The ESPFA enjoyed fixtures from both the South Division and the North Cup in #MatchweekFifteen, with ten teams in action overall.
In the ‘Key Matchup’ of the week we saw Frome Town travel to Rushall Olympic (Amber) for what was a must-win game for the hosts. After dropping five points in their previous four, Rushall Olympic (Amber) desperately needed to take home all three points if they wanted to stay in the hunt for the South Division title and remain at the top of the table. Frome on the other hand have been enjoying a solid run of games and will be hoping to make up some ground on Rushall Olympic (Black), above them in fifth spot.
The home team started the game very well and were seeing a lot of the ball in the opening ten minutes. They found themselves in on goal several times and Tyrese Hall had a chance to open the scoring after ten minutes, but his close-range effort was scuffed wide. He had a chance to rectify his early miss and was put through in goal again and this time made no mistake as he stroked the ball into the bottom left corner to open the scoring.
Frome were battling hard and later found an opening down the right-hand side after a nice bit of play from Joe Evemy-Bradley. He made his way into the penalty area and was brought down by a Rushall defender, leaving the ref no choice but to award a penalty. Evemy-Bradley won the penalty and stepped up to take it, drilling the ball to the goalkeepers left and drew the visitor’s level.
Rushall Olympic (Amber) managed to get their noses in front once more just before half-time through another excellent Tyrese Hall finish. The hosts were knocking the ball around with confidence and worked to the wing where right-back Taylor Sutton whipped in a brilliant cross which Hall chested down, took it round one defender and smashed it into the back of the net.
In a cagey second half with neither side controlling the tempo of the game, Frome drew level once more through Zac Owen. After a high ball was spilled by the Rushall Olympic (Amber) goalkeeper, Owen was on hand to pick up the pieces and turn the ball home for Frome Town. What makes the equaliser even better is that Zac’s natural position is a goalkeeper, who found himself upfront for the game due to there being two goalkeepers in the Frome Town squad.
The game was decided just two minutes later, and Frome Town’s ecstasy of drawing level again soon turned to empathy when a long thrown in wasn’t dealt with by the Robins backline. The ball bounced all the way through to the front post and Charlie Goody got the faintest of touches to poke the ball home and earn his side all three points. FT: 3-2.
After the game, #ESPFASomerset student and Frome Town player Zac Owen said his team’s slow starts have cost them points in recent weeks. “I think we started slow; we didn’t really get into the game until the second-half. It’s happened in the last few weeks now, we’ve had good tactics from the start, but we just haven’t utilised them, so we just need to start quicker, that’s where we went downhill.”
#ESPFAWestMidlands student and Rushall Olympic (Amber) player, Louis Godfrey thought his side dug deep to get the win and was proud of his team’s performance. He said: “I think we got stuck in well, grafted really well. When we needed to attack and score, we did and then when we needed to defend, especially towards the end when we were under a lot of pressure, we did that well to keep the lead and I thought we played well.”
With Rushall Olympic (Amber) winning, it meant Kidlington had to win to keep up their chances of claiming the title come the end of the season. They did this with a 2-1 victory over Rushall Olympic (Black) but it wasn’t exactly straight forward for the #ESPFAOxfordshire side. Elias Myers opened the scoring for Rushall Olympic (Black) before Zach Evans levelled things up from the penalty spot before half time. It was an 88th minute winner that sealed the deal for Kidlington thanks to a thumping header from defender Zak Rice to keep their title hopes alive.
Also in the South Division, Chesham United hosted Carlton Town in a rematch of their fixture from #MatchweekFourteen. After a 5-1 defeat in that game, Carlton Town were keen to improve on that performance and did just that, forcing Chesham United to settle for a 2-2 draw. Abdul Zaman and Madison Wilkin. Continued their good form for Chesham and both found the back of the net whilst the South Division ‘Player of the Month’ for November and December, Khai Smith, was once again on the scoresheet for Chesham alongside the skipper Hamad Arif.
In the North Cup, Runcorn Linnets continued their excellent campaign with a 7-1 victory over north-west rivals, Skelmersdale United. This is now their 11th straight win of the season in both competitions and currently sit of the North Division and the North Cup.
Witton Albion are also on the up and have now recorded two wins in a row after a dominant display against Belper Town. The hosts won 6-1 in a brilliant performance that saw Dan Williams score a brace and carry on his hot goal scoring run.
Team of the week
Well done to all the students who were nominated by their coaches for this week’s edition of #TeamOfTheWeek and also a special mention to #ESPFAOxfordshire student Zak Rice who was chosen as the #PlayerOfTheWeek for #MatchweekFifteen after a valiant performance that helped his side earn a 2-1 win against Rushall Olympic (Black) and stay in the hunt for the South Division title.
The Highlights Show
You can catch all of #MatchweekFifteen’s goals and match highlights in this week’s edition of The Highlights Show.