The Windmill Centre is a community and sports centre that serves the town of Deddington, six miles to the South of Banbury. Aside from the main football pitch there are also small-sided pitches, tennis courts, a small all-weather pitch, a cricket square, an outdoor gym, kid's play area and a woodland walk. The main hall inside the community centre can also be used for badminton. There's a reasonable amount of parking available, although I guess that would run out fairly quickly if all of the facilities were being used simultaneously.
The main pitch is immediately to your right as you drive into the centre off the main road. This being a community pitch, there's no covered areas around the ground. There's a couple of benches on the main road side but, for the main, it is a case of standing behind the respect barrier on the cricket pitch side. The pitch itself is pretty flat with no discernible slope either way.
History-wise the two teams on parade today couldn't be much further apart. Whilst Deddington Town can claim to be one of the oldest teams in Oxfordshire, formed in 1888, Longford Park have only been in existence for a couple of years, being officially founded for the 2020-21 season and joining the league at Division 2 level. That season was abandoned after 6 games but the club were placed in the premier League for the following season, finishing fifth of seven. The sides met three times that season. The league points were shared Deddington winning 4-1 at The Windmill whilst Longford won 2-1 at Croughton. The cup encounter ended with a slender 1-0 for Town. On to this season and Longford Park came into this game sitting top of the league, a point clear of Graven Hill but having played five more games than their rivals. In their last outing Park drew 1-1 at Graven Hill. Deddington started the day in seventh spot, five points above bottom side Bodicote Sports. Their last game was a 7-0 home defeat to Wroxton Sports. The teams have met twice this season and, despite their relative league positions, it is Town who have held sway so far. The reverse league game back in October ended all-square at 1-1 whilst in the Lord Jersey cup semi-final, two weeks ago, a Callum Devine goals was enough to give Town a 1-0 victory and a place in the final to face Kings Sutton, who beat Graven Hill 2-0.
Before getting into the details of the game, there are a couple of people to thank. First of all the Longford Park coach, who's name I didn't get, who shared their team sheet with me before kick-off. Secondly a very big thank you to Geoff (I stupidly didn't ask his surname but anyone at the club will know him as their photographer and videographer) who not only got me the home team sheet but was happy to chat before and throughout the match. Thank you for your hospitality. Geoff is definitely one of those fantastic grassroots volunteers who are the lifeblood of the game.
One more thing to add. If you get a chance, check out the Deddington Town website club history section which contains a match report from the 1888 Jersey Cup Final which the newly-formed Deddington Town lost 4-2 to Middleton Stoney.
Just before kick-off Geoff said that he hoped it was a good game and that I enjoyed my visit to Deddington. Well, the game got off to a very lively start but not in the way that the home side would have wanted. After an initial minute or two of jousting, it was the visitors who tried to take control. Only five minutes were on the clock when they were awarded a penalty for a trip in the area. It wasn't a deliberate foul but, in my opinion, the referee had no choice but to award it. Up stepped top-scorer and player-manager, Ash Wingrove, but he put his spot-kick well over the bar. A let off for Town.
A few minutes later Longford were on the prowl again with home keeper Dan Reynolds making a good stop from a long range effort and then regaining his position quickly to block the follow-up with his legs. A good piece of goal-keeping. It was at about this point that I noticed both goalkeepers had the same surname, Reynolds. Dan for Deddington and Jordan for Longford Park.
The game was developing into a good encounter. Longford Park were having the lion's share of possession but Deddngton, when they did attack, looked dangerous too. To prove this point, on 26 minutes, Town's Jack Radcliffe did well to make some space for himself before screwing his shot just wide of the post. A minute later, as the game ebbed and flowed, Wingrove again tested Reynolds but the keeper was equal to his effort. However, only one minute after that Reynolds was powerless to stop the visitors from opening the scoring. Mitchell Roberts delivered a cross towards the far post which Blake Peters controlled and fired beyond the keeper. 1-0
The Longford tails were up now and that confidence was demonstrated when Lewis Gallagher ran on to a cleared corner and hammered an effort just over the bar from all of 30 yards. A foot lower and it would have been a stunner. Reynolds didn't have a chance.
As we approached half-time with Longford seemingly in control of the game, Deddington hit them with a sucker punch. They loaded the ball into the Longford box and when it wasn't cleared Will Hardy was able to dig it out and plant a shot past the helpless Jordan Reynolds. 1-1.
Longford responded with a half-chance of their own but Michael O'Carroll's header was straight at Reynolds.
HT Deddington Town 1 Longford Park 1. An entertaining half of football. Longford Park, without any doubt, had the majority of possession and, if that early penalty had gone in, things may have been very different. However the home, without any subs at this point remember (kudos to Longford Park for providing both lino's in the first half), were giving as good as they were getting.
Longford were still edging possession but it was the home side who got their noses in front just before the hour mark, and in some style. They won a free-kick some 25 yards out and just to the left of centre. Luke Jones stepped up and curled a beauty around the wall and in off the far post. 2-1.
The goal prompted some changes from Longford and one of these, Vincent (Junior) Howards who came close to getting Park back in the game on 68 minutes. receiving the ball inside the box with his back to goal, he turned sharply and sent an effort low towards the far post only for Dan Reynolds to get down brilliantly to tip it around the post. The game was now a far more end to end affair and with fifteen to go Luke Jones tried to recreate his goal with another free-kick, only to find Jordan Reynolds equal to it this time. That save looked even more important when three minutes later the visitors were back on level terms. A free-kick on the left side was sent in towards the far post. Ash Wingrove, who to be fair had kept plugging away gamely after the penalty miss, got enough of his head on the ball to send it past Reynolds and in off the far post. 2-2.
It was looking as if that may be the end of the scoring especially when Longford substitute Charlie Williams made what looked like a game-saving headed clearance on 83 minutes. It came about when Callum Devine won a race for a through ball with goalkeeper Jordan Reynolds. With the keeper out of his ground, Devine went for the unguarded net only for Williams to throw himself across in front of the effort and head it out for a corner. You had to feel a little sorry for the defender though, because from the resulting play Devine got himself back into the box to get a head on the corner and divert it past Reynolds. 3-2.
Longford threw everything they had at Deddington in the final few minutes. Effectively playing with just goalkeeper Reynolds at the back at one point. However, they could not force another equaliser before the referee blew to signal the end of a fantastic game of football.
FT Deddington Town 3 Longford Park 2. It looks as if Deddington have the Indian sign over Longford Park this season and that's now five without a win for Park. The visitors probably had 70% possession throughout the game but couldn't convert that into three points. As a neutral, however, it was a great advert for the league. Both sides gave it everything and produced a highly entertaining game to watch. The result, combined with both Graven Hill and Wroxton winning, sees Long Park slip to third in the table. Deddington climb to fifth, leapfrogging both Hornton who lost at home to Graven Hill. and Kings Sutton who lost to Wroxton.
If you want to catch either of these teams in action, Deddington are back at The Windmill Centre next Saturday when bottom side Bodicote Sports are the visitors. Two Joe Thornton goals gave Town a 2-0 win at Bodicote. A agme in which both sides were reduced to 10 men.
Longford Park don't have a game next Saturday but return to action on the 25th when they host Hardwick in the semi-final of the Coronation Cup.
Deddington Town: Reynolds, McDougall, Alton, Bevan, Atherton, Jones, Devine, Arnold, Radcliffe, Hardy, Goodchild. Subs: Davies
Longford Park: Reynolds, Roberts, Jones, Richardson, Gallagher, Baker, Higgins(c), O'Carroll, Baughan, Peters, Wingrove. Subs: Howards, Baldwin, Holloway, Williams, Brookes
Ground Number: 354