Wootton Sports play their home games on the War Memorial Playing Fields, towards the North end of the village of Wootton, a few miles up the road from Woodstock and Blenheim Palace. There is limited parking on site but plenty of room on the road just outside the playing field. As befits a ground on the edge of the Cotswolds, the far side of the pitch is bordered by a stone wall and trees, with a couple of benches strategically placed for locals to view the match in comfort. The pitch itself looked in good condition. A slight slope but not too much. It was also very well marked out, including technical areas.
Not knowing much at all about the Ted Young Senior Cup, I had to do a little digging (thanks to the teams and the WDFL Twitter feed for assistance). The cup comprises of two groups, with the top two from each group going through into the semi-final stage. This was a Group 2 game where Wootton, effectively, could no longer qualify for the semi-final stage. For Milton it was an entirely different matter. A victory in this game would see them go top of the group, leapfrogging Stonesfield and Enstone, and giving themselves a great chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Just as I had arrived at the ground it began to rain but, by the time we got to kick-off the shower had passed, which may well have cost the home side a goal later on.
The game started at a good pace with both sides looking to get an early grip on proceedings. In the first 20 minutes, Milton certainly had the majority of possession but, conversely it was Wootton who carved out the two most clear cut chances, neither of them taken. However, from around the mid-point of the first half, the home side began to tighten their grip on the match and, just after the half-hour mark, they really should have been ahead. An attack down the right culminated in the ball being fed to Lee Spencer inside the penalty area but he pulled his shot wide of the post.
Sports were now finding ways to put the Milton defence under a lot of pressure. One particular line of attack, a diagonal ball from left to right, played from Michael Steers to the Karl Ware, beat the defence three times but each time the opportunity to score evaded Wootton.
HT Wootton Sports 0 Milton-under-Wychwood 0. A really competitive and enjoyable game to watch so far. Both sides capable of some good football. The longer the half went on the more Wootton got on top. Can they keep it up?
Only 7 minutes into the second period Milton almost snatched the lead when Sean Godfrey headed against the near post from a left-wing corner. The ball rebounded across the Wootton six-yard area but was hacked clear. From the resulting corner the away side came close again when Wootton defender Phil Stringer's attempted header clear came back off the same post but again, as cleared to safety. A few minutes later the home keeper was forced into action pulling off a good stop to keep the scores level. Milton were winding up the pressure but it was also clear that Wootton were more than capable of hitting them on the break should then opportunity present itself. The game was very finely balanced.
On 68 minutes we almost had a spectacular opening goal when, latching onto clearance, Milton's centre-half Chris Godfrey unleashed a stinging drive from all of 40 yards that the home keeper was relieved to see whistle past his left-hand post. Ten minutes later Milton came close again, this time Edward Collett, slightly off balance, headed a deep cross just over the bar. They were getting closer but the Sports defence was hanging in there.
There was still time for Wootton to launch a last-gasp attack ended in the ball going out for what they believed as a corner kick. The referee insisted it was a goal-kick and Steers argued a little too strongly, receiving his second yellow card of the game and getting his marching orders.
FT Wootton Sports 0 Milton-under-Wychwood 1. A pulsating game that could have gone either way. Great effort from the Division One side who matched their Premier League opponents all the way. Credit to Milton who picked themselves up at half-time when they looked like they were struggling towards the end of the first 45 minutes. A shame that there was some argy-bargy at the end of the game which seemed to have been played in pretty good spirits up until that point (of course, you can never be too sure what is being said on the field). I guess a last minute winner can make passions boil over. Best of luck to both sides in the future. The game was a credit to the Witney & District League.
The Witney & District website tells me that, this weekend, Milton take on Bletchington at home whilst Wootton can still have a say in the top to as they travel to third-placed Stonesfield.
Apologies for not using many player names, I had no team sheets. Happy to fill them in if anyone wants to enlighten me.
Wootton Sports: Simms, Townsend, Leggett, Power, Robinson, Steers, Guschtscha, Stringer, Ware, Hutton, Spencer. Subs: Brandon, Ludlow
Milton-under-Wychwood: Allan, Keitly, Taylor, C.Godfrey, James, S.Godfrey, W.Collett, Fletcher, P.Collett, Pearce, L.Breaks. Subs: E.Collett, F.Breaks, Lake, Ayres
Ground Number: 260