The game I chose was Chinnor v Bicester Town in the Hellenic Division One East. I had, in fact, been present at the reverse fixture just a month or so ago, a game that saw Bicester go behind twice but eventually edge it 3-2. I was hoping for a similar game this evening. I would be disappointed.
The sides came into the game with Bicester leading the way in the league, sitting pretty at the top with 33 points from their 14 games. Chinnor, having played a game less, were in 10th spot on 12 points. Chinnor had seen something of an improvement in league form recently, winning two and drawing one of the last six. Bicester had dropped just 2 points out of their last 18 available and were unbeaten on their travels - their only defeat this season came in a 3-2 home reversal to Wokingham and Emmbrook. Chinnor were looking to improve on their home record which had seen them win just once in seven outings so far.
Many thanks to the Bicester Town committee members who not only let me take a photo of their team sheet but also let me do the same with the Chinnor team sheet after they had exchanged details before kick-off. I really hope that the club can relocate back into the town at some point soon.
Chinnor's Station Road ground doesn't have too many features to write about, being pretty much open to the elements on all sides. This fact means that they do not charge an entrance fee to the ground. There is a fairly large car park behind one of the goals, so close that you could watch from the comfort of your car, should you wish. Adjacent to the car park is a large and fairly new club house complex, with a bar, function room etc. This also has an entrance to the players and officials facilities. I must say, it is quite an impressive clubhouse with friendly staff behind the bar.
As is so often the case these days, the game kicked off a few minutes late with Bicester kicking down the slight slope in the first half. And, it was the away side who started the brighter of the two. In fact the game was only seven minutes old when they breached the Chinnor defence and opened the scoring. A great burst of pace down the left flank got Edwards-Giraud in behind the defence. His low cross was met at the far post by Robert Johnson, who managed to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle. 0-1.
You feared for Chinnor at this point. Bicester were quicker to the ball, sharper in the tackle and looking like they could increase their lead at any minute. However, the Chinnor side re-grouped well, dug in, and weathered what Bicester threw at them. I hesitate to use the word storm to describe Bicester's attempts. Squall would be more apt. Although they were well on top, they didn't seem to have the appetite to go for the jugular.
HT Chinnor 0 Bicester Town 1. The away side were on top for the majority of the half but failed to capitalise on their early lead. Would they live to regret it?
Saying that, the first real opportunity of the second half went the way of the visitors in the 58th minute. Awarded a free-kick in a fairly central position, some 20 yards out, Elliott Powell curled a lovely effort over the wall but just a fraction too high from his perspective.
Two minutes later it was Chinnor's turn to come close when a rasping drive struck the foot of the Bicester post and bounced to safety. Chinnor were now having their best period of the game and you felt that they really needed to score now if they wanted to get anything from the match. Shortly after hitting the post they had another decent effort fly just over White's goal and were laying a mini-siege to the visitors box.
After 67 minutes we saw a rare(ish) occurrence. Bicester's Deontai Stewart, who had come on as a half-time substitute, was substituted himself, presumably due to an injury.
With ten minutes remaining another Chinnor attack saw White beaten but, as the ball rolled towards the goal, Bicester's captain Dean Smith, reacted well to get back and hack the ball off the line. It was as close as Chinnor had come and, as it transpired, as close as they would come.
On the stroke of full-time, with Chinnor still pushing up, Bicester striker Ricaro Benjamin broke free and placed the ball past Plumridge to make it 0-2.
FT Chinnor 0 Bicester Town 2. In all truth, this was not a great game. Bicester will be happy to have taken all three points whilst not playing anywhere near their best. Chinnor, to be fair, gave it a shot for a good period of the second half but couldn't get that illusive goal.
For any regular readers, following on from last week's thought about collating some interesting but meaningless facts, no wonky corner flags at this game.
Chinnor: Plumridge, Smith, Folley, White, Bailey, Austin, Nish, McLellan, King, Clarke, Hussain. Subs: Lewis, Morgan, Lonsdale, Mansell
Bicester Town: White, Jamie Prpa, Brock, Kidd, Smith, MacPherson, Edwards-Giraud, Jason Prpa, Benjamin, Johnson, Powell. Subs: Bailley, Harrison, Stewart
Ground Number: 143