Just over a year ago, Steeple Claydon Football Club Reserve Team played what many thought would be their final ever game, a cup final at Buckingham Town’s Ford Meadow. A year certainly is a long time in football, Ford Meadow is essentially no-more and a new-look Reserve team was back under the leadership of the new management duo of Richard Griffiths
and Tom Pitt
The pair started the game with a 4-4-2. Craig Goward
started in goal after signing for the club following his performance against Deanshanger in pre-season. Dave Terry
was made skipper for the game and was joined by Barrie Davies
and Kenny Massey
at the back who were both recovering from respective knocks and illness. James Patterson
made up the final piece of defence at right back. George Carpenter
started right wing with Ronnie Harrington
on the left, Charlie Lamb
was joined by an eager Gary Brigden
in the middle of the park with debutant Liam Roberts
and Jacob ‘tum-tum’ Hodgins up front for the Magpies.
Claydon kicked up hill on the slippery surface in the first half and played some beautiful football in the process. Quick one-two’s, pass and move, slick and stylish football with the confidence to get shots away and dangerous crosses into the box. Goward was kept largely quiet in the half with Massey and Davies winning everything in the air, Patterson dealing well with his man and Terry providing a link between defence and midfield feeding the ball to Ronnie Harrington
. Liam Roberts
was winning the first ball and flicking on to Hodgins who came close with two early strikes. Lamb and Carpenter were also finding space to play and took on the Marsh Gibbon defence as much as they could.
For Claydon’s efforts and good football, their reward was a long time coming. A free kick on the edge of the area saw Gary Brigden
step up around 8 minutes before halftime. His free kick swung in and was on target, the goalkeeper grabbing the ball but inexplicably fumbling it in the back of his net. They all count, fortuitous or not, Claydon had deserved it. Some clever play from the backline to the front set Jacob Hodgins
in on goal where he was able to drill a low-hard shot into the back of the net to make the scores 2-0 before the break.
Claydon re-grouped at the half and knew another goal could kill the game. The referee then decided to give Marsh all the advantage and all free-kicks for innocuous decisions leading to two Claydon players being shown a yellow card for arguing their case. Alex Webb
was brought on to replace James Patterson
who had been struggling with asthma in the wet conditions. He made an immediate impact, linking well with George Carpenter
before floating a lovely ball right onto Charlie Lamb
’s head to make the scores 3-1. The ref then gave a harsh ‘off the ball incident’ free kick to Marsh against Webb when a player ran into Webb and fell over. The free kick was well saved by Goward but a Marsh striker was quicker to the rebound than the Claydon defence tucking the ball away well.
Marsh then bombed the Claydon backline with more bodies forward and long, looping balls over the top that Goward was sweeping up well behind Massey and Davies. Claydon were content to ride out the storm and even nicked a fourth when Ronnie Harrington
played a beautiful ball to Hodgins who rounded the Marsh ‘keeper and tucked the ball away. Robert Harrington
was brought on along with David Beckett
to replace the hardworking Liam Roberts
and Gary Brigden
. Marsh responded with a superb goal from a throw-in which resulted in a half-volley right up in the top corner of the goal – unstoppable and nothing that Goward or the defence could have done about it.
Claydon’s play had dropped from the standard set in the first half but they rode out Marsh’s advances and got the important first result of the season. Perhaps it was fatigue or that this set of players had never played together before, but at times during the game you never would have known this!
A weekend off this Saturday with another midweek game to come. The standard has been set with Griffiths and Pitt expecting more of the same at The Rec. A superb start for this youthful side.