Match Report - 08 Nov 2008, Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI drew with Old Radleians
Paddy Sutton reports.....
On a wet and blustery day the Woks turned up brimming with confidence against a Radley Team languishing in the bottom half of the table. The warm up gave rise to much guffawing about the state of the pitch: heavy rain overnight had left standing water over the hallowed Bulls Drove turf.
Captain Neale had chosen a powerful midfield pairing of Baker and Merriot which appeared to be a good decision on a wet day where a scrappy game looked to be on the cards. The first half was cagey affair with the home side carving out a number of half chances but failing to capitalise on any them. Stevens’ delivery from corners was proving dangerous and must be put down to the elaborate pre-match scheming of two of the wise old heads in the team.
The industry of full backs Skinner and Walters kept Radley at bay and restricted them to the occasional long ball forward whilst allowing Vernon to maraud down the left and turn the right back inside out on a number of occasions. On one such occasion a sublime move ended with Vernon playing a perfectly weighted through ball to Sutton, who beat the last ditch tackle of a lumbering defender, but stupidly failed to go down under the clumsy challenge. The resulting cross was cleared with Stevens steaming into the six yard box.
Out of nowhere the ball dropped to one of Radley’s strikers, who defied the odds with a smart finish into the bottom corner leaving Neale with no chance. Completely against the run of the play the away team had snatched the lead.
Half time came with the Woks trailing by a goal. The panic buttons were not pressed though as Marsh and Redhead were brought on to add some trickery in the final third. The team talk spoke of calmness and sought to go back to our renowned passing game.
The equaliser came from a long ball up to Sutton who defied the odds with a Salmon like leap to feed Baker on the edge of the box. Once again he rolled backed the years to lash the ball into the top corner and matched the goal with a Cantona like celebration.
The rest of the half saw an accomplished passing performance with Radley giving the Woks far too much time on the ball. Chances came and went with Merriot putting in a commanding display in the middle of the park. Some of his exaggerated pirouettes would have looked more at home on the floor of ‘Strictly’ but his dominance allowed Baker to play further up the pitch. The ball would just not go in though as Vernon and Marsh both saw good efforts thwarted by the opposition keeper.
Jimboleena had a rocket of a free-kicked tipped round the post and one sensed that it might just be one of those days for the dominant Old Woks team. Waki looked in imperious form at the back and his solid partnership with Rann allowed Radley no clear chances to attack Neales’ area. In fact the only attack on Neale came when some jibe about his golden, floppy locks brought some excitement to the otherwise bored keeper.
No matter how much the home side pressed the winner didn’t come. An excellent performance by the lanky keeper denied the Woks the chance to continue their winning streak that has seen them top the table from the beginning of the season.
A frustrating result in the end but positives can be taken from a number of good displays. The opposition linesman even learned about the offside rule, which is good for him and should help stop him putting in the kind of display that Mr Poll became famous for. Still top of the league and unbeaten, the march for promotion continues. A special mention must go to Baker whose mud wrestling in the opposition penalty box was one of the most committed penalty claims ever seen.
Team: Neale (c), Walters, Rann, Waki, Skinner, Vernon, Baker, Merriott, Stevens (Marsh 45), Masefield (Redhead 45), Sutton
Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI 1 - 1 Old Radleians ()