Match Review – Wednesday 13th March 2019 – Witney Royals v Faringdon Town Vets

The Vets travelled to the Cinder Lane Stadium as the away side on Wednesday evening, with Witney Royals using the fortress as a home ground for this Uhlsport Hellenic League Vets Premier fixture.

The game started in the worst possible way, Town took kick-off, three passes later they had lost possession on the halfway line to Royals and a further pass and shot saw Town 1-0 down within the first thirty seconds!! It took a while for Town to get a grip of the match and had their first shot on goal, Paul Smith blazing wide and over when his team-mates were well placed to score.

The next moment of attacking play, saw the excellent Royals number eleven latch onto a through ball, chip over Town skipper Gary Sutton before unleashing an effort which was well saved by the closing down Lee Ruddle in the Town goal. Town weren’t learning from their mistakes and on 22 minutes a quick Royals breakaway saw them volley wide when they should have hit the target. However, on the half-hour mark Town drew level, as a Dave Legg free-kick just inside the Witney half found Paul Hulme who rifled an unstoppable effort high into the net.

Moments later and Witney had another opportunity to score, as they broke through the midfield and their effort missed the target as Sutton managed to miss his clearance and dummy the ball at the same time! The last chance of the half fell to Hulme, whose shot was saved by the Royals keeper.

The Town management knew that the Town squad had fitter legs and would be able to outrun the Royals side. However, they needed to move off the ball more and turn the home side around if a short pass wasn’t on. The opening minutes of the second period was a bit frantic, but mostly in the midfield area’s until the 53rd minute when the Royals skipper attempted to clear the ball in the penalty area, mistimed his clearance and his swinging arm made contact with the ball.

The referee awarded a penalty, much to Witney’s disgust and the resulting penalty kick took an age to be taken. However, Hulme stepped forward and calmly slotted home for his sixth goal of the season and put Town 2-1 in the lead. Just on the hour and Town had the ball in the back of the net again, as Troy Redman pounced on a Smith cross, however, our ultra-honest linesman Joel Francis had his flag up for the ball going out of play in the build-up for a throw-in and play was brought back.

Town were gaining the advantage now and Smith was unlucky not to make it three, when his attempted lob over the keeper was well saved by the man in orange. Witney were always dangerous on the break and had two efforts on goal, one shooting wide on another breakaway and then Ruddle saving comfortably on 70 minutes from a well-driven effort.

The game was coming to a close and Legg had the last notable effort when he drove forward before drilling an effort which was well saved by the Witney keeper at the foot of his right-hand post. Town then saw the game our following the referee’s whistle.

Town manager Martin Harries was pleased with the overall performance ‘Royals are our bogey side, extremely dangerous on the attack, but when you break those attacks down, they are left exposed at the back and I though we deserved the three points. The penalty was contentious, its one of those that when given you will take it, but when against you, your livid. The lad couldn’t do anything about it. We move onto the semi final on the 20th March at Abingdon Town, so it would be great to see good numbers supporting us again’.

Final Score: Witney Royals 1 v 2 Faringdon Town Vets

Squad: Lee Ruddle, Steve Pugh, Dave Legg, Damian Francis, Gary Sutton(c), Chris Pettis, Liam Humphreys, Anthony McCusker, Colin Yates, Paul Hulme, Paul Smith, Ben Spencer, Phil Thompson, Troy Redman, Patrick Graham, Glenn Townsend.

MOTM: Dave Legg (Played very well, created a goal and defended superbly)

DOTD: Paul Smith (Went to the wrong ground initially, whilst also having a shocker for 80 minutes!)