Looking to bounce back after a poor result Saturday, Wantage were frustrated by a resilient Clanfield side who took their chances well. The game started at a blistering pace, Jim Glover particularly running around like a bull in a china shop, crashing into tackles and winning every first and second ball. On two occasions winning the ball high and getting shots off that narrowly missed the target. Harry Dalton looked to have the better of his man early on, cutting inside and getting a decent shot off, and on 2 other occasions finding feet on the edge of the box, but Clanfield did well to smother and block the early shots. We did break the deadlock with a well worked goal, Luke Stone pressing high and winning the ball back early, passing wide to Harry Dalton’s feet, who cut inside and clipped a lovely reverse pass through to Frankie Merola, running away from goal, Frankie wrapped his right boot around it and slots the ball past the keeper, into the bottom left corner. Just 2 minutes later Owen Shaw got the ball down and threaded a pass through to Luke Faircloth, who had made a massive overlapping run, he drilled it across the 6 yard box, the keeper dived but couldn’t reach it, but nobody was there to tap it into the empty net. A minute later Owen again unlucky not to pick up an assist with a good corner finding an unmarked Luke Stone, who headed into the ground, the ball bouncing over and wide. On 14 minutes a short freekick found Jim Glover, who whipped in a nice ball, Frankie with the flick on header that beat the keeper but went agonisingly wide. Less than 15 minutes gone and we should have been 4 or 5 goals to the good. But certainly playing with confidence and tynacity.
The rest of the half began to get a bit direct for Wantage, we stopped finding feet and got too impatient for the final ball. Perhaps getting a bit impatient for the headlines and stopped playing as a team. Jim Glover set Harry Broad who shot on the angle, the shot went so high the ref couldn’t even accurately tell whether it was a corner or a throw-in. There were occasional moments when we played into Frankie well, on three occasions he flicked on brilliantly, but frustratingly no one had gambled and the keeper eventually gathered the ball. As we approached the half, Clanfield had what felt like their first touches of the ball in our area, Luke Faircloth came steaming in for a massive slide tackle that might not have looked out of place on the half-way line, the Clanfield attacked was sharp and quick to the ball, touching it past Luke and winning the clearest of penalties for the away side. Frankie Cato stepped up from 12 yards and made no mistakes. The last minutes of the half went on without incident, and we went in wondering quite how we weren’t in front.
Second Half started as the first had finished. We were pressing but unfortunately playing more direct than we had been all season. It was Clanfield who took the lead just 5 minutes into the second half. They broke out from our attacking corner, Dalts getting out-muscled in their half, then when back on his feet got turned inside, Cato involved again, pinging a lovely ball over Chris Brind for Jack Bellinger, the nippy striker clean through, Clanfield’s second shot of the game was saved by Harry Whitehead, but the ball wriggled underneath him rolling towards goal, and Bellinger was comfortably onto it to slot into the empty net to put the visitors in front. We didn’t play great football but had the lions share of the possession, and chances for the rest of the game. Calum Pryce turning in his own half and running through 4 players, before cutting inside and drilling his shot straight down the centre. On 65 minutes, an Owen Shaw corner found Luke Stone, who headed brilliantly over the defender on the line to make it 2 each. Given the score-line, shouting at his team to get the ball back on the halfway line and foregoing his normal roly-poly celebration. 5 minutes later Wantage couldn’t believe they weren’t in front, Kieran Kerby, who looked really sharp when he came on, burned two men down the right hand side, cut the ball back to Frankie who had time to take a touch, but instead placed his first time shot just wide of the left hand post. Pushing on for the win, and pressing high, Wantage were again unlucky when Cam Hollick whipped in a good cross from a free kick, which found Eatwell at the back post, who hit the post from a yard out… It just wasn’t going to be Wantage’s night. Clanfield again caught us on the break to put themselves 3-2 in front, Elliot Heritage finding himself with all kinds of time and space in front of the back 4, threaded a nice pass to the right winger, his low cross was pulled back to the onrushing number 10; Frankie Cato, who finished well again. Only minutes remained, Cam Hollick was unlucky, drilling a great shot from 25-30 yards, which was tipped wide by a keeper at full stretch. In the 88th minute, another Cam Hollick freekick was whipped in brilliantly, again it was Luke Stone who rose up and headed into the far corner to make it 3-3. Again the fans were frustrated not to see the nationally acclaimed roly-poly celebration, as we raced to get the ball back in play to push for the win. No more chances for the home side, 3-3 was the final score in a very frustrating game. The away side absorbed a lot of pressure, but handled it, broke well, and took their chances clinically. No complaints. Man of the match was Luke Stone, another 2 important goals when needed, makes him our second-top goalscorer including friendlies, and nothing he could have personally done about at least 2 of the goals conceded.