Cropredy's ground, on Williamscot Road, is situated just South of Cropredy - a village a few miles North-East of Banbury - and, as the name suggests, on the road towards Williamscot. The football team share the location with the local cricket team and the tennis club. There is a large car park from which you could probably watch the game on a really bad day. Adjacent to the car park is a club house that serves both the football and cricket club. The pitch is open on one side where it is shared with the cricket pitch but does have one the most unusual and quaintest stands that I have ever seen. I am not even sure that it can be classed as a stand as it only has a capacity of six or seven (at a push). What is for sure is that it is a fine example of what makes non-league so enjoyable for me. The opposite side, next to the tennis club, is where the dugouts are situated and the club has also made great use of the wooden surround fencing by selling advertising boards all along the side of the pitch. The pitch looked to be in good condition and the entire sports ground had the appearance of a well cared for facility. This may have been my first visit but I don't think it will be the last.
Now a short history lesson; Despite the football club being founded in 1967 the club badge bears the date 1644. This was the year the the Battle of Cropredy Bridge took place between the Parliamentary forces led by Sir William Waller and King Charles' Royalist Army. Waller's forces suffered a number of casualties leading to the remainder of his men becoming demoralised and conceding defeat to the Royalists. The aforementioned bridge is literally yards from Cropredy's ground.
As I said, Cropredy and Hanborough started the day as two of four undefeated teams in the Oxfordshire Senior League, so barring a draw, something had to give this afternoon.
Cropredy, formed in 1967, came up through the Banbury & District League and were promoted into Step 8, Oxfordshire Senior League Division One, in 2015. They finished as runners-up in their first season, gaining promotion to the Premier League, where they have stayed ever since. The Crop drew their first game this season, 3-3 with Launton Sports, but have won every game since.
This is Hanborough's first season in the Premier League after promotion from third place in Division 1 last season. The team came up through the Witney & District League, having won the Premier Division on no fewer than seven occasions since 1949, the last time in 2017 when they moved into the Oxfordshire Senior League Division 1.
It's been a great start for Hanborough, only dropping two points in their first four games and that was a 2-2 draw with last season's champions Freeland.
On a very blustery day, the opening encounters of the game were very representative of two sides looking to hold on to an unbeaten start to the season. It was tight, it had a little edgy undercurrent. No quarter was being given as the sides tested each other out but, as we progressed towards the ten minute mark it was clear that the home side were gaining the upper hand and were starting to exert some pressure on the Hanborough defence.
That said, with just under 20 minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who engineered the first major opportunity of the game. Following a fee-kick on the left, the ball wasn't fully cleared and Cropredy were happy to see the resultant drive flash narrowly over the bar.It was a warning to the home side who, up until that point, had looked the more likely to take the lead.
Cropredy did come close on 34 minutes when the Hanborough spilled a tame effort near the goal line. A Crop striker was quick to react but the keeper made up for his mistake by just getting a fingertip to the effort and turning it out for a corner.
Six minutes later, however, the home side finally made their possession count but it took a moment of individual brilliance to unlock the Hanborough defence. Jack Welch picked the ball up some 25 yards or so out from goal then weaved his way, with some quick footwork, around there Red's defenders before slotting the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0
HT Cropredy 1 Hanborough 0. The correct scoreline based on the balance of play. The windy conditions caused plenty of problems for both teams.
The game was over as a contest just before the hour mark and, again, it was a goal worthy of any setting. Harry Walters, who had been buzzing around the Hanborough defence all game, pulled a ball out of the air with superb skill, beat his man and then produced a calm finish to seal the victory. 3-0.
Despite being well beaten, Hanborough heads did not drop. In fact, within three minutes of going three goals behind they had two very good opportunities to pull a goal back. First a low drive got a slight touch from a defender which sent it inches wide the their Number 9 had a snap shot just about held on the line by the Crop keeper.
Following that brief flurry from Hanborough the game quietened down a little. Cropredy obviously knew that the points were in the bag and Hanborough were not going to be able to pull three goals back in the remaining time. The game didn't peter out as such but there was an air of inevitability about it for the final 15 minutes or so. Nevertheless, it was certainly an enjoyable game to watch.
FT Cropredy 3 Hanborough 0. A well deserved victory for Cropredy sees them maintain their place at the top of the table and retain their unbeaten record. Hanborough may have been well n=beaten on the day but they played their part in the overall entertainment and looked to be a good side who should continue to do well this season.
Att: 23 (my count)
Ground Number: 214