Monday Night football was back at Tucker Park this week, as Town took on Cricklade Town from the Wiltshire Senior League in the Quarter Final of the Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup Competition.

Town’s preparations were hampered slightly with a couple of late withdrawals due to illness, but it did mean the fines were not in force due to the Fines Master being unavailable. However, we still had a fiveman bench to bolster the strong starting eleven.

Cricklade who finished in the upper half of their league last season had come through the first round with a 7-6 penalty victory over Ashton Keynes following a 3-3 draw in 90 minutes. Town had beaten local side Clanfield (85) FC, 3-2 6 days ago.

The match started with Town in the ascendancy and won themselves a corner at the Playground End. The corner was poor, cleared and Cricklade found themselves three on two on the counter attack. The ball was played to the left and with Town trying to recover, the cross was headed home for a first minute 1-0 lead for the visitors.

The goal gave Cricklade an early boost and Town’s heads were down. Within the opening 10 minutes, two further half chances were created by the visitors. Town really struggling to get going, however striker Dave Coleman did have Town’s first effort on goal as he stole the ball from a defender, before striking well, but straight at the keeper.

The positivity for Town was short lived, as the next forward play saw Cricklade keep the ball, before finding the number ten, thirty yards from goal. He took one touch, a second touch and still not closed down by the Town rear-guard or midfield, fired at goal, taking a massive deflection which took the ball away from Town keeper Justin Yates and into the net for 2-0.

The Town performance was still wildly below average and it was no surprise as the half came to a close, it was 3-0 as Cricklade were awarded a penalty, well dispatched by ex-Town player Max Scholefield.

The Town half-time changing room was noisy, loud and aggressive, but this was from the Manager and not the players! Town had to replace Yates in goal due to injury with Lee Murby and Harry Platt came off in a tactical change, which saw the introduction of James Tranter, following his Far East travelling. The lads knew they hadn’t performed and had to go and at least win the second half.

The requested work-rate re-appeared in the second period as Town were now pressing and competing for every ball and created some half chances, but didn’t have the right people, in the right place at the right time.

Cricklade then hammered the final nail into the coffin. They broke away after Town lost the ball cheaply in midfield with twenty minutes remaining, the winger rounded Murby before calmly slotting home. Matt Morris was introduced into the ten role and had an immediate effect as he made the visiting keeper pull off a full length save to his left from 20 yards.

Moments later and Town pulled back a consolation, Matt Pill continuing his good run of goal-scoring to swivel and shoot from 8 yards for 4-1. Moments later, it was then full-back Joe Hoskin who decided to try his luck at goal as Town applied some late pressure, he opened up from 25 yards, finding top bins for 4-2 with a fantastic strike and with five minutes remaining Town and the healthy Tucker Park faithful hoped for a late, late comeback.

Cricklade tried to play out the remaining moments of the game and despite Town grabbing late corners and a couple of near-misses, Town were out of the competition and Cricklade Town go on to face Wantage Town Development in the semi-finals, April 2020.

Team: J Yates (L Murby 45), H Platt (J Tranter 45), A Lynham, L Davenport (M Morris 70), J Forth(c), A Goodchild, J Vaughan, S Creeley, J Hoskin, M Pill, D Coleman. Subs not used: O Baker, J Evans.