Sunday, 29 March 2020
THREE first-half goals set Watlington Town on their way to the final of this year’s Oxfordshire Charity Cup.
The hosts had to withstand heavy pressure to topple favourites Marston Saints, who play at a higher level, sitting in second place in the Oxford Senior League.
Town got the game underway and got about the visitors from the start, not allowing them to get into any kind of rhythm.
Then, in rather fortuitous circumstances, the hosts took the lead after 15 minutes when Marston’s goalkeeper miskicked his clearance straight to Kev Hudson who slotted home into an empty net.
Marston drew level shortly afterwards when their lively number 10 was tripped and they were awarded a penalty, which was smashed into the net.
This caused Town to raise their game further and their high pressing all over the park was causing the visitors to concede possession cheaply.
Hudson and Chris Swales were lively, not giving the Marston defenders time on the ball.
Eventually this paid dividends when Hudson chased a through ball and was brought down on the edge of the 18-yard box by the last man. The defender received a yellow card and Hudson was temporarily replaced by Jason Williams.
Chris Witchell then smashed the resulting free kick against the underside of the bar and Williams was there to guide the ball into the corner of the net with his first touch 10 seconds after coming on.
The visitors were rattled and Town took full advantage. Swales increased his side’s lead after beating his man down the left before cutting the ball back to Brandon Burton to tap home from six yards out.
The second half saw Marston gain more possession and string more forward passes together but Town again extended their lead.
Swales picked up another assist when he laid the ball back to Alex B’Layachi who drove his effort from 25 yards over the goalkeeper into the far top corner.
Marston continued to try and find their way back into the game and they got their reward when a corner kick was headed back across goal at the back post for a simple tap in to make it 4-2.
With 30 minutes to play, Town brought on some fresh legs in Ben Little and Calum Scrivens but Marston’s superior fitness meant they kept probing the hosts’ defence.
They set up a nervy last 10 minutes when they found another goal with some good interplay which was followed by a tidy finish.
But Town dug in deep and, despite Marston having most of the ball, they could not find their way through.
Marston’s last chance to equalise came when a tired tackle on the edge of the 18-yard box gave them a shot at goal but, instead of shooting, they over lofted the ball to the back post and it went out for a goal kick.
• Watlington Town will face Cropredy, who currently sit top of the Oxford Senior League, on April 18 in the cup final.
16 March 2020
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