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uhlsport football kit30 March

Premier Division

Brackley Town Saints  2 Fairford Town 1
This was a game that was all about getting the job done and Saints did just that with a deserved victory which keeps them in third place in this intriguing run in to the end of the season. In fairness it was a fairly regulation victory, with a couple of hairy moments but on the whole Saints were in control.  In his programme notes manager Gordon Kille talked of how many teams over the season have targeted the Saints midfield, and particularly James Watts, with overzealous tackling and appealed for more protection from the referee. Within 60 seconds of the kick off Watts was taken out by a poor challenge, followed a few minutes later by knee high challenge on James Hammond. 

Fairford were certainly up for the battle, and in the first 10 minutes they dominated possession and had Saints pressed back in their own half. Even so Saints gradually eased themselves into the driving seat and there were encouraging signs when good interplay led to chances for James Watts and then Charlie Kille whose excellent touch in the box led to a good pull back that was desperately cleared by the Fairford defence.  Fairford were very much in the game and hit the bar on 29 minutes when a long goal kick was headed on and skilfully hooked goal wards by Dan Bailey with Ali Worby beaten. 

Saints were roused and on 32 minutes a sweet move involving Kille and Ryan Knight saw the latter clip the ball into the far post where George Ball rose high to head downwards and past the keeper into the corner of the net. 

Fairford had a good chance on 36 minutes to square matters when a slip at the back let in Dan Gudger one on one with Worby who saved with his feet. Saints replied with Worby distributing quickly to Harry Brock who fed infield to Watts who played an inch perfect pass to Ball out on the right. Ball cut inside and hit a shot which was tipped over the bar by Ben Mitchell in the Fairford goal. From the resulting corner James Watts swung the ball in at speed and despite a deflection off of the defender Kille was able to bundle the ball over the line to double the Saints advantage. Saints nearly added a third in first half stoppage time when Hammond broke skilfully into the box on the right and from the by-line crossed back to Ryan Knight whose shot was hooked off the line. 

No changes at half time and Saints would be looking for the third goal which would seal the game. However on 48 minutes a misplaced defensive header led to Danny Gudger nipping in behind and accurately shooting past Worby to reduce the arrears. Strangely rather than pressing Saints and pushing for an equaliser Fairford seemed content to sit deep and look to break quickly when the opportunity presented itself. Saints were content to knock the ball around, and there followed 20 minutes or so where Saints dominated possession. Fairford did create a couple of moments of panic in the Saints defence not least of all when Curtis Green and Ali Worby hesitated on the edge of the Saints box. Gudger nipped between them and there were loud shouts for a penalty as Worby and Gudger collided. Unlike earlier in the week this time the referee found in Saints favour and gave them the free kick. Not long after Fairford’s Ben Lodge found some space behind Harry Brock but his shot was pulled the wrong side of the post. 

As Fairford began to tire Saints began to find space and create opportunities. On 82 minutes Hammond had a skilful run which was not matched by the shot which was high and wide. A minute later Saints broke rapidly and Hammond showed great pace and squared for Knight whose shot was desperately cleared off the goal line for the second time. 

On 90 minutes Worby was forced to tip over the bar and from the resulting corner Saints were able to break at speed leading to Ball playing in Hammond who twisted and turned before shooting. The shot was deflected which almost fooled the keeper but he was able to adjust and stop the ball on the line. That was the final action of the game. This was a solid performance, and most of all it got the job done. The games continue to come thick and fast with an away match on Tuesday evening against Windsor. More of the same required…..Come on you Saints.  

Tuffley Rovers 2 Binfield 1
Saturday’s meeting at Glevum Park saw an absorbing contest between two teams who had met in Berkshire only two weeks earlier, with Rovers twice equalising in the first half on that occasion, before conceding two more goals in the second half and recording their ninth away defeat of the league season. This would be Tuffley’s forty-second match of the season and they had only failed to score in five of them, whilst they had netted in all thirteen of their matches since New Year. Binfield finished in 7th place in 2017-18 and arrived in Gloucester in 8th position having already picked up away wins in March at Flackwell Heath and Fairford Town, as well as earning a point from their trip to Surrey to play Virginia Water. Over a hundred goals had been scored in Binfield’s thirty-two league fixtures so far so there was every hope that this would be an entertaining match with plenty of goalmouth action to make up for the disappointment of the postponement in December due to a waterlogged pitch.

Rovers came from behind to avenge their defeat at Binfield two weeks earlier and in doing so moved six points clear of the bottom three clubs, one of whom (Abingdon United) can no longer get above them because they only have two league matches left to play and they have a massively inferior goal difference. The home team’s performance was typical of so many since the turn of the year in that they battled hard collectively as a unit to pick up priceless points on an afternoon when the entertainment generally failed to match the glorious weather, although the second half was a distinct improvement on a rather grim first forty-five minutes. Binfield’s form earlier in March - 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat - suggested that they would be a tough team to beat; and they were. Captain James Knight was at the heart of most of what they did well at Glevum Park but even his leadership and experience could not prevent his team slipping to their 7th away defeat of the league season and dropping one position in the league table, as a result.

The visitors got the match started and inside the opening minute attacked down the right in a move which ended when Knight shot over the home crossbar. But it wasn’t long before there was a shot at the other end. Rovers were awarded a free-kick in a central position twenty-five yards out. Tyreece Briscoe ran over the ball before Kieran Alder’s shot drifted just wide of Lee Wyatt’s right-hand post. Rovers had another good opportunity when Macaulay Herbert sent Adam Bloomfield away on the right but the forward could only shoot over from a good position. Midfield became very congested and several free-kicks were awarded, none of which led to anything dangerous at either end. When Will Dawes was fouled on the edge of the Binfield penalty-area it was Alder’s turn to pretend to take the free-kick which was actually taken by Mark Pritchett, whose shot was blocked. Josh Howell had a cross from the right which was comfortably caught by Luke Merchant then the same Binfield player had a shot which was saved low down by Tuffley’s goalkeeper.

With five minutes of the first half remaining Bloomfield was chopped down by Knight and had to be treated on the pitch before continuing. Then out of nowhere the visitors took the lead. The influential Knight combined with Carlo Santoro down the left, before Ian Davies was tripped by a rash challenge from Pritchett, and the award of a penalty-kick was as inevitable as it was accurate. Merchant went left as Josh Howell carefully stroked the ball into the other corner.

The Rovers of August and September might not have recovered from this setback. But the Rovers of 2019 is a different animal altogether and started the second half in a positive mood with an early shot from Brett James going narrowly over the Binfield goal. Howell was continuing to see plenty of the ball on the right-hand side and one of many accurate crosses from that side was headed towards goal by Davies but Merchant made the catch. Bloomfield had been a willing runner for an hour but was often having to drop deep to try and get the ball. So it wasn’t a big surprise when he was replaced by Warren Mann, who only took five minutes to make a significant impact. Tyreece Briscoe’s clipped cross from the right was deflected by Alder’s head against Wyatt’s right-hand post and as the ball ran loose Will Dawes was pulled down to bring the second spot-kick of the match. With four successful penalty-kicks behind him this season, including one at Binfield a fortnight earlier, Mann’s kick was parried by Wyatt diving to his left but the Rovers forward followed up to drive the rebound into the other corner of the goal.

Ten minutes after the equaliser Briscoe fed Alder whose shot flew narrowly over the Binfield crossbar. Wyatt landed heavily or maybe he was suffering the effects of cramp but whatever the reason he was unable to continue and defender Gary Smith took over in goal with Josh O’Connor coming on to replace the departing goalkeeper. Whatever the reason, Wyatt and Smith together wouldn’t have stopped what happened next. Briscoe and Alder were again involved before the latter’s shot was blocked. The ball rolled out towards Will Dawes and he hit a thunderbolt with his right foot which screamed past the replacement goalkeeper into the roof of the net. It was a goal worthy of winning any match; and it won this one.

Tuffley used up valuable seconds by bringing on a late substitute, the experienced Paul Carter, for the always hard-working Alder but Binfield had nothing left in the tank other than a wild shot from full-back Charlie Tuttle which flew both high and wide. The final whistle was greeted exuberantly by the home team and its supporters. Thirteen league matches since 2018 became 2019 have brought 5 wins and 5 draws, twenty points which have all but secured their Premier Division status. It has been a remarkable transformation from the first thirteen matches of the season which had gathered only ten points, at which point the club could only have dreamed about finishing the season as strongly as it has.

One East

Woodley United  1  Holyport  1 
United’s last home game of the season ended all square in what was the fourth meeting between the two teams this season excluding the abandoned December 2018 away league fixture. 

The opening five minutes saw both teams have goal scoring opportunities with the visitors’ keeper Jake Quelch using his feet to deflect Freddie Barron’s shot for a corner while Harrison Cliff headed over the home cross bar while unmarked. United survived a scare when a defensive mix up saw a cross narrowly bounce in front of goal and out of play before Fabian Driffill opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute with a strike from twenty five yards. Ben Clark fired over while a Max Laschok cross narrowly evaded the oncoming Chase Jewell.  

Tom Bryant denied Driffill his second when diving to concede a corner after twenty six minutes which was the first of a number of successive corners in quick time as Woodley struggling to clear the ball. Adam Barnard cleared Driffill’s shot of the goal line in the thirty fourth minute after the forward had rounded Bryant. Woodley’s offence was limited with Pablo Fernandez firing wide and Clark seeing a shot cleared for a corner and were thankful to Bryant who having parried Chris Defanco’s free kick in stoppage time denied Driffill with the follow up as the match entered first half stoppage time. 

The second half saw United start in positive manner with Barron dangerous on the right flank and Harry Hawkins working hard in midfield and being positive with his forward passing. It was fitting that Barron levelled the score on fifty nine minutes when good play by Laschok found Fernandez who in turn put Barron through to evade a challenge and shoot pass Quelch. 

This was followed by Fernandez firing a free kick straight at Quelch and Laschok failing to score when facing Quelch who was outside his penalty area. The dangerous Driffill was again denied by Bryant following a long free kick taken by Quelch while Hawkins set up Jon Malone who fired wide midway through the second half. Harrison Moore was introduced in the sixty ninth minute and his first task was to clear the ball of the United goal line following a goal mouth scramble after a Holyport free kick. Woodley was enjoying the better of the second half but were unable to score a second despite Richard Thomas heading a corner kick wide and Barron putting over the bar from a Fernandez free kick with ten minutes remaining. 

One West

Cheltenham Saracens 1 Thornbury Town  1 
The match against Thornbury Town was a “must win” if Saracens wanted to stay in the mix for promotion this season.  Things started badly for us when Thornbury were awarded a penalty in the 3rd minute. Craig Lancastle stood up to take it for them and duly slotted it past our Keeper, Charlee Cook. 1-0.  The early penalty seemed to rattle us somewhat. We had some good opportunities to level the score with shots from Josh Watts and Harlie Price, but the ball just wouldn’t land right for us. 

Our best chance for an equaliser came in the 28th minute when Price found space to run into the box, dodging Thornbury defenders en route, but his shot skimmed the face of the goal and no one was waiting there for a tap in. 
Liam Brignull had a great game, nutmegging a Thornbury defender before travelling forward with the ball, but again, we just couldn’t get the ball over the line.  The half ended with a shot from Kai Mahon. Although it was easily saved, he did well to stay on his feet and find the target after 2 challenges clipped his heels. 

The second half saw a renewed Saracens team applying more pressure and creating some genuine chances. Josh Watts had a great run in the 49th minute, but the ball just ran away from him. Thornbury had their own chances too, but both Jim Brock and Joe Guest saw their shots fly over the crossbar. The 75th minute saw us awarded a free kick and our dependable set piece taker Mahon stood forward to take it. He fired the ball into the box, with it finding its way to Josh Goodhall who scored a beauty, placing the ball out of reach of the Keeper’s reach to bring the score to 1-1. Gareth Jones came on in the 80th minute and almost had an instant impact when Sam Mason fed him the ball in the box, but he couldn’t quite find the connection for a tap in. The 90+1st minute saw us awarded a late penalty. Iain Surcombe stepped forward to take it, but it was poorly taken, fired straight down the middle for the Keeper to easily push out. Price tried to capitalise on the rebounded ball, but his effort was also comfortably saved. 

And with that, the full time whistle blew, with honours even for a 1-1 draw. The point might not be enough for us, with Thornbury still having a game in hand on us, so we now have to wait and hope teams around us drop points in our promotion quest. Thornbury looked much improved to the team we beat 2-1 at the start of the season. We really needed that last minute penalty to go in, but today just wasn’t our day. Jemma & Jerry Howse

Cheltenham Saracens 1 Thornbury Town 1(away view) 
Saturday’s clash at Petersfield Park between second and third saw both sides start brightly on a hard pitch. The hosts had a good chance in the first minute when a quickly taken throw found Harlie Price but his shot from just inside the area looped over the bar. A couple of minutes later the action switched to the other end of the pitch when Matt Davis’ run into the penalty area was brought to end with a clumsy challenge from Barnard, with the referee immediately indicating a penalty. Leading scorer Craig Lancastle made no mistake from the penalty spot. 

Price then had another good chance for Cheltenham but this time shot straight into the arms of Kurtis Parkin. Parkin then pulled off another good save from Price after 15 minutes following a run into the area by Brignull. Saracens were relying on the long ball forward to their big striker Iain Sercombe but Thorns back line marshalled him well and chances were few and far between. Thorns thought they should have had another penalty when a jinking Harry Brock run into the Saracens penalty area saw him brought down but the referee thought otherwise. Brock was in action again 10 minutes before the break when he latched on to brother Jim’s through ball but an offside flag denied him the chance of doubling Town’s lead. The last couple of minutes of the half saw Kurtis Parkin in action again making comfortable saves from Kai Mahon. 

The second half saw Saracens on top and Barnard’s early header from a corner saw Joe Guest clear the lines. The full back was in action up the other end of the field a couple of minutes later setting up Harry Brock. The striker’s effort on goal fell to Craig Lancastle but a desperate clearance took the ball off his toe. Brock again looked to have been brought downin the penalty area but again the referee waved play on. 

The last 30 minutes saw Saracens very much in charge and Price shot wide when well placed and with 20 minutes left a long throw found Brignull in the penalty area but his shot was saved at the foot of the post by Parkin. With 15 minutes remaining a Saracens freekick on the left was headed back across the goal a Josh Goodhall fired home from 10 yards out to equalise.  By now it was very much a rearguard action for Town but they looked as though they had managed the game out when in stoppage time Saracens were awarded a penalty. Their big striker Sercombe stepped up to take the spot kick but his effort was saved by Kurtis Parkin who reacted quickly enough to smother the follow up effort. The referee blew the final whistle moments later and Thorns were pleased to have come away with a point and their promotion hopes still intact. 

Easington Sports 2 Newent Town 0 (Easington report by Steve Smith - Banbury Guardian )
First half goal scorer Owen James Easington Sports FC Photo by Edwin Barson @ebarsonphotoEasington Sports took another huge step towards the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One West title. 

Ben Milner’s side beat Newent Town 2-0 in Saturday’s Division One West clash while title rivals Cheltenham Saracens and Thornbury Town dropped points in their 1-1 draw.  Goals in each half from Owen James and Joe Eyre earned Sports three more points at Addison Road. 

Newent started the better of the two sides and had a couple of early chances. Pat Gibbs should have done better but allowed Joe White to save from point-blank range and then had a close range effort ruled out for offside after being set-up by Sanchez Grange. Alex Goode tipped over Charlie Hill’s header from Callum Convey’s corner before James broke the deadlock when he picked his spot from 30 yards and found the top corner of the net. 

After the restart Goode kept out another Hill header from Convey’s corner and Eyre shot over from the edge of the box. Sports needed the second goal and twice went close to getting it, James released Eyre who shot over before linking up with Joe Coleman who was denied by Goode from a right angle. But the crucial second goal finally arrived when Convey’s pass released Eyre who lobbed the advancing Goode who then did well to foil substitutes Andrew Stidder and George Combes in quick succession with two excellent saves. 

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