The Vets league campaign continued on Wednesday night, with Aylesbury FC Vets the visitors to The Cinder Lane Stadium, home of Fairford Town FC and venue for all of Town’s home league fixtures. The evening was calm and fairly warm for the middle of November and the visitors had made the arduous journey from as far as London. Town were three points clear of the visitors before kick-off, but having played two games more.
Town started the game on the front foot and had the first half chance of what would be an entertaining, hard-fought battle between two even sides when Chris Roche shot over the Aylesbury goal. The next ten minutes saw both sides trying to gain the momentum and Town were managing to stop the visitors from getting their flowing football underway. On 14 minutes Town had the opportunity to take the lead when they pounced onto a loose ball with Roche and Paul Smith combining before Smith was brought down in the penalty area and a penalty was awarded. Colin Yates stepped up to strike the spot kick, however, the visiting keeper made a good stop to his left. The ball rebounded to Damian Francis, but from a very tight angle he beat the keeper but not the near post and the ball went safely out for a goal kick.
Town continued to press forward and were on the front foot, Smith, Roche, Yates all causing problems for the Aylesbury back line, but any chances failed to hit the target. It wasn’t until 25 minutes that the visitors created any chances and the first two came from set pieces as they took advantage of their extra height in the side to just failed to hit the target with two headers. Soon after and a chipped effort from the Aylesbury number 9, just cleared Lee Ruddle’s crossbar. Town were starting to get ragged, losing the shape and momentum they had built up and the experienced Aylesbury side took advantage as Ruddle made a double save, but wasn’t helped by the static Town squad and the number 9 finished with the ball ricocheting off skipper Gary Sutton past the covering defenders on the goal line. Just as the half was coming to a close, Ruddle again saved Town with an important stop.
The Town squad were disappointed in how they had finished the half but buoyed by their opening 30 minutes of the game, where we had been mainly in control. Immediately from the restart and Town had a good shout for handball in the Aylesbury penalty area, but the match official waved the shouts away. Town then managed to grab an equaliser when the visitors failed to clear an in-swinging Paul Hulme free kick from the left, with Sutton getting a touch before the ball came off the defender and looped over the static keeper for a deserved leveller.
This gave Town a bit of a lift and Roche chased what seemed like a lost cause from the half way line, sprinting past three defenders, before seeing his right foot effort roll past the far post. Soon after from a Town corner, Roche hit a goal-bound volley from 15 yards which struck a visiting defender before landing into the chest of the unsighted and grateful keeper. The game was full of full bloodied tackles, some of which were punished by the referee when both sides were in agreement that they were just part of the game. Aylesbury then had their best opportunity to re-take the lead and perhaps the three points on 70 minutes when another set piece was dealt with by Town and the visiting skippers free header came back off of the far post before being cleared to safety. With the game coming to a close, Town were fitter and the away side were hanging on.
Smith hit a sweet volley as the game was about to close, where the keeper fumbled the ball above over his own head and it bounced agonisingly towards the goal before being gathered again by the keeper, much to Phil Thompsons dismay! The final whistle was blown, the result fair and both sides appreciating how much effort each had put into this fixture.
Town manager Martin Harries was pleased with the result, but most of all the performance “other than the odd lapse, we were on the money tonight with and without the ball. We got punished for a lazy ten minutes at the end of the first half, but showed our fighting spirit in the second half. The football played by both sides has to be complimented, as do the three lads on our bench who didn’t get a game, due to it being so tight!”
Final Score: Faringdon Town Vets 1 – 1 Aylesbury FC Vets
Team: Lee Ruddle, Steve Pugh, Dave Legg, Damian Francis, Gary Sutton(c), Glenn Townsend, Paul Hulme, Pat Graham, Chris Roche, Colin Yates, Paul Smith, Gav Stevens, Chris Pettis, Craig Gaynor, Ben Spencer, Phil Thompson
MOTM: Lee Ruddle (Important saves at the end of the first half when the side were rocking)
DOTD: Colin Yates (Penalty miss!!!) & Phil Thompson (His celebration of a goal which never happened was a sight to be seen!)
Next Match: 21/11/18 Away v Didcot Town Vets