Our third friendly and another local rivalry, good game played in good spirits by both sides. Plenty of fans on the side lines for this one, obviously the Luke Stone Goal-Scorer offer on Twitter enticing some of the cheaper locals, hoping for a free drink… Game got off to a slower start for us than we had seen in our previous fixtures, it was our opposition with the better chances early on. After a ball over the top, Lima Eltham won the ball from Jack Smith, Harry Whitehead was lobbed (shock), with a lovely finish by the Hendred man, but thankfully right back Jack Heggie was alert to the danger and headed clear off the line very well.
A wide pass back from Jack Smith gave another opportunity to the visitors, but Harry Whitehead got down to save the one-on-one. Plenty of good possession and passing, but we had to wait 20 minutes for our first chance; Dan Timbrell with some tidy footwork down the right, slipped in Jordan Parrot, who delivered a good first time cross to Frankie Merola at the front stick, his shot well blocked by the defender. Possession and fitness were starting to show. Jared Jones, captain for the day, twinkle toes himself, dazzling the crowd with his dribbling on the right wing, whipped a ball across the box to Frankie at the back post, for what seemed surely to be the opener, only for the striker to miss the target from a few yards, goal completely gaping. Couldn’t get too mad at him though, as a team, its about our 8th missed open goal in 3 games… Does anyone know any training drills to work on open goals?!
On another occasion Frankie got in behind with a long channel ball, and lobbed it over the stranded keeper, only to see the ball bounce agonisingly wide. Pressure was definitely building towards the end of the first half, Dan Timbrell reacted fastest to a cleared cross and properly tekkers-ed a half volley towards the Hendred Keeper, who happens to be Dan’s baby brother; Aaron Timbrell. For the second game running Dan’s long range effort left the opposition keeper watching helplessly as the ball cannoned back off the bar. That was the last chance of the half.
Wantage should have been ahead early in the second half, Cameron Hollick crossing to Frankie at the back post, who had time to take a touch and set himself for a clear volley at goal, only to smash it into the side netting from 10 yards. A couple of early second half changes were having a real impact, Owen Shaw forcing a fine save from distance, Jack Badger won the ball back high, turned his man, popped it to Owen who threaded Kieran Kerby, who dragged his shot just wide. For all our good football, the first goal came from a long ball by Keeper Harry Whitehead, Frankie rose and won it well, Jordi Davies anticipating the flick on, ran in and slotted it calmly. Really good link up play from those two.
Badge continued to cause problems, beating the left back and slipping in Frankie, who's shot was well saved. The second goal was a great move from back to front, and a reflection of the great Guardiola-esq management and coaching we have enjoyed since Tom Broad has been at the helm. After a string of passes around the back line, the ball came to ex-Hendred man Ty Lee, who absolutely zinged a brave 20+ yard pass, between two midfielders, into Owen Shaw in centre midfield, Owen was already on the half turn and dribbling at the Hendred defence, he threaded a nice pass to Jack Badger out wide, who beat his man down the line and cut back to Owen Shaw, who chopped inside and back out, making space for himself in the box, before calmly slotting in the bottom right hand corner. 2-0 Wantage. The crowd were going wild!
The good football continued; Owen threaded Kerby well, the left winger drilling just wide of the far post from an angle. Jordi Davies could have had a second after playing a good one-two with Badger, but his first-time strike went straight at the keeper. Countering from opposition corners is obviously something the management had worked on in training, and it very nearly produced another great goal. Having won the first ball, the quick break went to Jack Badger, who beat his man and passed to Jordi who slipped in Kerby with a great first time pass, he touched it around the keeper, and squared from a tight angle to his mate Badge, only for the shot to be smashed over from 2 yards! To be fair though; the keeper was on the floor, 8 yards wide of the goal, and he did have a defender near him… oh well, make it 9 missed open goals…
Thankfully in the dying minutes, we were treated to a special long range goal from Kieran Kerby, Owen Shaw with a 5 yard pass, and what will no doubt be one of his least impressive assists, Kerby cut inside and smashed the ball into the bottom bin from 25 yards. Excellent game, could have seen more goals, but delighted with the clean sheet, delighted that we’re still exciting to watch and delighted with the result!
Man of the Match Owen Shaw, 45 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist and if we had chance-creation stats they’d be ridiculous again.