Report: Chalgrove 5-4 Yarnton
The Cat that got the cream
Chalgrove welcomed Yarnton to the Rice Pudding for their second game in 3 days. The hosts welcomed Sam Rolfe back from holiday and made one change as Simon Godfrey dropped out to be replaced by Tom Clarke in the starting XI.
The home side knew they were in for a tough afternoon with a number of players already featuring in 2,3 or 4 games since the opening day of the season. They also knew Yarnton were a strong and tough side who would represent a similar test to that of Horspath.
The opening stages, as we often say in this league, were fairly frenetic and well contested as the two sides looked to establish a hold on the game.
It was evident from those opening exchanges that there would be goals in this game (something which isn't normally the case when these two sides meet) as both teams looked dangerous in the final third. The away side were looking to get their wide players in behind whilst at the other end Josh Billingham was using his pace to get behind the Yarnton CBs and cause trouble.
The away side took the lead midway through the first half when a long ball came off the head of Chalgrove's left-back and unfortunately played in the Yarnton striker who was through on goal and took the ball round Stobbs to fire home.
Chalgrove rallied and looked to get back in the game and it looked like they'd equalise when Tom Clarke squared for Billingham who looked destined to score from close range before the ball came off his heel and was then cleared by a Yarnton defender.
With 5 minutes left to half-time the game burst into action. First, Yarnton extended their lead when they reacted quickest to a corner and the ball was poked home after it had dropped in between a number of players in the box. Chalgrove lost their shape and a minute later it was 3-0 when a misplaced pass in the middle of the park saw Yarnton pick up possession and counter to seemingly put the game beyond the home side.
Chalgrove grabbed a lifeline immediately though when a long ball by Nick Skiller caught the Yarnton defence out and Josh Billingham was on hand to steer it was the oncoming Yarnton 'keeper.
Half-Time: Chalgrove 1 - 3 Yarnton.
Chalgrove spoke at half-time about the importance of keeping shape & discipline and keeping things simple.
They were out with intentions of getting back into the game but 2 minutes into the second half a Yarnton corner was headed home to make it 4-1 to the visitors.
Chalgrove looked dead and buried with concerns on the sideline that it could become embarrassing. How wrong we were.
Sam Rolfe was introduced and started to look dangerous down the Chalgrove left. The home side were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out and Tom Clarke stepped up to fire the ball over the wall and into the corner of the Yarnton net, 4-2.
Chalgrove sensed a comeback and continued to plug away at the task at hand. They were then awarded a penalty when Sam Rolfe got to a loose ball in the area before the lunging defender and was subsequently taken out. Tom Clarke stepped up to make it 4-3.
Momentum isn't something you can work on at training but it's huge in football and was now fully with Chalgrove, as well as a strong wind that had appeared from nowhere and was at the backs of the home side.
The hosts continued to push and probe with Yarnton offering very little going forward at this stage. A neat exchange of passes saw Tom Clarke pick up the ball on the edge of the box and he weaved his way in between Yarnton defenders before poking home to draw the sides level.
If anyone was going to win the game now it was the home side and they duly found a winner. A corner was swung in by Sam Rolfe and Josh Billingham was first to it to fire into the empty net and send the home fans wild.
As expected, Chalgrove retreated and defended solidly to see out the game and claim an important 3 points.
A win like this does wonders for belief and team spirit at this stage of the season and that's even more important with a new-look side that features a number of very young players. The lads should take great credit from the character shown to come back from 4-1 down and a first win of the season is always an important milestone.
Final Score: Chalgrove 5 - 4 Yarnton
Chalgrove scorers: Tom Clarke (3), Josh Billingham (2).
Yarnton scorers: Tony Skinner (2), Jamie Smith, Joel Washbourne-Calcutt