Junior Shield Quarter Finals
The three remaining Junior Shield quarter finals played out at the weekend, completing the line up for the final four. Heyford Athletic edged through on penalties last week, and were joined by two more Witney and District sides by the end of Saturday.
Charlbury and Ducklington followed suit by needing spot kicks to determine the eventual winner. A tight encounter at Nine Acres saw chances few and far between, with Brad Ford equal to an early Alex Croft strike and Archie Bradbury rescuing a loose ball from a Ducklington free kick before a yellow shirt could prod home. The game changed in the 39th minute, when Frank Clarke’s free kick from 20 yards deflected wickedly off a red shirt in the box, and lopped past the stranded Bradbury. It took Charlbury less than 60 seconds to equalise though. Craig McCallum’s lofted free kick was met bravely by the head of Archie Hawley, who flicked it past the onrushing Ford and into the net.
Duck started the brighter of the two in the second half, Harvey Butler firing wide from the edge of the six-yard box before Dan Stanley forced a good save from Bradbury. Into the final twenty and the impetus shifted from trying to win it to not making a mistake. Chaos at a Charlbury corner was eventually resolved as Bradbury plucked the ball from a Charlbury boot. George Townsend resorted to a 30-yard volley to try and win it but saw his effort fly just wide. Penalties required and the first six were safely slotted away. Frank Clarke then missed his, wide of the right-hand post and with Charlbury scoring their fourth the pressure shifted to Tom Shore. His strike cleared the crossbar and Charlbury celebrated.
Tower Hill continued their incredible season by advancing to the semi-finals of the Junior Shield. They caused a minor upset, beating Stonesfield from the Premier Division to advance. A single Sam Britnell goal was enough to earn a place under the lights on neutral turf in the last four.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be a clean sweep for the region. Bampton battled valiantly against a strong Hardwick Sports side already responsible for the elimination of Eynsham and Hailey from the competition. They limited their opposition to two goals but couldn’t find a way past the Hardwick defence and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
Hanborough were the last representatives of the W&D in the Charity Cup but were eliminated by a very strong Woodcote side. Craig Johnson did at least find the net but couldn’t prevent the 4-1 reverse.
The top league was thrown a curveball on Friday night after Carterton United withdrew themselves from the competition. With less than 75% of fixtures completed, it means all their results are expunged and the remainder of the competition will be played with one less competitor. Any previously played fixtures have been cancelled, jumbling the table and opening the door for a few other teams to mount a title charge.
One thing it didn’t change was the fact that RAF Brize and Hook Norton were still the top two, and faced off against each other this Saturday. A win for Brize would have put them seven points clear at the top and they scored through Allando Davis, but Hook Norton had other ideas and reduced the gap to one point with a 2-1 victory. Miles Hook and top scorer Jay Mair scored one each for a narrow win which reduced the gap at the top to one.
Combe returned to winning ways to take top spot in Division One, with a handsome victory over Cassington Rangers. They ran out 6-0 winners in the end, scoring five times in the second half after a cagey first half only brought one goal. Elliot Want scored a hat-trick for the home side. Luke Barton, Charlie Ibbitson and Ryan Stockford all scored one each as well.
A sin bin proved to be the crucial turning point in the game between Chadlington and Hailey Reserves. With the scores locked at 0-0, Seb White found himself leaving the field for a ten minute break, in which time Chadlington promptly scored four times. Eventually they ran out 6-0 victors thank to a double from Alfie Peachey, a single goal from Ethan Bennett and further goals from substitutes Lee Ashworth, Brinley Mayne and George Slatter. The victory moved Chadlington back into the top three.
Eynsham are only in the relegation zone on goal difference now as they took a point off Witney Royals. If results had gone their way then Royals could have found themselves in the top three with a win and scored through Oliver Nolan. But Eynsham earned a draw with Ben Oates’ goal to move level on points with Hailey Reserves.
Heyford Athletic thumped bottom side Spartan Rangers, 8-1, to record back to back victories for the first time this season. Joseph Flarry stole the headlines as he got half of Heyford’s haul. Robert Gosling scored two and there were further goals for Ben Heath and George Campo as Heyford jumped four places in the league to seventh.
Hanborough Reserves returned to winning ways with an away victory over Brize Norton. It was their first win in six games as their early season form faltered throughout November and December. Adam Butcher, Josh Edwards and Dan Bishop all scored one in the 3-1 win. Dylan Briggs continued his fine season in front of goal with his twelfth goal of the season becoming Brize’s consolation.
Chadlington Reserves burst out of the relegation zone after a solitary Jack Legg goal earned them just their second win of the season against Witney Royals Reserves. Legg struck seven minutes before half-time to grab the only goal of the game and pushed Chadlington two places up the table.
One of the teams they leapfrogged was Milton under Wychwood Reserves, who were hammered 9-1 by visiting CHQ United. A Chris Mills four-timer did most of the damage, along with a Matthew Anderson double. Single goals for Chris Saunders, Troy Weaven and Matthew Townsend saw United romp home and maintain their stay in the top two. Jake Newland replied for Milton who sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
Callum Peters’ hat-trick secured all three points for Moreton Rangers as they remained top of the league by two points. Ben Shurmer scored a fourth in the 4-0 win over Yarnton A.
Faringdon Town Dev jumped into fourth place, capitalising on Yarnton’s defeat, by beating Bourton Rovers. Martyn Gatehouse and Ronnie Platt scored one each in the 2-1 win. Josh Hubbard hit back for Bourton but it wasn’t enough.
Freeland moved themselves further away from relegation trouble with a 2-0 win against FC Mills. Rob Frost and Connor Smith scored one each for Freeland’s fourth win of the season, a win which moved them five points clear of Leafield.
Kingham recorded their second consecutive draw to earn another point in their bid to avoid bottom spot. They faced off against a Siege side look for their first win in four and found the net thanks to Jonny Dover. But Kingham are made of sterner stuff of late and hit back through Dan Nimmo to take a point and sit within three points of safety.
The top two both failed to win as the promotion race in Division Three intensified.
Making the headlines were Aston Reserves who thumped Deer Park Rangers to inflict a first defeat of the season on the league leaders and make a statement on their own promotion ambitions at the same time. Five different goal scorers found the net in a resounding 5-1 win. Jordan Blackstock, Seb Hicks, Jordan Saverton, Brad Allen and Reece Wain all hit one each. Jamie Horne did at least get Rangers on the scoresheet but Aston closed the gap to four points.
Carterton Town missed the chance to close the gap to one point as a tenacious Kingham Reserves side stole a point at Monahan Way. Ben Pullen scored twice for Carterton with Jamie Youngson having already replied for Kingham. Kingham then had Pat Kimp sent off and missed a penalty with ten minutes to go, but just as it seemed Town would escape with the points, Ellis Godin popped up with an equaliser as Kingham extended their unbeaten run to four.
Heyford Reserves and Tower Hill Reserves both won to also keep up the pressure on the sides above them.
Tower Hill Reserves beat Bampton 4-2 for their eighth win of the season. Liam Aust, Josh Lathey and Will Watts scored for the away side. Dan Paintin and Tom Cruttwell both scored for Bampton to make a game of it but Ethan Barrett came off the bench to make sure of the points.
A Josh Smith double helped Heyford on their way to a much more comfortable victory. They put five past Spartan Rangers Reserves without reply. Henry Fletcher, Josh Haynes and Jack Scott both scored one each in the 5-0 win.
Sherborne Harriers moved into sixth with a come-from-behind win against Yarnton B. Yarnton held a first half lead after a back-post tap in from Ethan Murrill gave Yarnton, slightly against the run of play. Sherborne made changes at half-time and were almost level straight away, Josh Betteridge’s header grazed the crossbar rather than finding the net. Further chances came and went as Harriers became more and more dominant and on 65 minutes they final got level. Betteridge’s neat turn in the box lost two defenders and his curled shot into the far corner was too much for the keeper. The game became more even after this but Yarnton struggled to create anything noteworthy and Betteridge’s next effort went straight to the keeper. On 83 minutes Harriers won it. Danny O’Toole stole the ball on halfway, his bursting run got him as far as the box, his pass found the feet of Stephen Molnar and his precise finish fired he ball towards the far corner and was then helped on its way into the net by the scrambling Yarnton defence. Win number six in the bag for Sherborne and up to sixth at the same time.
Four of the bottom five faced off against each other with chances to pick up much needed points.
The bottom two faced off as Faringdon Town A hosted Leafield Reserves. In the end it was Faringdon who prevailed, 2-0, thanks to a Will Macpherson brace which allowed them to leapfrog Spartan Reserves.
Eynsham moved nine points clear of bottom spot and overtook their opponents Stonesfield Reserves in the table by edging a five-goal thriller at Stonesfield. Adam Holmes and Kieran Grant both scored for Stonesfield but Eynsham went one better thanks to Jack Knight’s brace and a Lewis Wild goal to earn their fourth win of the season.