Nov 04

Old Woodstock Town FC 2-4 Cheltenham Saracens

Saracens travelled to their Oxfordshire opponents on the back of a good
win over Kidlington FC, but with a depleted squad due to injuries and

Manager Gerry Oldham made vast amounts of changes with
starting debuts for Harlie Price in midfield; Joe Bermingham came into
the right side of defence along with normal striker Nick Hill, who
switched into the heart of defence. Further changes saw starts for
Swales and the returning Ryan Betteridge ‘from holiday’ in goal.
the bench saw the long awaited return for Andy Crosskey from Injury,
with Stuart Davies making his first team appearance being called up
from the clubs reserve side.

Saracens started the game in flowing
style for which their early possession paid dividends with a 10th min
goal. Elliot Kennedy started and finished the move, firing into the
bottom corner.

Old Woodstock Town though were up for the Cup challenge
and looking to test themselves against a team playing in a division
higher. Woodstock direct style of play was based on early balls up
front, with supporting play from their midfield colleagues this direct
play began to stretch the Saracens defence & causing uncharacteristic
errors. From such a phase of play in the 20th min saw Saracens concede
a corner which was then despatched into the bottom corner from an
unmarked Woodstock player to level the scores 1-1

Saracens strong and
quick wing play was always a threat with Kennedy and Jordan Bryan
looking particular sharp but lacking that killer pass to the waiting
top scorer Ethan Moore.

Saracens should have gone ahead 5mins before
half time when Left back & skipper for the day Luke Tovey, intercepted
an attacking Woodstock pass. Tovey’s strong run delivered the perfect
ball to Swales who shot wide when in a good position. Tovey was
excellent on the day thourghly enjoying wearing the Captain’s armband &
showed great leadership when needed upon.

On the stroke of half time,
midfielder Harlie Price switched the play perfectly from left to right
with a superb reverse pass for the waiting Jordan Bryan, with four
players waiting for the right ball, Bryan’s cross eluded all, resulting
in a mad scrambled corner.

HT: 1-1

The second half saw changes at
half time for Saracens, Swales retiring to make way for the experienced
Carl Griffiths. This had an immediate effect and gave Saracens more
attacking options on both flanks. Saracens took the game to Woodstock
for which Griffiths strong run down the right wing saw exchange of
passes with Bryan, resulting in a dangerous cross into the area, the
keeper dropped the initial cross whilst Moore was unable to turn the
ball in from the spillage.
A 50th min Woodstock free kick just outside
the Saracens area, was cause for concern for Saracens but the curled
shot, heading for the bottom corner was saved by Betteridge. From the
resulting free kick, betteridge spotted Kennedy free, deep on the left
hand side, Kennedy skipped past his marker and one on one with the
keeper Ken bent his shot around the keeper but agonisingly it took a
bobble and went wide…

Saracens extended their lead in the 60th min.
Good defending by Ben Tunnicliff saw him intercept a Woodstock pass,
with good vision, Tunnicliff’s pass found Kennedy who sprinted down the
right wing cutting in towards goal, with options for either going for
goal or squaring the ball for the waiting Moore, he unselfishly squared
for Moore who finished with ease to finish off a fine flowing move. 2-1

Old Woodstock though wasn’t finished in this tie, for which Saracens
were guilty of not finishing off the game with very good opportunities
for Moore, Bryan & Hammond. From an attacking Saracens free-kick, the
ball was cleared by Woodstock from their own goalmouth area, finding a
free midfielder his first time pass to his fellow forward looked
offside, the offside decision was tight, but went against Saracens for
which the Woodstock forward finished his 73rd min shot clinically,
ending with remonstrations to the linesman from the Saracens defenders
resulting in a yellow card for Hill. 2-2

A late 75th min challenge on
the impressive Harlie price, put paid to his Saracens duties for the
day resulting in a caution for the Woodstock player & Price being
replaced by Stuart Davies.

Five mins later after Moore scoring his
goal, Moore collected his fifth booking of the season when he was
punished for an unlucky hand-ball incident in the middle of the pitch,
the referee made the disappointing decision booking Moore for appealing
against the poor decision

Saracens attacking play never faltered
though, with 80mins gone, Carl Griffith’s stubborn persistence paid off
with him breaking clear of three strong Woodstock challenges eventually
finding Moore wide out right, from the tightest of angles, Moore added
to his growing array of goals when he superbly lobbed the Woodstock
keeper to put Saracens 3-2 ahead.

This knocked the stuffing out of
the Woodstock team & Saracens Manager Oldham, gave Andy Crosskey his
first run out of the season back at long last from his injury.

Saracens were content on keeping possession and enjoying spreading the
ball around at will. Bryan’s superb link up play with the over lapping
Tovey down the left side, resulted in Bryan’s cross into the Woodstock
goal mouth area, Moore looking to complete his hat-trick saw the cross
eluded him, but found the waiting Carl Griffiths on the far post to put
the game and tie to bed.

FT: Old Woodstock Town 2 – 4 Cheltenham

Team: Betteridge, Bermingham, Tunnicliff, Hill, Tovey,
Swales, Kennedy, Price, Hammond, Bryan, Moore
Subs: Tim Griffiths,
Stuart Davis, Carl Griffiths, Andy Crosskey

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