Eversley's ground has not changed all that much in the intervening years. There's still a floodlight pylon in front of the visitor's dugout, which still makes me smile when I see it. One thing that was noticeably different was the fencing around the ground. When I last visited this was all encased in white plastic sheeting which has now all been removed, replaced by a bright blue fence behind the cricket pitch end goal.
Although it is getting towards the end of the season this was the first meeting between the sides, with the reverse fixture scheduled to be the final game of the D1N season.
Kidlington had a great start to the season but their form has dropped off recently, taking only two points from their last six league games, a run that has seen them slide down the rankings. Eversley have won two and drawn two of their last six, an improvement on their earlier form. That being said, I'm not sure either side will be too disappointed with the season overall. We have to remember that Kidlington have made a two step leap into this division and were leading the table after four games. Yes, they've tailed off a little but they have shown that they can compete in the division. Eversley made the transition from Division 1 South (the only first division last season) having finished bottom with 10 points from 18 games. Before the start of play today they had already chalked up 9 point from 10 games and could, potentially, still manage a top half finish this season. The other statistic of note for Eversley is their goals against record. With the exception of Champions Woodley United, no other team had conceded fewer goals in the league. An amazing record for a side starting today's game second from bottom. This record could well be tested today with goalkeeper Teri Harfield-Brown out of action and Rae Roberts filling in for her.
It was a lively start to the game. Both sides looked as if they were here for three points, although neither managed a serious attempt at goal inside the first ten minutes or so. When a chance did manifest itself it was only a half-chance and it fell to the home aide. Rebekah Pantony latching onto a ball some 25 yards out and attempting a first-time lob over Emily Murphy. The ball went wide of the mark but had the visitor's keeper worried for a moment.
Gradually the momentum of the game started to swing towards Eversley. Both sides were probing away but, despite Abi Haynes keeping the home defence on their toes, the Boars backline was constantly able to snuff out Kidlington attacks early on, putting pressure back on the Kidlington midfield and defence and forcing them deeper. Ella Smith and Rebekah Pantony, switched wings for a while and the move paid off in the 25th minute. Pantony broke free down the right side before squaring the ball low across the centre of the Kidlington penalty area. Emily Murphy looked as if she was going to be able to claim the ball but Frankie Boekbinder had other ideas, sliding in front of the keeper to divert the ball into the net for 1-0.
HT Eversley & California 1 Kidlington 0. The home side deservedly led at the break but could not rest on their laurels. Kidlington were still seeing plenty of the ball but, as yet, had not found a way to break down the home defence.
As we approached the hour mark, one of the Eversley substitutes, Mia Caulcrick, decided to make her mark on the game. Collecting the ball some 30 yards out, she glimpsed Murphy slightly off her line and let fly from well outside the box. The shot left Murphy helpless as it clipped the underside of the bar on its way into the net. 2-0. A great strike.
Four minutes past the hour, Harfield-Brown was again on the hunt for a goal. She intercepted a pass in midfield, drove forward and unleashed an effort across goal that was narrowly wide of the far post. The game was now beginning to be more stretched as Kidlington pushed to get themselves back into it. Once again, Thacker was the player who was on the end of the best chance but, this time, a covering tackle just as she was about to pull the trigger forced her to shoot wide. I have to say, from where I was standing, if Thacker hadn't been honest enough to stay on her feet, she could well have been awarded a penalty. It would have been a little harsh but from my angle it certainly looked as if the Eversley defender got as much of Thacker as she did the ball. The Greens were further aggrieved with ten minutes remaining when Eversley increased their lead. Jo Harfield-Brown finally getting the goal her work had deserved with a neat left-foot shot just inside Murphy's left-hand post. 3-0
Three minutes after going there down, Kidlington did manage to get what turned out to be a consolation after they were awarded what looked to be a soft free-kick just outside the right-side of the box, almost on the by-line. The ball was delivered into the heart of the Eversley box where for once their defence was caught out as Courtney Sumner made a late run from the back post to powerfully head past Roberts. 3-1. Suddenly Kidlington looked more confident but didn't have enough time left to mount a recovery. Lauryn Cripps did have a slight chance but put her long-range effort wide under pressure from Sims. If that had gone in, maybe with a couple of minutes to go, Eversley would have been slightly worried. However, they quite comfortably saw out the final moments of the game to claim all three points.
FT Eversley & California 3 Kidlington 1. Overall a deserved three points for Eversley & California. It's not hard to see why they have such a good defensive record. The back four of Ella Chandler, Emma Pointon, Gemma Lunn and captain Hester Benham, looked as solid as rock for the vast majority of the game. Kidlington worked hard throughout the match and were never out of it. After they finally got a goal, they had their tails up, but it was too late in the game for them to get up a head of steam. Both sides are back in league action next weekend. For more information, look out for the weekly D1N review published later this week.
Great to finally meet up with Andrew Batt (@andrewbatt5). His photos of the game can be viewed by clicking on his name. The link will also be in this week's D1N review.
Eversley & California: Roberts, Benham(c), Chandler, Smith, Harfield-Brown, Pointon, Boekbinder, Pantony, Skinner, Elcox, Lunn. Subs: O'Donnell, Caulcrick, Richards, Tzanetis
Kidlington: Murphy, Clayton, Dunbabin(c), Antonen, Clements, I.Thacker, O.Thacker, Chewings, Sumner, Haynes, Hawtin. Subs: Woodward, Slavik-Ali, Cripps
Ground Number: Re-Visit