall Priday in attack, whilst there were recalls to the starting eleven for Harri John, Lewis Bainbridge and Tyreece Briscoe, whilst Pritchett himself returned, after missing the midweek defeat against Fairford Town.

Despite all those changes, Rovers started brightly although Saracens’ Harlie Price almost capitalised on an uncharacteristic error by Luke Merchant in the Rovers’ goal, but he took evasive action to avoid an attempt to claim the ball, meaning he missed an opportunity to shoot on goal when the keeper failed to make contact. Briscoe, back after a three game absence, was playing a pivotal role in much of Rovers’ attacking play and presented the first chance of note, caressing a fantastic pass diagonally into the path of Jack Beardsell, but the latter’s shot went wide of the hosts’ goal, without troubling the Saracens’ keeper, Mark Sadler.

The sides were both showing attacking intent, with John’s curled effort, just wide of the goal, the closest chance for Rovers and Jed Payton’s header from a corner almost catching Rovers out, only for Isaac Lawrence to force the ball off the goal line, with Merchant beaten. This was a game that needed a goal and 32 minutes in Beardsell produced a moment of magic – and not for the first time this season – as he created space, after an excellent move involving Briscoe and John, before unleashing a 30 yard effort that dipped and swerved, before going beyond the statuesque Sadler and just under the bar, to make it 1-0.
Having fallen behind, the hosts were then dealt a further blow, as key-man Jamie Hammond was forced off by a back injury and replaced by Jordan Bryan, who was returning from injury himself. The substitute had the next chance of note, forcing Merchant into a regulation save, as Saracens tried to work their way back into the tie. Their task was made all the more difficult, almost on the stroke of half-time, with Beardsell playing an influential role, once again. His corner kick was well measured and Pritchett out jumped former Rovers man Ben Tunnicliffe to head home from 7 yards out. The Rovers manager had scored his third goal in his last three appearances, to give his side a half-time advantage that left them well positioned to win the tie and progress further in the competition.

From the moment the second period began, Saracens showed a renewed determination to force their way back into the game and thought they had reduced the arrears, ten minutes into the half, when Price netted, from Adam Loveridge’s cross, but the Assistant had already flagged for offside and the goal was ruled out.

That proved to be a warning Rovers heeded and they extended their lead just sixty seconds later, with Jake Rhodes, returned to a unfamiliar centre-midfield role he had excelled in against Ardley United two weeks earlier, picking up the ball 20 yards out and firing an unstoppable shot beyond Sadler and into the top corner. Priday and shown good industry on his first start and might have been rewarded with a goal, but after he produced a composed finish to beat Sadler his joy was short lived, with the youngster adjudged to have fouled his marker in the build-up to the goal. He wasn’t to be the scorer a few minutes later, but did play a vital role in the fourth goal of the afternoon, as his impudent flick caught the Saracens defence flat and set Beardsell away, before he produced a measured cross into the path of Rhodes, who slid in to despatch the ball beyond Sadler, after 72 minutes.

That goal had all but sealed Rovers’ place in the next round of the competition, but the hosts were not to be denied a consolation goal and John Evans’ cross into the Rovers area was comfortably tucked home by Price on 81 minutes. Rhodes might have completed a much deserved hat-trick, but Sadler produced a wonder save to push his effort away from goal, when it looked destined for the top corner, and he had another chance in the closing moments but shot wide, with the Saracens’ keeper untroubled. In between, Merchant made a good save to keep out Loveridge’s free-kick, whilst Sadler recovered well – after initially fumbling a cross from Beardsell – to prevent Rovers’ substitute Jerry Idowu from adding to the score. There was to be no further scoring, though, and Rovers progressed to the next round of the competition, having shown glimpses of the young squad’s potential in their emphatic victory over a side who had beaten them in a pre-season encounter just two months earlier.

Westfields 4  Malvern Town 4 (Westfields win 8-7 on penalties)

Westfields and visitors Malvern Town served up a cup classic on Saturday when they met in the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup Second Round tie at allpay.park and Westfields came back on 3 occasions from being behind to force a 4-4 draw in normal time and then won a breath-taking penalty shoot-out 8-7 as the brilliantly taken penalties by both teams went to sudden death. 

Earlier the game swung in Malvern’s favour on a number of occasions after the visitors had taken a 22nd minute lead when Matt Turner tapped home a left wing cross to put Malvern Town ahead and then the same player was on the spot to beat Ian Havard with a low shot into the corner of the net after the quick-thinking Malvern attack had cut through the Westfields defence and Turner dispatched the shot into the bottom corner. 

With Malvern leading 2-0 at the break the Westfields management team quickly reassembled the side and brought in Sam Plane at left back in place of Sam Rawlings and within 20 minutes of the re-start Sam Plane had pulled Westfields back into the game with a left foot shot which looped over the Malvern keeper into the far corner of the net. 

However, Malvern soon restored their 2 goal advantage when Harry Clark scored a fine solo goal to put Malvern back 3-1 ahead before Westfields’ new boy Cameron Peters got on the end of a left wing cross to tuck away his first goal for Westfields to cut the deficit in Malvern’s favour to 3-2.  

Westfields then introduced the other 2 substitutes available, Richard Greaves and Aidan Thomas, and these 2 had an immediate impact when Greaves pulled the sides level at 3 apiece in the 80th minute.  However, 3 minutes later in this ding-dong end-to-end battle former Westfields fullback Phil Harris raced through the Westfields defence and fired in a superb long-range effort into the top corner of the net to give Malvern a 4-3 lead and what looked like a passage into the next round of the cup. 

However, with the minutes ticking away Westfields drew level in the 89th minute when Greaves got free down the right flank, put over a perfect cross and Aidan Thomas raced in at the far post to slide the ball home to force a penalty shoot-out with the scores at 4-4. 

Westfields and Malvern then went toe-to-toe with the penalties with both sides dispatching their allotted 5 penalties each to go into a sudden-death play-off.  The penalty taking was superb by both sides until Malvern striker George Hayes saw his shot saved low by Ian Havard which left Paul Hurrell with the task of seizing the opportunity to end the sudden death and he dispatched the ball superbly to give Westfields an 8-7 win on penalties. 

This was a pulsating cup tie especially as Malvern had a number of former Westfields players in their side including James Febery, Jay Saunston, Phil Harris, Ben Miller, George Hayes, Sam Hunt and of course Dean Whittal-Williams who is the Malvern Town manager. This was a classic cup tie and it was Westfields now that go forward to the next round on 19th October. 

Next Saturday Westfields are at home again in the uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division when they host Brackley Saints at allpay.park, kick-off 3pm.

Wokingham & Emmbrook 1 Risborough Rangers 1 (Rangers win on penalties)
Arthur Strand Independent Report

The visitors to Lowther Road last Saturday were Hellenic newcomers, Risborough Rangers, currently top of the same division as Wokingham & Emmbrook. From the kick off, Sumas' quickly reached the opponents penalty area but the cross to Jake White but it was just out of reach and Jack Booker, Rangers keeper, sent the ball up to Sumas' area. Luke Scope was beaten to the next ball that came his way but soon became the industrious attacker for which he is noted. Jake White tried to find another forward to latch on but a goal kick ensued. White then received the ball from the wing and sent the ball through to Scope who could not latch on to the ball. Sumas' mounted a fresh attack on the Rangers defence but the defenders managed to cear the ball upfield. This brought Sean Woodward into the game twice; the first time clearing the ball and on its return claiming it in the air. After Connor Holland was beaten to a loose ball, Woodward took charge of the ball for a third time. A ricochet from a shot landed with Woodward. After a free kick to Sumas', Rangers made a break with the ball crossing into the area but Woodward was there to collect and clear the ball. The combination of Scope and White occurred again as Scope nodded the ball down from a clearance kick off the bounce and gave chase with load of space. The direct cross into the box reached White who lashed the ball way over the top of Brooker's framework. Rangers had a free kick but Justin Gordon was first to the ball Davis Haule and Josh Harris fond themselves in a tangle but play resumed and Brown was back into action with a good tackle, Connor Holland was down injured but continued to play after treatment. His opposite number, Sam Pekin, was ready to make an attempt on goal but Sumas' pressured him out of the finish. Pekin then made an effort to bypass Woodward at the far post but the ball took a path on the outside of the upright. Rangers missed again from a free kick that missed everybody in the path of the ball. Ben Hammond to another free kick for Rangers but Woodward plucked the high, incoming ball out of the air. Two more free kicks saw Rangers get nowhere. Sumas' then had 2 free kicks the second of which by White, was cleared up the wing by Rangers as far as Woodward. Scope chased the ball across the Rangers area when, after a commendable run by White, the ball was slotted home by Josh Harris.in the 37th minute. One nil not long before the break and Tom Gibbons was back in action in an attempt to create a chance to equalise befoer half time.by making a good interception in the penalty area but Woodward prevented that at his end. Holland went on a good run upfield and Scope and White linked again as Will Day pushed up and sent the ball onto White; high and no second goal. Time was running out as Rangers were urgently trying to find the goal to finish the half on level terms but Hammond could not make that happen. After Will Day was injured, play continued although Pekin missed again.
Gordon went forward again and Woodward took the ball at the far post to start the second session but Sumas' countered and Brooker was able to claim the the ball. Further upfield, Gordon pushed the ball over to Kyle Faulkner who lost possession and the ball was cleared. Rangers countered and, from a corner, their forwards were battling strongly with Sumas'' defenders until a good block. Adam Edwards was down injured then Dan Carter saw the ball out of play which prevented a cross into the Sumas' area. Woodward prevented the next attack with a well-timed claim from an incoming high ball. Gordon sent in a high ball which Woodward also dealt with before Risborough took a corner.which bobbled into Woodward's hands. The ball, having been taken to the opposite end, and Sumas' conceding a free kick for off-side, returned to Sumas' after the free kick and Scope chased hard for the loose ball but Brooker arrived first. Woodward took a free kick which was nodded back to Brooker. Gordon then watched as the ball curled over the crossbar. Substitutes replaced players and a Sumas' push upfield saw the ball bounce and Brooker, head the ball over the top of the approaching forward. However, Woodward was beaten when the equaliser around the 80th minute by Brian Haule. However time ran out with a couple of chances going astray and it was 1 - 1 at Full time. With no Extra Time being played, penalties ensued, Risborough took the spoils winning 3-4 on penalties.

Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup

Chippenham Town Dev 2 Faringdon Town 6 (away view)

Town made the same journey as last weekend to Beversbrook Sports, against the same opposition but in the 1st Round of the Supplementary Cup this week.  Town had to make seven changes from the league victory last time out over Chippenham Town Development, which gave an opportunity to players who have been on the fringes and Reserves. 

The home side started the game on the front foot, with their passing game and Town were having to stay solid and disciplined. Both sides had early efforts on goal, most notably Matt Wood headed against the crossbar, but neither keeper was tested and the opening 30 minutes was more of the same, with loads of Chippy pressure and Town trying to counter. On 32 minutes the deadlock was broken, Town were in the ascendancy but lost the ball cheaply and the quick transition by the home side saw them cut through Town and ball was slid home for the opener. Shortly after and it was 2-0. Town played a short goal kick and an attempted pass from Andy Goodchild to his centre back partner Wood was played straight to the home striker, who made no mistake from close range. The teams made their way to the changing rooms and the home side would appear to have been celebrating their first win of the season, from the noise and commotion coming from inside. 

The Town management laid down some steps to move the game forward as we had nothing to lose in this cup competition and the next goal was critical. Luckily for Town, having started on the front foot, they scored the next goal as Matty Pill played a great diagonal ball to the on rushing Adam Sly from the left back position, he cut inside his opponent before sliding the ball past the advancing keeper for 2-1. Five minutes later and Sly almost equalised as his effort just cleared the crossbar. Town brought on Josh Forth to centre half, with Goodchild joining Robbie Harrington upfront to apply pressure to the home back line. Almost immediately Town were level as a free kick awarded 25 yards from goal was struck by Harrington and despite the keepers efforts he failed to keep it out. Town were not totally in control and the young Chippy side were now struggling to put two passes together as Town shut them down at every opportunity. Town did take the lead on 64 minutes as Goodchild was fouled on the edge of the home penalty area. Harrington again strode forward and put the ball in the opposite corner of the goal to his first, leaving the keeper stranded on his line. Soon after and it was 4-2, Sly now in a more advanced position stole the ball off the fullback, played in Goodchild and his left foot shot was too much for the keeper as the ball rolled underneath his dive. With 15 minutes remaining it was wave after wave of Town pressure, with Sly and Goodchild linking up again for Town's fifth as Goody placed the ball past the advancing home number 1. With the game coming to an end, Goodchild thought he had grabbed his hattrick as he coolly lobbed the keeper after stealing the ball from the centre half, however the referee and home linesman had other ideas and a free kick was awarded for an alleged foul, much to most people's amazement. However that was not the end of the scoring as Sly capped off a great second half performance for him and the team when he latched onto the ball on the halfway line, seeing the keeper off his line, he hit a great effort which the man in grey could only palm onto the goal as he back pedalled from the edge of his area for a 6-2 victory and Town are in the draw for the second round of a cup competition for the first time in many seasons. 

Town manager Chris Benson was pleased with the reaction from the lads after the first half performance. Two wins in a row for the squad and with forthcoming fixtures being favourable, it's hoped we can put a run together going into the coming weeks. 

Faringdon Town: C Guinness-Smith, D Harrington, A Sly, A Rudman(c), M Wood, A Goodchild, W Brigado (55 J Forth), M Pill, R Harrington, O Baker (70 K Muhid) A Lynham

uhlsport football kitUhlsport Hellenic League Division One East

Marlow United 5 Abingdon Town 0 

Marlow demolished a youthful Abingdon Town side with a clinical display at the Alfred Davis Ground propelling themselves into second spot in the process. United took the field resplendent in their new kit, a return to the more traditional sky blue colours, sponsored by Reliance Auto Test of Marlow. 

They also welcomed back Josh Fox, Felix Prudden , and Ollie Flint to the first team squad with the former slotting into the left back position as the game commenced. 

Marlow were out of the blocks quicker than Christian Coleman on ped’s, forcing an early corner before Liam Bushay tripped his way into the penalty area only place the ball over the bar plus stand when it appeared the opening goal was his for the taking.  Marlow continued to dominate proceedings as they tightened the screw on a desperate Abingdon defence, corners and free kicks raining down on the beleaguered men in yellow and green. 

The hosts were reminded there were two teams on the pitch as Abingdon broke quickly on the quarter hour, Woodbridge losing a challenge on the edge of the area only for the ball to be blazed over from the subsequent cross. 
The pressure had to tell eventually though and it was Bushay who became the provider on 17 minutes , collecting the ball on the right of the Town area he left three defenders in his wake with his pinpoint cross finding the head of Captain Chris Hurst who made no mistake from around the penalty spot.  Corners, crosses and chances came and went as United looked to increase their lead, Hardie notably clipping the bar following a Thomas corner before the inevitable second goal arrived on 35 minutes , a passing move ending with a Bushay ball finding Hurst who notched his and Marlow’s second with a crisp finish. 

Bushay was booked shortly after, an event that would come back to haunt him in the second period.  Hurst saw an effort ruled out for off side but it only delayed the third for a couple of minutes as Alfie Lucas collected a Bushay cross and guided the ball past a now desperate Chowdhary-Cooke in the Abingdon goal. 

United were forced to replace a limping Ramel Sutherland as the second half commenced, Felix Prudden making a welcome return to action and he was soon in the thick of it, collecting Hardie’s cross field ball and picking out Hurst who steered his shot pass the Town defenders for his hat trick.  At this stage it appeared United might run away with the game, Fox marauding down the left flank leaving players in his wake causing mayhem at times. 

Bushay foolishly got involved with some pushing and shoving with his marker, both receiving admonishment from the referee once the melee subsided.  It seemed prudent to withdraw the player at this stage, Froggy not being renowned for showing restraint if provoked and sure enough a couple of minutes later, with JC Etienne warming up on the touchline, Froggy reacted to a challenge and out popped a second yellow card and off trudged a dejected Bushay.  Being a man down made little difference to either the outcome or the direction of play as United continued to dictate. 

On the hour they were denied a penalty as Lucas burst down the left, cut inside into the area only to be upended as he looked to shoot.  To the amazement of players, spectators and I suspect the referee the assistant had raised his flag indicating the ball had gone out of play. It had not, where was the VAR! 

Ollie Flint and Eteinne replaced Hurst and Lucas on 70 minutes and within 4 minutes JC converted a cross by Fox from the left, scoring from close range for number five.  Thomas, Flint, Etienne and Hardie with yet another off side goal all had efforts before the game concluded, United convincing winners and moving into second spot in the league. 

Next up a visit to Summerleaze on Tuesday verses Langley FC followed by a visit to Winslow in the B&B Trophy next Starday. 

Marlow United: Partridge, Waldron, Fox, Mckie, Woodbridge, Hardie, Sutherland, Thomas, Bushay, Hurst, Lucas Subs. Prudden, O Flint, JC Etienne. 

Two West

Letcombe 3 F C Swindon Robins 0
(game abandoned after 68 minutes)

With 10 players missing because of work, injury and holidays, including all 3 goalkeepers, left back Christy Whelehan deputised in goal, and Letcombe started with three 16 year olds, Alex Harrison, Aidan Ormrod and Callum Hendry, the latter two making their first starts in Hellenic football. The average age was increased by the inclusion of “old timer” Jason Brizell.

Letcombe chose to play with the wind behind them and dominated the opening exchanges. They took the lead after only 8 minutes when a right wing cross from Luke Polding was only partially cleared to the edge of the box, where Josh Fowler drove a left foot shot into the top corner. He should have increased the lead soon afterwards, but shot wide with only the keeper to beat, and Polding missed another great chance at the far post. The visitors headed narrowly wide in a rare attack, and Fowler hit the post when clear as half time approached. Letcombe increased their lead in the final minute of the half, Alex Harrison tapping in at the back post after a chipped cross from Fowler.

Letcombe added a third six minutes into the second half when Fowler latched onto a long ball, evaded two challenges, and slipped the ball past keeper Jonathan Walters. Whelehan dealt confidently with the visitors first shot on goal, a long range effort from 25 yards, before the game ended abruptly after 68 minutes. Referee Kevin Norris showed a red card to a member of the Robins technical area, and then abandoned the game when they allegedly refused to give him the offenders name and also refused to leave the technical area when told to do so.

This was a very pleasing Letcombe performance with so many players missing, and it was good to see the three young lads rise to the challenge. Mikey Annetts was commanding at the back, well supported by Jordan Smith and Jason Brizell, with Sam Mulvey and Chris Rivers controlling midfield. Letcombe entertain Wantage Town Development in a league match next Saturday, 5th October.