Archive for Southern League

SL D1C; Barton Rovers 2-4 Thame United

BARTON ROVERS 2 (Clayton 14,  Osobu 57)
THAME UNITED 4 (Goss 23, Gledhill 36, West 51, Tack 65)

Saturday 16/3/19
15:00
Sharpenhoe Road, Barton
Weather – 13 Celsius, Windy

Report & images by Carl Catling

*** STARTING LINE UPS ***
Barton Rovers – Malone (gk), Goodman, Jones, Bailey, Andrews (cpt), Close, Osobu, Spence, Clayton, Phillips, Williams
Subs used – Hartley, Gibson
Thame United – Hill (gk), Peake-Pijnen, Lynn, Essex, Gledhill, Tutton, Tack, Sturgess (cpt), Goss, West, Fasanmade
Subs used – Martin, Carter

 

*** MATCH STATS ***-
Shots on Target – Barton Rovers 5 –  8 Thame United
Corners – Barton Rovers  2 –  4 Thame United
Yellow cards – Barton Rovers  0 –  1 Thame United

Today saw a return to the starting line up for Thame’s Dan West. Also due to injury Peake-Pijnen was handed a starting position at right back showing his versatility within the side. Both sides were surprised by the strong winds at Sharpenhoe Road and knew they would face a difficult day ahead.
In the first 6 minutes of the game both sides had equal amounts of possession. Ten minutes into the match West held the ball up before passing wide to Fasanmade who was able to put in a left footed cross with venom which was neither attacked or defended which went out of play. At this time Barton appeared nervous at the back and unsure how to cope with the runs and pace of Fasanmade.
It took a while but Barton did create a move when a long ball towards Osobu on the left allowed him to run at the defence before squaring a pass towards Clayton which did deflect up into the air. Thame’s Hill was grounded which resulted in an easy tap in for Barton’s number nine Clayton. Barton then shortly after had a goal disallowed for offside in a period of play when Thame were dropping deeper even with Goss having to support defensively in midfield. Thame continued to search for a way back into the game, and Peake-Pijnen nearly brought the away side back level when a left footed strike from distance went over the bar.
Thame were nearly awarded a penalty but the appeal was rejected when it appeared Andrews had handballed inside his own penalty box. Despite no penalty Thame got hold of possession from a clearance and passed towards Goss inside the box, who turned with the ball and fired a shot away quickly which went underneath Malone to make it 1-1. Barton followed this by Clayton being one on one with Essex. Clayton managed to go past Essex before Hill forced Clayton to dribble the ball wide of him before getting a shot away which hit the outside of the post and wide. Barton had began to try and play on the counter and break forward in numbers when possible to put pressure on the Thame defence. Towards the end of the half Tack put in a dangerous corner which was not dealt with resulting in the ball bouncing up into the air and a firm header by Gledhill hit a defender but crossed the line to give Thame the lead for the first time in the game. It should be noted that Thame’s Peake-Pijnen had a great first half at right back with his positional play and decisions made. Barton ended the half playing at a higher tempo and finding space off the ball. West nearly extended the lead when  his run off the ball meant he was one on one with the goalkeeper and attempted to lift the ball over Malone but failed to do so. The first half was a story of equal chances but Thame being more efficient with their end product inside the box.

HT Score – Barton Rovers 1 – 2 Thame United

It was a slow start for the first five minutes, before West had another opportunity to loft the ball over Malone but was unable to score. Although West missed chances with his feet, he was able to head the ball onto the bar and in by leaping above the defender from Fasanmade’s corner from the right to make it 1-3. It took a decision from the linesman to award the goal. The Thame side were jubilant on the pitch. Thame nearly extended their lead when a superbly weighted long ball by Lynn up the left flank reached West who dribbled infield before passing square to a running Tutton who hit the ball wide before it was eventually cleared. Barton then had a period of putting in multiple crosses but time and time again no one could get on the end of them much to the Dugouts frustration. An excellent run on the right by Williams led to him switching play left to Osobu who hit the ball firmly past Hill to give Barton hope in the game. Thame’s captain Sturgess could be heard passing on words to his players to ‘concentrate and relax’. Barton’s Clayton found space on the right and a diagonal ball to him was hit wide of the post with Thame’s Hill watching the ball go wide. The match was sealed for Thame when Tack’s sublime second half display led to his shot from 30 years being deflected and lobbing the goal keeper to make it 2-4 on the day to Thame. The goal gave the Thame side confidence and an increase in their work rate off the ball in order to see off Barton Rovers. There was a late scare for Thame when West went into a 50/50 challenge and came off worse. This led to a large stoppage in play but West appeared to run it off and continue. In the last 15 minutes Barton were attempting to play the ball behind the defenders but with not much joy following Clayton being substituted. Thame were able to slow play down in the final few minutes and manage the game until the final whistle.

FT Score – Barton Rovers 2 – 4 Thame United

The result ended a brilliant week for Thame United. As three points proved invaluable in the playoff picture. Thame move up to fifth in the table due to results elsewhere in the division going in Thame’s favour. It has to be said that Thame showed great determination and team work for this away win. Barton will be disappointed to not have taken early chances in the first half which made the defeat a tough one to take.

*** NEXT GAME ***
Thame United v Coleshill Town
Saturday 23/3/19
15:00
ASM Stadium, Thame

*** FOLLOW US ***
Web – www.thamefootball.co.uk
Facebook – @thameunitedfc
Twitter – @thameunitedfc

SL D1C; Aylesbury stalwart adamant Moles squad is now ‘Stable

Saturday 16th March 2019
Aylesbury v Dunstable Town
Southern League Division One East
Heywood Way
K.O. 3.00pm

After a free week-end last week, Aylesbury FC host Dunstable Town this Saturday at Heywood Way looking to build on their recent turn around in form that has seen Paul Bonham’s men accumulate three successive wins before a notable draw at play-off chasing Didcot Town two weeks ago, and in Dunstable they face a side that are in a down turn of form which has seen them collect just a single point from their last fifteen available. In that five game run Town haven’t scored a single goal either, and find themselves just a place and five points ahead of their hosts going into this fixture, although an away win could propel the Bedfordshire side a couple of places up that table. With the bottom three places separated by just three points both sides will be keen to pick up valuable points, but with Aylesbury recently successful against both Didcot & Bedford who are in those play-off positions, and a cup final place already secured for the Buckingham Senior Charity Cup, confidence will be high in the home dressing room……

Ben Stevens

This week Sports Shots caught up with defender Ben Stevens who has recently re-joined the club after hanging up his boots last summer, and we asked how he has ended up back in football:

I have been back at the club now for about two months after nearly ten months out. I suppose it was a combination of the wife saying that I was always grumpy on Saturdays after I’d stopped playing and a few little cheeky chats with Paul Bonham who somehow managed to talk me round. As for settling back in it was like I had never been away, the club is full of very nice people so they make you feel welcome straight away

How does Ben feel his fitness has been since returning, and how have his performances shaped up?

In terms of fitness I would like to be a lot fitter but after nearly ten months of doing nothing I don’t feel too bad, bar a few aches and pains the next day after a game lol. Performance wise I have felt like I have done well in each game I have played in, I’m a battler and a leader and I feel that it’s having a good effect on the squad

How good is this Aylesbury squad and have any players stood out?

The squad seems much stronger now than when I signed two months ago and that’s mostly down to Paul Bonham and his assistant Paul Toms, they have got the team fighting for each other again. There have been a few players that have impressed me, the first being Ryan Young, his energy, pace and the way he runs with the ball at defences is scary. Also Ty Deacon, even though I’ve known Ty for a while he has really impressed me with the level of consistency he has brought to his game, and finally Jordan Jenkins aka JJ just for the sheer fact that for most of the early season he carried the team single handed

What is Ben’s preferred position in the team?

I’ve been a centre half for many years but my favoured position is in centre midfield, that’s where all the action is and where I feel I can contribute more. I’m still all for the standard four-four-two formation as I feel that everyone knows their position & jobs, and I’m not constantly having to tell them where they should be which allows me to focus one hundred percent on my game

A remarkable turn around of late in form for Aylesbury has seen wins over Bedford, Leighton & Cambridge along with a very creditable draw at Didcot, how has this run been?

Your right it has been a remarkable turn around and a well needed and deserved one! The wins against Bedford, Leighton and Cambridge were massive and have brought great confidence and belief to the squad and the club, in all fairness we should have beaten Didcot as well. Both Bedford and Didcot are fighting for playoffs so to take four points from those two games have shown how far we have come as a squad over the last month, let’s just hope we can keep it up

After a week off this week they face Dunstable Town who are in poor form of late, how dangerous would it be to assume an easy three points ahead?

No game is easy in this league as we have shown teams in the last month so this one will be no different. Dunstable Town is another massive game for us and we will treat them in the same way as the last four games, we know a win will bring us closer to them and drag them into a relegation battle which is a little dangerous as it gives them something to fight for but hopefully we can take advantage of our recent form and get the three points

With so few games of the season left, what are Ben’s and the clubs targets for the rest of this season, and into next year?

Both mine and the club’s targets are the same, to picks up as many points as we can to avoid finishing in the bottom two, as for my plans next year I’m not really sure yet as I’ve won both league and cup at the level below so I’m not sure I want to try and do that again. I’ve been coaching a Bedgrove Dynamos youth team this year so I might take that up full time next season, who knows anything can happen in that time. My main focus right now is to keep trying to win football games and keep the club out of the bottom two

Finally we asked Ben if he could choose any team mate to go on any TV programme, who and what would he choose?

I would probably choose Ty Deacon to go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire as I don’t think they have ever had anyone get the first question wrong, and as Ty is not the sharpest tool in the box it would be a great possibility so would make good viewing!

Sports Shots would like to thank Ben for his time this week

SL D1C; Thame United 1-1 Corby Town

THAME UNITED 1
(GOSS 26)
CORBY TOWN 1
(ANTON 86)

EVO-STIK Southern Division One Central
Saturday 9th March 2019 @ The ASM STADIUM

Attendance – 129
Weather – 12 Celsius and windy

Report By Carl Catling

This fixture would give both sides a great opportunity to keep themselves in the playoff hunt come the end of April. Thame United went into this game 5th in the table whereas Corby were flying third with 61 points and with one of the top scorers in the division with Elliot Sandy on 24 league goals.

*** STARTING LINE-UPS ***
Thame United FC – Hill (GK), Mepham, Lynn, Essex, Gledhill, Ashworth, Martin, Sturgess (Capt), Goss, Fasanmade and Tack
Subs used – Peake-Pijnen, West and Murray

Corby Town FC – George (gk), Anton, Warburton, Carta, Gordon, Mulligan (Capt), Newell, Kennedy, Sandy, Diggin and Francis
Subs used – Crawford and Furtnam-Tomlinson

*** KEY STATS ***
Shots on target –  Thame 4 – 8 Corby
Corners – Thame 6 – 8 Corby
Yellow Cards – Thame 1 – 0 Ardley

*** FIRST HALF ***
HT Score –  THAME 1 – 0 CORBY
This was the second game in a row whereby Thame’s top scorer West would have to start from the bench due to injury. The pitch looked in great condition as always at the ASM Stadium but the windy conditions would prove to make today difficult for both sides.
The first chance in the match fell to Corby within 5 minutes when a through ball to Diggin was hit wide of the goal and great chance missed. Corby had the upper hand in the first 15 minutes and followed this up with a pass across the face of goal was again shot wide despite it being an open goal. Corby’s Kennedy was proving to be a handful in midfield and dribbled the ball up the right wing before a sublime cross was headed wide of goal. Both teams were trying to adjust to the strong winds, and Thame resorted to playing Goss as a lone striker. Corby’s defence was also on top in the early stages trying to catch Goss offside.
There was a real battle throughout the half between right back Mepham and left winger Francis and Corby continuously were trying to attack through Francis. Half way through the half Thame had a free kick taken by Tack which was put into a dangerous area and required the defender to head it away from goal which could only find Thame’s Martin picking up possession before being fouled outside the box. Thame now began to put the pressure on Corby from another set piece. Tack was the one to take the corner which found an un-marked Sturgess round the back to head the ball towards goal before the defence was able to clear the ball off the line. Fasanamde was working extremely hard in midfield tracking back and getting forward where possible. In the 26th minute he was able to step past a defender before getting in a shot which was bocked and the ball found Goss in the box who volleyed the ball into the net to give the Thame the lead. Thame continued to have chances and Essex from two corners was able to head the ball but not into the net. Essex had a further half a chance when Corby’s goalkeeper was on the floor but Essex’s half volley was hit over the bar from 22 yards out. Corby’s Kennedy and Francis were still looking threatening everytime they were on the ball and Fasanmade where possible did manage to disrupt the play of Francis. Fasanmade put in one of the passes of the match when a cheeky chipped ball found Tack inside the box which was headed wide. Corby finished the first half strongly when even from a goal kick the ball was headed down but no one was there inside the box for the follow up. We then saw the Craig Hill show, when he made 3 top class saves within 2 minutes each of them were saves to deny Corby a goal. Two were at full stretch to the side and the 3rd save was a header from a corner by Sandy which was a split second reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.

*** SECOND HALF ***
FT Score – THAME 1 – 1 CORBY
The second half begun in controversial style when Corby were denied a penalty appeal when Sandy appeared to be tackled late inside the box. Corby followed this up with 3 corners within the next five minutes each of them out into dangerous areas but could no one was able to attack the ball in the air. Thame even in the early stages were trying to slow play down on the ball and when the ball was out of play. Goss’ work rate did pay off when he got the ball and whilst dribbling from the wing nutmegged the defender before putting  cross in which was cleared away for a corner. Fasanmade took the corner which found Essex again leaping high to attack the ball which had to be tipped over by George. Thame continued to play direct football to Goss in attempt to attack on the counter.
An excellent move by Corby saw Francis dribble round Mepham before crossing the ball to Sandy who headed wide of goal. The chance should have made it 1-1. Goss was making the Corby defence panic when he had the ball or was making attacking runs. This was followed up when Fasanmade in possession went past 2 defenders, cut inside before firing a shot on his weaker foot high and wide which was met by applause by the crowd. With 15 minutes remaining Corby continued to get the ball forward as quick as possible and Thame were dropping deeper and deeper and starting to show signs of fatigue. Corby were now able to have more time on the ball and finding it easier to find space off the ball. This was not helped when Thame continued to give the ball away and not giving the defence a rest from the continued attacking moves from Corby. Thame did make 3 subs in the second half bringing on Peake-Pijnen, West and Murray to try and freshen things up. The equaliser did come in the 86th minute whereby Thame were unable to clear the ball and a half volley was struck by right back Anton who drilled it across goal into the net to make it 1-1. Thame were able to absorb the pressure in the last few minutes to seal a hard earned point against a strong Corby Town team.

This game did not disappoint as both sides took it in turns to play strong attacking football but also a high level of work rate in defence. The result ending in a draw was definitely a fair result. This weekends fixtures has seen the table change dramatically. With results elsewhere Corby cling on to 3rd place in the table. Where as Thame drop from 5th to 8th place and there now appears to be a battle between 6 sides attempting to gain the final playoff spot.

*** MAN OF THE MATCH sponsored by @FIGARO’S BARBER in Thame ***
The Thame United Man of the Match selected by the fans today was a tough one. The decision was #10 Craig Fasanmade who showed great attacking flair and defensive work all over the field for the 90mins.

*** NEXT GAME ***
HOME @ The ASM Stadium
Tuesday 12/3/2019
Kick Off 19:45 –
Thame United v Peterborough Sports
EVO-STIK Southern Division One Central

*** FOLLOW THAME UNITED FC ***
Website – www.thamefootball.co.uk
Facebook – @THAME UNITED FC
Sports Shots – @sports_shots
www.sportsshots.org.uk/?cat=213

*** Admission Prices @ The ASM Stadium ***
Adult £8
Concession £5
Child £1
There is ample free parking at the ASM Stadium. The Club also has a fully licensed bar on site.

CLUB ADDRESS –
The ASM Stadium
Meadow View Park
Thame
Oxfordshire
OX9 3RN

SL D1C; United midfielder reveals chance to join his childhood club was one he could not Duck

Saturday 9th March 2019
North Leigh v Aylesbury United
Southern League Division One Central
Eynsham Park
K.O. 3.00pm

Aylesbury United travel to bottom side North Leigh on Saturday looking to put pressure on the top half of the Southern Football League Division One Central table, three points this weekend could potentially lift them to within five points of the play-off places depending on other results obviously! A roller coaster of a season for Ben Williams side now sees them comfortably away from the wrong end of the table, and with nine league games left to play they are looking up to see just how high they can finish in the table, however last weeks win over Dunstable Town brought to an end a four game run without success so if there is a right time to go on a winning run it would be now. Their hosts this week currently sit bottom of that league table and six points from safety, and have only won two of their last eighteen league games although they did beat The Ducks back in November at The Meadow by four goals to one, if United can reap revenge then the top half of this division beckons.

Harry Jones

This week Sports Shots caught up with Aylesbury winger Harry Jones to ask when he joined the club and how it all came about:

I’ve been with Aylesbury for two seasons now, I got into the club through Ben Williams when he asked me to come down for a few training sessions & a few pre-season matches, from there Glyn Creaser who was manager at the time asked me to sign. Aylesbury United has always been a club I would have liked to have played for, as a kid I’d watch them so being able to play for them is great. There’s a great set of lads at the club so settling in was easier than I thought it would be

How good a season does Harry feel he has had so far?

So far I feel as if I’m contributing a lot more to the team than I was last season, I can see an improvement in the way I’m playing and in my fitness

How good does Harry feel the squad is now?

The squad this season in my opinion is stronger than last year, we’ve had players come and go but the team we have now is very strong

What does Harry see as his best position in the side?

My favoured position in the team is playing as a winger on either side, playing higher and wider in my opinion gets the best out of me as it gives me more freedom in the final third

A win, a draw and a defeat in the last three outings, how were these games?

The Berkhamsted game was frustrating, we played the better football and had more possession but we were caught on the counter-attack multiple times and just switched off. The Cambridge game we could and should have had more goals, just on the day it wasn’t going our way, we also should have had a penalty in the last minute that wasn’t given. The Dunstable game is an just an example of the kind of football we want to play week in, week out, It’s probably one of our best performances of the season so far

United lost to North Leigh earlier in the season, how does Harry remember that game and what do the team need to do this time out?

Our last game against North Leigh was disappointing obviously considering they’re bottom of the league, I think we just under-estimated them on the day. For us to walk away with three points this time we need to just get our heads down and focus on winning the game and not on where they are in the league

With just nine games of the campaign left what targets do the squad & Harry have?

For our last few games the targets we’ve been set are simply to win and get as many points for the team as we can. For me I didn’t really set any targets other than to improve from last season but from now to the end of season I would like to score a couple more goals and get few more assists

Finally, we asked Harry if he could one any team mate to go on any TV programme, who and what would he choose:

I’d probably pick Archie Davis to go on Total Wipeout just because it would be funny to see him attempt it

Sports Shots would like to thank Harry for his time this week

SL; AFC Dunstable 3-0 Thame United

AFC DUNSTABLE 3 (Hall 27, Christie 60, Sturgess 65 (OG)
THAME UNITED 0

Saturday 2/3/19
15:00
Creasey Park, Dunstable
Weather – 12 celsius, very windy

*** STARTING LINE UPS ***
AFC Dunstable – Green (gk), Roberts, Ajayi, Frater, Carney, Tavernier, Powell, McNulty, Christie, Cashman (cpt) , Hall
Subs used – Griffith and Fryer
Thame United – Hill (gk), Mepham, Lynn, Essex, Jewell, Ashworth, Tack, Sturgess (cpt), Goss, Peake-Pijnen, Fasanmade
Subs used – Tutton, Carter and Martin

*** MATCH STATS ***-
Shots on Target – AFC Dunstable 4 – 6 Thame United
Corners – AFC Dunstable 3 – 5 Thame United
Yellow cards – AFC Dunstable 2 – 0 Thame United


There was early drama 10 minutes before kick off whereby Thame had to make a late change to the starting line up due to injury to top scorer West. He was replaced by midfielder Peake-Pijnen, who actually was playing on his 21st birthday. Thame’s Fasanmade would make the late move to play up the top.
AFC Dunstable also elected to play the first half with the wind which would have an impact on both team’s play.
The first five minutes was tentative from both sides until the first chance of the game fell to Dunstable whereby a move down the left wing resulted in a shot from distance going wide of the post. Thame made a tactical change and were attempting to hit balls to the flanks and started to have more possession of the ball via Tack and Peake-Pijnen and forward Fasanmade.
In return AFC Dunstable were trying to find Christie playing up the top to the left, but Dunstable were found offside multiple times in the first 15 minutes. Dunstable’s direct play towards Christie and behind the defence did actually work in the first half and made it a difficult first half for Mepham, Essex and Jewell.
One of the best passages of play in the first half was when Thame threatened on their left wing whereby an attacking run by Fasanmade led to him cutting inside the defender and drilling a shot inches past the post much to Green’s relief. Thame were appearing more organised as a side keeping their formation and pressing as a team. Then against the run of play no challenge on the midfielder led to a through ball to Hall who was able to slot the ball past Hill to make it 1-0. Dunstable continued the pressure for the next 5 minutes with successive corners, one of which created a half chance for a goal Ajayi in the box who narrowly headed wide. Thame had to wait some time until another opportunity whereby a well struck half volley by Peake-Pijnen hit Green’s legs for a corner.
The half ended in controversy  whereby a foul on Goss which appeared dangerous was deemed only a yellow card by the referee and resulted in 7 minutes of injury time. This led to verbal exchanges between both side’s following the half time whistle.

HT Score – 1 – 0

Thame responded with a positive start to the second half playing the ball on the ground rather than in the air. The first chance of the half led to an unmarked Tack shooting over the bar. Thame continued the positive spell by another amazing run by Fasanmade down the right wing crossed towards a running Tack inside the box who appeared by taken out by the defender but no penalty was awarded much to Thame’s displeasure.
Dunstable slowly made it into the second half and in the 60th minute a diagonal ball behind the defender found Christie unmarked who scuffed the shot but the placement was there for the ball still to find the net to give Dunstable a 2-0 lead at home.
In the 65th minute a foul outside the box led to a free kick which was fired in and Thame’s sturgess lept up attempting to head the ball away but incidently headed the ball into the top corner of the net to seal the victory for Dunstable. Thame did still seatch for a goal and were attempting crosses into the box from both flanks but often these were easily picked up by the Dunstable defence.

FT Score – 3 – 0

The scoreline did flatter Dunstable but this was a case of taking the key chances when they come. Dunstable also did play well to the conditions and the tactic of getting the ball to Christie when possible was a success. This may not have been a pleasing game of football to watch for a neutral due to all the stoppages in play but it certainly wasn’t without drama.
Following 3 points today AFC Dunstable have climbed the table up to 10th and just 4 points behind the playoff hunt. Despite the defeat on the road Thame have remained in 5th place due to Berkhamstead losing at home to Bedford Town.

*** NEXT GAME ***
Thame United v Corby Town
Saturday 9/3/19
15:00
ASM Stadium, Thame

*** FOLLOW US ***
Web – www.thamefootball.co.uk
Facebook – @thameunitedfc
Twitter – @thameunitedfc

Match report & images: Carl Catling

SL P; Banbury assistant manager is in the Market for an end of season push

Saturday 2nd March 2019
Banbury United v Needham Market
Southern League Premier Division
Banbury Community Plant Hire Stadium
K.O. 3.00pm

Banbury United host Needham Market on Saturday looking for the three points which could potentially propel them back up towards the top half of the Southern Football League Premier Division Central table, four league games without victory combined with their recent points deduction has seen The Puritans drop to fourteenth place in the league, the two sides below them in the table have games in hand meaning that United need to pick up some wins in their final ten games of the season in order not to be dragged into any sort of battle towards the wrong end of the table. Needham arrive themselves in a poor run of form, just a single victory in their last seven league outings sees them sitting in ninth place but eight points off the play-off places, both sides will look at this game and see it as a chance to kick start their run in.

Sam Antonbrook (left) with manager Mike Ford

This week Sports Shots caught up with Banbury assistant manager Anton Sambrook to ask how long he’s been at the club and how it all came about?

This is my third year back at the club. After the club got promoted back to the Southern Premier the gaffer approached me about becoming part of his staff, so I worked as a coach for the first two seasons and then became Mike’s assistant last summer. It’s the town where I grew up so having the opportunity to return especially after the supporters trust took over meant a lot to me

What have been the highlights so far?

Collectively, probably the first season where we were pushing for the playoffs right until the end. As individual performances go, the home win against Kettering is the standout performance. Off the pitch, at Kings Langley two years ago, the supporters were unreal in the bar after the game with their singing

How would Anton sum up Banbury’s season this time round?

Frustrating really. We started really well but then we failed to back up our home performances by picking up enough points on the road

How does he rate the current squad at the club?

There are some real quality and talented players in this squad and ability wise it is probably the best we have had in the last three years. But our league position shows that that is not the only necessary requirement to be successful in this league

Are there things Anton looks back on and thinks could have been done differently?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!! We make decisions at the time that we think will have positive outcomes or impacts for this football club on the pitch. I’m sure looking back there are things that have happened that we have done slightly differently

Going into the final ten games of the campaign, what are the targets for the squad?

For the last three years our target has always been get to forty points as quick as possible from the opening day and then see where it takes us, that remains the same. The bare minimum is that we expect the squad to give us every last ounce of effort until the April twenty-eighth in training and in games

We asked Anton to name the best one to eleven he’s seen at the club in his time:

If I include going back to those that I played with to then it would be:

Harding

Fuller

Bowyer

Muckleberg

Cousins

McEachran

Nash

Singleton

Rasulo

Baird

Forinton

Are there any top level manager and assistants that Anton compares himself & Mike Ford to:

I don’t know the answer to that one! We need to win some silverware before we start comparing ourselves to others at the top of their game

Finally, we asked Anton which of the current first team he would least like to spend a holiday with:

Difficult question that! I know who I would want to go on holiday with and that’s Jamie Heapy. That way, I know where he is while I’m away!!!

Sports Shots would like to thank Anton for his time this week

SL D1C; Thame United 5-0 Dunstable Town

Thame United – 5
Dunstable Town – 0

23.02.2019

Thame United put their recent six games without a win run to bed on Saturday with a resounding win over Dunstable Town at the ASM Stadium, and in truth the scoreline could have been much greater had the hosts taken their chances but the three points were enough to lift the Oxfordshire side back into the play-off places in the Southern Football League Division One Central table as Berkhamsted lost meaning United take their fifth place spot, with just eleven league games remaining the battle for those play-offs is incredibly tight as just eight points separate eighth place Coleshill and fourth placed Didcot. Thame got off to the perfect start when centre-half Aaron Jewell nodded his side ahead after just three minutes and from there the home side never really looked in any danger of not taking the points, three up by half-time saw the game done & dusted and the second half was never going to match the determination of the first however two further goals in the final quarter of an hour put the finishing touches to an excellent performance from Mark West’s squad.

Thame took the lead when a free kick from their right was curled in by Lynton Goss and executing the perfect header in the middle was Jewell to nod past Town keeper Connor Coulson, a couple of early corners for the visitors were dealt with comfortably and from one a goal kick from United custodian Craig Hill sent Dan West away down the middle of the pitch, evading a challenge he fired straight at Coulson and the chance was gone, but on eighteen minutes they were given the opportunity to double their lead when a Goss run into the penalty area saw him brought down and a penalty awarded.

Liam Tack scores third goal for hosts

Captain Ben Sturgess assumed responsibility and duly sent Coulson the wrong way to drill low into the bottom corner, and from there Dunstable seemed to concede as heads dropped. They were offered a lifeline back into the game when a cross from their right wasn’t cleared by the home defence and pouncing on the loose ball Saul Williams on the half volley fired high over the bar, and their afternoon of misery was compounded on twenty-three minutes when they were forced into an early substitution as Joshua Bailey was replaced by John Sonuga. Liam Tack was released down the United right in behind the Town backline in acres of space, as he tried to pick out team mates in the box a superb sliding block from Daniel Trif saw him trap with his leg and recover quickly enough to get back on his feet and clear.

Goss continued to make a nuisance of himself up front for the hosts, a ball over the top for him to chase after saw him shoulder to shoulder with Sonuga who ended up bringing the striker down earning himself a yellow card for his troubles, just past the half hour mark Goss again got down the right wing into the corner where he cut back inside his marker and a clever reverse pass set in Matt Peake-Pijnen who fired across the six-yard box where Coulson got his hands close enough to stun it dead allowing Sonuga to clear downfield. With three minutes of the half remaining Thame made it three when Tack slid in to get his foot to a cross which wrong footed Coulson as it rolled slowly into the bottom corner. H/T: 3-0

The second half took a while to get going as was only to be expected, Dunstable huffed and puffed but never really troubled the home defence and it took until the fifty-eighth minute for a worthwhile effort on goal when a Thame free kick was headed over by Jamie Essex at the back stick, whilst at the opposite end a corner played short to Marcus Goldbourne on the corner of the eighteen yard box allowed him to shoot but way wide of the intended target. The visitors were then almost the architects of their own downfall when an attempted header back to his keeper from Sonuga was far too short allowing Peake-Pijnen to nip in and get his head to it first, nodding over the stranded Coulson but wide of the empty goal.

Dan West completes the scoring

Another intrusive run from Goss down their right saw him play the ball across the eighteen yard box where there were three or four close range shots that the away defence did well to get in front of each time, Hill was equally as good with a save at the other end when Williams went for goal from close range. A corner to the hosts curled in by Peake-Pijnen was met at the front of the box by a glancing header from West that flew across the goal face but wide of the back post, closely followed by a poor clearance from the Town defence that went straight to Peake-Pijnen giving him the opportunity to cut infield before powering a dipping drive over the top, then on seventy-seven minutes they finally got their fourth.

A corner from their left curled in by Tack saw Jewell climb highest to thump his header past Coulson for his second of the afternoon, and from there it was all about game management for the home side. A plethora of substitutions from both sides interrupted play but eventually a late corner was half cleared by the Dunstable defence but only as far as substitute Jack Tutton who tried to place inside the far top corner but there was never enough bend on the shot to threaten, but in added time Thame got their fifth when their guests surrendered position high up the pitch allowing Andy Gledhill to explore the left wing, losing his marker he then put the inch perfect delivery to the back of the six yard box where West headed back across Coulson into the far corner. F/T: 5-0

Attendance: 89

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After the game Sports Shots caught up with Thame skipper Ben Sturgess: 

For match photography (105 images) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmBgbjaw

SL D1C; Thame duo insist they are not yet Dun in search of play-off place

Saturday 23rd February 2019

Thame United v Dunstable Town

Southern League Division One Central

ASM Stadium

K.O. 3.00pm

Thame United host Dunstable Town on Saturday at the ASM Stadium looking for their first win in seven but amazingly they are still only a single place and point off the play-off places despite the recent poor run of form. The realistic aim is one of the bottom two play-off positions as the top three look to be too far away to catch now, thirteen points separate Thame and third placed Corby and with just twelve league games left to play there are still a number of teams below United who will feel they can put together a late run to make those end of season promotion battle raffles. Four losses in their last six in all competition is hardly the form required going into the season finale, and this week they face a side who have only suffered one defeat in their last five games which include wins over high flying Bromsgrove Sporting & Corby Town but they were brought back to earth with a bump last week as they conceded seven without reply at home to top of the league Peterborough Sports. A tough battle lies ahead…..

Ben Sturgess

This week Sports Shots caught up with goalkeeper Craig Hill but first of all asked midfielder Ben Sturgess how long he’s been at the club, what attracted him and how it’s been in his time here:

I joined the club at the start of the 2017/18 season, I’d been speaking to the gaffer Mark West all summer but was torn between a few other options that I had but arrived here late during pre-season. Obviously the facilities are always a massive factor at the club and the people behind the scenes do an amazing job keeping them up for the standards that they are at. It was tough to start as I’d had many battles with the lads over the years when they were in the Hellenic League but soon won them round and it is a pleasure being captain of the side now

Craig also took the facilities at The ASM into consideration:

I’ve been at the club now for a season and a half, I was told to have a chat with the management team after I left Oxford City and it went from there, I really liked the management and the lads, as well as the facilities. The team had just been promoted so it was a really good time to join. I settled in really well, everyone was very welcoming and the lads are great

How does Craig feel his own personal season has been so far?

I feel that I’ve performed well this season. I’ve been picked to start most games throughout the season apart from the short time I had out due to a back injury. Getting to play as much as I have, has been great as it’s given me lots of experience and helped me keep consistent. I feel like I’ve played a valuable part in the team, making some key saves in important games, and being a contender for the playoffs at this stage in the season is amazing. I think my highlight of the season so far was the match against Corby where we won three-one away

Ben also feels he has been performing well especially as he’s had a couple of awards this season:

I feel I have contributed to certain aspects well within the season, to get the accolades of two player of the months is always good recognition to what level you’ve been playing at. Saturday wasn’t good enough from all of us, we look forward to putting it right in the coming weeks, I work hard within the fitness side of the game as it’s my big asset. My highlight has to be Corby away as that was the best performance from this side I’ve seen in the two years I’ve been here

Craig Hill

How strong is this Thame squad this season and have any players stood out for Ben?

The squad is the strongest I’ve seen it here, we have players that are capable in every position and having players that can play in more than one position always helps. I don’t like to single individuals out as it’s a squad vibe at Thame and everyone contributes in every area, it’s been more about team ethic this year than individuals. We relied heavily on Westy (Dan West) and Lynton (Goss) last year and that’s something we need to address going forward with goals from other areas. It’s not a shock to me we’ve done well this year, problem being it’s only February though and we need to kick on now. It’s a tough league and make no doubt about it we are punching above our weight, let’s see what the next 10 weeks bring but we will do everything we can to stay where we are

Craig agrees that it has been a squad effort this season:

The team’s performance as a whole has definitely improved on last season, where we are sitting in the league proves we are a good side and everyone has played their part in where we are. I think we have worked hard as a team and we are worthy of being where we are as we have strong team with talented players. It’s a competitive league; there are no easy games. Everyone will give you a good game

Has Craig always played in career during his football career?

Yes I have always played in goal, ever since my dad put me in goal when was five or six and he would kick balls at me in the garden. I loved it and it went from there and I started progressing into academy football

So what is Ben’s favoured position?

My favoured position is centre midfield and my only position. I’m more of a defensive player but have got it in me to get forward when I put my mind to it

We asked Ben to detail his football career path from junior level to now:

My football career started early as my dad took me to football on a Saturday morning at the age of five and I’ve played the whole way really to now, still going strong at thirty-two. The highlight was wining the English schools cup at twelve at the old Wembley Stadium, a few of the boys will like that as I’ve told them enough about it! Also winning a non-league title and captaining the side was a big achievement, it was an incredible side at Flackwell that year and winning it with mates was even better. Also winning every competition at that level was a big achievement, having played many games within the Vase and Trophy had many highlights but those stick out in my mind

Craig has been at a couple of professional clubs along the way:

I started off at Swindon Town, from there I played for the Chelsea Academy and then went on to Aston Villa as a scholar. I gained a further two year professional contract with Villa and I left when I was twenty. Since then I have played for Kettering Town, Oxford City and now Thame

How does Craig feel the recent poor run has affected the squad?

I think all teams end up having a bad run at some stage during the season, it’s about how you react to it as a team. It’s not easy going a lot of games without positive results but we will keep working hard for each other and stay positive. I think we are more than capable of getting to the playoffs by the end of the season

Ben admits the squad have talked about the run of form but believes last week could be a turning point:

It’s something we have talked about and something that needs to be sorted quickly. The result at Kempston was a big one for us having ten men for seventy-five minutes, and probably deserving not just a point but all three! Last Saturday was poor from all of us and only us as players can sort this, the buck stops with us; individual mistakes for all three goals and that’s simply not good enough. I feel looking that far ahead is always difficult but have said to all the lads just win your next match and the rest will look after itself. To even think about us being in the play offs as the size of the club would be probably one of my best achievements. That’s a long way off for me though I feel

Looking ahead to Dunstable this weekend who beat Thame in the reverse fixture, what does Ben remember of that day?

Dunstable were very good on the day, there were young and willing to play football the right way. I felt we weren’t at it at the time and something that this Saturday won’t happen again. We will be hopefully at the races as three points is vital for us

Craig admits Town were the better team last time out:

It was a disappointing game last time round, they gave us a great game and they were the better side on the day. We just need to approach the game this time with the right frame of mind, be positive and work hard as a unit. Hopefully we can get back on a winning run

Finally, we asked both players to pick any team mate and a TV programme they’d like to see them on, Craig went for management:

I’d put Blaiky (Stuart Blaik) on The Chase

Ben picked the same show but a different contestant:

Westy would be my choice. The amount of battles we’ve had over the years is laughable but when I came to the club we just clicked & he’s one of my good pals now. I think we would have a good go at The Chase, Dans surprisingly intelligent. We could bounce of each other and prob end up winning the thing

Sports Shots would like to thank both Craig & Ben for their time this week

SL D1C; Moles manager reflects over past few weeks and reaching a cup final

Following the non-league reshuffle in the summer of 2018 it’s fair to say that Aylesbury FC haven’t had the easiest of seasons, a change of manager early on with players coming and going, a battle against dropping into the dreaded bottom two places which was confirmed recently as irrelevant as the club had accepted relegation due to ground grading issues, thrown into the mix was a recent poor run of form that saw a twelve game winless run which meant it’s all been a little bit of a tough winter for manager Paul Bonham since he took over the reins.

Paul Bonham

But a spring of light has been cast over Heywood Way in the space of just four days, a league win on Saturday at home over Bedford Town was followed up on Tuesday night with a two goal victory over Leighton Town to secure a place in the Buckingham Senior Charity Cup final in May. Their opponents that day will be either Buckingham Athletic or Winslow United who are yet to play either of their two-legged semi-final, but as both are two levels below the Moles, Aylesbury will go into the final as favourites to lift some silverware that may make this season a little easier to digest.

This week Sports Shots caught up with manager Paul Bonham to ask how it felt to win at the weekend against Bedford:

We knew Bedford Town would be a really tough challenge so to get all three points against one of the top teams is a fantastic achievement. The squad deserved the victory in the end, we were really organised and defended so well, whilst we created some good chances and should have won the game by a greater margin. The guys had a great week training, so they were well drilled on what was needed & expected against Bedford

And following that up with success on Tuesday to overturn a first leg deficit to progress in the Buckingham Senior Charity Cup:

Leighton Town were in great form of late and having already played them once and lost we knew it was going to be another tough test, we changed things slightly with the formation and it worked a treat. In the first half we played with some real intensity which has been missing in past performances and scored two great goals, I was really pleased for Bruno to get both goals, his attitude this year has been first class and deserved to be man of the match. Leighton pushed hard towards the end but once again the defence was well marshalled by Jordan Jenkins and Ben Stevens who dealt with everything that was thrown at them

So how does it feel to be in a cup final after the season Aylesbury have had?

It’s a great feeling, it’s been a really difficult few weeks with the automatic relegation, players leaving etc but this will be a great way to finish the season – it will definitely lift morale and put a smile on people faces. However, it’s now forgotten and we are fully focussed on improving our league position

With the difficulties the club has faced this season, has it been difficult to keep the players and coaching staff motivated?

I have not struggled at all with motivating my staff nor players, we have a fantastic group of lads who are fully focussed on finishing as high as possible in the league. My staff have been great, a special mention to them all, Paul (Toms), Pete (Forssling), both Phil D & C (Duffy & Cave), Mark (Keiser) and Lucy (Hume) have all remained really positive and kept it a good place to be, which I believe now is having the same effect on the playing squad

Does the squad have a focus now or is it a case of just seeing the season out?

We approach every game in the same manner and that is too compete to the best we can and win football matches. We have great belief that we can finish higher than we are currently sat, we are all working too hard to just sit and watch this season just pass us by

We asked Paul if the squad he has now is the one that will see out this season, and are any looking forward to next season as yet?

We are still looking to strengthen this season, with seven players leaving over the last few weeks we needed to increase squad numbers to enable us to compete at this level. I would love to keep this squad together for next season as I’m sure we would be very successful in the SSML but I’m realistic and accept some players want to stay playing step four or even test themselves at a higher level. We won’t be having any discussions with players until the end of the season, the focus is on now and what we can achieve this year

Looking ahead, how does the merger with Bedgrove Dynamos affect the first team managers position?

It very early days with regards to the merger but what has been discussed so far has been really positive and it will only strengthen both teams. I’m hoping to prove myself this season which in turn should strengthen my position as first team manager for next season

Finally we asked with no game this weekend, what is the schedule for the squad?

We will take the opportunity to train on Saturday which will help us work on our preparation for another huge game against Cambridge City. We are carrying a few injuries so the extra couple of days off should help us get these players back in contention for the fixture for next Tuesday, it’s been a tough few days so the rest is well timed. We are in a good place at the moment so I’m confident we won’t lose the momentum we have gained over the last week

Sports Shots would like to thank Paul for his time this week

SL; United midfielder admits squad is so good that no one Hoggs the limelight

Saturday 16th February 2019

Berkhamsted v Aylesbury United

Southern League Division One Central

Broadwater

K.O. 3.00pm

Aylesbury United face the very short trip to near neighbours Berkhamsted on Saturday looking to bounce back from last weekend’s home defeat to Colesville Town by the odd goal in seven, and to avenge the defeat they suffered back in December at The Meadow in the reverse fixture. In that game the Ducks went ahead early but were trailing at the break, an early second half leveller then saw the game evenly poised until two goals in the final fourteen minutes took the points back to Hertfordshire but United have lost just twice in their last eight league games whilst their hosts have just the single win in their last eight, of which the last four have been drawn and now just seven points separate sixth placed Berkhamsted and twelfth placed Aylesbury in the Southern Football League Division One Central Division table, the win could potentially lift Ben William’s squad up a further three places and into the heady heights of top half of that league table!

Ollie Hogg

This week Sports Shots caught up with United midfielder Ollie Hogg to find out when he joined the club and how his time has been there:

I came to Aylesbury about three years ago. I joined after a season with Tring Athletic and wanted to try & challenge myself a bit more. I have settled in well since I have been here and now feel like one of the more senior players even though I am only twenty-two

How does Ollie feel his season has been so far?

I don’t feel like I have had the best season so far, with the restructure of the leagues we now have less games so I feel like I’m not playing as much football as I have in previous seasons. I have been available most weeks as I love playing

How strong does Ollie feel the squad is this year & have any players stood out?

Our squad this season is probably one of the strongest I have played in since I have been here. Unfortunately the results haven’t always shown that but we do have a very strong squad even though it is very young, we have some excellent players all over the pitch so it is tough to single any one player

What is Ollie’s preferred position in the team, and in what formation does he feel is best for him?

I love playing in the middle, I feel that is where I am strongest but I am happy to play wherever the team needs me. I feel the four-three-three gets the best out of me as it gives a little bit more rotation in the middle to get further up the pitch but also pick the ball up deep

We asked Ollie just how difficult this new division has been this season:

It was a tough start to the season playing some very strong sides that we knew very little about, it’s a very competitive league & everyone can beat everyone. It probably is the toughest league I’ve played in so far purely due to the fact we didn’t know a lot about the teams we are facing

Prior to this midweeks cup game, the previous three United games have been settled by the odd goal in seven, five & three respectively, how were these fixtures?

They were all very tough games for different reasons. I think our biggest problem is our consistency from game to game, we know on our day we can beat anyone but the margins between winning and losing this season are so fine and the odd mistake really can cost you

Away at Berkhamsted on Saturday, played them already this season, what are Ollie’s memories and thoughts on the game ahead?

We have played them twice this season once in the cup and once in the league. Both were very tough games, especially the home game where the weather was awful and I felt we had a couple of big decisions go against us, especially for their third goal where I thought it was a clear handball. We just need to play our own game and move the ball as well as we can to get a result

Finally we asked Ollie to nominate any team mate he’d like to see on a television programme:

I would have to go on Takeshi’s castle with Ben Seaton just because I’d love to see him get whacked about

Sports Shots would like to thank Ollie for his time this week