Wantage Town 2-0 Nalgo Sports Club FC
Our first competitive fixture of the season in the Faringdon Thursday Cup, saw more of the same from Wantage Town Development; Plenty of good football, plenty of good chances. Barry Brownbread was unavailable, so Alex James got his first start of the season in goal. Despite a pretty shocking head-loss during the warm-up, which had the gaffer looking a little nervous, Alex marshalled a very strong defensive unit to its second consecutive clean sheet, never really under too much pressure, the back 5 kept the ball well, playing out from the back and spreading the play well.
The central midfield trio of Jared Jones, Dan Timbrell and Owen Shaw were up to their usual tricks again, playing some really good football and had the opposition chasing shadows. Our first really good chances came 20 minutes in, when Frankie Merola and Owen Shaw linked up well and slid Kieran Kerby in down the right wing twice in a matter of minutes, both shots really well saved by the keeper, on another occasion Kerbs pulled back for Dan, who’s shot was well blocked by the Nalgo defender. Less than 10 minutes later, Frankie was very unlucky not to have put us in the lead; firstly, after a well clipped in ball from Jack Heggie was chested down and volleyed, but the keeper was sharp off his line to smother the strike, than again a minute later, when some clever footwork from Jack Badger saw him beat two men, square it to Frankie, who took a touch and smashed it at goal with his left foot, forcing a great save from the keeper.
Before the ref blew for half time, Kerby had another few chances in behind the full back, the keeper making another strong save and Kerbs unable to pick out a man with the others. Fair play to their keeper, he definitely had his Weetabix this morning. Again we go in at the break surprised not to be in front.
Thankfully that did not last long, mere minutes into the second half, Frankie picked the pocked of the centre back, was in behind their back line, and drilled hard and low in off the post from the edge of the box, great finish. He had a chance to double his tally less than 10 minutes later after more superb work from JJ in the middle of the pitch saw him get the ball from Jack Smith, beat a man, and thread a lovely through ball to Frankie, reminded me of a young Kaka (Istanbul, circa 2005). Frankie held off the defender well and seemed to have done everything right, but placed the ball just wide of the right hand post.
Nalgo were down to 10 men for the remaining 30 minutes or so after an off the ball scuffle seemed to result in a Zidane-esq headbutt to the back of Jack Badger, who promises me he was completely innocent and definitely didn’t deserve his booking. A fan suggested Badge might have kicked the Nalgo player in the shins while the ref wasn’t looking, although these unsubstantiated claims were later withdrawn.
Owen Shaw was still creating chances, the most delightful of which after dribbling through two men and finding Frankie well, who placed his first time shot wide. Jordan Parrott came off the bench and impressed, beating his man and whipping in some good balls, the best of which falling to Jack Heggie, who had done well to hit the back post after a break, his shot brilliantly blocked and turned away for a corner by the Nalgo defender.
The second goal came late, Frankie with some good work slightly deeper, finding Jordi Davies, who turned sharply in the box, beat his man and looked to place it bottom right, the keeper doing very well again to save it, but could only parry it to Owen Shaw, who placed into an empty net.
Another good game with a lot of positives, another good amount of minutes in the bank and importantly, another win!! Man of the match was Tom Eatwell, he and Jack Smith made a solid centre back partnership, he set the tempo, lead well and never looked in any trouble defensively. Like a young Lucas Radebe.