Long Crendon Ladies play at Long Crendon Recreation Ground on Chearsley Road, situated in the heart of the village. The football pitch is part of a complex that also includes tennis and the local bowls club. The changing rooms are part of the Long Crendon Parish Council building that sits on the same site. There is a decent sized car park on site and on-road parking available very nearby. The pitch itself has a small slope from the Chearsley Road end down towards the Village Centre and Churchill Arms. There are a few benches scattered around and a children's play area on the Bicester Road side. The playing surface seemed to be a bit bumpy in places but it is a communal facility and, all in all, seemed to be in pretty good shape.
It's been a mixed start to the season for both clubs. Long Crendon kicked off with 4-1 defeat at Milton United, got a creditable draw at Kidlington but were then dumped out of the County Cup by Woodley United. Success followed in the FA Cup last week, with a hard fought 2-1 win at Tilehurst. Caversham also lost 4-1 on the opening day, at Kidlington. They then won 1-0 at Carterton in the league before consecutive defeats, 3-0 at home to Penn & Tylers Green, in the league and 3-1, also at home, to Eversley & California in the FA Cup.
Last season both of the sides played in the Thames Valley League Division One and, although Long Crendon finished the season six points above Caversham and in third spot, it was the Goats who held sway in the head to head, winning both games. In October two goals from Rosie Page-Smith and another from Caitlin Levy were enough to seal a 3-1 win for Caversham at Mapeldurham despite Michelle Bailey getting one back from Crendon. Then in January a close game at Chearsley Road saw goals from Eleanor Dorey and Holly Swan trump Nicole Jacobs' strike in a 2-1 away win. It is only fair to point out that last season was Long Crendon's first in Division One after their stunning 2020-21 season in which they romped to the Division Two title, dropping just two points all season and only conceding three goals in sixteen games. This also included a 100% away record with the only blip coming in a 1-1 home draw with Denham United Reserves.
Caversham started the game very brightly. Within the first minute the returning Rosie Page-Smith clipped the outside of Whale's left-hand post with a low shot. Sumayah Zayadi's trickery on the ball was causing problems for the home defence and Crendon were struggling to get a foot hold on the game early on. Ten minutes in it was Holly Swan's turn to go close, running on to a long ball but firing just over the bar.
After 13 minutes Long Crendon showed that they too could be a threat. A free-kick out on their right was drifted into the Goats penalty area. Joanne Lewis looked to have the situation under control but juggled the ball before just about grabbing it again before it crossed the line. It was enough to give the home side a little more confidence and they started to play their way into the game. On 17 minutes their number 8 (sorry, I don't have team sheets) turned sharply in the box before firing low and hard only to see her effort met by a good stop from Lewis.
Just before the halfway mark another Long Crendon free-kick caused problems in the Caversham back line. A Crendon head won the ball but saw it just loop over the bar. Tow minutes later, after a bit of a mix-up in the Caversham defence gifted Crendon the ball on the edge of the area, the home side had the ball in the net but the assistant's flag was already up for offside. It remained 0-0.
The effort drew an immediate response from Caversham. Holly Swan drove up the right flank before delivering a low cross which Zayadi met on the run, seeing her effort drop just over the bar.
The game was now pretty even. Both sides looked dangerous when attacking but credit to both defences, who stood firm.
As we approached the half-time whistle Caversham launched one final attack. Page-Smith's long range shot forced Whale into a full length save to push the ball out for a corner. Sophie Wicks took the kick and saw her cross clip the top of the home bar before running to safety.
HT Long Crendon 0 Caversham United 0. Two quite evenly matched sides in an entertaining game. Caversham looked better from open play but appeared vulnerable to the threat of Long Crendon's set pieces.
There was a bit of a scare for Caversham shortly afterwards. Following a right-wing corner for Long Crendon, which Joanne Lewis came for and cleared, the keeper went down with an injury. Sam Thoreau was ready to come on but the Goats keeper managed to continue, although she did seem to be limping for the remainder of the game.
Just before the hour mark both sides came close in quick succession. First a Caversham free-kick from the right beat everyone but clipped the top of the Crendon bar on the way out, then a few minutes later Long Crendon's number 10 tried her luck put saw her shot go narrowly wide of the target.
Caversham were not finished with their punishment of the Long Crendon woodwork (why do we still refer to it as woodwork? No-one has had wooden posts for 20 years or more) though. With just under twenty minutes to go Rosie Page-Smith was again unlucky as she saw her shot smash against the Crendon post before once again going to safety.
FT Long Crendon 0 Caversham United 0. A thoroughly absorbing match. No goals but no shortage of entertainment. Caversham struck the frame of the goal four times in total and will consider themselves unfortunate not to have won the game. However, Long Crendon also made chances and, with my neutral hat on, I would say a draw was probably a fair result.
Long Crendon Ladies: Whale, Regan, E.Brockwell, Lennard, Helmer, Cattell, Leith(c), M.Brockwell, Bamford, Knight, lovelock. Subs: Bailey, Cairns, Baillet
Caversham United Women: Lewis, Hemming, Griffin, Clarke, Dearling, Levy(c), Hope, Thoreau, Zayadi, Swan, Page-Smith. Subs: Baxter, Wicks, Scott, Graham
Ground Number: 329