For the home side it was an opportunity to go top of the league and, with their visitors struggling near the bottom with just one win in seven, I was expecting it to be a fairly uneventful evening, with a comfortable home win. In the end, it turned into a very odd game indeed.
The game took less than a minute to give us the first talking point. As Chinnor pushed forward, down the slope from kick-off, a slack Bicester header back to the keeper was seized upon by Jason Castello who poked the ball past the on-rushing custodian and into the net. 0-1
The home side seemed a little bit stunned at going a goal down so early on. The tried to rally but after 10 minutes they almost conceded a second. This time the Chinnor number 9 got to a through ball on the right of the Bicester box. As the keeper came to meet him he pushed his shot past him, only to see it come back off the far post. That let-off for Bicester proved to be something of a turning point in the first half.
Bicester stepped it up and two minutes later Wayne Blossom was fouled in the box as he was about to have a shot on goal. A clear penalty but, should it have been a red card? There was certainly a case for one but the referee saw it differently and only awarded a yellow. Elliott Powell stepped up and calmly stroked the ball home to make it 1-1.
Two more minutes passed before Bicester had another penalty shout, this time for hand ball. I have to say, from my vantage point, it was a stone-cold penalty but, I'm not the referee and he either didn't see it or didn't believe it to be hand ball.
Bicester continued to dominate possession and, at times, played some really good football. They were just lacking a cutting edge. They were, however, always keen to get the ball on the floor and pop it about. It's good football to watch as a neutral. Chinnor really didn't show a lot after the opening ten minutes, constantly finding themselves chasing the ball around as Bicester probed for an opening.
Without warning the referee then blew for half-time. According to my watch, and those of the people around me in the stand, we had only played 40 minutes. As the players went off the pitch both benches had a word with the officials. Presumably pointing out their mistake.
HT Bicester Town 1 Chinnor 1. Playing five minutes short was only the second biggest surprise of the half. The first being that it was still level when Bicester had had so much of the play.
Unusual it may have been, but within a minute of the restart there was an air of familiarity. A mistake in the Bicester defence, failing to clear a harmless looking cross, allowed Chinnor's number 9 to be presented with the ball six yards out. He made no mistake, slamming the ball past the keeper and making it 1-2.
The similarities between the first and second half did not end there though. Within 5 minutes of going behind, Bicester pushed forward and were awarded another penalty. Once more it was clear cut but, differently to the first one, there was no question about it being a goal-scoring opportunity this time. The player was not even going towards goal when he was tripped. Powell, once again, showed total composure as he rolled the ball into the net. 2-2.
After 51 minutes the game took a different path. Bicester took the lead for the first time. The Chinnor keeper spilled a shot and Powell was first to react. He was forced wide but managed to recycle the ball into the box for Blossom to stroke it into the corner of the net. 3-2.
Once Bicester had got in front you could sense that the game was over. In fact, despite being behind twice, it always felt like the home side were in charge of the game. Chinnor mustered a couple of efforts on goal but you felt it was going to take another colossal defensive foul-up for them to get back into the game.
FT Bicester Town 3 Chinnor 2. An extraordinary game in a lot of ways. Two 40 minute halves. The away side scoring in the first minute of each half and the home side, despite being behind twice, dominated the game from start to finish. I hate criticising officials but this evening the referee had a 'mare. Some very odd decisions and blowing early for half-time. The saving grace being that he made 'bad' decisions against both sides, so at least it was even. I'm sure it was just one of those nights. We all have bad days at work and this was his.
Bicester's win sees them leapfrog Penn & Tylers Green to go top. However, they have played two more games than Penn, who have yet to lose this season and are just a point behind.
Programme: Included in price