Thursday, 23 May 2019

Houseman goal earns side a point in ten-goal thriller

Houseman goal earns side a point in ten-goal thriller

DIVISION 2 promotion hopefuls WOODCOTE/STOKE ROW RESERVES lost further ground at the top of the table when they were held to a 5-5 draw in a thrilling derby clash with GORING UNITED last Saturday.

Driving wind and rain almost throughout ensured that good football would be at a premium and mistakes would have a strong influence.

The die was cast early when Goring snatched the lead through Dan Houseman after two minutes, a goal which owed a lot to defensive hesitancy. Soon afterwards, the visitors could have increased their lead, but a Goring shot cannoned off the upright.

On eight minutes Woodcote had their first chance, but Ben Rusher’s shot was blocked and the same player suffered the same fate soon afterwards after a good cross from Jos Millar.

After 23 minutes it was 1-1 as Craig Antcliffe scored with a good header from Andy Taylor’s fine cross. Ben Fuller scored a spectacular goal to restore Goring’s lead after more defensive errors. Two minutes later it was Taylor’s turn to score with a header to make it 2-2 from Scott Gesner’s cross.

As the half drew to a close there was still time for three more goals, Woodcote taking a 3-2 lead with Tom Brownlow scoring from the spot after a handball. Goring soon had a spot-kick of their own to make it 3-3 through Josh Monk and almost the final kick of the half saw a long-range Dan Offley strike send Woodcote into half-time 4-3 to the good.

Early in the second half former Woodcote player Mark Pearson hammered home from close range to level the scores yet again and in spite of numerous opportunities at both ends the score remained at 4-4 until the introduction of Elliott Harper for Woodcote with 10 minutes remaining.

Harper thought he had won it when he latched onto a through ball to score with a neat finish. With two minutes remaining Woodcote needlessly gave away a free-kick and when the ball was launched into the area the defence failed to clear and the ball was hammered home at close range by Houseman with his second of the match to level the scores.

In Division 3 HAMBLEDEN ran out winners for the first time in 12 years in a competitive fixture against visitors HENLEY TOWN. Before the match the players held a minute’s silence for Remembrance followed by a minute’s applause in memory of Henley’s Reg Grant, the former president of the Oxfordshire FA and Newtown FC stalwart who passed away the previous weekend.

Henley kicked off with the strong wind and driving rain behind them. They kept Hambleden penned in their half for the opening half-hour with good passing as the weather made it hard for the Stags to push up the pitch. Despite Henley having most of the possession they only managed to muster a couple of long range shots to test the home goalkeeper. After a quick tactic change from Hambleden, the hosts started to get at Henley and a good move started on the right ended up forcing the Henley keeper into a smart save from Marius Pilca.

The weather brightened up for the second half as Hambleden started to get on top, hitting the post and crossbar and forcing some smart saves from the Henley keeper.

Against the run of play Henley had the ball in the net when a through ball found the Henley attacker one-on-one with Hambleden keeper Mark Butler who made a good save at the feet of the Town striker, but the ball rebounded off him onto a defender and into the empty net. However, the referee, after consulting his linesman, disallowed the goal for offside.

On the hour mark Hambleden fullback Jim Middleton delivered a good delivery from 35 yards out from a free-kick to the far post and Openshaw volleyed home to make it 1-0.

On 70 minutes a cross from Middleton found debutant Dan James unmarked at the near post and he smashed the ball into the net from three yards. Five minutes from time Openshaw found substitute Gabriel Pinto who wrapped up the scoring by lobbing the Henley keeper from 25 yards.

Further controversy followed as a Henley free-kick from the right of the penalty box was floated over the wall and appeared to be cleared off the line by Openshaw. The Henley players appealed that the ball had crossed the line but the referee and linesman ruled out the strike and waved play on.

Elsewhere in the division GORING UNITED RESERVES went down to a 3-2 defeat at home against WOODLEY UNITED A. Jack Page-Smith bagged both Goring’s goals in the first half as the hosts led 2-1 at half-time.

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