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Saturday 7th December 2013 ko 13.30

John Fathers Oxfordshire Junior Shield 3rd Round

BRIZE NORTON 3 (Lachwicz 5 Bronk 29 Rowe 36) Rowe sent off 45 (violent conduct)

ASHTON VILLA 5 (Furtuna 70 Jukic 70 Benjamin 83 85 90) Green sent off 45 (violent conduct)

Att 11 (and 6 ponies)

Entry FREE

Raffle £1

No Programme

For the most part, airports disappoint me. Most of my encounters with them involve waiting and queuing in a place that could be almost anywhere. I remember landing at what was then called Jan Smuts airport in Cape Town, a vision of metal, glass and air conditioning, then stepping outside and experiencing the heat, flies and squalor of the squatter camp outside the perimeter fence. It is a strange way to welcome a visitor.

Of course Brize Norton is well-known as being the site of the RAF base where flights from the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan both start and finish. It’s impossible to miss, it dwarfs the village, even the Nimrod aircraft seems to cast a benevolent eye over village life. I even saw a game there once! click here for the article.

I had a chat to the Ben Jukic, substitute for Ashton, a working men’s club in Bicester, and he takes the same view as I do of airports, but with him there’s a difference. He’s in the army, so a flight for him is from Brize and with it is the dangers of a tour of duty. After the game, as I passed the signs for repatriation flight parking, I reflected on the dangers Ben and his military colleagues face. It was good to see the Help For Heroes collecting tin in the clubhouse.

The one advantage Ben and his colleagues do have landing at Brize is that the view couldn’t be much more English if it tried. From the ponies in the field, the pub called The Chequers, and the Church of St Britius, an odd mix of Norman and early English Gothic I could have snapped away happily with no game on at all.

It’s a shame that at the higher levels of the game the county cups aren’t taken seriously, as at the real grass-roots the interest is as strong as ever. This game saw Brize, in the second tier of the Witney & District League take on Ashton currently sporting a 100% record at the top of the third tier of the Banbury & Lord Jersey League. The goal difference of +56 from 10 games looked impressive too.

It was perhaps surprising therefore  that Brize took control both quickly and decisively. The two Polish forwards Bartek Lachwicz and Pavel Bronk communicated completely in their language save for the odd expletive, and set each other up for goals, before Sam Rowe followed up for a 3-0 lead after a mere 36 minutes. Ashton looked shell-shocked, not a wonderful analogy given the location, but it was difficult to see where their revival started.

Perhaps it was the double sending off. A scything challenge from Ashton’s Tony Truman produced a melee, with Dan Green seeing red for a headbutt, and Brize’s Sam Rowe for raising his hands. The 10 a-side game that resulted gave more space that the visitors exploited, but 5 goals in 20 minutes seemed barely believable given Ashton’s form in the first half.

The spark was Em Furtuna stabbing home from close range, closely followed by fellow substitute Jukic slamming home from the edge of the box. Brize heads dropped, and Ricardo Benjamin collected a 7 minute hat-trick from exploiting the defence’s high line, pushing forward in search of respite.

I’ll keep an eye on both these sides, I suspect Ashton will have a good run in this competition, and as for Brize they are a wonderful representative of football at the true grass roots. No money, no reward, just for the love for the game played on a undulating pitch in a pretty English village. And that’s not a bad way to welcome someone back to the UK is it?