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Tuesday 25th September 2012 ko 7.45pm
Hellenic League Floodlit Cup 2nd Round

CHINNOR 1 (Cattell 12og)

WANTAGE TOWN 2 (McMahon 23 Alder 28)

Att 93

Entry & Programme £2

The Oxfordshire village of Chinnor really does mark both a geographical and topographical boundary. The limestone escarpment slopes up from the village towards the Bledlow Ridge, and its that escarpment that marks the boundary with Buckinghamshire. Former weatherman Bill Giles lives here, and almost unbelievably, U2 bassist Adam Clayton was born in Chinnor before moving to the Irish Republic aged 5.

It’s been a long time since my last visit to Station Road, I think it was for a Hellenic Hop game against Oxford City’s Reserves, but that was on what’s now Chinnor’s second pitch, and that was just roped off. Ironically given the opposition, soon after they inherited the rail from Quarry Nomads’ Margaret Road home- Oxford City took over the Nomads to get their place in the Hellenic, and soon, the team was wearing City Blue and White, and there was no football at Margaret Road. With there now being no Hellenic hop, it was a straightforward decision to get the new pitch ticked. Judging by the sheer number of hoppers there I wasn’t the only one thinking along these lines!

The Nomads’ rail is still is situ but Chinnor have moved about 50 yards, and a right angle from the clubhouse, itself due to be demolished in favour of something more suitable. It all looks new, clean, and built with precious little thought. The pitch only just fits its footprint, I certainly wouldn’t want to see a goalkeeper at the clubhouse end fall backwards into the goal, he’d hit his head! Whoever decided it was a bright idea to put the two prefabricated stands behind the dugouts obviously hadn’t considered what the view would be like from them. I assume that in time some attempt will be made to enclose the ground, as my £2 entry was taken by me finding a small pile of programmes behind the bar and buying one.

Still, the club is justifiably proud of the progress its made, and Brian King, General Secretary of the League was beaming at being present at the club’s first ever home game under lights. It wasn’t long ago that the club was doing very little in the Oxfordshire Senior League on very little more than a park pitch. But that’s the rub for the club, floodlights aren’t cheap, and the Hellenic League Division One East has only 14 teams in it. It will be interesting to see how many times, save for the mandatory Saturday 3pm kick offs, that the lights actually get used!

It was an odd evening, with a ladies’ circuits class taking place in one corner, and a referee’s assessors’ course separating into gaggles of 5, spread around the pitch. It was one only a few occasions I’ve not looked out-of-place with my clip board.

As perhaps you’d expect, Wantage of the Hellenic Premier were too proficient for their lower-ranked opponents. They had a shock though, when Stuart Cattell attempted an interception, but watched horrified as it looped over Gareth Tucker to give Chinnor an unlikely lead. Wantage soon put that right, and two quick-fire finishes from John McMahon, and Paul Alder gave a more realistic view of the play.

What should have been a simple second half was made more difficult by Wantage easing off and failing to capitalise on they did create and were nearly forced into extra time when Wantage’s Brad Davies header produced a diving save from Tucker, his own keeper with 2 minutes left. That of course exhausted an obvious source of a floodlit game for Chinnor. I wonder when the next will be?