Match Review – Wednesday 20th March 2019 – Abingdon Town Vets v Faringdon Town Vets

Late Heartbreak!

Town Vets travelled to Abingdon Town Vets, looking to cause an upset in the semi-final of the Uhlsport Hellenic League CEO Challenge Cup. On arrival, it was clear the recent reports of Abingdon Town having money issues were very true as the floodlights were very poor and in some cases not working. The hosts came into the game top of the Premier Division with just one defeat all season, which came away to The Don in September.

The game opened up with the home side looking to catch Town on the break and Town looking the brighter. In the fifth minute, Town were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Abingdon penalty area and Paul Smith’s strike was saved by the home keeper.

A couple of minutes later and Abingdon hit the woodwork as a set-piece was not dealt with by Town and after a frantic scramble, the ball pinged to safety off of the Town right-hand post. It was becoming a midfield battle, with neither side playing any flowing football, both sides having long-range efforts but not troubling the keepers.

Just as the half was coming to a close, controversy occurred in the middle of the park as Damian Francis won a great sliding tackle, winning the ball cleanly from the Abingdon winner, however as both players were on the floor, the home player deliberately flung a foot into Damo’s face, which conveniently the three-match officials failed to see!

At the half time break, Town knew they had not been at their best and had gavin the ball away too many times. As the second half began, the home side started to apply pressure on the Town rear guard and a free kick awarded to the home side was fiercely struck, leaving Town keeper Lee Ruddle stranded, however, the ball came off the angle on the post and crossbar before being cleared.

On 55 minutes the deadlock was broken, a long diagonal ball over the top of the Town defence, Glenn Townsend shepherded the ball back to Ruddle on the edge of the area, however he failed to claim cleanly and the ball ran loose to the Abingdon striker who slotted home into an empty net.

Straight from the restart, Town moved forward with purpose and the ball fell to Paul Hulme on the edge of the Abingdon goal area, however his strike flew over the goal. If was all huff and puff for the next twenty minutes with Abingdon content to keep a clean sheet and Town not really getting in behind their backline.

Town threw caution to the wind and pushing players forward, the equaliser was grabbed on 77 minutes, when a sliced clearance was pounced on by Colin Yates who volleyed home from 6 yards to the joy of the Town faithful who had made the journey to Culham Road.

With the game heading straight to penalties, it was another contentious decision by the men in black, which ultimately lead to the winner! Skipper Gary Sutton fairly won a tackle on the Abingdon right wing, in front of the assistant match official who inexplicably awarded a freekick to the home side. Following much debate, a great delivery was played into the Town penalty area, where the forward who decided to back heel Damo’s head in the first half, rose highest to head into the Town goal as the ground fell into silence following the lateness of the strike.

It was all too late for Town, as Abingdon played out the final moments and the final whistle was blown for full-time. The home side had got out of jail and Town, whilst not being at their best, had outworked their opponents and deserved the chance of penalty kicks.

Final Score: Abingdon Town Vets 2 v 1 Faringdon Town Vets

Town gaffer Martin Harries was in reflective mood the morning after the game “It’s a shame two decisions by the match officials had a massive bearing on the result. We don’t take anything away from Abingdon, they have an abundance of experience at Southern & Hellenic League level, where the majority of our lads have been in the North Berks. They are clever and played the better football, however they know we don’t stop, and they are in for a battle for 80 minutes. The lad should have seen Red in the first half and then he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the winner! The match officials were poor on the night, which is disappointing….”

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

MOTM: Not awarded, team effort and 100% effort from the whole squad.

DOTD: Match Officials!