Chipping Norton Swifts Under 18’s
Wantage Town Under 18’s
September 20th 2009
Wantage’s first away game of the season was one of the longer trips they will face this season, to a ground they had happy memories of from the previous season when they trailed 0-1 but stormed back to take all 3 points with a 3-1 win. They followed that up by beating Chipping Norton again in the return game, but with this now being an under 18 opposition they could well be a very different side
Gary Stone, the team manager, was away sunning himself on a Thai golf course but any selection problems his assistant manager, Trevor Hetherington, might have had were eliminated by several absentees that meant there was only the bare 11 to choose from.
The line up was not too far distant from the side that had beaten Chesterton the previous week and James Burridge was again given the task of leading the line and holding the ball up to allow the midfield to get forward in support. Edward Glover and Jonny Holliday were kept in their central midfield roles along with Luke Withie who was expected to get further forward than the other 2.
It was another fine sunny day with the referee suggesting a drinks break in each half to avoid de-hydration.
The opening exchanges were carried out mainly in the Wantage half as the home team sought to gain an early advantage. They certainly gained early supremacy in the aerial challenges in the midfield (an area that Glover and Holliday had been good in the previous week) and the “Swifts” also carried a big aerial threat in their centre forward who was about 6’4” and with a decent touch when the ball was played into feet.
Despite Chipping Norton’s ascendancy Wantage looked solid enough at the back and actually came close to opening the scoring themselves in the 14th minute, when Blake Latimer tried a long range shot from wide on the right, after spotting the keeper out of position. But the ball sailed just to the right of the goals with the keeper stranded if it had been on target.
Wantage found themselves a goal down on 16 minutes after a long throw aimed at the big centre forward was missed by everyone and ended up at the feet of a Swifts player who tapped home from inside the 6 yard box. A poor goal to concede after looking so solid.
Swifts went very close to doubling that advantage in the 20th minute when a Barefoot goal kick was collected on the chest and carried 30 yards to the edge of the Wantage box as the defence parted like the Red Sea. The curling left footed shot seemed destined for the net before Barefoot flung himself to his right to touch the ball round for a corner. It was an outstanding save.
Wantage began to settle more into the game as the clock ticked past the half way stage of the opening half and Withie came within inches of restoring parity in the 37th minute when his sweetly struck left footed effort from 30 yards smacked against the crossbar with the keeper a spectator.
And Wantage went close again in the final minute of the half when Horswell rounded the Swifts keeper but couldn’t catch up with the ball in time to turn it into the net before it ran out of play.
Half time Chipping Norton 1 v Wantage 0
Trevor Hetherington’s half time team talk concentrated on leaving things as they were on the pitch (there were not too many options with only 11 players travelling) and he expected Chipping Norton to tire as the 2nd half went on as this was their opening league fixture and even before the match a few of their players (they also only had 11) were struggling in the warm up.
The 2nd half started off far more evenly than the 1st with Glover and Holliday beginning to work the ball well through the midfield but without any reward with Burridge struggling to escape the attentions of 2 central defenders and Withie not getting involved enough to influence the game in the way he can.
Then on 52 minutes there was a controversial decision when the Swifts big striker got free in the box and knocked the ball past Barefoot (too far to catch up with) and fell like a Giant Redwood on the edge of the 6 yard box. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and credit to the players that no one argued. However the view of Barefoot and backed up by the referees assistant was that no contact was made at all.
But it was a penalty and it was converted confidently to open up the lead to 2-0.
Wantage fashioned their 1st chance of the half on 58 minutes when Horswell played a ball inside from the left to Withie who struck a good shot bound for the roof of the net until the home side’s keeper tipped it over for a corner.
Wantage were beginning to build up a bit of pressure and they won another corner on the hour but the keeper came out and claimed it and quickly cleared the ball spotting that Wantage looked a bit short of numbers at the back. The Swifts lived up to their name with quick passing down their left which opened up a breach in the Wantage defence as Stone struggled to get across in time to fill. And as the Swifts striker cut into the box he carried it within 10 yards of the goals and then beat Barefoot comprehensively low shot inside the left hand post to take the score to Chipping Norton 3 v Wantage 0.
But Wantage hadn’t given up the ghost and they came closest yet to a scoring 3 minutes later when Burridge got a flick on a long throw into the box which fell to Glover who laid it across to Latimer whose shot from 8 yards out was unfortunately straight at a defender who had got back on the line with the keeper well beaten.
During the 2nd half drinks break the team were told to keep believing that they could get something out of the match with threats on the Wantage goal virtually non existent since the 3rd Swifts goal.
And soon they got the foothold they needed when on 79 minutes Horswell did well down the left and spotted Latimer in space in the centre at the edge of the box. The low cross fell perfectly for a 1st time drilled shot by Latimer that went in off the left hand post.
A minute later the deficit was down to 1 as Glover was rewarded for persistence down the right edge of the Swifts penalty area when his hard a low cross was miscued into his own net by a Swifts defender.
Now with still 10 minutes to go and the Swifts looking more like sitting ducks with their tanks almost on empty – could Wantage get at least a point from the game?
It seemed likely in the 83rd minute when Horswell battled his way down the left hand side of the box and found himself past the last defender but his shot was blocked by the keeper’s feet.
Virtually the whole game was squeezed now into the final third of the Swifts end with Hetherington pushed up virtually as another left side attacker.
Another change came and went after Stone hit a ball over the static home defence aimed at releasing Latimer who just needed the right touch to take it past the advancing keeper but the touch he got sat up nicely for the keeper to pouch safely.
The final change fell to Stone when he picked up a desperate clearance out of the Swifts box – he struck it well and the ball zipped narrowly wide of the right hand post. And the final whistle sounded after the goal kick was taken.
Chipping Norton 3 v Wantage 2