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29 September

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Bluefin Sport Hellenic League Challenge Cup - Round One

Binfield 5 Bourton Rovers 3 (report by Arthur Strand)
Another home cup draw for the Moles but this was the Hellenic League with Binfield meeting Bourton Rovers at Stubbs Hill. The visitors are placed third in Division 2 West of the Hellenic League with Premier division side, Binfield, who are currently 14th. with a few games in hand. Both sides started quite brightly and Binfield made an early counter attack along the right with Josh Howell arriving in Rovers area.although the ball reached Carlo Santoro whose pass found Charlie Tuttle and the eventual cross was clutched safely by Simon Flower, Bourton goal-keeper. Fielding. As Carl Withers made ground, Santoro created a chance from the pass but his effort slid out of play at the far post. Within 10 minutes, Rovers broke through the Moles' defence as Josh Fielding slotted the first goal of the game. Binfield then lost Lewis Leonetti who had rolled his ankle and this was all early on. Not only did Bourton score first but they returned to test the Moles defence again but Fielding was beaten in the race for the ball by Chris Grace, Binfield keeper, A corner kick figured next but was headed out of play for a successive corner and so Binfield were able to exit the area and get the ball into the opposite area, gaining a free kick which was headed out behind for a corner. Bourton gained a free kick which Fielding took so the ball sailed over the crossbar much to keeper, Grace's relief. Tuttle found Santoro whose curler of a shot went direct to Flower. Eddie Lee ran on to chase the ball but Flower beat him to it and Josh Howell was next to bring the ball forward for Lee to force a corner kick. Binfield had begun to make positive inroads but still needed to equalise. Fielding was the front runner during Bourton's spell in defence but that was unsuccessful. When Santoro received the ball he took the ball along the wing and cut inside, forcing a corner. However, no goals for Moles. Khalid Senussi started a move but Bourton gained a free kick but lost possession as Santoro forced a corner which Flower dealt with so regaining the ball. Howell.ran into position to strike but could not quite get close enough but his next attempt found the ball in the arms of Flowers. Moles settled down a bit and passing was good until a free kick was conceded then Bourton countered but Fielding lost out on the ball. Bourton with a free kick forcing a corner to Binfield, had been defending.strongly until they looked up to see the ball in the net. The goal was disallowed and Bourton took a free kick. Another free kick to Bourton just over the halfway line was taken by Danny Way.which took the ball down to the goal line at the far post. Binfield took 2 more shots, the second of which was deflected for a corner. This was punched away by Flower. Halftime stood at 1 - 0 and still no goals for Moles.

The second half started with the hosts trailing by the odd goal but 6 minutes into the half, Josh Howell adjusted that scoreline but before that a free kick had morphed into a corner and the ball was headed out off the line. Josh Howell sent a good solid shot into the net on the 51st minute bringing the scores level and the Moles could now forge the way towards a win. This was endorsed when, in the 55th minute, Carlo Santoro added the second goal for Binfield. Grace saved a couple of attempts then Connor Teague scored two in two minutes, 70' and 72', giving Bourton a lead of 3 - 2. Josh Howell then took a penalty successfully, the 3rd goal of four in 7 minutes. He scored his hat trick with a great shot before being replaced by Sean Moore. On a wing and a prayer, Binfield continued to seek a fifth but the next attempt missed the target. Several free kicks and a corner later in hte 86th minute, Sean Moore added the fifth with a great curling ball that stopped after hitting the back of the neck. At the final whistle, Binfield players regathered their stretched nerves and continue into the next round. Whereas the visitors accepted defeat cheerfully, having been not too optimistic about winning before the start of play. Binfield: Grace, (GK), Shaw, Tuttle, Withers, G. Smith, Leonetti, Santoro, Knight, (C), Lee, Howell, Senussi. Substitutes: Thomson-Wheeler, Gavin, Moore, Not used: Davies, Horscroft.

Bishops Cleeve 4 Brackley Town Saints 3 (away view)
Fair to say that defences were not on top in this game which without exaggeration could have finished 10-10, but for some fine goalkeeping and some poor finishing. Saints took the lead on 12 minutes but prior to that the warning signs were there as BC created 2/3 reasonable chances with their direct play. However a typical Saints sweeping move saw Jordan’s shot deflected for a corner. Watts swung over a dangerous cross and although Ward’s header was blocked the ball fell to Goddard who smashed the ball in off of the post.

Worby was immediately called upon to protect the lead with a fine save tipping the ball over the bar. Although Saints were looking good coming forward they were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply on a few occasions, and but for another good save from Worby and an important block by Goddard BC would have equalised. Worby unusually spilled a cross after 30 minutes but the forward failed to take advantage blasting the ball over the bar. On 32 minutes Saints gave the ball away in the attacking third. BC quickly moved the ball out wide and from the cross Martin buried his header in the corner giving Worby no chance. From the kick off Baldwin played Hammond through who showed great strength and his dink over the keeper looked to be heading for goal, but came back off of the crossbar.

BC should have taken the lead with Ward clearing off of the line and the winger blasting the rebound over the otherwise empty net. Worby then made a great save from a BC free kick. It seemed only a matter of time before BC scored and on 40 minutes they did. Again Saints squandered possession and a lofted ball down the middle saw BC’s Watts finish clinically. Saints managed to up the ante and a good move involving Brock, Kille and Hammond saw Watts come close. In the 44th minute Hammond and Jordan played a 0ne two in centre field with the former chipping an astute pass out to Kille who met the cross on the volley directing it skilfully past the despairing keeper.

However within 60 seconds Saints were again behind when Watts was bundled over by Ward in the box. Watts jumped up and slotted the penalty past Worby. Amazingly Saints then produced 2 further attempts on goal in added time with Watts chipping the keeper after bursting through, but the ball drifted wide and with Baldwin striking a shot a couple of feet wide. Within a minute of the restart Saints were level. Baldwin again set Hammond free into the box and although his shot was well saved by the Cleeve keeper James Watts did extremely well to be first to the rebound and he gleefully found the back of the net from an acute angle.

Hammond then set Jordan away into the box and only alert goalkeeping thwarted his run. BC continued to have success with the long ball and a flick on again carved through the defence and only a fingertip save by Worby prevented the goal. Finally the game settled into a more mundane routine punctuated by fouls, injuries and substitutions. It was not until the final 5 minutes that the game sparked back to life. Arguably the best chance of the half fell to Hammond in the 83rd minute when he cut inside strongly and again found himself one on one with the keeper. His shot was pulled wide of the left post arguably, as far as the away team felt, as a result of a foul challenge on Hammond. Not according to the referee who gave a goal kick.

On 43 minute Steele and Middleton combined excellently down the right wing and the final cross was not far from finding an onrushing attacker. But BC broke at speed and only a great save with his feet by Worby kept the scores level.

Extra time was a tense affair and although both teams created half chances neither keeper was really troubled. Cleeve won the game with a goal 10 minutes into the second period of extra time. Saints completely fell asleep at a throw in on their right hand side. The left back was left to waltz unchallenged into the penalty area and although his first effort hit the post he collected the rebound and coolly slotted home.
Saints: Worby, Brock, Middleton, Goddard, Ward, Godfrey (Bridges), Baldwin, Hammond, Kille, Watts (Rheema), Jordan (Steele)

Headington Amateurs 2 Adderbury Park 2 (Headington won 3-1 on pens)
Almost predictably it took penalties to decide this 1st Round Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup tie between two sides that were second & fourth in Uhlsport One West before play started.

Adderbury were quicker to settle & had the better of the first half with both teams struggling for fluency on a difficult surface. Chay Buckingham had the first clear chance but shot straight at home ‘keeper Shane Whalley & David Hayward headed over from a right wing cross when well positioned. Headington’s first real attempt came after twenty minutes, Ollie Zaja linking with Jack Hayhurst but dragging his shot wide whilst Hayhurst charged down an attempted clearance but the ball ran out of play. Adderbury’s Buckingham saw another header well saved by Whalley but Headington finished the half well, Hayhurst crashing a shot against the cross bar.

Starting the second period as they finished the first Headington produced sustained attacks, particularly down the left flank through Hayhurst but could not break through. Jake Chambers saw his header well saved by Luke Jones after good work from Dan New but it was Adderbury who struck first with twenty minutes left, a quickly taken throw in superbly volleyed home by substitute Lewis Locker. Whalley had to make a smart save from Buckingham before the equaliser in the eighty fourth minute, Kyle Pullen’s left wing cross volleyed in from ten yards by Kyle Perry.

Two by now tiring sides gave it everything in thirty minutes of extra time with Headington again hitting the woodwork, this time through Pullen, in the first fifteen. When Headington substitutes Marley Joseph & John Webb combined for Joseph to crash home with six minutes left it looked like the winner but Adderbury struck back with Buckingham finding the top corner form eighteen yards & might have won it, hitting a post following a goalmouth scramble with seconds left.

In the penalty shoot-out the advantage went first to Adderbury but a miss & two Shane Whalley stops left Headington skipper Zaja to convert the decisive kick & put them through to the second round.

Holyport 3 Didcot Town Development 2 (away view)
The Railwaymen fell to defeat in this Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup Match at Summerleaze despite scoring two superb goals that bookended this match. Three enforced changes to the team due to injury and unavailability were made from Tuesdays win at Wallingford. Ross MacDonald ran on to a Kieran Collins through ball and smacked a shot high in to the Holyport net from outside the box in the third minute to give Didcot the lead. A minute later Harry Beer headed just wide from a free kick. The lead was to last just a few minutes though as a simple ball over the top found Johnny Feaver who shot low and although keeper Sam Baldock got a hand to it the ball nestled in the net for the equaliser.

MacDonald and James Tanner combined to get Jake Keeble clear and away but he was judged offside. Tanner had a good shot blocked following good build up work but midway through the half Holyport were awarded a penalty out of nothing when Harry Beer was adjudged to have fouled a Holyport forward wide on the edge of the box and Feaver tucked the penalty home. MacDonalds run across the pitch supplied Tanner with the ball and his shot was blocked for a cleared corner. Feavar for Holyport had a shot well saved by Baldock before MacDonald cut in and a rasping shot was palmed out by home keeper Quelch but no forward could take advantage.

Baldock had another fine save at the other end and Tanner had another run at the defence but his cross was behind onrushing attackers. The half finished with Jack Hollister winning a free kick and Collins hitting it over the bar.

The second half had less clear chances, the first of which was a Jack Hollister run and fierce shot which was tipped over the bar by the home keeper. A Tanner run in to the box resulted in a pull back but reaching only a grateful defender that cleared. Hollister had another good run but his shot this time was over the bar. Drifill shot past the post from a good position for Holyport. With only five minutes left Holyport scored a third with a header from a free kick. Callum Young had a header over the bar for the visitors. In the last minute an attack found the ball breaking to MacDonald whose well flighted cross was volleyed home by the onrushing Hollister past three defenders on the line. A last gasp attack from Didcot failed to find the equaliser and Holyport go through to the next round.

Longlevens 7 Penn & Tylers Green 1 (away view)
Penn held out for all of two minutes before a piece of casual defending in the heart of their defence let in the surprised but grateful Longlevens centre forward to progress towards the Penn goal and, despite the brave effort of goalkeeper Mohammed Mustafa, proceeded to put Longlevens one goal to the good. The warning about inept defending was not taken as after five minutes the exact same situation occurred and once again the Centre forward accepted the early Christmas present and rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home to put Longlevens 2-0 up. Penn, to their credit never gave up after this early set back and had their moments as Etafia Kingsley was causing the Longlevens defence some problems with his pace but their few attacks did not pierce the Longlevens backline.

Penn were thrown a lifeline in the 30th minute when a pass from Jack Pearce to Etafia Kingsley set him on his way and he put a delightful ball through to Rashid Hamed who progressed and shot from just inside the penalty area and the ball squirmed through the Longlevens goalkeeper’s grasp and over the line to give Penn some much needed hope. Three goals from three mistakes so far.

That was about as good as it got for Penn as they once again shot themselves in the foot in the 43rd minute when it looked likely that they would go in at half time only one goal adrift and a chance to re-group. After some dithering in midfield, Penn once again gave the ball away far too cheaply in midfield and the Longlevens forward took the gift and was bearing down on the Penn goal when he was unceremoniously scythed down by Charlie Lane just outside the penalty area resulting in a free kick for Longlevens and a red card for the defender. No complaints. The resulting free kick was hit low under the jumping wall and seemed like an eternity before the ball nestled in the corner of the Penn goal. Half time: 3-1 to Longlevens.

Penn now playing with 10 men had a mountain to climb and therefore for most of the second half it was “backs against the wall” defending and Longlevens took full advantage of the situation. Some inept Penn defending, when basic errors and mis judged passes, were presenting Longlevens with many chances. Penn had their brief moments of respite, mainly from Etafia Kingsley’s runs down the flank, but with lack of support from a tiring Penn side these forays sadly bore no fruit. Longlevens therefore scored four more goals in the second half but the last two, which made the score even worse, did not come until the very last minute of the game.

This will hopefully be a game to learn from for the young Penn side and we move on to the next game against Burnham in the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy at French School Meadow (our proper home ground) next Saturday, 6th October for a 3:00 pm kick off.

Old Bradwell United 1 Clanfield 85 7 (away view)
Clanfield cruised into the Second Round of the Bluefin Sports Insurance Challenge Cup with a convincing victory against an Old Bradwell United Development side. The Robins made the long but ultimately successful journey to Milton Keynes on Saturday in confident mood after last weekend’s away victory at Malmesbury Victoria.

However, the visitors didn’t have things all their own way in the opening exchanges and fell behind on seventeen minutes when Nikita Suprun put the hosts ahead firing past Jamie Zolden. The home side only lead for two minutes as Clanfield went about looking for an immediate response which arrived when Jozef Fullerton found the Development net for his fifth goal of the season. From this point the side from Oxfordshire put the home side to the sword adding a further three goals before the interval to bring the tie to its inevitable conclusion, Mike Duerden with two and in stoppage time Nathan Kimber on target.

On fifty-two minutes Duerden completed his second hat-trick in the space of four days following his three goals in midweek against North Leigh United. A second goal from Kimber on 59 minutes and an effort nine minutes from time from Jack Kennedy completed the scoring to send Jamie Butt’s side home in defiant mood.

Clanfield now return the league action on Saturday with the visit from Gloucestershire from the unbeaten Cheltenham Saracens, which will be a tough but good test, the game kicks-off a 3:00pm at Radcot Road.

Thame Rangers 1 Ascot United 2 (away view)
Ascot United edged into the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup 2nd round on Saturday with 2-1 victory over plucky Thame Rangers. The Yellamen were two-nil up at half time before Rangers struck early in the second half, but had just about enough to get over the line in a disjointed display. This was an intriguing tie that pitched two Uhlsport Hellenic League leaders against each other, as Division 1 East’s Rangers entertained United from the Premier section.

Once Ascot had awoken after a fairly even opening quarter of an hour, they quickly took control of the game and would fully earn their two-nil half time lead. Samir Regragui’s accurate header lacked any pace to test Dan Bowker as the visitors registered their first meaningful shot, but the home side would go straight up the other end and Ricardo Benjamin’s shot from a tight angle fizzed across Lee Allen’s goal.

However, most of the visitors’ chances came from poor decisions in the Ascot ranks – but fortunately their front line gave had already given them breathing space – the first goal arriving following a fine 19th minute move. Jean-Claude Etienne did well to hold the ball up and release Regragui, Regragui then picked out Geoff Kibaki, and although Kibaki attempted to find Etienne once again, the ball ended up back at Kibaki’s feet and he swept a low shot into the bottom left hand corner from the edge of the penalty area. The Yellamen extended their lead in the 28th minute with Kibaki this time turning provider; his right-wing cross was flicked on and Regragui – completely unmarked at the far post – had enough time to plant his shot past Bowker with this second touch.

Thame might have got back into it when Sam Boultwood chose to play a short free kick to Dom Sullivan, and now needlessly under pressure the visitors lost possession but Benjamin failed to punish them from a tight angle. Debutant Mahmoud Kadi’s misjudgement would later put his side under pressure again, but in the ensuing play Patrick Buston’s diving header went wide. Just before that, Kadi’s volley from closer flew over bar as Regragui turned provider with a fine cross for Ascot once again, but two-nil it remained.

To their credit, Rangers emerged galvanised and soon got their reward when Benjamin did superbly well to wriggle past a couple of challenges, dance along the by-line and pick out Buston to slam in off the crossbar. And, the hosts had already seen one defender limp off and another taken off on a stretcher in the first half – Charlie Elliott and Christian Deste the unfortunate players – making their fightback even more commendable.

However, the home side were unable to muster an equaliser, although the visitors were equally unable to register a meaningful opportunity in a stale second half display. Not even a triple substitution by stand-in manager Aaron Steadman could inject much zest to the Ascot ranks, although late-on one of them, Harry Laflin, shot just wide before Kadi’s late through ball released fellow substitute Kai Stubbs - who was superbly tackled by Jordan Davis as he looked for a shot. But, it is the result that matters, and the Yellamen continue to show they have the ability to get a result when far below their best.

Ascot United: Allen, Lock, Denton, Sullivan, Boultwood, Kadi, Kibaki (Stubbs), Hodges (Carlisle), JC Etienne, Nice (Laflin), Regragui. Sub unused: Regragui

Thornbury Town 2 Highworth Town Reserves 0
Thornbury made it through to the second round of the Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup, but Highworth Town Development, on their first ever visit to the Mundy Fields proved to be a hard nut to crack.

Thornbury town keeper Kurtis Parkin pulls off a good save.The visitors knocked the ball around well and Town struggled to gain any meaningful possession, with Parkin again pulling off a good save, this time to prevent Greive’s long range effort giving Highworth the lead. With the visitors enjoying the majority of the ball, Town had to defend in numbers and it wasn’t until midway through the half that they had their first effort on goal when Joe Guest’s shot was blocked.

Thornbury gradually worked their way into the game, and whilst they were able to get crosses into the visitors penalty area, accuracy was lacking and they couldn’t find the vital final touch although Brandon Benjamin and Marcus Wormwell both went close. Moments before the interval Highworth again went close with Parkin denying Slinn and then Guest clearing an effort from Greive.

Guest again came to the rescue in the first minute of the second period when Roque cross caused panic in the area but this seemed to be the wake up call they needed as they gradually pulled themselves into the game and Benjamin made a great run into the area to set up Craig Lancastle but Highworth keeper Holland was quickly off his line to save. Ten minutes in, Guest’s cross into the area found Luke Franklin, but his shot went wide of the post, but Town continued to increase the pressure on the visitors and they took the lead just after the hour mark when Wormwell outpaced his marker and his pass across the face of the goal was turned into his own net by a Highworth defender.

The introduction of Harry Brock increased the pressure on the visitors defence and he and Wormwell linked up to set up Lancastle but his goalbound effort was deflected for a corner. Highworth’s chances were by now few and far between with Slinn firing wide when well placed, whilst with just a couple of minutes remaining Brock set up Matt Davis who screwed his shot wide with Holland beaten. However Davis made amends in stoppage time when he raced clear of the defence and calming lobbed the ball over the head of the advancing Holland and into the net.

Thornbury Town 2 Highworth Town Res 0 (away view)
Highworth Town Reserves faced a tough tie away at Division One West side, Thornbury Town in the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup. With the hosts beating Longlevens AFC from the Premier Division a week earlier, it was always going to be a hard game.

After a poor result against Moreton Rangers last week, gaffer Chris Ayres was looking for a reaction from his side. The boys started the game brightly and were playing some lovely football and after just 8 minutes, a well taken free kick from Harry Ayres was bound for the top corner before a top class save from Kurtis Parkin the Thornbury keeper was tipped round the post. Highworth continued to dominate the game and more chances came and went as Ayres and Max Slinn both pulled good chances wide and a shot from the edge of the box by Dan Grieve was well held by the keeper too. On the stroke of half time some great football between Jord Clark and Gareff Roque led to a Clark shot being blocked only to fall to Max Slinn 10 yards out and his well struck volley was acrobatically saved by the Thornbury keeper to send the sides in level at the break.

The second half got under way and Thornbury came out all guns blazing after probably having a half-time roasting from comfortably being second best in the first half. This was a much more equal half with both sides playing some good football although not as many chances being created.

Highworth fell behind after 63 minutes when a cross-cum-shot was deflected in to his own net by the unfortunate Ayres. Assistant gaffer Ross Adams helped motivate the boys after this unfortunate goal and the lads rallied well and kept the pressure up in search of what would be a deserved equaliser. But as time ticked on and we pushed more and more men forward, we were inevitably caught on the break and in the 91st minute, Thornbury scored their second goal to kill the tie.

After a 2-0 defeat which was very harsh on us following a very good performance, it was nice of our hosts to recognise how well we’d played and saying how very unlucky we were to lose. The boys have now set the bar, with Chris Ayres and Ross Adams saying this is the level we need to play to week in week out.

Tuffley Rovers 4 Royal Wootton Bassett Town 0
After seven successive home defeats in four different competitions from the start of the season, Rovers went into Saturday’s Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup tie facing a stern test against a team which had beaten them 6-1 on the opening day of the Hellenic League season and knowing that a win would therefore be their first competitive victory at Glevum Park since the 26th of April! Rovers recalled Luke Merchant in place of Kane Winman in goal, but were otherwise unchanged in defence from the team which had played at Holmer Green a week earlier. This defence would need to be alert to snuff out the threat of TJ Bohane, a prolific scorer at this level for more than just today’s visitors.

The visitors kicked off playing towards the dressing-room end and won an early free-kick which their goalkeeper Connor Thompson thumped high towards the home penalty-area, where Bradley Pagliaroli controlled the ball and turned, but his shot went well wide. After a brief stoppage while Bassett defender Kieran Diaz-Benitez was treated for an injury, the visitors then won a corner on the right, which resulted in another corner on the left and this one was headed towards goal and deflected slightly but Merchant made a comfortable catch. Debutant Lee Smith, transferred from Fairford Town the day previous, had some good early touches for Rovers and was hugely involved in the opening goal on thirteen minutes. Brett James was also a significant participant in a move which saw the ball reach Smith, who pushed the ball invitingly into Dominic Kent’s path and the youngster placed the ball carefully out of Thompson’s reach and into the far corner of the net, for his second of the season.
Iggy Illott tripped the goalscorer soon afterwards and received a stern talking-to but no card from the referee and the resultant free-kick led to a Tuffley corner on the right which came to nothing before Ryan Dobbins tried his luck from distance but saw his shot drift wide of Thompson’s right-hand post.

am Hill was the next player to go down injured but no treatment was required on the pitch, before the visitors won a free-kick in a central position about thirty yards out. Gabriel Silva’s chip into the box was headed away first by Mark Pritchett then by Joel White before Bohane fired a shot just over the crossbar. In their next attack Pagliaroli combined with Bohane but Illott’s attempt at goal soared over the crossbar. This was the last meaningful attempt at either end in the first half and Rovers trotted off with a narrow but deserved lead.

Early in the second period Kent had a shot which went wide then Dobbins nearly got in on the right but ran out of space. James and Alder exchanged neat passes but the former’s cross was pushed away for a corner by Thompson. Dobbins then had a close-range header saved by the goalkeeper’s legs. Both teams made substitutions in the middle of the second half, and then Merchant nearly put himself in trouble with a bit of untidy work, although he retrieved the situation at the expense of a corner. At the other end a pull-back by Dobbins was driven wildly over the bar by Kent.

Wootton Bassett’s increasingly desperate attempts to find an equaliser saw numerous high balls, many from their goalkeeper, fired deep into Rovers’ territory, but most of these were dealt with comfortably by Pritchett and White, or when they weren’t involved, the ball would invariably roll harmlessly through to Merchant, although the goalkeeper did catch a chipped shot from substitute Matt Bennett at full stretch. The second goal, which Rovers needed and deserved, came fifteen minutes from time. White’s free-kick caused confusion in the Wootton Bassett box, before Dobbins retrieved the ball turned it towards Smith, who feigned to shoot, before producing an effort which deflected up over the goalkeeper and into the net. The shot was on target; the goal was Smith’s.

Wootton Bassett’s defensive game became rather sloppy at this point and they would quickly concede two more goals. First, a brilliant cross field pass by Harry Walker saw substitute Ashley Bird beat the advancing Thompson to the ball and then race past him to head into an empty net, with seven minutes remaining. Then, Bird should have had a second goal moments later as a cross from the left was hit wide when it looked easier to score. Rovers would not be denied and with five minutes left James, who on his day is as predatory a finisher as Bohane, robbed a defender and scored with great composure. If Kieran Alder hadn’t shot over, moments later, after being set up by James, Rovers’ victory would have been even more comprehensive than it was.

In many of Tuffley’s earlier matches this season the performances did not give results which were probably deserved, and although Wootton Bassett folded badly in the closing stages, this was an immense effort by the home players who well and truly laid the jinx of their dreadful home form in the early weeks of a new season. Their celebratory huddle at the end of the game revealed a new confidence and resolve to build on victories on successive Saturdays after losing 9 of their opening 12 matches this season in all competitions. With lowly-placed Virginia Water and Abingdon United next up at Glevum Park this win over Wootton Bassett might well be seen as the point at which Rovers’ fortunes changed for the better.

Virginia Water 1 Easington Sports 4 (away view)
On a delightful autumnal afternoon at Stag Meadow Easington played their best game of the season so far. Goals from Henry Rose, Joe Eyre and another brace from George Coombes sealed the victory and allowed Sports to progress into the next round of the Bluefin Challenge Cup.

The first half was a very even game and an end to end affair on a carpet of a playing surface. Andrew Stidder looked lively in the free role and the movement of the front 3 allowed the visitors to retain the ball more comfortably than in recent weeks. Stidder and Josh Rose had chances to put Easington ahead but then they had Adam Rimmer to thank for going in at half time all square after two fantastic saves.Easington’s George Coombes - Image Angie Grant

The second half really opened up for Sports mainly thanks to the goal scoring form of George Coombes. Again, Easington took the lead early in the second half. Virginia Water half cleared a free kick but Tom Smith was first to react and knocked an excellent first time ball back into the box which caught the home defence out leaving Henry Rose to bundle the ball home. Virginia Water reacted well to going a goal down and during a spell of pressure they equalised. With Virginia Water in the ascendency manager Ben Milner was forced to make a change to bring George Coombes on. Tom Smith, who was also have an excellent game at wing back, was struck in the back of the head during an off the ball incident unseen by the officials. Smith couldn’t continue and changes meant that after a re-organisation, Coombes went on up front. From virtually his first touches in the game, the young striker picked up the ball 25 yards outs and after a neat side step he smashed a shot that was still rising as it went in off the cross bar to give Sports the lead 1-2.

The goal seemed to change the game and Easington continued to control the last 15 minutes of the match with the goal seemingly knocking Virginia Water back. With confidence high Coombes back heeled a pass for Henry Rose who then broke through the defence and the crossed to Joe Eyre for a fine team goal to make 1-3. Just 3 minutes later Coombes was on hand to score a real goal scorers poacher goal to cap a fine display from the bench.

Manager Ben Milner was delighted with the performance and the result continues their impressive run. Sports are now much tighter at the back and the goals are coming from across a range of players. 7 players were unavailable for the match and so this also shows the strength in depth.

The first team are likely to have next weekend off due to the uncertainty over the future of the Carterton first team. They will then be back in action against Thame Rangers followed by Cheltenham Saracens away which will again prove to be two tough games in succession.

uhlsport football kitPremier Division

Fairford Town 1 Windsor 1
Connor Thompson made an instant impact on his return to Cinder Lane with a goal against Windsor. Thompson joined in midweek on loan from Swindon Supermarine and headed home a well-taken leveller against the Berkshire side.

It was Windsor who took the lead with Daniel Roberts finishing from close range to put the visitors ahead with 21 minutes played. Fairford ‘keeper Harrison Ellis made several good first half saves to deny Windsor a second goal, as the score remained 1-0 going into the break.

Thompson then intervened just after the hour, as he directed a pinpoint delivery from captain Callum Preece past visiting keeper Hugo Sobte. Fairford then created a host of chances with John Thomas and Thompson both denied what would have perhaps been a deserved winner for the hosts.

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