Launton Sports play their home games at the Launton Sports & Social club on the North-Western edge of Launton village. There is a reasonable sized car park on site along with a large social club which looks out over the ground from behind one of the goals. There are no covered spectator areas around the playing area, just two dugouts on the far side. Unfortuately, due to the current restrictions, the bar area was closed to spectators. However, having been to a couple of functions at the club, I can vouch for it being a good facility, way above the level normally found at Step 7.
In 2007 Launton joined the Hellenic League structure from the Oxfordshire Senior League. However, after four seasons a Step 6, never rising above 13th position, they dropped back into the Oxfordshire Senior League where they remain to this day.
At the start of this season Bure Park looked invincible. By mid-October their record read played 5, won 5, for 22, against 7. Since the 3-2 win at home to Garsington on October 17th, their record has read played 3, lost 3, for 3, against 13. Quite a change in fortunes. Launton, meanwhile, came into this game on a run of three unbeaten, winning two and drawing one of their last three, also quite a change in fortune since before their 5-2 defeat of Summertown on October 31st, they had not won since the opening day of the season.
This is very much a local derby with just over 2km, as the crow flies, separating Bure Park's Pingle Field ground from Launton's Sports & Social Club.
The away side made a very bright start to the game without really troubling the home keeper. However, as Launton settled, they began to look the more dangerous of the two teams. The first big chance of the game came on 11 minutes when Launton won a corner on the right. The ball was played towards the far post where their number 8 managed to swivel and get a shot off only to see if narrowly clear the Bure Park bar. A few minutes later Bure Park's stand-in goalkeeper Gareth Jones had to back-peddle to tip over an effort from the home number 2.
However, just before the half-hour mark, there was nothing Jones could do to prevent Launton taking the lead. The goal came from Bure Park losing possession in midfield, one incisive pass later and Josh Horn was sent clear and he made no mistake with a low, early strike into the far corner. 1-0
Three minutes later it was almost two as Horn cut inside from the right and fired a curling left-foot effort goalwards only to see Jones make a smart save to deflect the ball wide of his right-hand post.
On 36 minutes, with Bure Park seeking an equaliser, a ball was drifted diagonally into the Launton box. Both the Launton keeper and the Bure Park striker were fully focused on the ball resulting in a nasty looking collision. Both players went down but although the Bure Park player was fairly quickly back on his feet, we had quite a long delay as both Launton and Bure Park physios attended to the stricken keeper. He did manage to continue but still looked in some discomfort.
With Launton having to protect their keeper and take goal kicks for him, it looked as if Bure Park may have a way back into the game. Any good effort on target was going to be a problem for the keeper who was clearly not moving too well. However, sometime the best form of defence is attack and that's just what Launton did. With a minute of normal time remaining in the half a long ball saw Josh Horn once again in the clear. This time his speed got him to the ball before the advancing goalkeeper, he took the ball around him and slotted into an empty net. 2-0
HT Launton Sports 2 Bure Park 0. Bure Park looked very lively for the first 10 minutes but then struggled to gain any cohesion as Launton played their way into the game.
Bure Park improved somewhat in the second half in terms of possession. However, that may have been more down to Launton being happy to protect their lead than to Bure Park stepping up their pace. It just wasn't happening for Bure Park on the day. Their build up play was reasonably good but they lacked any real penetration up front. In fact it was Launton who came closest to increasing their tally. Horn again the on the end of an attack but this time, despite having the ball in the net, he was denied his hat-trick by the assistant's flag.
FT Launton Sports 2 Bure Park 0. Launton make it 10 points from the last 12 available, putting them just two points behind their local rivals. For Bure Park it is now four straight defeats and the heady heights of top spot seem a long time ago. In the last round of games before Christmas, Launton welcome Garsington who are just one place and one point below them. Bure Park face another local derby at home to bottom side Chesterton who have lost all eight of their games so far.
Launton Sports: Clark, Collins, Dineen, Douglas, Horn, Horton, Palmer, Savin(c), Vanderlowen, Walsh, B.Clark. Subs: Bailey, Bauer, L.Clark, Colquhoun, Spittle
Bure Park: G.Jones, Green, Hallam, Bosher, Lloyd, Collins, S.Jones, Blossom, Bateman(c), White, Hornett, Salvatore, Chappell. Subs: Green, Johnson, Lewis, Salvatore
Ground Number: 254