A superb first half display put Shortwood firmly in the driving seat in their league game against Abingdon on Saturday.
“That first half was the best we have played all season – we might not have been quite so good in the second half, but I am delighted with the performance, the three points and the clean sheet!” That was John Evans post-match comment before naming Luke Gullick and Mark Pritchett as men of the match. Gullick was outstanding, contributing two fine goals and being a constant threat even when dropping back into midfield after Jake Parrott left the fray. Pritchett again defended immaculately especially in the second half!
All three goals game in the opening period but such was Wood’s domination that could have been five goals to the good by the break. Right from the start Shortwood’s passing and movement were excellent and Bennett caused havoc down the flank, Parrott’s passing was precise and Gullick was a constant threat. Abingdon’s back four struggled to keep them at bay and seemed to rely on the long ball far too much and that was meat and drink to Pritchett and Thomas.
The first goal arrived after 23 minutes and was a special goal. Gullick beat two defenders and sent a sublime chip over keeper Foster and just under the bar. Immediately after Bennett fired in a shot that Foster just turned past the post and Foster then parried a Haddock strike that was just hacked off the line before it rolled in. After 28 minutes Ash Thomas struck a fierce volley that hit the arm of a defender who had no time to evade the ball. The award of a penalty seemed harsh but James Coates’ spot kick was comprehensive – and the score line did not flatter the Wood in the least. Wood continued to press and the third goal arrived after 38 minutes. Parrott launched a high ball into the area which the defence should have dealt with comfortably. Gullick did not give up the chase and capitalised on poor defending before turning and shooting low into the corner. Before the break Shortwood’s excellent football set Bennett up for a shot that flew over and Gullick should have completed his hat trick when through one on one but pushed his shot just wide.
Abingdon made half time substitutions and tightened up at the back and made things harder for Shortwood and started to enjoy more possession but Pritchett and his colleagues held them at bay with little trouble apart from a header from Self which went over. Shortwood continued to create and Parrott and Haddock had shots blocked, Foster had to race from his line to deny Bennett, Haddock fired narrowly wide and in the last minute Foster saved a Haddock header at the foot of his post.
This comprehensive win, Wood’s third in 8 days, lifted Wood further up the table.
Team: King, Coates, Brown (Axton 74), Pritchett, Thomas, Haddock, Cant, Parrott (Slack 70), Gullick, Baldwin, Bennett (Tustain 67)