U19: Chipping Norton Swifts 2-0 Hook Norton
Two goals in a minute, early in the first half, were enough for Chipping Norton to take the win in their local derby against Hook Norton at Greystones.
Report by Richard Morris
It wasn’t the most entertaining game to watch, as both sides struggled to display much composure, and slick passing football was very definitely at a premium. But of the two sides, it was clear that Chippy had the edge in terms of quality. This became much more evident after the break when Hooky resorted to desperate ‘hit and hope’ tactics that, in truth, ruined the game.
The first 5 minutes belonged to Hooky, as Chippy were slow to start. But Hooky lacked control and squandered three clear opportunities through poor finishing. Chippy’s opener came from their first real move and took everyone by surprise - Chippy’s skipper, Hedley Smart, playing in a midfield role, nodded on a goal-kick to Orlando Giannini. The ball bisected the centre-backs and Orlando kept his head and finished superbly. Less than 60 seconds later; Sam Davin started a move that resulted in Luke Briggs doubling his sides' lead with a fine finish low to the ‘keepers left.
Suddenly, Chippy were two-up and Hooky didn’t seem to know what had hit them. However, they almost pulled a goal back on 12 minutes when a long range free-kick thumped against the bar, bounced down onto the goal-line and away to safety.
Luke Briggs had a brace of chances but stuck both of them wide of the post before the mid-point of the half. Both sides also had chances from free-kicks, but Chippy’s wall did its job at one end, and Hooky’s goalie did his at the other. 5 minutes before the break it looked like Chippy would extend their lead, but Luke and Orlando were both denied by timely defensive blocks. Hooky then went close when a free-kick to the back post that was slammed into the side netting.
Luke Briggs did brilliantly in pressing the Hooky defence and muscling their centre-back off the ball on 43 minutes, but his shot whistled high over the bar. Then in injury time a Sam Davin free-kick clipped the bar before going behind to safety.
The second half was less entertaining. Hooky had chances early on as they hit post and forced a fine save out of Hayden Matthews. For Chippy, Luke Briggs made one of his trade-mark surges down the right on 55 minutes, before squaring the ball to Orlando Giannini, whose casual effort was simply blocked and Jack Legge stuck the rebound high and wide. 10 minutes later Chippy’s right-back Will Stahl-Morris went close; but his header slipped just the wrong side of the post. Hooky stuck two efforts over the bar and for Chippy, Max Mazower also put one too high.
Chances now dried up for both sides and the game entered a monotonous phase. Hooky decided to gamble by sticking three men up-front and simply hoofing the ball up the pitch and hoping for the best! It was a tactic that Chippy seemed very capable of dealing with, but Hooky, displaying an utter lack of inventiveness, persisted with it right to the end.
There were occasional breaks to the pattern, most notably in the 85th minute when some messy defending by Chippy resulted in Hayden Matthews having to make an awesome save with his feet to prevent a nervy ending to an otherwise comfortable afternoon.
So, Chippy take three fully deserved points, and earn the bragging rights in the Norton derby. Both goals were very well taken, although Chippy should have netted more. In goal; Hayden Matthews had a great game and a deserved winner of Man of the Match. He wasn’t called upon too often, but when he was needed, he made several outstanding saves. It isn’t easy playing good football against a side that just play long ball, but Chippy dealt with Hooky’s ‘up and under’ system simply and efficiently, and it caused few problems. Actually, it was a shame for Hooky that they were expected to resort to thumping the ball long. They have several very good footballers that deserve a far more sophisticated approach to what some people like to call the ‘beautiful game’.