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THE REVIEW - #MatchweekSixteen

After a huge week in the ESPFA where Runcorn Linnets were crowned as the North Division champions, we review all the action from #MatchweekSixteen.

North Division

It was the #ESPFAWestYorkshire derby that played host to the ‘Key Matchup’ of the week as Ossett United made the short journey over to Brighouse Town. Having started the season on fire, winning their first four games, Brighouse Town’s form has cooled off as of late. Ossett United have also experienced some difficulty in recent weeks and suffered back-to-back defeats in their last two run outs. With teams around them jockeying for positions in the final division standing, every game starts to become a must win for both sides.

Conditions were tough in this North Division clash, with strong winds, low sun and a heavy pitch making it difficult to get the ball down and play early on. Ossett United were the first to strike after a brilliant hit from Leo Benomran from the edge of the box flew passed the Brighouse Town keeper.

Just before half-time, Mattuesz Alliolkowski was called into action in the Ossett goal and was forced to tip a powerful shot from Logan Sheridan over the bar for a corner. A slip in concentration from the Ossett backline led to a free header for Brighouse Town defender Elliot Haigh to tie the game up before the break.

In the first dangerous attack of the second half, Leo Benomran had a chance to double his tally for the day when he was slipped in by his teammate and had a one v one with the goalkeeper which was cleared off the line by Kian Hepburn.

On 55-minutes, Brighouse striker Paul Ikoe brought the ball down and with some great link up play, he found Ethan Donkersley marching down the right wing. He made his way into the box before unleashing a pinpoint effort that found the inside of the post from a tight angle and gave Brighouse the lead.

The visitors could only keep the lead for five minutes after Harrison Cooper turned home the ball from a corner not dealt with by Brighouse Town. A testing cross from Regan Dixon caused problems for the Brighouse Town keeper and the Brighouse defence could not clear the ball until cooper stabbed home the close-range effort.

Both teams had a chance to win the game in the last 15 minutes but after a very hard-fought derby fixture, a draw was probably a fair result. FT: 2-2.

After the game, Harrison Cooper who scored the equaliser for Ossett United said he thought his team were unlucky to not take home all three points: “I think to be fair we were a bit unlucky because in the first half I thought we were the best team for the majority of the match, and it was a bit of a sloppy goal to concede. Then in the second half we had the wind against us, so it was a bit different in the second half but overall, I thought it was a good performance.”

#ESPFAWestYorkshire student and Brighouse Town academy player Kian Hepburn thought the tough weather conditions impacted the game but felt his side dealt with them well. He said: “I feel like both teams did struggle with the wind, but I think we coped more with the wind in the first half. We understood that they couldn’t see the ball and we pounced on them for two goals.”

In the other game in the North Division, a 1-1 draw between Skelmersdale United and Mickleover meant that Runcorn Linnets were crowned as the North Division champions for the 2021/22 season. Despite not playing, a draw for second place Skelmersdale United meant that Runcorn’s current points tally of 27 won’t be beaten. Skem took the lead in the first half through Will Green but a second half strike from Charlie Price meant it was honours even.

South Division

The South Division title race took another unexpected turn this week and may go down to the last games of the season to decide the winner. Kidlington had the chance to reduce the gap at the top of the table to just one point when they travelled to Frome Town. The Greens were in second place, and just one point behind Rushall Olympic (Amber) above them who also have a played one more game. Kidlington will be ruing their missed chances as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Frome. Filip Borek got Frome off to a great start with an early goal, but Brandon Bowerman levelled the game up for Kidlington on 30 minutes. Just five minutes into the second half, Kidlington got their noses in front through Chandra Limbu, but The Robins equalised in the 70th minute thanks to Luke Johnson. A disappointing two points dropped for Kidlington, but they still have a shot at winning the division. They currently sit three points behind Rushall Olympic (Amber) but have a game in hand on the division leaders.

Rushall Olympic (Amber) maintained poll position in the South Division title race on Thursday after a 2-1 victory over Chesham United. Tyrese Hall and Charley Goody scored to earn The Pics three points and remain at the top of the division with just one game left to play. They currently sit three points ahead of Kidlington in second and also have the better goal difference so a win in their last game of the campaign should seal the division for Rushall Olympic (Amber).

In the final game of #MatchweekSixteen, Carlton Town picked up their first win of the South Division campaign with a very impressive 5-0 victory over Yate Town. Khai Smith, who was previously named as the November/December South Division Player of the Month continued his hot form and scored four goals on his way to being named as the ‘Player of the Week’ for #MatchweekSixteen as well.

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 #ESPFANottinghamshire student Khai Smith who was chosen as the #PlayerOfTheWeek for #MatchweekSixteen after an excellent display where he scored four goals and helped Carlton pick up their first win of the season.

The Highlights Show

You can catch all of #MatchweekSixteen’s goals and match highlights in this week’s edition of The Highlights Show.

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