Town made the cross-country trek to Hook Norton to face the current bottom of the table side Old Hooky Vets in the Hellenic Premier Division. The squad was stretched to it’s maximum due to a large number of injuries, work and general unavailability. However, the squad which travelled was good enough to put the effort in and come away with a positive result.
Unfortunately, despite the Town management setting the side up to initially sit tight and play our way into the game, the lads found themselves a goal behind within two minutes, as a right-wing cross found the big number 9, who volleyed home unmarked from 2 yards. Town were struggling to get a grip of the game, not able to cope with Hooky’s formation, which wasn’t exactly ‘Guardiola management’! Town did carve an opening on five minutes when leading scorer Paul Smith pounced on a ball down the right side, but his left foot shot was smothered by the home keeper.
Town wasn’t learning from their mistakes and a carbon copy of the goal nearly repeated itself on 10 minutes when another cross from the right was headed over when the target should have been hit. Halfway through the first half a home defender was sin-binned by the match official for words used against the man in black and right fullback Glenn Townsend played a great ball into the Hooky box through the corridor of uncertainty, but Town couldn’t make the most of it and the ball rolled to safety.
Moments later and Town were two goals behind as a ball over the top found the backline static after the midfield had cheaply lost the ball and despite their shouts for offside, Lugsy’s arm and flag remained rooted and the number nine, lobbed the ball over Town keeper Lee Ruddle, before smashing the ball home. The rest of the half was one-way traffic as Hooky controlled the match and constantly made chances, but couldn’t extend the lead.
The side were asked to try and come to terms with the home sides work rate and method of play, whilst the match official had a quiet word in Chris Pettis’s ear about the home sides line up! Town started brightly and five minutes into the second half, Craig Gaynor stroked a left-footed effort on target, which a home defender managed to deflect wide with his head. Shortly after and a great cross from Townsend found Smith in the middle of the goal, but his header lacked any power and was easily saved.
With Town in the ascendancy, Hooky broke away on 58 minutes, the striker was clipped by Ruddle and the resulting penalty kick was dispatched by the number 9 into the top corner for his and Old Hooky’s third goal of the game. Town still tried to probe, but the home sides closing down forced Town into errors in the middle of the pitch, however on the hour Anthony McCusker’s effort hit the angle of the post and crossbar with the keeper stranded.
Gav Stevens then worked himself into a shooting position on 66 minutes on the edge of the penalty error, but his well struck effort just went wide of the goal. With Town pushing to get back into the match, the backline was exposed and the home side exploited this on 68 minutes as a number of missed tackles saw them stretch their lead to 4-0. Town probably scored the goal of the game after 73 minutes, when Paul Hulme’s great ball found Smith, who scored with a left footed volley to maintain his goal a game ratio.
The game came to a close and the Town squad had to return to the changing rooms to lick their wounds and come to terms with the fact they were probably taught a lesson by the home side, even if the eligibility of a player was being questioned by the match official.
Town Gaffer was in reflective mood after the game ‘We travelled with a small squad, the quality was there but we are just starting games so slowly. I asked them to sit it out for 20 minutes and grow into the game, but after 2 minutes that game plan was out of the window!! We live and learn and need to improve for next week’s match against bogey side Witney Royals”.
Squad: Lee Ruddle, Glenn Townsend, Dave Legg, Damian Francis, Gary Sutton(c), Chris Pettis, Phil Thompson, Anthony McCusker, Paul Smith, Paul Hulme, Craig Gaynor, Gavin Stevens, Troy Redman.
MOTM: Glenn Townsend (Always looking to push on and give us an option out wide)
DOTD: Paul Smith (Wearing tights in a Vets match!)
Next Match: 7/11/18 Home v Witney Royals Vets