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3 November

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Bishops Cleeve 3 Virginia Water 3 (away view)
Another roller coaster of a game that saw Waters come away with, at least a deserved draw, when they could and should have taken all 3 points, but could easily have lost!

Taking on the two hour journey, with a depleted squad, and the daunting task of facing a team that had won their previous eight matches, was not something we looked forward to, but this paled into insignificance with a tremendous effort by all the lads.

In near gale force wind, with the advantage in the first half, VW grew into the game, with the excellent Adam Mills going close with a header. Equally impressive were Steve Williams, Jake Baker and Adam McNamara, who all went close, before Jake combined to set up Adam up for the opener on 24 minutes – no less than we deserved. At the other end, the conditions meant that Matt was rarely troubled, and despite a few nervy moments, the defence held firm.

We knew the second half would see us have to defend well, but on 60 minutes, Scott Jackson put a long ball through, for Adam to run on to, and slot a great finish past the advancing keeper to put us 2-0 up. VW at that time should have gone on to take the points, but as we tired a little, added to the introduction of 3 powerful substitutes, the home side hit back with goals from a set piece, that we should have cleared.

Soon after BC drew level, when again we switched off and failed to deal with a tentative break down our right, from which their striker was allowed to turn and shoot home from close range. With both sides going for the win, it was the home side, who looked to have taken the win on 86 minutes, when VW failed to deal with a corner, that was headed home from close range. Not to be out gunned, VW from the restart, pushed on, and Steve hit a raking pass over their full back, and his hesitation allowed the energetic Scott to nip in and chip their keeper on 88 minutes.

A thoroughly entertaining match for the neutral, and one of those ‘if only’, but a terrific and gutsy performance by the lads.

Brimscombe&Thrupp 3 Binfield 3
It was all square at the Meadow on Saturday when Brimscombe and Thrupp faced Binfield.

There were plenty of chances in the opening 20 minutes but it was up to Sam Blackie to open the scoring when he headed in from a corner 23 minutes in. The game was held up for a while, after Binfield’s Khalid Senussi was stretchered off with a knee injury. The visitors took the lead with two goals in two minutes thanks to Moore and Jemel Johnson, with only a few minutes left of the first half, Tom Pass headed home sending both teams in level at half time.

With the second half underway, it only took 10 minutes for Johnson to double his tally slotting the ball past Ashley Gale. Like the first half the Lilywhites left it very late to get the leveller and it was James Singh who put it past the Binfield goalkeeper to give Brimscombe a share of the spoils.

Fairford Town 2 Brackley Town Saints 1
Fairford Town produced a stirring performance of commitment and composure to defeat league leaders Brackley Town Saints on Saturday afternoon.

The result lifted the Reds several places up the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division table, as Jody Bevan’s men made it back to back wins following the midweek triumph at Longlevens. Bevan handed home debuts to new recruits Danny Gudger and Joe Thomas and the Gloucestershire side made a bright start with the wind at their backs, forcing visiting stopper Ali Worby into several early saves with James Watts also denying the hosts an opener by clearing off the line.

Fairford’s opener arrived on 32 minutes with the predatory instincts of Jon Thomas coming to the fore as he latched onto a long ball through, before finishing well past Worby. The home side continued to press and harry, frustrating the visitors to retain the lead going into the break.

Goalscorer Thomas doubled the Fairford lead on 75 minutes. After his initial shot had struck the woodwork, he reacted first to tuck away the rebound and provide a crucial two-goal cushion. Fairford stopper Harrison Ellis made a superb save to deny Watts as the visitors piled forward in search of a comeback. An 85th minute penalty from Ryan Knight reduced the arrears but the home side held on for an impressive victory.

Fairford Town: Ellis; Watson, James, Thomas, Weaven; Beardsell, D Bailey © (Preece ’83), James, Morris; Gudger (C Bailey ’90), Thomas Substitutes: Hawkins, Oakes, Preece, C Bailey, M Thompson

Fairford Town 2 Brackley Town Saints 1 (away view)
Any unbeaten run must come to an end at some time. It would be nice to feel that it came to an end after a closely fought free-flowing fantastic game of football, but this was not that. It was a bitty, untidy game, punctuated by stoppages and played on a hard bobbly pitch with a strong wind blowing straight down the ground. Saints did not surrender their run with a whimper. They tried to play their football, and fought hard until the final whistle but came up just a little short.

The first half was attritional with lots of stoppages for injuries and fouls and with the ball spending far too much time in orbit. Fairford started strongly. Very direct closing down space quickly and restricting space for Saints to take advantage of. They allowed Saints to hold possession across the back line and squeezed the space in their own half. On 8 minutes Dan Bailey’s wind assisted shot from 40 yards was well tipped over the bar by Ali Worby, and from the resulting corner James Watts had to clear off of the line to prevent what would have been an own goal off of the shoulder of Joe Ward. Fairford were strong into the tackle and twice in the early stages there were lengthy stoppages after strong challenges on Watts, who was visibly shaken after a nasty looking boot to the head. Even so Saints were gradually easing into the game and good pressing by Ryan Knight and Charlie Kille nearly led to Harrison Ellis in the Fairford goal making a hash of an under hit back pass. A good passage of play after 25 minutes resulted in a James Hammond strike which was too high and minutes later Ellis needed to be sharp off of his line to thwart Knight.

On 34 minutes a good Saints passing move broke down in the Saints right hand channel just outside the Fairford penalty area. The left back delivered an accurate long ball which speared through the heart of the Saints defence and Jon Thomas showed pace and strength to calmly slot into the corner despite the valiant attempt of Worby who managed to get a hand onto the shot. The remainder of the half was more of the same with Fairford continuing to press and squeeze space and with Saints struggling to find the way through, although a corner in the 45th minute from Harry Brock was well delivered to the far post where Olly Goddard just failed to time his run and was unable to direct his header on target.

The second half started well for Saints with a great move seeing George Ball set free down the right. His cross to the back post was met first time by Kille who volleyed the ball back across goal towards Stott who stretched with a diving header but he could not quite get to the ball. On 49 minutes good movement again saw things open up for Ball who sprinted unopposed down the right wing but his cross was affected by an untimely bobble. Saints were pushing hard and there was a definite feeling that they were gaining the upper hand. However Fairford reminded us of how good they are at direct football when a Saints move broke down and Jack Beardsell collected the ball halfway inside his own half. His 40 yard ball was precise into the space behind Brock and Gudger sprinted to collect. Brock held him up but Gudger cut in and played the ball square to the onrushing Beardsell who’s first time shot was brilliantly saved by the strong hand of Worby.

Saints were showing lots of energy and the vast majority of the play was in the Fairford half. Ellis was again called to be sharp off of his line, Hammond created space on the left but his shot was again too high and Ball cut in from the right but his left foot shot drifted high and wide. Saints changed shape with Owen James coming on to replace Jordan Godfrey. They continued to dominate possession and on 72 minutes Charlie Kille hit a good shot from 30 yards but Ellis was well positioned to save comfortably. Hammond burst free and his lob to the far post was inches away from Stott who again found himself in space.

Despite being under the cosh for the large part of the half so far Fairford increased their lead on 74 minutes. A long ball from the left back area was flicked on to Jon Thomas who burst through to smash a shot from just outside the box against the bar. The rebound came back to Thomas on the edge of the box where he used his strength to win and retain the ball, move forward and fire past Worby with his left foot. A cracking centre forward finish. Saints claimed offside and to many it was clear that although Thomas was not offside when the initial pass was made he looked very much offside when his fellow attacker flicked the ball on. It appeared that the linesman thought that the flick was by a Saints defender. Earlier in the season against Wellingborough exactly the same thing happened. On that occasion the ref consulted with his linesman and Saints got the decision. On this occasion the officials would not/did not consult and the goal was given. Some you win, some you lose.

To their credit Saints were stung but they did not give up. On 78 minutes they won yet another free kick this time just outside the Fairford box. Watts kick caught the end of the wall looped up and over Ellis, but hit the bar and bounced down and under the keeper. Cue an enormous scramble during which Stott claimed that he had forced the ball over the line, and Fairford were appealing for a foul on Ellis. Eventually the linesman flagged. Saints celebrated in the belief that they had scored, but it was adjudged to be a foul. Saints were throwing caution to the wind and introduced Josh Bowden to have 3 centre forwards on the pitch and the action was now centred in and around the Fairford penalty area. On 83 minutes Hammond picked up a clearance from another free kick and his shot was deflected away for a corner from which Stott was clearly impeded and pushed by Fairford substitute Callum Preece and the ref correctly awarded a penalty. Knight stepped up to confidently roll the ball past Ellis.

Could Saints find an equaliser in the last 5 minutes? Nearly. A long corner to the far post fell for James who lifted a cross from the left side of the area and which came back off of the cross bar. Stott was again on hand to fire the rebound goalwards but which was blocked on the line and cleared. A further corner was headed back across goal by Bowden and the ensuing melee saw the ball end up in the net although the referee had already blown for a foul. There was time for one more corner and a Bowden header unfortunately straight at Ellis. Not a great game by any standard, but plenty of talking points. Fairford were rightly delighted with their victory. They battled hard, frustrated the Saints and took their goals very well. It is too easy to say that Saints were not at their best. Probably more exact to say that they were not allowed to be at their best with a combination of a passionate display by Fairford and a tricky playing surface that meant that 2/3 touches were needed rather than the usual 1 or 2. Even so Saints battled right to the end and with a little more luck might even have snatched a draw from a difficult afternnon.

Tuffley Rovers 2 Ascot United 2
The Rovers returned to their Glevum Park home on Saturday, after a miserable repeat of their early-season form had seen defeats on successive Saturdays in October, as Mark Pritchett’s squad had returned from Brackley, Abingdon and Shrivenham without a point. Visitors Ascot arrived in Gloucestershire third in the table having lost only 3 of their previous dozen competitive matches and having already scored 18 times in their 8 away league games so far. In contrast Rovers had already conceded 17 goals in 6 home league fixtures so knew that they would face a stern test against a team which still had ambitions of catching runaway leaders Brackley Town Saints at the top of the Hellenic League, Premier Division table. By the end of a cold and grey afternoon in Gloucester, which necessitated the floodlights being on right from the start, both teams could be satisfied with taking a point from an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Rovers were the first to show their attacking intent, in the second minute, when a cross from the left found Dominik Kent on the far side of the penalty-area but his cross-shot was claimed by visiting goalkeeper Lee Allen at full stretch. Down the other end Luke Merchant also had to be alert to smother a low shot from Nathan Minhas. Ascot then won two corners in quick succession with the second being headed narrowly wide by their captain, Louis Bouwers. As the game continued end-to-end Brett James then won the ball just inside Ascot’s half and made ground before firing in a shot which didn’t trouble Allen. The visitors’ captain, wearing the Number Five shirt, trotted off to receive treatment for a nasal injury before re-joining the field wearing a Number Nineteen shirt! Soon after this, his centre-half partner, Chris Ellis, fired in a ferocious shot from thirty yards which smacked against the crossbar having been diverted there by Merchant’s fingers, before Rovers’ James tried an ambitious chip from way out on the left, which drifted over Allen’s crossbar.

Both teams were continuing to trade blows and Ascot were next to threaten when Harry Laflin’s free-kick was flicked away by Merchant for a corner. When the kick came in Bouwers rose unchallenged to power Jonny Denton’s cross into the net with twenty-five minutes played. Another ten minutes had passed when the game saw the next major incident, as Ascot’s Callum Carlisle went in high and late on Rovers’ Jack Phillips and the referee, who was in a good position to see what had happened, immediately pulled a red card out of his pocket. Spurred on by their numerical advantage Rovers soon found an equaliser. The hosts broke quickly on the right through Phillips and Lee Smith whose careful pass found Kent. Even though he was in a position to take a shot himself Kent unselfishly passed the ball across to Kieran Alder who took one touch before drilling the ball carefully between the posts. Other than Kent’s early effort, which was probably more a cross than a shot anyway, it was Rovers’ first attempt on target in a half which ended with the teams having scored one goal each.

Tuffley came out looking every bit like a side buoyed by the late first-half equaliser and won an early corner in the second half, before Lee Smith had a free-kick saved after an Ascot defender handled the ball. Ascot began to work their way back into the game and Pritchett received a yellow card for a challenge just outside his penalty-area and it took the referee a couple of minutes to restore order after angry players from both sides jostled each other.

That free-kick came to nothing and ten minutes later Rovers were ahead after the best move of the match; Smith to Pritchett back to Smith then on to right-back Brad Loveridge whose perfect cut-back was steered into the far corner by Kent. Kent nearly had another goal but just ran out of space as he closed in on the goalkeeper following Smith’s through-pass. An Alder shot which drifted just wide was another near-miss during Rovers’ best spell of the game. James was replaced by Liam Gale then Birkett went down again and would be substituted by Sam Hill in the closing stages of the game. Ascot’s left-winger Kassim was cautioned for a wild lunge on Loveridge, before Kent was also replaced by Ryan Dobbins, as Rovers tried to find a third goal which would probably have sealed only their second home league win of the season.

However, Ascot aren’t high in the table without deserving to be there and put some nice moves together as they pressed for a leveller; and it eventually came from Minhas, eighteen minutes from time, after a neat passing move which carved the Rovers defence open. Minhas was lively all afternoon but most of the strings in midfield so far as the visitors were concerned were being pulled by Denton, who took nearly all the set-pieces and was at the heart of most of Ascot’s attacks. The final fifteen minutes were the most interesting of the match with both teams looking for a win with a positive approach which was a joy to see. There were a couple of half-chances at either end but no more goals. Defeat would have been hard to take if a fifth goal had arrived and in the end a draw was definitely a fair result. Tuffley’s point moves them above both Shrivenham and Longlevens on goal-difference while Ascot’s moves them slightly closer to League-leaders Brackley, who were surprisingly beaten at Fairford.

Tuffley Rovers 2 Ascot United 2 (away view)
Ten-man Ascot United drew 2-2 at Tuffley Rovers on Saturday on a day when another harsh red card proved pivotal. The Yellamen led, went behind, and then dragged themselves level despite their numerical disadvantage.

With just one home league win all season, Tuffley would be underdogs going into the game with third-placed Ascot, but the visitors had themselves stuttered recently by virtue of drawing their last two league matches. Nonetheless, they arrived at Glevum Park with a strong squad, and they duly started with a flurry of early corners.

Lee Allen was, however, on hand to make a smart save to deny Tuffley, before Ascot went back on the offensive and Chris Ellis’s stunning shot was tipped onto the bar by Allen’s oppose number Luke Merchant. Ascot Captain Louis Bouwers then went close – seeing his effort saved off the line – before giving his side a 26th minute lead when he headed home Jonny Denton’s corner.

Sadly, there was a case of deja-vu for the Yellamen when, just as they had done at Shrivenham two weeks earlier – they received a harsh red carded and were forced to play over an hour with ten men. This time, it was Callum Carlisle who was dismissed, and the hosts duly capitalised in first half stoppage time when Kieran Alder netting from close range to level the scores at the break.

Dan Price replaced Geoff Kibaki as Ascot made a half-time substitution, but it soon got worse for this side when Rovers broke away in the 52nd minute and Dom Kent rolled the ball home to make it 2-1. Ascot’s response saw Merchant save Nathan Minhas’s snap shot on the hour mark, but Minhas would add the icing to an outstanding team move exactly half way through the period by finishing it off to score his 23rd goal of the season.

Incredibly, the Yellamen then played like the team with the numerical advantage and pushed for a winner, although Tuffley still posed a threat and both Alder and Ryan Dobbins went close either side of Minhas’s leveller. Both sides had chances to win it, but the scoring was complete and visiting manager Jamie Tompkins was left ruing the unpalatably key moment earlier in the game.

Ascot United: Allen, Lock, Bouwers, Ellis, F Etienne, Carlisle, Laflin, Kibaki (Price), Minhas, Kassim (Hodges), Denton. Subs unused: Haworth, Sullivan, Olorunfemi

One West

Clanfield 85 FC 1 Easington Sports 2
Clanfield and Easington served up a feisty Oxfordshire derby on Saturday afternoon that saw the visitors leave Radcot Road with all three points to maintain the promotion push.

After a goalless first forty five minutes which saw both sides create enough chances to open the scoring, Easington took just sixty seconds to open their account for the afternoon when centre forward, Henry Rose was afforded far too much space, given far too much room to pick his spot inside the penalty area and send his shot past the advancing Clanfield keeper James Domm.

To the hosts credit, the goal seemed to fire the home and they went about trying to find an equaliser immediately and were rewarded on sixty six minutes when from a free kick on the right, skipper Adam Pendall saw his header parried at the far post by Easington shot stopper Adam Rimmer, Pendall was quickest to respond to opportunity and took full advantage to prod the loose ball home from six yards to level the scores.

The game then became a little more fast flowing as both sides went in search of a winner and the three points on offer, Easington looking the more likely side creating several clear cut chances before finally they found a way through the hosts rear guard when the vastly experienced Craig Robertson fired home from just inside the area ten minutes from time much to the joy of the visiting supporters.

Clanfield looked to once more rescue a point from the game and with Easington playing the final ten minutes with only ten men after their keeper suffered a shoulder injury, time however ran out and the hosts were left to rue their chance. On the whole, Clanfield can have few complaints, Easington looked a decent side and were stronger and quicker than their hosts for the majority of the afternoon and on balance deserved the victory, the defeat means the Robins slip to eight position in the Division One West and eight points off a promotion place.

Clanfield continue their league campaign on Saturday when they travel into Gloucestershire to take on Newent Town, earlier in the season the two sides shared a one all draw at Radcot Road in the opening game of the season and manager Jamie Butt will be desperate to see his side get back to winning ways and climb the table, the fixture has a 3:00pm kick off and as ever the any away following will be greatly appreciated.

Clanfield 85 1 Easington Sports 2 (away view)
Easington Sports got back to winning ways in the Hellenic League against strong opposition. Ben Milner’s side saw this as a crucial win against a team much better than their league position suggests. Clanfield posed the biggest threat to Sports in their 7 match winning streak at the back end of last season and it took till the 80th minute for Craig Robinson to score the decisive second goal to scoop all three points. The victory allows Sports to maintain pressure on the teams at the top of the table with a run of home games to follow in November.

Manager Ben Milner commented that his side played the worst half of football all season but credit must go to the way the hosts took the game to Sports. Clanfield were well organised in defence and posed a threat up front with Nathan Kimber enjoying a free role to attack the Sports defence. Sports were glad the scoreline remained goalless giving the management time to put things right at half time.

The visitors got off to a flyer in the second half through a well taken finish from Henry Rose. After a slightly lucky ricochet Rose did well to keep his shot down and on target shooting across the keeper. The goal seemed to lead to a more expansive second half for both teams and the game became a more end to end affair. Clanfield drew level around the hour mark courtesy of veteran Hellenic League player Adam Pendell. Adam Rimmer made a great save to keeper the midfielder’s header out but Pendall was the first to react and tucked away the rebound.

Sports responded to the goal and started to attack with more pace in order to get all points. Young striker George Coombes had chances to maintain his good scoring run but dragged a shot passed the post and headed wide whilst Callum Convey also had 2 long range efforts that went over the bar. The pressure eventually proved telling and Sports’ players, management and supporters were delighted to see what turned out to be the winning goal in the 80th minute scored by Craig Robinson. Neat play between Mike Spaull and George Coombes helped to release Robinson on the right hand edge of the penalty box. He then smashed a lovely finished low and hard back across the goal with the outside of his boot into the side netting.

Easington had to suffer a late scare in the match after Adam Rimmer dislocated his shoulder and had to come off as a result. Substitute Niall Higgins had to put on the gloves which meant Sports had to withstand nearly 10 minutes of pressure with just 10 men after the visitors had used up all substitutes already. Milner’s men held out for the victory and just about deserved all three points against a side that can be a match for anybody in the league on their day.

Divisions Two

Aston Clinton Reserves 0 Risborough Rangers Reserves 2 (away view)
We had a near full strength team against local team Aston Clinton and took our chances to claim all 3 points.

To be fair the home side had more of the ball in the opening minutes but it was Rangers who took the lead in the 13 minute when the ball was worked forward to Matt Hatt who turned his marker and ran at the defence held the ball up well to then lay it off to the overlapping Curtis Woodroffe who took the shot on early to strike low and hard into th far corner from the edge of the area. 

Once again Aston tried to play out of the back and when worked wide did do ok but without much pressure on Andrew Symonds in goal for us.  Again another well worked move in the 22nd minute Starting with Tom Swindlehurst moving into short passes between Jack Bradford and Dan Deakin then a cleaver pass and move between Jack to Matt who pushed the ball across the front of the back line and smashing the ball home from 20 yards to take us into a 2-0 lead.  Both teams had good possession from there on until half time.

The second period started with the home side pressing hard and created 2 good chances which Simmo did well to keep out.  10 mins into the 2nd half saw our first change with the returning Norbert Staniszewski taking over in goal for the impressive Simmo, then a forced change 5 mins later with Dan Deakin dropping into right back for the injured Rob Firth with Nick Bressington coming on in midfield.

It was a case of can we just see the game out and we managed that comfortably enough and Ciaran Kearney made his debut coming on for the last 12 minutes for Rhys.

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