Scholes’ Brace Keeps Wantage Third
Win Keeps Flackwell At Arm’s Length
Third placed Wantage faced a tough encounter with Flackwell, a side one place and three points below them, looking to keep pace with those above them.
After the disappointment of the mid-week cup defeat Wantage were again able to call upon the service of cup-tied Jon Davoile, Harvey Scholes and Matt Cheetham, Jack Dunmall returned after injury and Ben Willoughby was recalled after missing out against Abingdon.
After a even opening Wantage forged ahead in the 10th minute with their first attempt on goal, Scholes collected the ball on the edge of the Flackwell area and fired home past keeper David Lyons.
Flackwell were looking to break quickly, but were caught off-side on at least half-a-dozen times inside the first 15 minutes and Curtis Meare was never troubled. Paul Alder stopped Sheridan Campbell’s progress down the Flackwell right on 15 minutes, and Dan Comer was equally adept on the other flank in prevent progress towards the Wantage area.
Wantage nearly found a second on 20 minutes, Davoile finding Steve Robertson who flicked it on into Dunmall’s path but his first touch was heavy and the ball ran to Lyons. A quick release saw Charlie Samuel scamper away down the right, but his shot spun harmlessly wide of Meare’s goal.
The lively Scholes then went for a second on 23 minutes, but Lyons turned his effort behind and Chris Jackson could only head the resultant corner over the bar. And he then had another effort saved five minutes later after being set up by Dunmall.
Just after the half hour a Dan Comer cross was headed clear only as far as Ryan Markham, but under pressure he fired wide. Then on 34 minutes Flackwell’s Samuel skipped clear of Alder before unleashing a goal-bound effort that Mear plucked from the air mid-dive at the near post in what turned out to be their best chance of the half.
Flackwell then had a five or six minute spell of pressure, but lacked the final ball to break down Wantage’s defence.
Then just as the clock ticked over to 45 minutes Elliott Carey caught the trailing leg of Scholes about 20 yards out. The winger lined up the free-kick and delivered it perfectly over the wall and out of Lyons’ reach to make it 2-0 to Wantage.
The half-time whistle came a minute or so later, with Jordan Dowdican beating the off-side and bearing down on goal. The ball looked to be running back to Meare, but Flackwell were still aggrieved at the timing of the whistle and surrounded the referee before leaving the field for the interval.
Wantage went looking for a third early in the second half, Lyons saving a Dunmall effort at the feet on the incoming Steve Robertson on 53 minutes, before Scholes was denied a hat-trick three minutes later when Lyons turned his snap shot round for a corner that came to nothing.
Flackwell were starting to lose discipline and had three booked inside four minutes, all for dissent.
On 64 minutes Scholes whipped in a cross that only just eluded Jim Glover at the far post, before Dean Allen called Meare into action a minute later. Wantage were give a scare a minute later when Meare collected a ball under unfair pressure and collided with the post, but thankfully he was able to continue.
Flackwell had the ball in the net on 70 minutes, but Samuel was clearly offside before finishing over Meare and it didn’t count. That signalled the start of some Flackwell dominance, Jackson blocking a Dowdican effort a minute later, and Samuel had an effort saved by Meare at the near post on 73 minutes. Samuel then wasted another chance two minutes later when his shot not only cleared the bar but the clubhouse too!
Wantage were sitting too deep and their rushed clearances were coming straight back as Flackwell turned the screw. Matt Cheetham, on for Scholes, was then booked for two rash tackles inside two minutes and was sent for an early bath with six minutes of normal time remaining.
But Wantage were not going to surrender their two goal advantage easily and Jackson, Brad Cox and substitute Ben Willoughby were all putting their bodies on the line to block and clear anything that came their way.
On 89 minutes Flackwell earned a free kick on the goal-line, about five yards outside the penalty area, but Cox was able to head clear, and two minutes later another Jackson block kept Francis Amarty’s strike out.
Two minutes into stoppage time a flare-up in the Wantage area prolonged the game even further, Meare and Amarty singled out for punishment when there could have been another one or two on each side dealt with, but that was the last action of note and the referee drew proceedings to a halt on 96 minutes.
A far better performance from Wantage today, and an absorbing game, that keeps them in third but reliant on the likes of Thatcham, Bracknell and Highworth dropping points if they are to be in with a shout of honours this season.
Wantage: Curtis Meare, Dan Comer, Paul Alder, Jon Davoile, Chris Jackson ©, Brad Cox, Jim Glover, Ryan Markham (Ben Willoughby 79), Steve Robertson (Joe Grant 86), Jack Dunmall. Harvey Scholes (Matt Cheetham 74). Subs n/u: None
Flackwell: David Lyons, Cameron Gray, Tyler Gregory, Charlie Malin, Daniel Bailey, Ryan Rackley, Jordan Dowdican, Elliott Carey, Dean Allen ©, Charlie Samuel, Sheridan Campbell (Francis Amartey 57). Subs n/u: James Mansfield, William Peck.
Referee: Simon Maynard