April 17 2017
Oxford City Nomads 2 Ascot United 0 (away view)
Ascot United lost 2-0 at Oxford City Nomads as the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division fixture program drew to a close on Easter Monday. The home side scored twice in the first half and hit the woodwork three times, although Ascot could and should have registered something for their second half endeavours.
There was nothing at stake between Ascot and Oxford – guaranteed to finish 15th and 16th respectively – but both sides sought to add their combined tally of just 13 victories from 66 matches played. Oxford had lost their last five matches – all at their Marston home – but their voodoo would be ended on what was a dustbowl of a playing surface.
Ascot had threatened first when James Brazier failed to steer his volley on target after Ryan Cooper’s far post header from Tom Wensley’s deep corner had picked him out. At the other end, Nomads served warning when Billy Gillett’s rising drive crashed back off the crossbar, but they were ahead 30 seconds later when Dean Gallacher swept home a 25th minute opener. Hill saved smartly with his feet from Gillett after the striker had waltzed through a hesitant Ascot defence, but Nomads doubled their lead in the 36th minute when the same player lobbed Hill to punish Brazier's poor attempted headed clearance from Daniel West’s long ball.There was still time for the home side to strike a post before half time, but the visitors limited further damage in the first period.
An injury to Luke Wilson forced Ascot into a half time substitution, although it was the unlikely figure of replacement ‘keeper Tim Amoui who entered the fray; regular custodian Matt Hill moving outfield. This signalled an improved spell for the visitors, for whom James Goodey should have headed home Ian Brooks’ cross on 55’, Dan Davies failed to convert from a tight angle moments later, and Goodey saw a free kick clawed away by ‘keeper Jack Wells.
Incredibly, the hosts struck the woodwork for a third time when Jorov Ngathe’s vicious drive crashed back off the near post on 63’, but Ascot saw two golden lifelines missed as time ebbed away. Firstly, Goodey scuffed his shot on the turn - making Wells’ save an easy one - before Josh Dillon inexplicably sliced wide when he should have hit the target.
Ascot’s youthful energy helped them maintain their second half dominance, but they were frustrated once again when Brooks headed straight at Wells after Hill had dug out a fine 80th minute cross. However, the home side preserved their two-goal advantage – a winning margin matched by Tuffley Rovers against Highmoor IBIS in the day’s only other league fixture – and the Yellamen now have three months to recover, regroup and plan for a return to their former glories.
Tuffley Rovers 3 Highmoor Ibis1
Tuffley Rovers completed their 2016/17 Hellenic League, Premier Division campaign with a solid 3-1 victory over a depleted Highmoor Ibis side, with a clinical first-half display that saw them secure 50 points for the season, just twelve months after narrowly avoiding relegation.
With a Supplementary Cup semi-final scheduled for Thursday evening, and with Ibis’ visit their third game in five days, Rovers’ manager, Mark Pritchett, took the opportunity to rest several players. Neither Pritchett or Jack Overthrow were included in the squad, whilst Warren Mann was also rested. Keeper and team captain, Dave Evans, was also omitted, giving a second appearance for seventeen-year-old Kane Winman in goal. In Evans’ absence, Tristan Haswell was named as captain for the first time.
In their previous win, a 3-2 victory over Burnham on Saturday, Rovers had started the game well and they repeated that feat, as they scored twice in the first twelve minutes. First, Liam Wright’s precision cross was met by a towering leap and powerful header by Shayne Anson, which Ibis keeper Omari Edwards was unable to keep out, after 9 minutes. Just three minutes later, Harry Walker, who has been in good form since converting to an attacking role, raced onto a clearance, before showing excellent composure and burying the ball beyond Edwards and into the far corner of the net.
Despite the scoreline, the game was by no means a one-sided affair and Highmoor Ibis were busy in attack and competitive in midfield, with Joe Grant and Ibe Bangura particularly prominent, although they were struggling to create chances, with Winman untroubled in goal. The visitors finally did manage to create a clear opportunity, on 18 minutes, and pulled themselves back into the game. As Rovers struggled to clear their lines, the ball spun out wide to Alfie Grant and when he hooked the ball back across goal, it fell invitingly for namesake Joe, who was left with a fairly routine chance to fire the ball past Winman, amidst a crowd of players.
Rovers seemed to be sparked back into life by the goal and Ryan Dobbins, who has been in impressive form since returning to the squad last Thursday, jinked past several challenges, before delivering a wonderful cross to Jamie Goodwin, who produced a downward diving header that Edwards did well to block.
Chalfont Wasps 1 AFC Aldermaston 0
The congested end of season fixtures continued as Wasps entertaining AFC Aldermaston on the Easter Bank Holiday Monday. Wasps won the reverse fixture 2-0 away in early April.
Wasps started well. A Michael Green header went narrowly wide, Mickey Benning forced a great save and Chris MacDonald’s header from the resultant corner was cleared off the line in the first 5 minutes. Then Alex Cairns and Kieran Webb combined, Webb’s rocket sailed just over the cross bar. Tom Fifield made it 1-0 with a super strike on the angle with 15 minutes on the clock. Webb was then smothered out, a Benning lob from distance was gathered by the keeper and his header from a Webb cross was just off target. Wasps continued to be dominant but real chances became less frequent, and at only 1-0 the match was still very much alive.
Benning struck the upright soon after the interval but Aldermaston began to threaten soon thereafter. Wasps defended soundly enough to keep the visitors at bay. The match became scrappy. Barry Rake then Ryan Sweales came on for the Stingers. Aldermaston applied some sustained pressure for five minutes, Wasps again stood firm but could not make the ball stick up top. Nevertheless, Wasps once again overcame their opponents to bag all three points to move above them into 6th place.
Headington Amateurs 2 Penn & Tylers Green 1
Despite a difficult surface these teams’ put on a show worthy of first & third in Uhlsport One East, a Carl Bloomfield double securing the points for Headington.
With Penn & Tylers looking to clinch a title that is all but mathematically theirs & Headington seeking to end an excellent league season with a win, this game did not disappoint a decent crowd. Attacking intent from both sides coupled with solid defence kept the result on a knife edge until the final whistle. The visitors had the boost of an early lead when Danny Jordan’s fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area was parried by Harry Jenkins but spun agonisingly over the line. Headington struck back within a minute, just eight on the clock, Jay Hill found Yannick Nkwanyuo free on the right wing & his cross behind the Penn back line was swept in at the far post by Bloomfield. Penn’s Fred Tripp got a shot on target after twenty minutes, Jenkins saving with reasonable comfort, before Nkwanyuo’s header from Paul Alders free kick hit an upright & bounced to safety. Luke Cuff got clear of Penn’s defence in a breakaway attack but his shot lacked the power to trouble Josh Cockerill before Penn’s Joey Fox looked to be through on goal, foiled by the covering Callum Bloomfield. In the last minutes before half time there were chances at both ends, a Luke Cuff snap shot comfortably held by Cockerill & Casey Bocarro’s effort pushed round by Jenkins. From the resulting corner kick Penn’s Dean Munday headed wide before the last action of the half saw another Paul Alder free kick elude everyone in the Penn penalty area.
Headington took a fifty first minute lead courtesy of a stunning effort from Carl Bloomfield. Receiving from Luke Cuff after a clearance from Jenkins Bloomfield rifled home from twenty five yards, the ball finding the top corner despite Cockerill getting fingertips to it. Minutes later Benji Cuff sent a header straight at Cockerill before Penn forced a corner kick, Jonny Roberts clearing well. Penn ramped up the pressure as they sought the equaliser but Headington were defending with discipline in both defence & mid-field & were always dangerous themselves in possession. Luke Cuff set up Nkwanyuo who was foiled by Alex Sethi whilst Tripp’s effort for Penn was too high. In the closing stages Jenkins made a fine reflex save at close range from Adam Harman & a last minute corner kick for Penn was headed over by Munday. The evenings honours to Headington then, but it was still congratulations to Penn & Tylers Green who will be crowned champions on Wednesday night unless Woodley Town win by twenty nine goals!
Shrivenham 2 Fairford Town 5 (away view)
Town rounded off the 2016/17 Division One West season with a comprehensive derby day win at Shrivenham.
The visitors had to do things the hard way, having had goalkeeper Ben Mitchell sent off for handling outside the box in the first half. Winger Jason Milhench stepped in between the sticks and performed admirably as the Cinder Lane side went on to collect all three points.
The deadlock was broken after the interval as great work by Dan Reynolds set up former Shrivenham striker Levi Cox, who squared for Ryan Stanners to score.
The hosts drew level before substitute Josh Morse put the Champions back in front and defender Ben Saunders added a third with a well-taken effort, heading home from a Dan Drewett cross.
Shrivenham then made it 3-2 before Saunders netted his second of the afternoon - his seventh of an impressive campaign for the youngster. Reynolds scored the goal of the game with screamer from distance as the Reds wrapped up a resounding victory to cap a fine season – of course ending as champions and promotion back to the Hellenic Premier Division after a five-year absence.
There is still the matter of the Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup semi-final at Tuffley Rovers on Thursday evening before the GFA Challenge Trophy Final seven days later.