Whitelands Farm Sports Ground is a community sports hub on the South-Eastern edge of Bicester (although the rate the town is growing, it won't be the outskirts for much longer). It's the only full-size 3G facility with floodlights in the town and, as such, is much sought after by local teams for midweek training sessions. I know this because, up until last October, I spent four years coaching there every Friday evening. There is a good sized car park adjacent to the 3G pitch as well as a fairly large block that houses the changing areas, toilets and a good café/bar on the second floor. For anyone who doesn't fancy braving the weather, there is a decent view of the 3G pitch from the café, so long as you get there early enough to grab a window seat. Viewing around the 3G pitch is a little limited. There are no spectator areas inside the 'cage' which means that you have to get quite close to the fence to be able to get a decent view through the mesh. There's also no hard-standing around the cage, so you will get muddy feet. The view is probably better from the opposite side, the far side from the car park. On the plus side, you can always nip back to the car to warm up.
This was a big game at the top of the Southern Region premier League. Prior to kick off Abingdon led the way, four points clear of second placed Ascot United and eleven points ahead of today's opponents. However, Ascot had a game in hand and Bournemouth had played a massive four games fewer, predominently down to their fabulous FA Cup run which had seen them progress to the Third Round. Effectively, Sports could overtake Abingdon shoudl they win all of their games in hand. To add to the build-up, Abingdon were defending a 100% home record (although their previous five wins all came at Northcourt) and Bournemouth were boasting an unbeaten away record, won two and drawn one. The week before Bournemouth's cup run came to an end at Cardiff City, these two had met in the reverse fixture at Bournemouth Sports Club. Goals from Molly Lygo-Jackson, Lindsay Pinker and Amy Pipe saw United make the long journey home with all three points, ending Sports unbeaten run at the same time. United's next game was away at Wycombe Wanderers where they won 2-0, a game that BotP had the pleasure to witness (Two Will Do For the Yellow & Blue).
Abingdon were a little later getting onto the pitch than their visitors. However, they were certainly the quicker of the two to get going. Barely three minutes were on the clock when Molly Lygo put in a cross from the left-wing which was met on the volley at the near post by Lindsay Pinker. 1-0
Just before the quarter hour mark Abingdon came close to making it two when, after a corner was cleared to the corner of th box, Amy Chivers let fly only to see her effort strike the joint of post and crossbar. Abingdon were dominating possession at this point, although the Chivers effort was as close as they had come to adding to the early goal. Bournemouth goalkeeper Sam Chrippes was called into action on 25 minutes when she bravely threw herself at the feet of an Abingdon striker to prevent a second goal. Excellent goalkeeping that seemed to stir her teammates because, after being second best for the first half hour, they began to show signs that they could cause problems for the league leaders. Liane Folkenstern's quick feet were enabling her to move the ball around in midfield and the switch of Rebecca Miles from left to right wing was beginning to bear fruit. That became more apparent on 31 minutes when Miles sent over a beautiful cross met by the perfectly timed run of Folkenstern. Her header was on target but Hannah Cox reacted well to make a good save.
Despite Sports now seeing more of the ball, they had to be very aware of the threat posed by United's attacking force. On 40 minutes a great run down the left from Amy Pipe ended with Milly Lygo causing Chrippes to scramble across her goal to see the ball go narrowly wide. Then, straight down the other end, Miles tried a snapshot from the edge of the box but slipped as she hit it, taking the sting out of the strike and allowing Cox to save comfortably. It was now end to end and United were not finished. Lygo again was in the thick of the action, crossing from the left. Beth Hawtin got on the end of the cross, cushioning it back for Pinker, but she could only put the effort over the bar.
HT Abingdon United 1 Bournemouth Sports 0. Abingdon ran the game for the first 25 minutes but couldn't find another way to break down the Bournemouth defence after their early goal. Sports kept plugging away, got a foothold on the game and, towards the end of the half, looked the more likely to trouble the scoreboard.
Four minutes later, Abingdon doubled their lead and it was a reverse of the first goal. Pinker was the provider this time, senfding a deep cross over from the right. Molly Lygo arrived at the far post to volley it home with a lovely, controlled finish. 2-0. Three minutes after that Abingdon ended the game as a contest when Lindsay Pinker got her second goal, latching onto a losse ball and sending a left-footed strike over Chrippes. 3-0
Abingdon made a few changes themselves at this point and one of the fresh players, Beth Chapman, was next to get in a cross from the right. The ball arrived at the feet of Sahara Osborne-Ricketts who diverted the ball past Chrippes for 4-0. Then, four minutes from time, Beth Chapman got in on the act herself, controlling a cross from Megan Crawford before blasting the ball home for her first of the season. 5-0
FT Abingdon United 5 Bournemouth Sports 0. When I saw Abingdon at Wycombe in December I described them as strong, quick and solid at the back. Today's performance reiterated my view. Bournemouth are a decent side themselves but were beaten by a stronger, more powerful team on the day. Best wishes to the Bournemouth player who was taken off with a head injury in the second half. Sorry, I didn't see who it was. Good to see that she walked off the pitch after treatment. Hope she is ok.
Next weekend both sides are in League Cup action. United take on Ascot United at Northcourt in what promises to be an absolute cracker. They met in the league on the opening day with Ascot running out 2-1 winners at The Racecourse Ground. Bournemouth are at home to United's near neighbours Abingdon Town. They too have met once in the league, a 1-0 home win for Sports in November.
Abingdon United: Cox, Crawford, Hawtin, Chivers, Osborne-Ricketts, Deeley, Pipe, Boxall(c), May, Pinker, Lygo. Subs: Chapman, Suters, Thorne, Hume, Kirby
Bournemouth Sports: Schrippes, Davis, Vernon, Norman, Eden, Hughes, Shaw(c), Folkenstern, Miles, Hawkins, Brewer. Subs: Tilly, Fowell, Lewis, Nash, Ashton
Ground Number: 344