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Wednesday 16th April 2014 ko 18.30

Oxon Senior League Division One

YARNTON 2 (Bunce 39 Marsh 44)

EYNSHAM 3 (McCudden 58p Glossop 63 69)

Att 28

Entry FREE

Programme No

Given that this pretty village is only about 4 miles from Oxford, on the A44 towards Woodstock it was high time I ticked this one off. In fact as I arrived committeeman Gary spotted me and laughed, “About time too!” I’d seen Yarnton twice last season, once at Chalgrove and once at Northway, and let’s face it, on a warm evening why wouldn’t you want to be in an English village with over 4,000 years of history?

There’s been a settlement since around 2000BC, and on a dry day crop marks show evidence of Roman enclosures. The local church, St Bartholemew’s, dates from 1161 and is very much the creation of the Spencer family, the family eventually marrying into the Churchill family. Clearly politics runs in the family, Winston Churchill’s father Randolph was a MP, and there’s a monument in St Bartholemew’s to Sir Thomas Spencer, 3rd Baronet, who sat in the Convention Parliament in 1660!

The ground is easy enough to find; just head along the A44 towards Woodstock and turn right just before the Turnpike pub down Yarton Lane. The Littlemarsh Playing Field is on the left just before the level-crossing. Here’s the thing, you know the Oxford to Birmingham line runs past one corner of the ground, but its only when a train blasts past that you’re aware of it. I imagine that if I watched all of my football here, I’d get used to it but there was a train roughly every 5 minutes and so every 5 minutes I jumped!

The ground is a gem, and that’s not a term I use lightly. The club had a seven-season stint in the Hellenic League that ended in 1998, and the rail on the near side and the brick dugouts are a nod to that past. The club quite rightly are mighty proud of their new clubhouse and I was given a guided tour. The function room with its glass doors allows you to see both goals from the warm and dry, there’s a kitchen, even an extra changing room for when there’s a female official. There is only one small flaw, and its in the changing rooms. The architect clearly wasn’t a football man so when he designed walls that don’t go all the way up to the ceiling to dissipate condensation, he failed to account for the fact that each team can now hear the other’s team talk!

It’s all there for Yarnton, a friendly club and an excellent ground and no lack of volunteers, the problem they have is recruiting a team to do the facilities justice. 7th in a 10-team league isn’t where they want to be, and with the visitors needing a win to guarantee runners-up spot, and with it promotion an away win looked a banker. But being football it didn’t exactly go by the form-book. Eynsham made a fast start, and they may well have won more easily if after 10 minutes Chris Marsh had been dismissed for tripping Kris Clarke when the Eynsham was clean through. The decision to issue only a yellow card looked lenient in the extreme, and when Owen Bunce opened the scoring for Yarnton closely followed by Marsh’s long-range effort from the left somehow evading Chris Montgomery in the Eynsham goal there were obvious nerves amongst the visiting players and supporters.

That sense of unease continued after the break, and frustration crept into Eynsham’s psyche as players began to take their annoyances out of the referee. Then just before the hour-mark the pieces fell into place for them. Tom McCudden stroked home a penalty and straight afterwards forward Andy Glossop was introduced. His height proved to be impossible for the Yarnton defence to cope with, and two headers sealed both the win and promotion for Eynsham.