Wantage Remain In Pole Position
Fourth League Win Sees Off Bishops Cleeve
Bishops Cleeve, one of the favourites to be pushing for the Hellenic League Premier Division title, came to Wantage on Saturday but were second best to the hosts who extended their 100% winning start to the season to five games.
Chris Jackson saw his header turned round the post inside the first couple of minutes and Jon Davoile saw a testing cross punched over by keeper Lewis Clayton as Wantage went for the jugular right from the off.
So it was no surprise when The Freds took the lead on eight minutes, Brad Cox flicking on a throw-in on the right for Jack Dunmall to steer home.
And Kaylem Patterson nearly snatched a second on 20 minutes as he chased down an under-strength back-pass but Clayton managed to clear just in time. But the second wasn’t long in coming as three minutes later some great persistence by Harvey Scholes, when those around him were appealing for a free-kick after an apparent foul on Dunmall, saw him take aim and curl a delightful shot over Clayton to the top corner of the net.
Cleeve had a couple of efforts from Jack Watts, but both sailed over the bar, and Scholes had a shot saved on the half hour with Cleeve appealing in vain for an off-side against Paterson who made no attempt to go for the ball.
Wantage should have done better four minutes later as Scholes was allowed to drive through the heart of the Cleeve midfield before finding Dunmall, but the latter’s turn and shot was blocked.
Then almost out of the blue the visitors halved the deficit on 41 minutes, Watts given time to set his sights and fire past Curtis Mears. The goal spurred Cleeve on and they looked a much better unit leading up to the interval but without really threatening an equaliser.
And they started the second half in much the same vein, having lots of possession but letting themselves down through poor delivery and wayward shooting. That’s not to say that Meare was having an easy time of it, as he was called into action to make some acrobatic saves to push the ball around and over the frame of the goal.
But Wantage rode the storm and started to come strong again, Callum Wright and Jim Glover firing wide as the hour mark came and went.
A double substitution then saw Matt Cheetham and Connor Mattimore replace Cian McCormack and Harvey Scholes respectively. And Mattimore was soon in the thick of the action, winning a free-kick out on the right. Glover delivered, Cleeve failed to clear and Mattimore was onto the loose ball before taking it to the keeper’s left before firing home Wantage’s third on 72 minutes.
There was no way back for Cleeve, and things got worse for them in the 87th minute when Patterson’s run at goal was halted outside of the area by a high and dangerous tackle by Clayton, leaving the referee with little option but to show the red card.
Unfortunately Wantage couldn’t really test his replacement, Liam Wright, in the remaining eight minutes or so, but were worthy winners nonetheless.
Next up for Wantage is the FA Cup tie at Southern League Slimbridge, but they travel with confidence after a great start to the season.
Bishops Cleeve: Lewis Clayton, Ryan New (Tom Hall 84), Adam Mace, Mike Ford, Ryan Paddock, Jordan Staten, Harrison Iddles (Henry Birkett 62), Kirk Layton (Lee Llewellen 74), Liam Wright, Brad Martin, Jack Watts. Subs n/u: None
Referee: Lisa Benn