Match Review – Wednesday 24th April 2019 – Old Hooky Vets v Faringdon Town Vets

The Vets final fixture of their season saw them return to Hook Norton to face last season’s title winners Old Hooky Vets. We travelled across Oxfordshire prior to Christmas and were on the end of a convincing 4-1 defeat. However, it later transpired that Hooky had played an unregistered player and were docked three points, plus this fixture was ordered to be replayed by the Hellenic League, much to the management and squads bewilderment! Going into the fixture on Wednesday, Old Hooky required three points to remain in the Premier Division on goal difference.

Preparations for this weeks match were hampered by a number of lads being unavailable (injury, work commitments, Man Utd being on the telly!) and with a planned 15 players on the day of the match, three further dropouts (two whilst travelling the thirty odd miles to the ground) made selection for the match easy, but was unfair on the lads, management and the ‘three stooges’ who did travel…

Town played a new 3-5-2 formation and found themselves on the back foot early and a goal behind within the first minutes as a ball was played inside of Steve Pugh and the winger scored past stand-in keeper Glenn Townsend. Town didn’t let this early set back put them down and created two openings from set-pieces as Pat Graham and Ben Spencer both headed over when well placed. With 11 minutes on the clock, Town scored easily goal of the match and probably our goal of the season.

The ball was played down the left channel for Chris Roche to break onto. Rochey played a terrific left-footed ball to strike partner Colin Yates on the right side of the Hooky penalty area and sweetly struck a side volley past the keepers right hand, nestling into the corner of the net. Town always looked suspect at the back, due to the back three either not communicating or misjudging the ball (not a dig, because all three were playing in unusual positions!) and the home side took advantage on 19 minutes as a misplaced pass from Townsend, saw the returned ball sail over his head, strike the crossbar onto the goal-line with a home striker reacting quickest and turning the ball home for the lead. With the half coming a close and the lead was stretched to 3-1 when another mistake by Town allowed an easy tap-in for the OH striker after Iain Lawson failed to control the through ball.

At the half time interval the lads knew they had let themselves down, by not doing the simple things, communication had to improve and take control of situations individually.

The second half performance was very much improved and the momentum came from a 47th minute goal from Ben Spencer, who nodded home after the keeper dropped a corner from the left. With Town on the up, the strikers swapped provider and goalscorer as Yatesy’s ball was played over the Hooky defence for Rochey to race onto and drill a left-footed shot past the advancing keeper and put Town right back into the match at 3-3.

Straight from the kick-off Town pressured OH into a mistake and with the home defence in six’s & seven’s Rochey got onto the ball and chipped the keeper, but his effort agonisingly went past the far post and the chance for the lead had gone. OH started to regain some composure and once again took the lead on 55 minutes when a cross from the right was headed home from close range, with the OH player unmarked.

Town continued to push, but with lack of number and tired legs, it was no surprise that the hosts extended their lead on 67 minutes when a missed header in midfield, found the substitute striker, whose toe poked shot at goal was unfortunately fumbled by Townsend and the ball trickled over the line. Town worked hard for the remaining 10 minutes of the match, but couldn’t find the energy to get into goalscoring positions. OH took the three points again, however the effort shown by the 12 lads was brilliant and showed the true Town spirit which we are known for throughout the Divisions.

Town manager Martin Harries reflected on the game and the season “The lads were terrific tonight and never gave up! Preparations were not great, I was disappointed with the numbers who said they were unavailable or who pulled out late, however I appreciate it’s not the journey you want to make for a second time. For the season, after winning Division 1 last year, we have been competitive in the Premier and finishing third has to be commended and we also reached the League Cup semi-final for the second season running.

We are only two seasons old as a squad, so we’ve come along way and with lads asking to join once they hit 35 years old, we will get stronger again. Special mention to Iain Lawson (who gave us 65 minutes tonight in his farewell match before retiring, great effort for a 65 year old!) and our faithful supporters, El Presidente, Rocky and Paul T for their support all season, home and away”.

Squad: Glenn Townsend, Iain Lawson, Dave Legg(c), Gavin Stevens, Steve Pugh, Paul Smith, Ben Spencer, Anthony McCusker, Patrick Graham, Colin Yates, Chris Roche, Aidan Streete.

MOTM: Gavin Stevens (completed his first ever 80 minutes for the Vets, will pay for it in the morning!!)

DOTD: Anthony McCusker (who discussed Game of Thrones in the warm up? Who watches Game of Thrones!)