Shortwood drop points in goal spree
Wood 3 Didcot 3 - report by Harry Ash ; pictures by Brian Rossiter
“It’s always nice to put points on the board at any time, but in reality it was two dropped today, “said Paul Meredith following a match which saw something of a role reversal to almost every Shortwood league game so far this season, as Wood found themselves on the wrong end of a second half comeback. “The game was wrapped up at 3-1 but we didn’t shut it down, the boys know that and we’re disappointed with what happened, but we will learn from it and we go again at Cirencester on Tuesday.”
Shortwood started well, which was something of a novelty for fans who are now used to a pattern of a poor first half followed by a miraculous recovery in the second. Wood took the lead in the fourteenth minute, when Ryan Thwaite pulled a low cross back to Nick Humphreys, who took a touch before firing the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. Three minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead through an own goal by Adam Learoyd, who deflected Joe White’s low cross past the despairing Leigh Bedwell. With just under fifteen minutes of the half to play, Sam Elkins nodded home a Stuart Cattell cross to give Didcot hope. However, Didcot’s Ollie Thomas was then sent off for a two-footed challenge on Humphreys just three minutes later. That didn’t stop Didcot from creating a couple of chances before half time, though, as Sam Barder was thwarted by a last ditch Jack Freeman challenge, before George Burton brilliantly tipped David Murphy’s long range shot over his crossbar.
Wood started the second half brightly, with Joe White missing a golden opportunity just a few minutes after the restart, as he was denied by Bedwell having been released by Liam Meredith. A minute later, though, the captain gave Shortwood a 3-1 lead with a goal of the season contender; a partially cleared cross fell to him on the edge of the box, and he struck it in off the cross bar with a first-time volley. Another own goal gave Didcot hope, as Rich Thwaite turned in a Felipe Barcelos cross in the fifty-fifth minute. Didcot, despite having fewer players, proceeded to control possession for the remainder of the encounter, as Shortwood only threatened infrequently on the break. With that said, Shortwood really should have been clear by the time that Didcot equalised. With just under an hour played, Marlon Agyakwa released Barcelos in behind the Shortwood defence, but his chipped finish was saved through a combination of Burton and the retreating Rich Thwaite, who somehow avoided scoring a second own goal, as the ball ricocheted onto the crossbar and went out for a corner. Bakare Aliu scooped over following Luke Benneyworth’s pull back in the sixty-seventh minute, and Humphreys’ effort a minute later drifted agonisingly wide. Shortwood had another chance five minutes later, after Will Hawes robbed Cattell on the edge of the box and found Humphreys in space, but he lifted the ball over from close range. Burton was on hand again to save Learoyd’s header from an Agyakwa corner, before, inevitably, Agyakwa completed the comeback with a fine solo goal ten minutes from full time. It was clear that the Shortwood players were not used to holding on to a lead, as they have made second half comebacks a normality so far this season.
Shortwood: George Burton, Ryan Meredith, Ryan Thwaite (Luke Benneyworth 52’), Rich Thwaite, Bakare Aliu, Jack Freeman, Ismail Samyan (Will Hawes 63’) Jordan Morris (Tristan Haswell 46’), Nick Humphreys, Joe White, Liam Meredith (C)