New Road has long been on my list of grounds to visit but, being close to home, I have repeatedly kept it in reserve for a rainy day when travelling further afield was out of the question. Today was not that rainy but I did make my decision to go to a game quite late, so I needed a reasonably close ground and New Road fitted the bill perfectly. The ground is situated in the heart of the town, within walking distance of the town centre, not a million miles from Blenheim Palace and pretty much surrounded by residential areas. There is a car park at the ground along with some parking on grass just off the car park.
This was very much a mid-table clash. At the start of play Chinnor sat in sixth spot on 19 points from their 10 games. One place below them, on 17 points but having played three games more, were Woodstock. They met in the revers fixture on the opening day of the season with Woodstock coming back from Station Road with all three points after a 1-0 win. Woodstock finished the game with 10 men after Mason Horwood saw red, Ben Strong getting the winner. This remains Chinnor's only home league defeat of the season.
The visitors had been on a good run in the league. Since they lost 2-0 to Adderbury Park at the end of October, they had won four on the bounce scoring 23 and conceding 4. Conversely, Woodstock came into the game on the back of four consecutive defeats, two of which came against Buckingham Athletic Development, who two weeks ago rattled in eight at Stratford Fields.
I managed to get sight of the Woodstock team sheet before kick off but didn't see the Chinnor sheet, so apologies that I only have shirt numbers. I will gladly edit if/when I have the names.
It was the visitors who started the better, getting their noses ahead as early as the fifth minute when Number 11 produced some good work down the left, getting to the by line and cutting get ball back. Number 9, bursting in to the box, drilled the ball emphatically past Gareth Walker to put Chinnor in front. 0-1
The goal clearly woke Woodstock up and they responded accordingly, pushing Chinnor backwards almost immediately. The equaliser did not take long to transpire either. Elliott Powell just about getting to the ball first to power a left-foot drive past the goalkeeper just as he was tackled. 1-1
It was now the turn of the home side to take the upper hand, moving the ball about well to create a few chances. Chinnor had something of a lucky escape on 16 minutes when what looked like a clear case of hand to ball was not punished by the officials. To be fair, I couldn't see if it was in or out of the area but it did look to be a clear handball from my vantage point. Eight minutes later the home side were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area and to the left of the goal as the looked at it. With the goalkeeper and defence expecting a ball towards the far post Jason Trinder went for goal, catching the keeper out and beating him at the near post. 2-1.
With the home side now in front and looking the more likely to get another goal, it really looked like it may be a long afternoon for Chinnor, especially when they conceded another free-kick just outside the box. This time, however, Trinder curled his effort just over the bar. Credit to Chinnor though, they steadied the ship somewhat and began to make a few inroads themselves. Four minutes before half-time it appeared they had been rewarded for their hard work and would go in level at the break. A pinpoint cross from Sam Tanner just eluded the covering defender but was perfect for Chinnor's Number 9 who gratefully nodded the ball home. 2-2
Maybe the visitors relaxed a little too soon, however, because they had hardly stopped celebrating when they were behind again. A ball threaded up the left flank was flicked on despite the home player being fouled from behind. The referee played advantage, allowing Harris Kilburn to run onto the loose ball, drive into the box and place a perfect shot into the far corner. 3-2
HT Woodstock Town 3 Chinnor 2. An entertaining half with both sides looking capable of grabbing more goals.
Once again though Chinnor almost got caught cold after scoring. Only three minutes later they had their keeper to thank for keeping them level, making a good save with his feet when Powell looked odds-on to put Town back in front. At this point the game could have gone either way. Both sides looked capable of scoring and both looked capable of conceding. With fifteen left on the clock and piece of individual magic from Matheus Medeiros almost got the hosts in front. The midfielder weaved his way into the penalty area, leaving two or three defenders in his wake before unleashing a powerful drive from 8 yards which the visitor's keeper did brilliantly to block. I'm not sure he knew that much about it and may even have blocked it with his face, but it was one hell of a stop. The keeper needed a little treatment when play stopped, presumably from taking the full force of the shot. It was the start of 10 minutes of play that the visitor's keeper would be heavily involved in. Not too long after Medeiros had ben denied the same player was on hand at the edge of the area to fire in a low, left-footed drive which this time did beat the keeper. 4-3.
I'm not too sure what sparked the Chinnor complaints but, whatever it was, the keeper clearly went too far with his protestations and was sin-binned by the referee. Since sin-binning was brought it, I have seen a few, but this was the first time I had seen a keeper dismissed and, in this case, it was as good as a dismissal because with under 10 minutes to go, the keeper was not going to get chance to re-join play. Consequently, Chinnor were down to 10 men and had an outfield player in goal for the final 7 minutes plus stoppage time.
Into injury time, with Chinnor trying to push up for an equaliser, they made the mistake of leaving Marcello Guilherme unmarked inside the box and substitute punished them by sliding home the fifth goal from close range. 5-3
FT Woodstock Town 5 Chinnor 3. A good game for a neutral to enjoy. Plenty of incident, eight goals, quite a few comments flying backwards and forwards between locals and rival players and a few contentious refereeing decisions to fuel the unrest. Quality entertainment with no entry fee. You really can't knock it. No games for wother side over Christmas but they will both, hopefully, resume on January 8th, both with away games. Woodstock at second-bottom Long Crendon Reserves and Chinnor back in Oxfordshire to face Heyford Athletic, who are just above both Chinnor and Woodstock in fifth spot.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all at both Woodstock Town and Chinnor FC.
Woodstock Town: Gareth Walker, Trinder, Parsons, Mays(c), Dawson, Cavalcante, Medeiros, Kilburn, Powell, Carlisle, Morton. Subs: Basham, Horwood, George Walker, Guilherme
Ground Number: 296