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Sunday 26th February 2012 ko 10.30am

Upper Thames Valley League Divsion 3A


NORTHWAY (BOYS & GIRLS) 2 (Yerwood 75 Hatt 76)

Att 1

Entry FREE

Nothing for sale

There is a team called Abingdon Exiles in the UTVL but they play at Abingdon United. The real exiles are White Horse Abingdon who play at the Louis Memorial Pavilion, Arnold’s Way in the west Oxford suburb of Botley.

Botley is one of those places that many will have passed, but few recognised. The A34 runs past the suburb’s main landmark, the Seacourt Tower, built as a car dealership, but known locally as Botley Cathedral, due to its spire!

The ground is basic, just a set of posts and a changing room block, but the welcome from manager John Clark was genuine. It transpired that the team moved here when they couldn’t get a pitch in Abingdon, this pitch having been vacated by Research Machines FC who have moved to Steventon FC. Co-incidentally this morning’s referee Andrew Caven was in charge of the North Berkshire Hop game, at yes Steventon! Its worth noting that the Arnold’s Way Ground hasn’t been used for Saturday football for some time.

Northway have a certain quirk in that both they and their reserves play in Division 3. The firsts in 3A and the reserves in 3B, and for the record both divisions are of equal stature. For White Horse, the quirk was in the form of defender Dan Lawrence who’s place of work the previous day was Queen’s Park Rangers! OK, he’s a cameraman for Sky Sports, but everyone enjoyed the Premier League connection.

I tried hard to get the attendance above well, me. A few walkers passed as a public footpath is situated at the back of the ground. Some stopped and watched for a few minutes, but none lingered, or asked the score. A shame as this was a decent honest game, which deserved watching.

The first half was notable for profligate finishing from both sides but particularly the hosts. Northway did get the ball in the net, but this was quickly ruled offside. Northway midfielder Kieron Jennings debated the point describing the decision as “A f*****g joke,” for which he received a red card, Caven explaining how in the pre-match talk how he would not tolerate foul language. That hurt Jennings more than Caven imagined. Jennings plays for Hellenic League outfit Thame United and I would not want to be present when he informs the club he’s now suspended! Unusually he did end up running the line, which I suspect isn’t entirely compliant with FA guidelines.

As the game wore on and I became increasingly nervous about collecting a 0-0, White Horse came more into the game, and the introduction of Matty Belcher seemed to have swung the game in their favour. His finish of a good move was no more than White Horse deserved, but the lead was to last barely a minute as Michael Yerwood smashed home at close range to equalise, then just a minute after that Rob Hatt’s low shot from 10 yards won the game for the visitors.

It was all rather harsh on White Horse, who had done little wrong other than shoot poorly. An interesting coda for them was the introduction of Youcef El Barhdadi, or to use his blogging title Moroccan Yellow. For a few minutes it was blogger watching blogger!

Here’s his site, it’s rather good!!!