Offord United 3 – 1 Foxton Reserves
Keeping the same line-up that saw off Cambridge Ambassadors so emphatically last week, Foxton Reserves started the brighter of the two teams in this match with some fluidic movement, accurate, crisp passing between teammates coupled with excellent ball retention & close control.
Foxton went closest to getting the opener with Ashden delivering an incisive through ball Offord defence for Birthday boy Oliver Saunders to run on to who then rounded the keeper but just could not quite find the target. Minutes later Ollie was back in the thick of the action with another one-on-one but the keeper knew better this time and thwarted the chance with a fair, if robust, challenge on the advancing Saunders.
As the first half progressed it was clear that Offord were unable to contain Foxton’s midfield quintet of Sam, Emile, Ashden, Brad C & Ollie who were dominating the play. In defence Foxtons lined up with Jon, Darren, Dan, Alex M. It was good to see Captain Dan back from injury as his aerial presence made a big difference. Alex M and Jon at times had their hands full with two of the best wingers in the league.
After 20 minutes, goalkeeper Mark Harper stayed alert and was quick on his feet when he was faced with a one on one. You may remember the first game of the season when a similar scenario ended up injuring Mark but thankfully he came through this one unscathed and victorious.
After about 30 minutes and against the run of play, Offord had a chance from outside the box which their centre forward struck firmly and took a massive deflection to leave Mark Harper helpless to prevent Foxton going 1 down.
Taking the bad luck on the chin Foxton rallied and Alex F showed his quality with continuous movement off and on the ball and coming close to scoring twice. Emile delivered two accurate floated set-pieces from which Foxton just couldn’t quite find the net.
After 40 minutes Offord put Foxton under pressure and doubled their lead with their centre forward finishing well from their winger’s assist.
As the referee blew for half-time Foxton were left wondering how they were 2-0 down after such a strong dominating first half performance. And Foxton were forced into a substitution at the break with James R came on for the injured Sam.
The second half was more of an equal affair with both teams cancelling each other out. Brad C’s work rate was inspirational with box to box coverage and effective making and breaking of play.
As the second half progressed Foxton conceded a lot of corners and Offord were starting to pile on the pressure but they found Mark Harper in no mood to concede further snuffing out any crossed balls and turning some more attempts round the posts.
Alas the pressure continued to mount and Offord’s left midfield scored a great solo goal to widen the lead to 3.0
In the 67th minute Foxton made a further 2 substitutions with Simon Parker and Jim C entering the field of play.
After 75 minutes James R delivered a great ball from the right into the box which Simon tucked away neatly to fan the embers of a revival. 3-1
80th minute Brad G and James P came on to try and force further opportunities to close the gap and steal a point but as the final whistle blew it wasn’t to be.
Despite the result this was easily Foxton Reserves best first half performance this season against the team many consider to be title favourites and should take great encouragement from their tireless display. M.o.t.M. this week was Mark Harper who, like an Amazon warehouse order picker, delivered the goods under pressure.