Wednesday 10th July 2013 ko 19.45
Kevin Sinton & Colin Blunsden Memorial Match
WANTAGE TOWN 2 (Odhiambo 33 Lachacz 54)
OXFORD UNITED XI 1 (Ashby 61)
It’s impossible to think of Wantage without thing of Alfred the Great. The famous king of Wessex was born here in 849 AD and was king from 871 until his death in 899. He is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet “the Great.” Alfred’s reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom’s legal system and military structure. His statue dominates the town’s square.
The town’s other famous son was born a little later, 1935 to be exact! Lester Piggott was born conveniently for the stables at Ardington, Lockinge and Lambourn nearby. The whole area is notably affluent, even down to the entrance to Alfredian Park being down an easy-to-miss tree-lined lane.
I’ve been to Alfredian Park a lot over the years, Oxford United often send sides here, the welcome is fulsome and the football good, and the North Berkshire League uses the ground for some of its cup finals. In fact my most recent visit was to watch the NBFL War Memorial Cup Final, a quite stupendous affair involving Berinsfield and Sutton Courtenay. http://wp.me/p1PehW-Ik
Every time I come here the club has carried out ground improvements. What used to be a ground barely up to Hellenic League standards 15 years ago ( I once described the main stand as “Looking like a scene from “Tenko,”) is now Southern League compliant, the final piece of the jigsaw being the fence at the far end of the ground, although I was please you can still park your car on the grassed area behind it. The club admitted it had cost them £11,000, and as a result were disappointed not to have got promoted. That said, Wantage’s timing was a little unlucky, Marlow are too big a club to have stayed in the Hellenic for long after relegation so it was no surprise when they ran away with the league last season.
I was a little surprise that no programme was produced, particularly as the fixture was to remember two Wantage Town clubmen. Still, the game proved to be an interesting match-up. With Oxford United’s entire first team and development squads up in Scotland for friendlies against Alloa Athletic and Berwick Rangers, this was youth team augmented by four young triallists. The contrast between youthful passing against experience and guile was there for all to see.
Wantage took the lead when Tommy Austin’s cross was good enough to find Anaclet Odhaimbo who’s crooked run had evaded the two OUFC central defenders. The second half saw the usual plethora of substitutions which opened the game up considerable. Wantage scored again, again from a cross. Odhiambo, and former Didcot Town striker Jimmy Deabill’s runs confused Eddie Cavanagh in the Oxford goal, and there was midfielder Danny Lachacz to stab home from close range.
OUFC reduced the arrears, Wantage keeper Matt’s Collis’ weak punch landed at Josh Ashby’s feet and he made no mistake, on a night where if he and his colleagues had got their shooting on target from the many chances they made, then they’d have probably got something from the game.
As it was it was a good work out for both sides, a good education for OUFC’s young players, and a decent money spinner for Wantage Town. On the basis of the two games I’ve seen involving Hellenic League clubs, the top of the Premier Division looks to be a highly competitive division.