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17 March 2018

buildbase fa vase semi final

Thatcham Town 1 1874 Northwich 0

The crowds braved the freezing and snowy condition to Waterside Park for the much anticipated FA Vase semi-final first leg tie with 1874 Northwich, and things couldn't have started much better for the home side, as, just a couple of minutes into the tie, they earned a penalty. Ekow Elliott took a touch and a turn of pace to beat his man on the left wing before squaring to Cooper-Clark who feigned to shoot, took a touch outside and was felled by the defender. Ross Cook was the man to take the kick and buried it in the bottom left corner.

Just four minutes later, Thatcham were on the attack again, with Elliott taking a potshot from 25 yards which was deflected wide. Cooper-Clark was really making the most of the occasion, giving the Northwich defenders a torrid time by creating two chances for himself in quick succession, but guiding both shots into the grateful arms of the visiting keeper.

Around the fifteen minute mark, with Northwich growing into the game after the Kingfishers' lightning start, their number 11 Kennerley forced Chris Rackley to make a smart save, clawing an effort over the bar. Northwich had a period of dominance, within which the Thatcham defence did well to keep them out, and they were frustrated to have two penalty appeals waved away.

It was a shame to see goalscorer Cook go down on the halfway line with a hamstring injury, so he was replaced by Gavin James. This marked a turning point as Thatcham began to regain control of the tie with a series of chances. First, James was pivotal in a passing move that resulted in Elliott forcing a great fingertip save from Hall at full stretch.xShortly after, a corner from Tom Melledew caused havoc in the area with efforts from Babs Jarra and Tom Moran both blocked and behind for another corner. From a passage of play following the corner, Lewis Brownhill found himself in a position to tee himself up and hit a goalbound left-footed volley which was again denied by Hall.

Northwich still posed a threat and cut the defence open with a move that saw McGowan through on goal, but Rackley did well to rush out and block. The end-to-end pattern of play continued as Melledew retained possession and rode several challenges to surge into the area but his shot was blocked. There was time for one more chance in this exhilarating affair as Cooper-Clark, near the halfway line, started a passing move that he ended up on the end of with a neat turn and shot that Hall was equal to.

Thatcham started the second half brightly with pressure on the opposition goal, and the Northwich defence continued to frustrate them with block after block as their players put their bodies on the line. After such an exciting first half, the second didn't really do much to set heart-rates racing and it took almost half an hour for Northwich to create a chance, the ball falling to tricky right winger Hind, but his shot was expertly parried by Rackley.

It could be that both sides were content with the status quo leading into next weekend's second leg as the half progressed. Thatcham posed a threat on the break, earning a couple of corners, and Northwich probably had the best of the closing stages with one header going wide and, later, a shot through the congested penalty area went wide.

Special mention goes to Curtis Angell, Harrison Bayley and Michael Miller for industrious performances in the second half that helped to keep the clean sheet and preserve the Kingfishers' slender advantage into next Saturday's away leg in Cheshire.

Premier Division

Fairford Town 6 Windsor 2
Fairford Town produced their best performance of the season to beat Windsor 6-2 at Cinder Lane on Saturday afternoon.Returning striker Liam Gale scored four goals with captain Lee Smith, his 21st of the season, and Dan Bailey also on target.

Fairford made a bright start to the game with Smith opening the scoring with just two minutes on the clock, with an assist from Gale. The visitors then struck back with Jack Denton's seventh minute effort levelling the affair before Matt Stockhill put them in front with 15 minutes played. Gale's first goal of the day restored parity on the half hour with his pace causing problems for the visitors' backline. And when he hit Fairford's third six minutes before the break, Jody Bevan's side took a foothold on the game going into the second half.

It was an impressive second half from the Reds, with Gale completing his hat-trick on the hour and Bailey made it five soon after. Windsor were reduced to ten men on 66 minutes when debutant Dan Carr - signed from Oxford United on loan 24 hours earlier - received a second yellow card and Gale rounded off the scoring with a 90th minute effort.

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Highworth Town 5 Highmoor Ibis 3
On a bitterly cold afternoon at the Elms Highworth and Highmoor failed to replicate last season's 6-6 draw and only managed 8 goals between them today.

The visitors led twice in the first half through Mitchell Parker (23) and Jamie Connor (33) with a Lewis Waldon strike (31) sandwiched in between. Parity was restored for a second time when Rory Sproule fired home (45+2) and HT was reached at 2-2.

The home side started the second period the brighter and appeared to have the game won after goals from Rory Sproule (59) and Lewis Waldon (62) gave them a 4-2 advantage. It was back to 4-3 after 73 mins when Luke Cox found the top corner from 25 yards. Highworth finally made the game safe when Connor Waldon fired home from 12 yards (76).

Highworth's lead at the top of the table is now five points over Thatcham Town who have two games in hand including a visit to the Elms on the 28th March. Next up is a trip to Melksham Town on Tuesday to take on Salisbury FC in the Wilts FA Senior Cup Semi-Final, 7.45 kick-off.

One East

Virginia Water 4 Holyport 1
Virginia Water returned to league action with a good win against our friends and near neighbours, Holyport. In very difficult conditions, it was an entertaining match played in driving snow and gale force winds. Both sides gave their all, with Waters eventually running out comfortable winners

With the wind at our back, VWFC took the lead on 24 minutes, when the predatory Josh Guichard headed home from a Finn Evered throw in. A few chances came and went, but our second gave us a strong hold on the game, when Lorenzo Di Felice rifled home on 35 minutes. As hard as we tried to increase the lead, the visitors defence held firm, and we knew that playing into the elements in the second would be a real test – and so it was.

Both teams started the second half briskly, albeit with Waters struggling to get out of their half, but gave a strong defensive display, with Matt not really troubled in goal and dealing well with the aerial threat. Steve Williams (MoM) and Joe McBride gradually got on top in the midfield battle, and from a sweeping move in the 61st minute, Ryan Curtis hit an unstoppable shot past their keeper to put us 3-0 up, and we thought, make the game safe.
Not so, back came Holyport, and after we gave the ball away cheaply in midfield, Paul Rake hit home a great shot on 71 minutes for the visitors.

Waters had many more chances thereafter, with Adam McNamara, Dan Whatford, Steve Williams all going close. The game was effectively wrapped up when Louis Sanders scored from the spot on 78 minutes, after Adam had been brought down in the box. It was a satisfying performance and good win, that keeps us well in the hunt for end of season honours.


One West

Shrivenham 5 Shortwood United Reserves 1
Three first-half goals complemented by two second-half strikes against a ten-man Shortwood claimed another valuable three points for Shrivvy. Gareth Davies made one change from the side that that demolished Cheltenham Saracens four days earlier with Tyler Sheppard handed a start in place of the absent Nathan Blackford, as the hosts were to face a much stiffer opposition.

With both sides cancelling each other out in the opening ten minutes in the bizarre weather conditions at Barington Park, it was Macauley Dodson who was the first to see a great move denied by Will Pedrick in the visitors net on 11-minutes, before his opposite number Connor Johns was called in to action two minutes later as he was forced to make a decent low save following an effort by Dawid Regula.

Chances continued to flow and both sides had chances to grab a foothold in the game, however it was the home side that were to give themselves the advantage in what ultimately proved to be a critical 25-minute period which led up to the interval. With 21-minutes on the clock, Josh Morse saw his goal bound effort pushed away by Pedrick however Tyler Sheppard was on hand to tap home the follow-up to finally break the deadlock.

As the visitors attempted to re-group, the home side came out with all guns blazing and just two minutes later another great break saw Morse tee up the impressive Lewis Petrie and he slotted a low drive in to the back of the net. Five minutes later Sheppard had a golden opportunity to stretch his sides lead even further following a rare defensive error by the visitors, but he fluffed his lines and was coolly denied at close range.
11-minutes later however, with Shortwood chasing a way back in to the game, Rob Hendry headed the ball through to Lewis Petrie who was able to run in on goal and calmly finish to make it 3-0.

To their credit, Shortwood failed to give up and they finally got their just rewards a minute before the break. Under pressure, the side were able to break and after a neat move up the field, it was Dawid Regula who fired the ball in to the net to give his side hope for the second half, and on their performance, they certainly stood every chance.

With the snow stopping, Shrivvy came out of the break looking to kill off the game and an early corner saw a Fraser Little header skim the crossbar and on 55-minutes Pedrick produced another spectacular save from a long rang effort by Rob Hendry but ten minutes later, a nasty looking injury to Daniel Lander saw him stretchered off. Once the game was able to get back underway, Luke Cordery came on for Leigh Brown and as the visitors continued to press, Johns was called in to action on a number of occasions before Tyler Sheppard made way for Tim Cook on 79-minutes.

Having utilised all their substitutes, Shortwood were forced to go down a player after a defender appeared to pick up a hamstring injury and as a result, the final ten minutes were a little harsh on them, as they continued to chase the game. On 83-minutes, Morse recycled a corner kick and Sam Ockwell drifted his header in at the back post and with the game lost, Shrivvy made it 5 with two minutes to go a quick break saw Morse burst down the pitch before putting the ball on a plate for captain Jamie Prictor to stroke home against the unfortunate visiting side.


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