......that saw the blues climb into third spot, technically, with games in hand. I say technically because in reality United should be top but for 3 points that have been delayed from the opening game of the season when the game was cancelled due to non-affiliation of the opposing team. Why United have had to wait some two months and are still awaiting the award of the points is something of a mystery, but I’m sure there must be a good reason for this but it is distorting the current table somewhat.
I had said earlier in the season that this new squad would take a little time to come together as players old and new took time to adjust and gain an understanding of each other, I still thinks that’s the case, and while I’m certain there is much more to come there are clear signs of that understanding beginning to happen, particularly over the last few games, while yesterday was a milestone passed against a big and powerful Woodcote team.
I was sat watching with a former Marlow FC and Marlow United manager who isn’t easily impressed in football terms but was clearly impressed with a lot of passages of play on this occasion so our new management team must be doing something right! Mind we were pacified at half time with a cup of tea presented by Woodcote’s loyal band of supporters on the touchline, they may be passionate about their team but nicer people you couldn’t meet!
United withstood Woodcote’s opening gambit and struck on 15 minutes before sweeping into a 3-0 half time lead but if United thought it was going to be easy despite increasing the lead to 4-0, Woodcote had other ideas pulling two goals back from set pieces, perhaps the only concern on the day for the management team, to set up a frenzied final 20 minutes but with United’s ability to break at pace it was always likely to end badly, as it did when Josh Fox smashed home United’s fifth goal in the 85th minute to seal the points.
However, the afternoon wasn’t without controversy. United’s third goal caused uproar in the Woodcote ranks due to the assistant referee anticipating a pass that didn’t happen and when United’s Ollie Flint latched onto the ball from a clearly onside position, the Woodcote defence hesitated due to the briefly raised flag, enabling Flint time to square the ball to Nile O’Meally who fired home.
As understandably frustrating as it was for Woodcote, their defenders played to the flag and not the whistle. Never was the adage truer ‘play to the whistle’ which is a simple basic in football terms. Woodcote were guilty, understandably but no less guiltily, of ignoring this most basic of rules and paid the ultimate price. I have to say that the referee showed strength standing by his decision which was correct when it would have been easier for him to disallow it.
So, a satisfying afternoon for Messrs Pritchard, Romeo and Dickens as their squad remain unbeaten in all competitions to date, but with this enviable record the pressure grows, and the screw turns, but there is no doubt that this squad appears able to handle much of anything thrown at them and the weeks ahead will be interesting indeed.
Other games played in the Thames Valley Premier Division saw Wraysbury held at home by Wrightchoice & Unity 1-1 while Woodley United Royals slumped at home to Wokingham & Emmbrook TVPL BY 3-0 as Westwood Utd drew at home with Richings Park 0-0, Reading YMCA battered struggling Burghfield 6-1 and basement club Berks County lost narrowly at home to Cookham Dean 2-1.
The reserves recorded their first league win of the season beating Richings Park reserves 3-1 with goals from Morgan Harrison and Jake Braim.
Next week United travel to Cintra Park, Reading for a league encounter with a new look Wrightchoice & Unity while the reserves travel to Cantley Park, Wokingham against AFC Corinthians, both games KO 2pm.
Updated 16:27 - 22 Oct 2018 by Alan Turner