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5 January 2019

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Brimscombe & Thrupp 3 Ascot United 1 (away view)
Brimscombe and Thrupp came from behind to do the double over Ascot United on Saturday. The Yellamen led courtesy of captain Louis Bouwers, but the industrious hosts bounced back with two world-class strikes to inflict a second 3-1 defeat over Ascot this season.

Playing their first match since top scorer Nathan Minhas’s move to Billericay, the Yellamen welcomed Ryan Debattista into the starting line-up, although it was the home side who were forced to reshuffle early-on after striker Jack Smith hobbled off with barely ten minutes played.

Before that, Bouwers had seen his flick-header from a Chris Ellis throw-in easily saved by Ash Gale inside two minutes as Ascot threatened first, although The Lilywhites looked increasingly dangerous and Dan Hill and Ollie Pitt would both shoot wide.

Josh Jones’ delicious-looking effort swerved comfortably into Lee Allen’s arms as the hosts continued to busy themselves, although Dan Price would signal Ascot’s intent with drop of the shoulder and run that ended with an ultimately poor shot over the bar.

However, Bouwers would give Ascot a 26th minute lead with a powerful header from Jonny Denton’s corner – Geoff Kibaki had earlier won the set-play – although the rest of the half would belong to Brimscombe.

Firstly, substitute Sam Blackie rifled an angled shot high into the side-netting before Pitt’s dangerous cross through the six-yard box was cleared – Ash Caldwell picking him out with a fabulous long-range pass – but they were level four minutes before the break when Blackie poked into an empty net after Horrell had squared from a quickly taken throw-in.

The home side emerged with vigour to dominate the opening stages of the second half and were rewarded after a crushing two-minute spell. Caldwell’s effort was cleared off the line from Pitt’s free-kick, before the ball was recycled and Jake Parrott’s near post cross cannoned back of the upright – although in the ensuing passage of play Pitt unleashed a simply unstoppable left-footed effort from outside the box that curled into the top left with Allen clawing at air.

Allen then did well to get down and save Harrison Reeves’ effort after the tricky winger had wriggled an opening for a shot, before producing a flying save to somehow claw away Kyle Pitts’ header.

The home side were rewarded for their pressure after 81 minutes when Chris Ellis was adjudged to have fouled – despite winning the ball with a tackle on the margins of legality – but Horrell showed no mercy with an exquisite free kick that cannoned in off the angle of the left-hand post and bar.

Ascot’s best chance came from a Laflin first-time shot that Gale did well to claw away – man-of-the-match Kibaki the provider – and Ascot will now look to bounce back in Monday’s local derby at Binfield. .

Ascot United: Allen, Kibaki, Haworth, Denton (Regragui), Bouwers, Ellis, Sankoh, Laflin, Debattista (Lalustani), Price (Sullivan), Kassim. Subs unused: Lock, Carlisle

Fairford Town 1 Ardley United 0
Fairford Town kicked off 2019 with a narrow 1-0 win over Ardley United at Cinder Lane on Saturday 5th January.

Jody Bevan's men made it back to back wins, following the Boxing Day success at Brimscombe & Thrupp. The visit of Ardley offered the Reds the chance to put further distance between themselves and the lower echelons of the division, and after a goalless opening 45 minutes, Bevan rang the changes in the second period. And it was one of the those second half introductions - Ben Lodge - that made the difference. Lodge was on hand to fire home his third goal of the campaign in the last minute to secure the points.

Fairford's win was secured, with thanks to a superb goalkeeping display from goalkeeper Harrison Ellis. The result lifts Fairford into ninth ahead of the midweek cup visit of Henbury.

Fairford Town: Ellis; Watson, Joe Thomas, Hawkins, Saunders; D Bailey (c), Snook (Beardsell '70), James, Thompson (C Bailey '84); Jon Thomas (Lodge '60), Scholes

Tuffley Rovers 3 Holmer Green 3
Buckinghamshire club Holmer Green could be satisfied with the way they had adapted to life in the Hellenic League following their transfer from the Spartan South Midlands League, where they had finished the 2017-18 season in 15th place. Satisfied but with one possible exception; twenty-two of their twenty-seven points had been accrued on home soil leading up to this fixture in Gloucester with seven wins and a draw from fifteen league games. The contrast with their away form was indeed stark. Only five points had been won on the road (a single win and two draws) but only twice had Holmer Green players found the net in ten away games. Having already beaten today’s opponents 2-1 back in September the Rovers players ought to have seen this as a golden opportunity to get a much-needed win and move away from trouble at the bottom of the table. As it was, Rovers earned a valuable point for the second successive Saturday but visitors Holmer Green could also be satisfied with a point, only their sixth on the road this season, as the two teams shared six goals in a most enthralling encounter at Glevum Park. Jack Phillips in for Henry Birkett was the only change from the Tuffley starting eleven at Windsor seven days earlier. This meant that Mark Pritchett would make his 100th appearance for the club’s first team; whilst this would also be Shayne Bradley’s first home league start since April, 2018.

Rovers kicked off down the slope, were on the front foot immediately and the reward was a goal inside the first minute as Kieran Alder made ground on the right before driving the ball across for Bradley to tap in from close range with just 54 seconds on the clock. Eight minutes later Bradley’s free-kick from twenty yards out went over the defensive wall but straight into goalkeeper Aaron Brown’s grateful arms.The visitors were struggling to get a foothold in the game, partly because Rovers’ defensive pairing of Mark Pritchett and Macaulay Herbert were nodding nearly every lofted ball away, although with nearly a quarter of an hour gone came Holmer Green’s first meaningful attack which ended with a left-wing cross being met by Eliot Britton’s head, although he couldn’t direct his effort towards goal.

Then, when Dean Munday was fouled on halfway line, the central defender moved forward into the home penalty-area and after the Tuffley defence had failed to deal swiftly with Curtis Stone’s free-kick it was Munday who had a shot, which Kane Winman held diving away to his right. Alder tried a curling shot from the right which drifted over the crossbar and shortly afterwards the same player’s cross from the right beat the last defender and fell to Bradley but the centre-forward’s shot at goal was blocked. Tyreece Briscoe made a neat diagonal pass to Alder a few moments later but again his shot was off target. As the half-hour mark approached the visitors were awarded a free-kick about twenty yards from goal in a central position. Stone stepped up and chipped the ball over the defensive wall and past Winman’s right-hand side. It was every bit as good a strike as the direct free-kick scored by Wootton Bassett’s Bohane into the same goal in the previous home match.

Losing a lead is something which has happened to Rovers a lot this season but the scores were not level for long. Luke Payne was scythed down by Greg Wright, who was cautioned, and as the floated free-kick came down into the visitors’ penalty-box the referee blew for a push on Phillips and awarded Tuffley a penalty-kick. Bradley grabbed the ball and rolled it calmly past the goalkeeper’s right-hand side with Brown diving the other way. Adam Riley had a great chance to equalise when he took the ball over Winman as the goalkeeper came out but then stumbled and was unable to prod the loose ball over the line. But the teams would return to the dressing-rooms level at the interval because in the final minute of the half Stone’s corner from the left was palmed away by Winman only for Britton to move on to the rebound and lash a fierce shot into the net.

Britton nearly had the first word in the second half too as his ferocious drive from twenty-five yards was acrobatically flicked over his crossbar by Winman at the expense of a corner. That corner was headed wide by Munday but Holmer Green stayed on the offensive and when a cross came in from the left which took out all the defenders Dean Powles was waiting at the far post to send a diving header into the net to put his team ahead for the first time.

Rovers would not be behind for long. As several Tuffley players broke into the opposition half a quick passing move from right to left ended with Alder laying the ball neatly to his left where Bradley was waiting. His instant left-foot shot was on target but much as Shayne might like to claim a hat-trick, it was clear that a firm deflection off defender Munday’s boot had taken the ball past his own goalkeeper.

The only surprise was that this was the final goal of the game, because the match was end-to-end for most of the remaining thirty minutes. Rovers brought on both Warren Mann and Brett James as they tried to find a winning goal and Holmer Green replaced Greg Wright with Gary Lines as they also looked for a winner. James had the ball in the net but the whistle had already gone for a free-kick against Tuffley. James Britnell and Michael Duffy also came on for Green and the former was almost immediately cautioned for a dangerous challenge on Payne.

In the final minute home captain Herbert moved upfield but his header from a left-wing corner was comfortably saved by Brown. Tuffley’s troublesome pitch held up well but the players of both teams should be commended for their positive approach and good discipline when getting something out of the game was so important to them. In the end a draw was probably a fair result.

One East

Milton United 1 Thame Rangers 1 (away view)
In their first game of the New Year Thame Rangers dominated first half possession but failed to capitalize with only one goal to their name and had to settle for a draw as ten man Milton held on to share the points.

Rangers started the game the brighter side of the two and continued to threaten throughout the first half with good combinations and patterns of play. Calvin Evans and Adie Smith were both looking dangerous down the right alongside Miles Baxter and Shannon Jesson down the left. The pace of Patrick Buston up front unsettled the home defence on numerous occasions. The first opportunity fell to Buston but his effort was saved. Rangers forced a number of corners which from one Jordan Davis headed wide and had another cleared off the line after beating the keeper. Jordan Rogers then had an effort that was goal bound only to be blocked by a defender. Buston was then released to open the scoring. Out pacing the home defence and beating the keeper to the ball before calmly placing his effort in the back of the net. Rangers had opportunities to increase their lead through Dan Hatton, Rogers and Baxter but their efforts were saved. Milton’s only efforts in the first half came from range. Three direct fee kicks that all sailed over or wide.

The second half was more even as Milton looked to get back in the game which they did when gifted a free kick that was clearly not a foul after Jesson won a fair tackle on the edge of Rangers Box. The taker hit his effort passed the wall and into the net to equal up the scores. Rangers replied with their own free kick that Evans hit agonisingly just wide. Then came the talking point of the game that saw the home side reduced to ten men. A late horrific career threatening challenge on Dan Bowker, that took his standing leg with all his weight out on it above the knee gave the referee absolutely no choice than to produce red. Fortunately for Rangers another goal keeper was on the bench as Bowker was carried to the changing rooms. Rangers with a man advantage and sensing victory piled on the pressure. A switch in formation and throwing bodies forward created further chances. Rogers had a half volley sail just over when well placed and George Ashworth hit a volley just wide. A cross from Evans on the right failed to connect with Hatton’s out stretched leg and another from Rogers on the left done the same. Milton sat deep and looked to counter and in one such attack had an effort just sail over.  Rangers failed to find the winner but fair play to a spirited Milton who dug deep with ten men to hang on for a draw.

Wallingford Town 0 Didcot Town Development 1 (away view)
Didcot Town picked up all three points against their local rivals in a toughly contested affair. Both teams had first half chances to score however it was the Railwaymen who built up a head of steam before half time with Ross MacDonald robbing a home defender and Liam Vaughan saving his effort on goal. A Harry Hudson cross found its way to Keiran Davies in the box and he shot home from close range for what proved to be the winning goal.

The home teams job was made harder when Euan Aitchison was sent off midway through the second half for a second yellow card offence. Keiran Davies was thwarted by home keeper Liam Vaughan but a hard working Didcot saw the game out to give them their third victory over their near neighbours this season.

One West

Thornbury 0 Easington 1 (away view)
Callum Convey courtesy of Edwin Barson @ebarsonphotosA solitary goal from Callum Convey was enough to snatch all three points on the road during this top of the table clash. Thornbury Town have also had an excellent start to the season and so this was always going to be a tight game. Convey converted a penalty in the 82nd minute to ensure that Sports remain top of the table.

Whilst Easington started the game well and dominated the first 30 minutes, there were few chances to be had for either side. Thornbury were certainly very organised and both teams defended the edge of their boxes given the strikers very little opportunity to have a sight of goal.

Sports’ main threat came down the left hand side and Joe Eyre twice beat his man to thread two delightful balls low across the box which both Callum Convey and Mike Spaull failed to make contact with for tap ins. Thornbury finished the half the stronger side and managed to create the best chance of the match. Craig Lancastle was played through and with just Joe White to beat, he dragged his shot wide of the post.

The second half brought some tactical changes from Sports and manager Ben Milner switched Callum Convey and Craig Robinson to provide the visitors with a physical presence and aerial threat. Defences remained on top and this was the most solid Easington had looked all season working hard right across the pitch to keep things tight. George Coombes and Henry Rose both came on to provide one final push to get the important goal to win the match for Sports and both saw shots well saved by the home keeper. Finally the stalemate was broken in the 82nd minute after a ball into the box was handled by the Thornbury defender. There seemed to be few complaints and Callum Convey stepped up to finish well and to give Easington a much needed win and three points on the road.

Easington currently sit top of the table knowing there will now be a run of more competitive games to follow in the Uhlsport Hellenic League. Sports are home to Newent Town in the Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup next week which does allow those around them to take advantage and to close the gap.

Tytherington Rocks 0 Cheltenham Saracens 10 (away view)
Tytherington have been struggling so far this season, so we were heading there expecting a comfortable win, but knowing how important our goal difference could be towards the end of the season. 
Saracens dominated the match, we started attacking from the off and kept the tempo up for the entirety of the 90 minutes. Ian Sercombe started us off in the third minute when he broke through on goal, but his shot curved just slightly wide.
The sixth minute saw our first goal. Liam Brignull made a great pass through to Kai Mahon, who held on to the ball well despite a flurry of Tytherington tackles, before passing it to Harlie Price who fired the ball right into the top corner of the net. 
Tytherington, who perhaps had grown used to conceding early goals this season, kept their character and tried to put an attack together, but the ball was easily lost back to us. 
The next ten minutes saw a wave of shots on goal from Saracens, with efforts from Loveridge, Barnard and Goodhall, but it was the combination of Adam Loveridge and Ian Sercombe that got us our second goal of the match. Loveridge crossed to Sercombe, who passed it back to Loveridge who scored from close range. 16 minutes gone and we were already 2-0 up. 
Just 4 minutes later, Ian Sercombe finally scored a well deserved goal, after having a beauty ruled out for offside less than a minute previously. 
Tytherington tried to surge forward again, but they just gave away possession too easily, losing the ball from their own free kick. They kept trying, however, and the 29th minute saw a great run from Bailey Croome, but our very own Mike Oliver was on hand to stop him in his tracks and feed the ball back in to Adam Loveridge, who was unmarked in the box and scored his second goal of the match. 
The 31st minute saw us awarded our first corner of the match, but we gave away a cheap free kick for pushing in the box. A determined Saracens side kept applying pressure, even when a series of shots were blocked. The back row of Smith, Barnard and Oliver did a great job of picking up any lost shots and feeding the ball straight back into the box. The hard work paid off and when the ball finally found it’s way to Harlie Price, he tapped it in behind the goalkeeper, cool as a cucumber, to score his second of the match. 
In all fairness, Tytherington’s goalkeeper made some great saves, especially at close range, but his efforts proved futile when Mahon ran with the ball at pace, before passing it into Sercombe in the box. We thought it was a miss when the ball hit the inside of the post, but then hit a Tyherington defender and crossed the line for our 6th goal of the game. 
The last minute of the half saw our keeper Charlee Cook challenged for the first time, but he handled it well and saved the shot easily. 
We headed into the changing rooms at halftime with a 6-0 lead, with a race on to see who could score the first hat trick of the match. 
Even with such an impressive lead, Saracens came out of the dressing room fighting, determined to score more. James Bowers, who’d been impressive in the first half, crossed the ball into the box. Unluckily for Tytherington, it struck Harry Hamlin before crossing the line for our 7th goal. 
The 55th minute saw Tytherington with a renewed vigour, playing a much more attacking style of football than they had previously. Jon Barlow had a shot, but Cook made a great fingertip save. 
Their burst of energy seemed short lived though. The addition of our substitute Gareth Jones put us right back on the attacking foot, and he had a shot narrowly cleared off the line. 
The 60th minute mark saw Harlie Price score arguably Sarras best goal of the season so far, when he struck it on the volley and weighed it perfectly up and over the Tytherington keeper to seal his hat trick. 
He went on to score again in the 66th minute, but it was ruled offside. 3 minutes later and Loveridge had a goal ruled offside too, with shouts of protestation from the Saracens dug out. 
It didn’t matter, though. Loveridge took a shot from distance in the 72nd minute that fired just wide, but he followed it up moments later with a great shot that crossed the line and secured his well deserved hat trick. 
Our final goal of the match came from an 88th minute penalty, duly taken by Adam Loveridge, who sent the keeper the wrong way and fired the ball into the top left corner of the net. 
The final score, our best of the season so far, was 10-0. We always expected a comfortable win, but Tytherington certainly didn’t roll over for us. Their keeper kept out several great shots, and they really had a go in the second half. We saw them play last season (an 11-0 loss) and they’ve definitely improved since then. 
A great result for Sarcens and we’re looking forward to our first home game of the new year, and hopefully continuing the winning way.

 By Jerry Howse and Gemma Howse


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