Thame U16 Colts 0 Abingdon Town U16 2
2 late goals deny plucky Colts
Abingdon Town were the latest visitors to Meadow View Park on a relatively balmy Sunday afternoon (compared to last week anyway!). Further 'C' league opposition meant that a stern test was likely, and this was seemingly confirmed after merely a minute when Reuben pulled off a great save after the electric pace of the visiting number 11 took him clear down the left. It looked like it could be a long afternoon for the hosts: Abingdon had most of the ball in the early stages, were difficult to dispossess and passed and moved as well as any team we've played for some time. It was nearly 20 minutes before our first effort on goal from Cameron, a low shot from 18 yards which was dealt with comfortably by the goalie. Anticipation and concentration were lacking at times, and this coupled with excellent closing down and tackling by Abingdon meant that was possession was frequently conceded: however, credit to Joe, Oscar, Jonno and James H for battling hard to protect Reuben and keeping a very good side to long shots for a considerable period. One such effort went just wide of the post to Reuben's left after a 'one on one', just after which Adam, Henry and Barna freshened things up off the bench, but despite this Abingdon continued to dominate possession with the action largely taking place in the Colts' half. In the minutes approaching half-time Reuben was forced into two more fine pieces of goalkeeping, one a solid punch while the other forced the ever-dangerous number 11 wide and away from goal when clean through. 0-0 at half-time, and a chance for those in red to catch their breath.
The second 40 began with Tom Felstead introduced at left back. Thame made a bright start after the break: Joe gave the Abingdon 'keeper a testing looping effort to deal with from half way, but shortly afterwards found himself at the other end brilliantly heading over his own bar from 6 yards after a dangerous cross from the right. Reuben was then forced into a super diving save after hesitancy at the back and subsequent dispossession following a short goal kick. Our first corner fell to Adam to the left of goal but he didn't get a clean strike away before being challenged, then moments later the visiting number 11's cross-shot from the right bounced off the bar as time seemed to stand still. The boys really had to dig in as the second half progressed and the energy expended from the constant battle against Abingdon's pace, skill and slick passing began to tell: however there was determination in spades and Oscar in particular made several fantastically-timed last ditch tackles and his defensive partners continued to force the away team to shoot from distance. However the relentless pressure eventually led to Abingdon opening the scoring with 8 minutes remaining as another good corner led to a loose ball in the six yard box which was bundled in at the far post, and it was 2-0 with virtually the last kick of the game as a quickly-taken short corner caught the boys out, and a cross to the back post was headed into the net despite James H's best efforts.
To use a well-worn football cliche, 'sometimes in football you just have to hold your hands up'. Abingdon Town's U16s were a quality outfit, a team of excellent individuals who played as a unit and whose passing, vision and movement was truly excellent. It would have been easy for the Colts to cave under the pressure way before they did, but they battled hard and never gave up. Henry, James G, the two Toms, Ash and Barna were tenacious and persistent in midfield and Adam, Ioan and Cameron kept plugging away up front despite being largely nullified as a threat by the pace and strength of the visiting defence. Despite the scoreline it was a heartening performance and both sides should be congratulated for serving up an enthralling contest for the spectators.
Thanks to Jason and Ian for running the line: next up Florence Park at home in the League Cup, once again from the division above.