HOSTS Woodcote/Stoke Row put in a good performance to defeat third placed Cookham Dean in the Senior Division of the Reading League on Saturday.
Woodcote, playing their first match since December 14, gave notice of intent in the first minute as Ryan Corbett went close with a long-range effort.
Ross Weatherstone tried a similar ploy moments later, but his shot was safely held by ex-Woodcote keeper, Nick Bovingdon.
The match became more even with the visitors having a couple of chances of their own.
Kane Roberts in the Woodcote goal made a couple of smart saves and came out bravely to deny an onrushing forward on the half-hour mark. He was fortunate to see a Cookham effort rebound off the upright.
When the deadlock was finally broken, it was Woodcote who got the advantage. Michael Butcher, returning to the club after an absence of several years, took advantage of a rebound off a defender and rifled home from the edge of the box on 35 minutes.
Three minutes later, man-of-the-match Butcher was instrumental in Woodcote increasing their lead. His deep free-kick was headed goalwards by Weatherstone and skipper Jim Hancock was first to the ball to head home in a crowded six-yard box.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Woodcote on top, but Cookham looking dangerous on the break.
For a long time it looked as if there would be no further score, but the final frantic 15 minutes proved otherwise.
On 75 minutes the referee spotted an infringement by Hancock in a crowded Woodcote penalty area and the home team were relieved to see the spot kick blasted high over the bar.
A minute later Woodcote made it 3-0 when Ryan Corbett took advantage of a poor back pass to slot home.
This seemed to inspire the visitors and they quickly narrowed the gap when Chris Ellis scored a goal almost identical to Butcher’s in the first half.
As the match entered stoppage time Paul Sharpe pulled another goal back for the visitors.
l In Division 4, WARGRAVE RESERVES maintained their promotion push with a 5-1 home win against BAUGHURST AFC RESERVES.