Win Over Tuffley Keeps Wantage Third
Superb Saves By Meare Helps Wantage Secure Three Vital Points
Wantage came from behind against mid-table Tuffley to secure a 3-1 win that keeps them in third place for another week at least. And with league leaders Highworth losing at Bracknell Wantage are now four points off the summit with a game in hand.
But Bracknell in fourth have three games in hand on The Freds and are only a point worse off, so there are still plenty of permutations in positions before the season draws to a close. Wantage cannot afford to slip up in their four remaining fixtures, all away from home, if they want to be in the mix at the end.
And to do so they will have to have more about them than they did today. Granted the pitch was very soft and a bit of a leveller, but it was the visitors who looked to have the greatest desire for large periods of the game.
Tuffley pressed well, hunting down the ball and putting Wantage under pressure and earning several corners in the first half-hour but without any significant attempt on target.
Surprisingly it was Wantage who had the first chance of note on 30 minutes, Steve Robertson knocking the ball down for Harvey Scholes to fire over from a central position. Three minutes later Jim Glover scuffed a soft shot straight at Dave Evans in the Tuffley goal.
Wantage keeper Curtis Meare was then called into action for the first of several game-winning saves, clearing from the feet of Ashley Bird on 39 minutes as Tuffley beat the Wantage off-side trap and the striker honed in on goal.
Both sides had chances in the final minute or so of the half, firstly Dan Comer clearing off the Wantage line after Meare was beaten, and then Scholes failed to get a free-kick on target form 30 yards out.
Further Tuffley pressure at the start of the second half was finally rewarded on 54 minutes when Warren Mann exploited a staggered back line to break free and lob over the oncoming Meare to give the visitors the lead. There won’t have been many that said they didn’t deserve it either.
But Wantage responded positively and were level two minutes later, Jack Dunmall curling an effort round Evans from the edge of the area.
Tuffley came again though, and another one-on-one save by Meare when Bird again timed his run to perfection on the hour kept the scores level at the expense of a corner. And from that corner Meare produced his best save of the day, somehow keeping out Brett James’ powerful header from three yards out.
In the 68th minute it was Evans’ turn to show what he could do, firstly blocking Robertson’s shot at close range, and then recovering quickly to retrieve Dunmall’s follow-up.
Wantage were having a good spell of pressure now, and took the lead on 75 minutes. Glover’s run down the right was unfairly halted by Tuffley’s Ryan Davis, Mark Flanagan delivered the free kick which Brad Cox headed down for skipper Chris Jackson to sweep home.
Tuffley went looking for an equaliser and both Brett James and Mark Pritchett came close without unduly troubling Meare. And as the game entered the fifth minute of stoppage time Wantage caught them with a sucker punch third, Nick Thorne trading passes with Glover before firing past Evans to give the score line a very flattering look.
Next Saturday Wantage travel to Royal Wootton Bassett where a win will close the gap on Highworth, who are without a fixture, to one point.
Wantage: Curtis Meare, Dan Comer, Paul Alder, Jon Davoile, Chris Jackson ©, Brad Cox, Jim Glover, Mark Flanagan, Steve Robertson, Jack Dunmall, Harvey Scholes, Subs n/u: Paul Braithwaite, Joe Grant, Ben Sadler.
Tuffley: Dave Evans ©, Sam Hill, Ryan Davis, Shayne Anson, Joel White, Liam Wright, Warren Mann, Kieran Alder, Shayne Bradley, Ashley Bird, Brett James. Subs: Harry Walker, Marcus Foxwell, Mark Pritchett.
Referee: Lennon Davis