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Pre-Season September

uhlsport football kit2 & 3 August 2016

Premier Division

Ascot United 1 Highmoor-Ibis 2
The Yellamen fought back from having new keeper Carl Dennison sent off in the 28 min and conceding a 45 min goal when Paul Coyne levelled from the penalty spot in the 80th min. However a 93rd min winner from Highmoor was hard on an encouraging Ascot performance considering how many new and old faces where in the team.

Highmoor had the best chance after 10 mins when Antony White headed wide after beating Dennison to the ball. The lively Luke Wilson then had a great run into the heart of the Highmoor defence only to see his shot cleared off the line after 13 mins. Highmoor’s Adam Cashin-Murray then shot wide after creating space on 20 mins.

On 28 mins Dennison clipped the advancing White, and after much debate by the officials he was shown a straight red card. So manager Jeff Lamb donned the keepers jersey. On the stroke of half time White’s pace took him past the Ascot defence and he lobbed Lamb from the edge of the box.

In the second half the injured Louise Gilpin was replaced by Jake Parsons. The first meaningful action saw Lamb save well from White. Straight after that a great Ascot move saw the lively Ben Knight put through but his first touch took away the chance of an equaliser.

On 75 mins Lamb again saved well from Chris Gerrard, then on 82 mins Ascot sub Charlie Samuels was fouled by Danny Lingwood and up stepped the impressive Coyne to level from the resulting penalty. Ascot had a great chance to go ahead in the 90th min when Jack Smillie's overlapping run and pass into Samuels saw him chip onto the bar as the ball took a deflection off Highmoor keeper Nathan Silver.

Deep into added on time Yashwa Romeo went on a run beating a number of Ascot defenders and he passed to Jamie Piercy who beat Lamb with a low shot.

A cruel end for the Yellamen who played well considering they were one man down for so much of the game.

Next match is this Friday evening 7:45pm ko vs Milton Utd in the FA Cup.

Brimscombe & Thrupp 0 Lydney Town 2 (away view)
Town opened their new campaign with a tough looking trip to Brimscombe & Thrupp, a side who beat them 3 times last season .

Without the services of Jack Rutter, Ryan Pendryand Lewis Halford, Town boss Mark Lee was forced to shuffle his pack and started with Mason Lewis pushed more forward on the left flank with Kerry Hale slotting in at fullback. The bench was made up of Harry Williams, Tom Baldwin, Tom Shaw, Dave English and Tom Maxted who pulled out late with a tight hamstring.

The first half, to be honest was a poor affair from both sides, with the home side having the lions share of the possession. They did go close with a couple of headers from set pieces but rarely tested Thomas in Town's goal. For the visitors it was 32 minutes before an effort on goal when Pat Gibbs's effort was comfortably saved by Sparrow.

Referee Perry was a little fussy brandishing yellow cards to Morse & Hale for Lydney in a half splintered with injury hold ups. 16 year old Tom Baldwin replaced Josh Davis at right back 5 minutes before the break but the half ended 0-0.

Lee made a couple of adjustments to begin the second half and Lydney began to look more of a threat. Pat Gibbs was struggling after stretching his groin and was replaced by Dave English before Lydney had the best chance of the game.
Kerry Hale raced through unchallenged but fired his shot wildly over the bar. Pete Macklin then left the field with a tight hamstring with Tom Maxted taking over. Brimscombe responded with two dangerous balls across the face of Lydney's goal but it was Hale again who nearly scored when his drive was expertly saved by Sparrow.

The breakthrough finally came after 72 minutes when Jamie Addis saw his hooked effort on goal blocked by a defenders arm. Referee Perry had no hesitation awarding a penalty, and Declan Morley-Lyne kept his cool to put Lydney in front.

They continued to push forward and Tom Maxted was a big threat up top, going close to a second on two occasions. It arrived after 75 minutes after a great move. Town skipper Jamie Addis played a neat one two with Kerry Hale who hammered a rasping drive into the roof of the net.

Brimscombe pushed forward and substitute Jordan Yeo brought the best out of Thomas with a fine effort from the edge of the box. Mason Lewis became the 3rd Town player to be booked as Lydney defended with everything as the game came to an end. This was a good 3 points for Lydney against a side they normally struggle against, and the second half display showed real promise going forward in a very tough season.

Henley Town 1 Binfield 2 (away view)
Binfield's new look side came back from an early set back at Henley Town, to record a good 2-1 win as Liam Ferdinand brought the Moles level before Michael Walton headed the winner early in the second half.

With the Moles making most of the early play, their hosts looked dangerous on the break, with their pace causing Binfield a couple of early problems. With 15 minutes played a fast break down the right saw Ben Clark meet a great early right wing cross to stab Town into the lead.

But with Liam Ferdinand and Luke Scope a constant threat going forwards, the Moles weren't behind long and when James Knight and Ferdinand combined well on the edge of the box on 22 minutes, the Moles striker opened his season's account with a firm left foot shot from 15 yards.

Moments later the Moles front man could have put the Moles in front, but skied his shot from Scope's square pass, seconds after Ferdinand had shaved the post ending the Moles best move of the night. Scope and Hopper also came close, but it remained 1-1 at the break.

Binfield again started the second half brighter and when Jake White forced a corner, Michael Walton rose highest to meet Alex Luis' perfect right wing cross and head home.

Binfield continued to press and could have added to their lead when Scope headed narrowly wide from 8 yards.

With time running out, the hosts forced some good chances to take a point, with Garry Aulsberry twice saving well in the space of a minute. And with 4 minutes of added time already played, Aulsberry again had to be alert, pushing over Warren Baxter's 18 yard drive, with the final whistle coming seconds later.

So the Moles open with a win and good performances all round, especially from stand in centre half Tom Hopper, who made a Binfield come back to cover for an early season gap with James Charlton unavailable and Alex Walton suffering a pre-season broken nose.

Flackwell Heath FC: 3 Bracknell Town 1
On a rainy night, the Heathens played their first game of the new season against local rivals Bracknell Town FC. Anyone who came to watch expecting a competitive game were not disappointed.

Bracknell started the brighter of the 2 sides and had most of the play in the first 15 minutes. It was therefore no surprise when they took the lead on 5 minutes from the penalty spot after Dan Weait brought down Ian Davies. Callum Whitty slotting it into the back of the net to take an early lead. 0-1.
The Heathens did well to keep the score at 1-0 gradually getting into the game and levelled the score 7 minutes later from a corner with Jamie Tripp drifting onto the back post and having a free header, the Bracknell's defence were nowhere to be seen and he had the simple task of heading it into an empty net. 1-1.
This goal spurred the Heathens on and after a good build up involving Sturgess, Blount, Burnell and Gokman, Ben Sturgess squared the ball across the 6 yard box finding Dan Rapley who side-footed it into an empty net. 2-1.
The second half started in the same vein as the first with Bracknell on top for the first 5 minutes but the Heathens weathered the storm and gradually gained the ascendancy. Their efforts were rewarded with a well deserved 3rd goal scored by Joe Blount who lost his defender and met a precision cross from Dan Burnell. 3-1. This virtually killed the game off! The Heathens continued the pressure and could have had a couple more.

An excellent result for the Heathens and especially for Paul Shone's new management.

Longlevens 1 Oxford City Nomads 1
The real serious stuff kicked off last night for Longlevens’ home match at the Sawmills with the earlier rain making the pitch greener and greener. Opponents were the Nomads a strong and very good footballing side who Levens had took only one point from six last season were going to be a tough opener, and as the match unfolded so was the case.

Very early play was a tentative start by both sides and first few minutes little of note to report until Brad Martin set up brother Craig Martin with a sharp pass to feet, with Craig turning and shooting and the ball took a deflection and hit the bottom of the post.

Nomad’s young players 4 Amer Awadh in midfield and 9 Billy Gillett were starting to catch the eye and Gillett broke away (several times later) broke loose with a good run on goal and Ollie Hall for Levens did well to save. Awadh was showing up well in the centre of the park with his skills on the ball.
We then had a flurry of activity around the Nomads goal at the Hotel end – a surging run by Merrick and back heal; an ambitious 45 yard (!) grass cutter shot by B.Martin examples.
Nomad’s right back Drew Boyd was getting forward a lot down the right wing; Awadh was pulling the strings in midfield and Nomads had a spell well on top and Ollie Hall had to be at his best to save three consecutive strikes and shots on target. This pressure was increased and exasperated by Levens giving the ball away to too easily in all areas of the pitch.

Levens rallied and McDonald was judged offside after Levens best move so far. Then it was no real surprise that after 25 minutes a poor ball out from the defence was intercepted by Awadh and a defence splitting pass sent his colleague away Gillett and he sped away and stroked the ball past Hall. Too easy!..... Levens 0-1 down.
Another forward rally, and the forwards and midfield were doing well really, saw Adam Hughes give a lovely ball into Brad Martin who spectacularly flicked up and turned with a volley just over…..could have been a great goal in the making but not far off over the bar.

More giving the ball away badly was sad features of Levens play this half bringing the odd supressed moans from the “shed” and the consequences were often Ollie Hall having to make last ditch saves many with his quick feet. Billy Gillett 9 in a hunched up shoulder style of run (Gary Owen/Chris Waddle?!) was causing lots of Levens defensive troubles and was a handful for the twin centre halves. Making several strong runs and dribbles prompted well by midfield ace the slightly built Amer Awadh who showed much surprising strength when in possession. Levens offered a cross from the right by B.Martin and Smyllie got on the end of with a good header which had Nomads scrambling.

Frenchy and the boys to talk frankly no doubt, with plenty to work on and to put right.
One hoped for improvement by Levens in the second half (such as in the recent Cirencester game) kicking towards the “Power office” end which seems favourite attacking end?
Improvement was there straight away – Brad Martin broke away and a right foot floater hit the Nomads post; Nomads couldn’t clear the rebound very well; Craig Martin shot and a clear hand went up – PENALTY! ….. Good refereeing well on the spot. Shaun O’Connor 47 minutes converted. 1-1
Levens were really taking the game this half to Nomads with some of their players started to wander. Levens were creating chances and Nomad’s defenders were throwing bodies in the way. Nomads were now under the cosh but Levens defence had to be alert and vigilante as influential Awadh placed a great ball inside Dunn full back and it wasn’t “seen out” and Peake-Pijnen retrieved on the by-line and Levens were stretched to clear. A clear indicator Nomads still were a threat.

Substitution: 55 minutes Dave Rich on for Craig Martin
Levens were still rampant going forward and Brad Martin hit the post and a good ball from Hughes but O’Connor away with one on one but Nomads keeper and captain Lawrence saved well yet again. Levens were keeping Lawrence busy. McDonald and O’Connor had decent efforts.

Substitution: 74 minutes Brad Vanstone on for Shaun O’Connor
The game could go either way now and the next goal if it came was going to be the winner. More flurry of activity in the Nomads area – Brad Martin brought out another save with goalie feet; Merrick shot headed away; from corner Smyllie’s great header nearly did it; another header cleared off the line
Substitution: 80 minutes Scott Montgomery on for Ryan McDonald

85 minutes Booking – Dave Rich Levens
Free kicks frequent now and when planted in Levens had 2-3 shots blocked as Nomads hung on for the draw. Awadh and Gillett were a constant threat and both went on mazy dribbles with desperate tackles stopping and one hoped we wouldn’t give away a last minute penalty. We didn’t and there was just time for Vanstone to shoot over with a last minute half chance his speed having created the chance. Fine margins. Remained 1-1
Ironic result as Levens had only two draws all last season and one being Nomads at home! Have a good season Nomads and thanks for contributing to an entertaining game; Awadh and Gillett guys to watch….one Nomad coach please calm down, calm down, calm down mate it’s a long season!
MOM Keeper Ollie Hall with Ryan McDonald improving as he returns to the beutiful game after some time out. Brad Martin as dangerous as ever to the opposition. Everybody scrapped and fought.

Royal Wootton Bassett 2 Carterton 3 (away view)
Carterton made the trip to face a much changed Royal Wootton Bassett side who have made a number of impressive signings, notably goalscorer TJ Bohane from Highworth. The visitors had a new look about them too, with Max Dunmall, Toby Egden, Kieran Davis, Sam Collier and Conor Barrett all making their debuts.

The pitch was in fantastic condition and it was our hosts who started much better. Carterton were pinned deep in their half and the only real surprise was that it took 9 minites for the hosts to score. Bohane, who was a threat all night, did brilliantly to beat Calley before unselfishly squaring for Bailey to slot home. Carterton on the ball looked composed but at times struggled to deal with the movement of Bassett. As the half hour approached Carterton started to get a foothold in the game, Davis forcing the Bassett keeper into a fine save down low. This small period of pressure was to pay off when the lively Johnson latched onto a fine through ball from Sadler, before controlling well and firing into the far corner. This looked set to be the half time score, but again the visitors were punished for the slighest of hesitations in defence. Again Bohane was quicker to the ball before cutting in and setting up Bailey once again, 2-1 to the hosts at half time.

Carterton knew that they were very much in the game, and the main job was stopping Bohane. This plan very nearly went out the windown when within two minutes of the restart, whilst admittingly looking offside, Bohane was afforded the freedom of the penalty area, but Max Dunmall made a great reaction save. Looking back this was a key turning point.

At times Bassett were moving the ball without too much pressure, so Forbes was brought on for Gilkes as Carterton switched to 433. Heap soon entered the game, replacing goalscorer Johnson. Forbes was soon in the thick of things, his run from deep saw him felled on the each of the area. After a delay to treat an injury, Forbes stepped up and expertly curled the ball into the top corner....2-2. Momentum was now with the visitors and within two minutes the comeback was complete. A throw in evaded the Bassett left back and Collier controlled well before swivelling and shooting into the far corner. It was a goal worthy of winning any match and summed up why we are all delighted to welcome Sam to the club.

A nervy 5 minute spell saw Bohane coming close with a low free kick, which Dunmall did well to hold.

3-2 it finished, in what was a very even opening game, thankfully the result went our way.

A fantastic squad effort. Young defenders Egden and Barrett were imense, whilst Simon Calley was dominant in defence. Davies and Collier offered a great outlet and did not stop running for the side.

Role on Saturday where we face Highmoor Ibis at home in the FA Cup

Thatcham Town 0 Ardley United 1
Ardley United opened their season with a single goal victory at Thatcham Town on Tuesday evening, on a damp and gloomy evening in Berkshire. The visitors scored after twenty minutes and then weathered a second half barrage from their hosts, however the defence stood firm and restricted Town to long range efforts with no real threat to Lee Farrow in the United goal, and the points headed back to Ardley to start the season in the best way possible.

Ardley threatened as early as the fourth minute when Matt Cruse sprung the Thatcham offside trap and cut in from the left to flash the ball across the goal mouth but as no one had caught up with play, it rolled agonisingly wide of the upright. Five minutes later the home side hit the post after a break away attack saw Jemel Johnson feed Jon Bennett but his deft flick bounced back of the upright, and Joel Meade was on hand to clear. A sixteenth minute corner saw Ashleigh James head wide of Farrows right hand post, and moments later came the only goal of the game, when a long defensive clearance was flicked on to Elias Katsoloudi and he drilled home from close range.

Callum Willmoth then skipped away down the Town right and sent over a looping cross but at the back post United skipper Luke Cray headed away to safety with several men in home shirts looking to head home. Moments before the interval Ardley almost snatched a second when a ball into the six yard box saw two defenders lunge into each other, the loose ball fell to Ade Talabi who fired at goal but the Town keeper Curtis Meare blocked with his body, with the ball looping in the air Cruse leapt to head but with no pace on the ball he could only head straight into the grateful keepers arms. A minute before the break the Thatcham skipper Tom Melledew fired a long range effort over the crossbar with little other option available. H/T: 0-1

The second half started with little between the sides, and a midfield battle ensued, and anything Town put near the United goal was easily mopped up and cleared by the defence. Just past the hour mark a poor clearance from Meare fell to Ardley substitute Jack Ross some twenty five yards from goal, he hit the loose ball first time at the empty goal but a defender got enough on the ball to take the sting out of the effort, and allowed Meare to smoother with ease. Thatcham then went straight up the other end and Willmoth fizzed an effort past Farrows right post.

With twenty five minutes remaining the home side made a double switch up front, taking off both Bennett and Johnson and the switch gave Thatcham some pace and strength that looked like it could pay off. Within a minute a free kick was awarded just outside the Ardley box, and substitute Shane Cooper-Clark bent the ball around the wall but straight into Farrows arms. Reece Bayliss then seized upon a loose ball and ran a full forty five yards with the ball on the break, with a defender trailing him and Talabi combined well only for the latter to fire at goal and watch as it slowly rolled wide. With nine minutes left a throw to the home side saw the ball flicked on and from eighteen yards Josh Helmore fired over the top from the middle of goal. A minute later another ball up to the edge of the Ardley area this time found James Tennant, and with limited options again he decided to shoot but blazed way over the top. With moments left a hasty clearance from Meare saw the ball fall to ex-Kingfisher Adam Morris just inside the Town half, he went for goal with Meare stranded but the ball bounced wide of the left hand post and away to safety. Ardley then saw out the remaining minutes to secure the win at the side who finished second in the division last season.

Milton United 1 Hook Norton 2
The opening league game for these teams produced a decent encounter, bossed in the first period by Hookie, whereby the guests really ought to have been more goals ahead than the very early Dan Watkin rebound, following a fumble by home ‘keeper Lee Wise. The slope, the breeze and the ascendancy were all with the visitors and Milton rarely bothered Hookie goalie Kurt Fox. The second-half was more of a contest, with the hosts protecting Wise better and breaking themselves with more menace, equalising through Daniele Piscopo with a spectacular shot off the crossbar but then dodging the bullet twice, when Wise was unable to hold onto free-kicks by Watkin and left-back Niall Higgins, although his defenders bailed him out both times. Eventually though, Milton felt aggrieved when Hookie won the ball in defence, Hook Norton forward Stevie Howkins initiated a break and fed his skipper Joe Eyre for a wonderful winner from outside the penalty-box, just minutes from the final whistle. Disaster for the improved United, joy and a deserved victory for Hookie, for whom Watkin was excellent throughout, Dan Reeves a real danger on the flanks and Eyre a solid leader.

Tom Austin and Frankie Merola were the two home players to test their guests before the break but Austin’s free-kick was off target and Merola’s header from a corner was nodded off the goal-line by the alert Matt Keenan, wearing 16, not 6… The visitors though were rampant after Watkin’s goal, which stemmed from sustained attacking. Howkins’ downward header had beaten Wise, Merola hacked the ball from his goal-line, Howkins fed Luc Thornton on the left, received the ball back again and twisted clear of Austin, before firing in a shot from 19 yards, which bounced in front of Wise, who fumbled it onto the boot of Watkin and the central defender simply couldn’t miss.

Wise was then subjected to a number of crosses, which he often had trouble dealing with, dropping one behind him, fumbling a corner won by Howkins’ deflected low centre and leading to Thornton’s wasteful finish but managing to get slight punches on a couple of other deliveries, before Howkins intercepted the unwise Wise’s later pass to a defender but was saved on that occasion by skipper Jon Stott. A couple of headers bounced wide of the Milton goal, from attacking right-back Nathan Bott and the powerful James McMahon, who would suffer an injury and be replaced by Dan Newman prior to the interval. He did smash a 40 yard volley over the goal-frame from Howkins’ hook on for Hookie however, but then Reeves got away on the right soon afterwards, onto another astute Howkins pass but Stott deflected the ensuing low centre. Thornton shot too high and later straight to Wise, Howkins had a shot blocked and then drove a free-kick off the top of the Milton defensive wall, before the half ended with a corner for the guests, which saw Watkin frustrated with a bundled shot past the left upright.

Drizzle spewed onto the turf during the break and it was interesting that Hookie did a short ‘warm-up’ before the second period started, whereas the hosts waited for the whistle to sound. Yet it was Milton who looked to start the half more strongly, finally beginning to win aerial balls more regularly and despite a low Eyre shot wide, Scott Davies and company kept their guests away from their penalty-area, something they hadn’t done too well before the interval. Indeed, United broke clear to score an unlikely equaliser, Piscopo latching onto a punted clearance, which led to Dean Snelling and Bott being stranded and the winger getting away to slam a rising shot against the underside of the crossbar, the turning ball then entering the net like a Monty Panesar spinner.

Milton saw an offside flag raised when a Davies back-header bounced off the crossbar, striker Adam Bruce had a couple of efforts blocked by a more engaged Hookie defence, Davies headed wide, as a couple of corners threatened and one clearance by the visitors bounced off replacement Patrick Howe’s shins but straight to the relieved Fox. A late, if hurried effort by Merola cleared the goal-frame by some distance but at least the hosts had given a better account of themselves, backed by the slope and the breeze after the half-time rest.

Hookie still managed to threaten more directly however and Watkin, who had made a first-half surge, almost Beckenbauer-like, headed downwards but into a Wise pair of hands, but also fired in a 23 yard drive, which lifted, swerved then dipped only just past the left angle of bar and upright, before Higgins’ 22 yard free-kick was fumbled by Wise, with a defender helping him out and no Hookie nearby to capitalise like Watkin had earlier. Howkins, who had been penalised a couple of times during the first 45 minutes, harshly he felt, and had thus been ‘addressed’ by the referee, was instrumental in the visitors’ offensive play during the final 25 minutes, setting up both Thornton and Reeves for very dangerous left-flank crosses and then nodding the ball inside for Thornton to threaten at the right post, where only a fine challenge by Davies saved parity.

A Watkin free-kick from 25 yards lashed into Wise’s chest, allowing left-back Mark Burton to thrash the ball clear, as no Hookie again reacted to the rebound but the visitors won the game late, through the ingenuity of Howkins and the shooting ability of his skipper. A challenge 20 yards from his own goal by Eyre and Reeves on Austin led to the United man falling but the referee was not impressed by the United calls for a foul, so Eyre ran forth, shoved a pass left towards Howkins and ran in support. Howkins didn’t take the ball cleanly but recovered to square the ball to Eyre, who veered left and powered a great left-booter past the flailing Wise and high into the right corner of the net… A fitting winner.

Certainly a much improved second-half by Milton but they just didn’t have enough to upset Hookie, whose determination won through in the end. Watkin continued to impress for the guests, alongside Snelling, as did Reeves, with Keenan and Eyre always prominent and Howkins a trickster. Jon Naish battled in midfield for the hosts, Merola prevented a score and was prevented from scoring with goal-line clearances and Davies defended more stoutly after the break, as did skipper Stott. Piscopo took his goal well and threatened on rare occasions but the game will surely be remembered for two fine left-footed strikes by the two number elevens

Tuffley Rovers 2 Highworth Town
Mark Pritchett's reign as Tuffley Rovers manager started in perfect fashion, as Warren Mann's brace, including a last minute winner, saw them pick up all three points against Highworth Town.

Following his appointment in the summer, Pritchett selected five debutants for Rovers, with new keeper Dave Evans appearing alongside Ben Tunnicliff, Jamie Goodwin, Sam Hill and Player/Assistant Manager, Shayne Anson, whilst Liam Wright and Courtney Hamilton were selected ahead of Henry Birkett and Shayne Bradley, who had both had good pre-season campaigns.

The opening thirty minutes saw few chances for either side, with possession and territory shared fairly evenly. Neither Evans, nor his opposite number, Max Schofield, were troubled by the opposition attacks, although Brett James might have done better for Rovers on 35 minutes, after he had brilliantly created space for himself by evading challenges from two Highworth defenders, only to balloon his shot high and wide of the goal.

Mann and Hamilton both had chances, but the former saw his tame shot comfortably saved, before his team-mate saw his shot deflected narrowly over the bar and the sides entered the interval all square.

The game continued in a similar vein after the interval, with neither side creating a clear opportunity and both defences in good form, with new centre-back partnership Anson and Tunnicliff marshalling their defence fantastically, constantly seeing off threat from Highworth's prolific striker, Ashley Eddenborough. Full-backs Hill and Tristan Haswell were also in terrific form, meaning that Evans had little work to attend to in the Rovers’ goal.

The pace of Rovers' attacking players had stretched the Highworth Town back four throughout and although James was withdrawn, being replaced by Bradley, this threat continued to give Pritchett's team hope of snatching a result against one of the traditionally high-flying Premier Division teams.

It was the highly impressive Mann, playing in an unfamiliar striker's role, who produced a moment of quality to turn the game, as he drew a reckless challenge from a Highworth defender, on 71 minutes, which saw the referee award a penalty. The diminutive, long-serving player got up to smash home the resultant spot-kick, high into the net, as Rovers took the lead.

Five minutes later, the game took another twist in Pritchett’s favour, as Highworth's Fabian McCarthy was sent off for a second bookable offence, giving Rovers a numerical advantage in terms of playing numbers and the scoreline.

If Pritchett hoped his team's excellent defensive performance would be enough to secure three points, he reckoned without Jordan Roberts' superb, curling 22 yard free-kick six minutes from time, as Highworth looked to have claimed a share of the spoils.

With moments remaining, however, young midfielder Liam Wright, jinked his way into enough space to find the time to tee Mann up to bend the ball past Schofield and send the Rovers supporters into raptures and hand Pritchett the perfect start to his material career.

Tuffley Rovers 2 Highworth Town 1 (away view)
With only one survivor from last season’s campaign, it was soon obvious that the Worthians and their new management team of Jeff Roberts, Drew Youngsam and Ant Brown, would need more time to bed in. Tuffley, on the other hand, seemed ready for action and were pressing and harrying from the off and were not about to let the visitors settle into any kind of pattern of play.

However, despite a lot of toing and froing, neither of the keepers was really tested in the first half hour and by the break, I had counted only two real attacking chances. The first saw Aysa Corrick dance through the Tuffley defence on the left flank and as he got to the by-line near to a post, he chose to shoot from a very tight angle when a short pass into the six yard box may have proven more fruitful. Tuffley’s best chance of the half saw Brett James drive into space on the edge of the box with a few minutes left before the whistle but his shot missed the target with only Max Scholefield to beat.

After the break, there were again few real opportunities for either side to break the deadlock. The Worthians pressed hard but then became somewhat vulnerable to the quick counter-attack. After 70 minutes or so, one such break ended with Warren Mann carrying the ball into the Worthian box and he was upended by a rash challenge which resulted in a penalty kick. The Tuffley man of the match then converted the spot kick to give the Rovers the lead.

Shortly afterwards, the Worthians were down to ten men after a harsh booking saw Fabian McCarthy sent off the field of play and the task of getting back into the game looked a less likely prospect.

However, the Worthians did not give up and after a particularly robust defensive challenge, Jordan Roberts stepped up to score a top drawer strike from 25 yards from the resulting free-kick.

A draw looked certain at this point but with literally seconds to go, a drop in concentration allowed Liam Wright to cut in from the by-line and deliver the ball into Warren Mann who finished from a tight angle to get his second of the evening and give the Rovers an unexpected victory.

Early days yet, but Jeff will quickly want to put this defeat behind him and focus on getting the players ready for the next match against Tadley Calleva. It is always tough to start with a completely new side and inevitably the first few games will be challenging but I am confident that the boys will soon get used to each other’s playing styles and show their worth as a team!

One West

Abingdon United 2 Fairford Town 2 (away view)
The Reds took a deserved lead into the half-time interval but were pegged back in the second half with a leveller 20 minutes from time before the winner shortly before the full-time whistle.

Visiting boss Gareth Davies included four summer signings in his startling eleven with the most recent recruit, Nathan Blackford, starting in midfield with former Highworth defender Chris Jackson amongst a strong bench.

The Reds carved out early chances with Josh Morse, formerly of Swindon Supermarine, going close before Jack Ellis and Ben Saunders had opportunities.

A man who returned to Cinder Lane in the summer, Dan Drewett, made his mark with 21 minutes played to open Fairford’s goalscoring tally for the new campaign. Having been played in by Ellis, he slid the ball home to give the Reds a deserved lead.
Abingdon were denied soon after with Steve Hall getting back to clear the danger with Ben Mitchell beaten in the visitors’ goal.

Drewett went close again after the half hour mark with Ellis denied by the impressive Savin before the interval.

With heavy rain greeting the players for the second period, the visitors made a change on the hour with Lee Smith on for Ellis in the frontline.

Abingdon’s pressure told with 76 on the clock as captain Graham Edney fired the ball home to bring his side back on level terms.
Jackson was then brought off the bench for his Reds’debut, replacing Hall at left-back, before fellow substitute Smith was denied by a fine save from Savin.

Lewis Petrie entered the fray for the final five minutes but it was the home side who made the breakthrough. Mitchell could only parry an 88th minute effort with the ball falling loose to Harry Taylor who made no mistake from close range to secure a first league win of 2016 for the hosts.

F/T: Abingdon United 2 Fairford Town 1

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