The Don Vets welcomed Witney Royals to Clanfield (85) FC for their latest Hellenic Veterans Division One fixture. The visitors sat in third position, two places and points behind Town with both sides sure to be in the mix for the league title, with Oxford City A & Watlington OB’s.
The Town starting eleven was unchanged following last week’s impressive 5-0 away fixture and we started brightly closing down the opposition. Unfortunately, our quality on the ball was lacking and we failed to take advantage of our possession in the early stages of the half. The first real opportunity fell to Town as the ball was played across the Royals goal to Colin Yates, 8 yards out and only the keeper to beat. Unfortunately, one touch too many saw a saving tackle clear the danger. Town were getting more and more frustrated and the visitors grew in confidence and on 30 minutes Royals took the lead as a corner wasn’t dealt with in the Town penalty area and the ball flashed past Town keeper Lee Ruddle before he could react. The visitors were in the ascendancy as the half came to a close, but rarely troubled Ruddle.
The half-time ‘chat’ was heated and a few home truths were told, before the management team made changes to the playing eleven and asked the side to play higher up the pitch, allowing the midfield to close down and support the forwards. The visitors were playing Town on the counter-attack and sat five across their backline, which continued to frustrate the attacking advances of the Don forward line. Half chances were again created and one came to Mike Marsh as the Royal keepers fluffed his clearance, Marsh on the edge of the area lifted the ball over the opposition, before watching the ball agonisingly roll down the back of the net and behind the goal (Rocky & Lugs celebrated though!!)…
Town continued to push forward but the final ball was often lacking and Witney continued to counter but as with the first half, failed to put Ruddle to the test. Then as the game came to a close, a great cross from Marsh on the left with his right foot, saw Paul Smith beat the advancing keeper and his marker to the ball, to loop a header into the net. The ball seemed to take forever to go over the line and once confirmed, the Don could celebrate the deserved equaliser to leave the visitors devastated after defending so well for almost the full 80 minutes.
Town Gaffer Martin Harries commented after the final whistle
We weren’t at our best tonight and probably made too much of the match in the lead up after they beat us on the opening game of the season. The team spirit in the side is what has got us through games this season and we have to continue with that and not get on each other backs. A draw was the least we deserved and we can go into the final two games before the Christmas break, knowing two wins will see us in a great position to challenge for the title. This was the most competitive game we have faced this season and as a supporter it was a good game to watch, as management we found it very frustrating!
Final Score: 1-1
Squad: Lee Ruddle, Steve Pugh, Dave Legg, Damian Francis, Gary Sutton©, Glenn Townsend, Phil Thompson, Paul Hulme, Paul Smith, Colin Yates, Matt Grantham, Nick Wojcik, Gavin Stevens, Troy Redman, Craig Gaynor, Mike Marsh