First Team Start 2018 With A Win
Deserved Thee Points At Lydney
Wantage opened 2018 with a convincing win at Lydney on a heavy pitch that passed an early morning inspection but then soaked up some more rain prior to kick-off.
With Brad Cox starting the first of his two-match suspension Wantage plugged the hole with Matt Cheetham who completed his move from Royal Wootton Bassett Town the previous day. Another new signing, Joe Grant, who’s debut was delayed following the postponement last Saturday of the game at Woodley, started on the bench.
Wantage got off to the best possible start when Hale handled the ball in the box and Ryan Markham, having taken over spot-kick duties from Chris Jackson, made no mistake from the resultant penalty in the 4th minute.
The home side were favouring their left wing as their attacking option, surprising considering that it was that corner of the pitch that was the wettest with both sides struggling to get any distance with the ball. And with Curtis Meare having the added disadvantage of the wind in his face to contend with Wantage had to soak up some pressure, although without the goal being unduly threatened.
Meare had to make a couple of stops inside a minute from Gabriel on the half-hour mark, but other Lydney attempts failed to find the target.
At the other end Jack Dunmall’s turn and shot failed to trouble Thomas after bobbling as he struck the ball, and then on 40 minutes Markham’s free-kick on the edge of the area for another hand-ball was eventually cleared off the line following some pin-ball in the box.
And then a minute before the break The Freds doubled their advantage when Lydney failed to clear their lines and Steve Robertson stabbed home at close range at the second attempt to make it 2-0.
Wantage had far more of the game in the second half, and had enough changes to score more than the two they did.
Ben Willoughby had a shot saved at the near post by Thomas on 54 minutes, and four minutes later Dunmall won the ball in the centre of the park and set Robertson free. The striker burst into the area but with only Thomas to beat chose to square for Willoughby only for the ball to hold up on the wet surface and although the winger managed to get to it, Lydney by that time had covering defenders and the chance was gone.
On the hour mark Jackson had a powerful header from Markham’s corner cleared off the line by Lindsay with Thomas beaten, and four minutes later Willoughby’s drive into the area set up Robertson but somehow the shot was dragged wide when it looked easier to score.
In between times Cheetham, who was having an impressive debut, made a crucial block on Liam Sheppard as he was bearing down on goal, and Halford blazed over at the far post with more time and space than he probably realised.
Wantage netted the third goal on 75 minutes, Markham again on target from the spot after Dunmall had nipped in front of a defender just as he was about to clear to win the kick.
Robertson then brought a double save out of Thomas in the 83rd minute before netting his second and Wantage’s fourth three minutes later after finding himself unmarked.
The win was no more than Wantage deserved, and keeps them tucked in into third place in the league albeit some seven points off Thatcham in second spot. But with both Thatcham and fourth-placed Bracknell still involved in the FA Vase it may come down to how well those two handle the inevitable fixture congestion cup success brings.
Lydney: Richard Thomas, Ross Lindsay, Daniel Morgan, Owen Williams, Miles Ferguson, Kerry Hale, Jack Rutter (c), Liam Sheppard, Ross Gabriel (Peter Macklin 83), Josh Bennai (Keelan Maguire-Hamblett 70), Lewis Halford (Cian Blake 88). Sub n/u: Mackinnon Sadler.
Wantage: Curtis Meare, Dan Comer, Paul Alder, Ryan Markham (Sam Sheppard 77), Chris Jackson ©, Matt Cheetham, Jack Powell (Joe Grant 65), Jim Glover, Steve Robertson, Jack Dunmall, Ben Willoughby. Subs n/u: Mark Threlfall, Paul Braithwaite
Referee: Alan Overthrow