The new season is upon us, with seven new/returning teams entering the fray taking the total number of teams this season to 50, in this 116th season of the Witney and District. The opening day saw nineteen fixtures take place, across all four divisions, with plenty of goals and drama.
Just the two games in the top league to get the season underway but plenty of goals and drama, including three penalties to get us started. Stephen Pearce’s hat-trick was the determining factor as Milton Under Wychwood bested Enstone. Enstone took the lead in the 7th minute thanks to Liam Harris’ goal but then Milton turned on the style to have three on the board in the next ten minutes. Stephen Pearce levelled from the edge of the box in the 12th minute before Josh Catling’s penalty gave Milton a 2-1 lead. From the restart, Milton pressed high, Louis Breaks won the ball before calmly slipping Pearce through who grabbed his second of the game to put Milton 3-1 up by the 17th minute. Into the second half and nothing much happened until the 71st minute when Pearce was fouled in the box. He picked himself up and dusted himself off to take the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way for his hat-trick. Four minutes later, Enstone had their own penalty after defensive confusion in the Milton box. Nathan Bott firing home to reduce the deficit to two. But the goal of the game was saved till last. Louis Break’s lining up a 30-yard volley after a lofted clearance from a corner, saw the ball sail into the top corner to the Milton contingent’s delight. A 5-2 win to start the season, and top spot to go with it by the end of day one for Milton under Wychwood.
The other fixture pitted champions against champions as Premier Division winners Hailey hosted last year’s Division One champions Carterton United, and it would be the newly promoted side who would take all three points. Liam Felstead scored from the spot for Carterton with Conner Townsend adding another. Cam Foster and Freddie Buckingham got Hailey back in the game, but Jack Bellenger’s brace settled the game and gave Carterton a positive start to life back at the top with a 4-2 win.
Whilst Carterton were making the perfect start to life in the Premier Division, the three sides promoted into Division One had more sobering afternoons.
Champions Cassington Rangers managed to hold their own for long periods against Chadlington but were ultimately undone by Chadlington’s better composure in front of goal. Lee Ashworth finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute with Owen Hancock securing the points with his 90th minute strike for the away side in a 2-0 win.
Brize Norton and Combe only finished three league places apart last season and an entertaining encounter at Brize Rec produced no less than fourteen goals. Ciaran Northwood and Ryan Stockford both scored two each for Combe only for Dylan Briggs and Joe Hatt to do the same for Brize. Franki Comley, Elliot Want and Louis Ashcroft all scored one more for Combe with Michael Arkell stealing the plaudits as he went and notched a hat-trick to send Combe top at this early stage.
Eynsham hosted Tower Hill on their first afternoon back in Division One but couldn’t find a way past the organised Tower back line and succumbed to a 3-0 defeat. Jack Scott scored twice, including one from the spot. Matthew Gallagher added a third as Tower left with all three points.
Lewis Scott and Charlie McCulloch both scored twice as Aston ran out comfortable 5-0 winners against Hailey Reserves. Andrew Horne added the extra goal in Aston’s opening day win.
Hanborough Reserves are back in the Witney and District and returned with a tidy 3-0 away victory at Spartan Rangers. Lewis Jarvis’s goal gave Boro a deserved half time lead. Jack Simmonds and Alpha Breezy Kamara added a goal apiece in the second half for three points on the road.
A Josh Haynes brace was enough to give Heyford Athletic all three points at home to Witney Royals.
Of the six fixtures to be played in Division Two, four of them were settled by a margin of one goal.
The late kick off at Bampton produced a seven-goal thriller as Siege FC hosted newly promoted Division Three champions, Yarnton A. Yarnton produced the goods in front of goal, Alex Hickman’s strike alongside Daniel Saunderson’s brace had Yarnton hoping for at least a point. But Siege have recruited strongly this summer and three new boys got on the scoresheet to edge victory. Ryan Barrass and Ryan Colleton scored one each, with Chris Hirons’ brace stealing the points in a 4-3 win.
Sancho Reis’ solitary goal was enough to give promoted Wootton three points as they beat Chadlington Reserves by a single goal.
Faringdon Town Development made a positive start to life in Division Two with a 2-1 win over CHQ United. Troy Weaven scored for CHQ United, a newly formed team with some of the players from the Hatherop sides from last season. Faringdon hit back though, goals from Justin Yates and Luke Smith giving Town a deserved three points.
Witney Royals Reserves beat Milton under Wychwood Reserves by the odd goal in five to secure an opening day victory. Dan Olczyk’s brace for Milton ensured it was a hard-fought battle to the end but a Stuart George brace for Royals cancelled out Olczyk’s efforts and Ian Barrett grabbed a third for the three points.
A stirring second half performance from FC Mills earned all three points in a testing battle against Leafield. A first half with plenty of endeavour but no end product eventually saw Leafield take the lead in the 40th minute thanks to Alan Carmago. It took just eight minutes of the second half for Mills to draw level, a neat flick from Daz Craig put Adam Butcher through who neatly slotted home and it was the same connection again, as Craig’s flick released Butcher who this time squared to James Morgan to fire home in the 63rd minute. Mills had daylight by the 75th minute with Butcher scoring his second but as the game ticked into the final ten minutes, there were still four goals to be scored. Three came in three frantic minutes. First Jamie Aust looked to have put the game to bed for Mills as they went 4-1 up in the 83rd minute. Leafield weren’t giving up though and Handson Costa raced through on goal, neatly rounded the keeper and slotted home. Direct from kick off though, Mills stretched clear, a long ball over the top caught the keeper in no mans land and Butcher lobbed him to complete his hat-trick. Leafield weren’t going away quietly though and in the 92nd minute Marcus Vinicius slotted home to score Leafield’s third but couldn’t stop the points going home with Mills.
Moreton Rangers Reserves are another new side in the fold and they also produced a stirring second half performance to earn all three points to go top of the league. After a goalless first half against Kingham. the game burst into life after the break. Javan Nurse’s brace put Moreton in control, only for Damian Corbin to pull one back for Kingham. Any hopes of a Kingham point were extinguished by Lee Brooks’ brace and Moreton ran out 4-1 winners.
Aston Reserves kicked off after their first team in a double header at Aston and promptly followed suit by grabbing all three points on the opening day. Nikolas Zawal and Alex Murrel scored for Aston with Lewis Wild replying for Eynsham. Nick Angus came off the bench for the red men and scored a third for Aston to guarantee all the points in a 3-1 win.
Bampton United Reserves kicked off their new life with a tight 3-2 win against Faringdon Town A. Lestyn Morgan-Jones and Paul Eaton scored for Faringdon but Alex Timms matched their effort with two of his own and Samuel Brinkley fired home a third for all three points.
Heyford Athletic Reserves are another new team in the Witney and District and also won by the slenderest of margins, against Sherborne Harriers. As per usual, Josh Betteridge was on target for Sherborne, with team mates Darren Bartlett and Adam Moody taking Harriers’ tally to three. But Heyford went one better thanks to George Stimson, Dion Mukono, Jamie Hadley and Connor Mills.
Kingham Reserves beat Leafield by the same scoreline. A 90th minute penalty giving Kingham all three points after a 4-3 win.
Only one draw in the division as Spartan Rangers Reserves earned themselves a point against Carterton Town. Josh Henry and Lee Williams scored one each for Town. Euan Clarke and Lee Scoles hit back for Spartan for a share of the spoils.