Town travelled to Oxford City’s Court Farm Place Ground on Wednesday evening looking to spring a surprise in the Hellenic Veterans Cup Semi Final, competing against Premier Division leaders Oxford City Vets.
Playing on the main stadium state of the art 3G pitch, this game was never in doubt despite the day’s showers, where other games had failed. Town were in good spirits, on the back of a 15 game unbeaten run and wanted to give the healthy Faringdon travelling support something to go home with and started the game on the front foot. The opening 10 minutes were a midfield battle, with Town on top and breaking up any passing movement from the home side. Town had the opening chance of the game, when a long ball into the City left channel, found Colin Yates who ran onto the ball and attempted to lob the advancing keeper, only to see his effort just miss the far post. Despite Town having much of the play, the home side looked dangerous on the break and from a free kick on the edge of the box, keeper Lee Ruddle did well to get down and save to his right. From the resulting corner, City should have scored when a header sailed over the goal.
Anthony McCusker then had Town’s next effort, driving in onto his left foot from the right, but his effort was tame and at the keeper. On 30 minutes, a high ball into the City box saw Yates challenge the keeper, they collided and the loose ball was cleared by the home defence, however, Yates required lengthy treatment. As the half came to a close, City got more into the game with the home striker, turning two Town defenders on the edge of the box, however his shot was again saved by Ruddle, this time down to his left and the awarded corner found the tall home centre-half, whose header was cleared off the line by Damian Francis, covering on the post.
At halftime, the Town management stressed how important the work rate had been to the opening half’s performance and that the home side would have to up their efforts. City did just that and changed their system to match Town (which is a compliment in itself, to how well the side had played!). City had the first chance of the half as they drove forward from the halfway line and hit an effort from 20 yards which sailed past the goal. On 50 minutes Town carved out another opening, the ball was played into half-time sub and long-term absentee, Mike Marsh who’s first time lay off was perfectly played into the path of striker Paul Smith, who held off his defender before hitting an effort across the keeper who pulled off a great save at his feet with a strong left hand, but unfortunately, no-one following up in Red.
City made Town pay two minutes later as they grabbed the deciding goal. The ball was lost cheaply in midfield and the home side drove forward with pace, Town defenders failed to stay on their feet and the ball was played to the waiting City player who calmly slotted home past Ruddle for 1-0. Up to the hour mark, the match had been competitive with some strong tackles being thrown in. The referee was letting a number of challenges go unpunished and following one set of challenges Francis and the home full-back found themselves in the referee’s notebook, after exchanging nail polish and lipstick, after handbags at 20 paces!
Town were now susceptible to the counter-attack as they pushed for an equaliser and City had a number of efforts at goals, but they were all from long range and easily dealt with by Ruddle. With the game coming to a close, Smith had a header from a Town corner but failed to keep it down. The match came to an end, with Town losing 1-0 and out of the cup at the semi-final stage. City will now face Watlington Town Vets in the final after their received an Away walkover, following Old Hooky Vets decision to pull out of the competition.
Final Score: Oxford City Vets 1-0 Faringdon Town Vets
Town Gaffer, Martin Harries was full of praise for his side at the final whistle
“We have played the Premier Division league leaders, undoubtedly matched them throughout the tie and in all honesty a draw and penalties would have been a fair result. The whole matchday squad didn’t let Lugsy and myself down and with a little bit more luck, it could have been us in the final. We had a healthy support tonight, which gave the tie a decent atmosphere, so on behalf of the players, thankyou to those who travelled to Oxford to support the lads. We move on, two wins from our final two league fixtures and the lads will pick up some silverware which their efforts deserve this season”.