Of course, the season is still very much in its infancy but a match between the two top teams in a division, at any time, is always worth watching. Hallions were going into the game unbeaten in the opening five games, having won four and drawn one. Eynsham, one point behind their hosts, had won four and lost one. Interestingly, the dropped points for both sides had come against the same side, Ashton Folly. Hallions drew 3-3 with them in the second game of the season. Eynsham, incredibly went down 8-1 to them on the opening day. Their record since that defeat reads four wins, scored 20, conceded 3. It's a funny old game. Of course, Hallions are in the first season in the Oxfordshire Senior League, having moved over from the Banbury & District Lord Jersey League last season. Consequently, there are no previous meetings between the sides.
I am always very reticent to comment on referee's performance for a number of reasons. The game can't function without referees and it's a very difficult job that most of us, if we were honest, would not want to do. However, there were a few challenges early on in this game that the referee, in my opinion, should have penalised, maybe even produced a yellow card. When he let them go, he lost control of the game to an extent. Hallions, who have a few players who have been around the non-league scene for a number of years, knew exactly how to take advantage of this. I don't mean that in a bad way, but they know how to manage a game. That became apparent more and more as the game wore on.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure. Townsend was called into action several times and when he did get neaten an Eynsham defender popped up to clear Blossom's header from the line. The game was getting increasingly tetchy, with a number of free-kicks. This is where the home side's game management really came into play. They welcomed the scrap, whereas Eynsham players were letting themselves get drawn in to a battle that they really were not going to win. Hallions just had way too much nous for them. 17 minutes in, Hallions doubled their lead with a superb goal. A free-kick on the right was played in to the edge of the box, Mundy collected it, swivelled and fired a spectacular effort over the keeper, dipping in under the bar. 2-0.
The referee was called into some less ordinary action when one of his linesman drew attention to abuse that was being directed at him by a spectator, who was standing pretty much on the touchline himself. After warning that he could be forced to abandon the game, the spectator eventually retreated and the game was allowed to continue.
Just less than ten minutes before the end of the half Hallions contrived to make the game more difficult for themselves. Lewis Bland launched himself into a tackle on Eynsham's left-winger. It was an awful challenge and, whilst I am convinced there was no real malice involved, it was late, over the top of the ball and reckless. The referee, quite rightly, pulled out a straight red card. However, just to make it even more difficult, whilst the Eynsham player was being treated, Matt Jenkins earned a ten-minute sin bin for comments made to the same linesman who had earlier been the target of the spectator abuse.
However, even with only nine players on the pitch, Hallions saw out the remainder of the half quite comfortably.
HT Bicester Hallions 2 Eynsham 0. Certainly nothing dull about the game. A penalty, a red card, a sin bin and the referee warning a spectator about his behaviour. On the pitch, Hallions showed why they were unbeaten, by bossing the game even when playing with fewer men for the final ten minutes of the half.
Even then Eynsham, with a man advantage, should have been moving the ball around, using their numerical advantage to make the home side chase the ball around the pitch. For whatever reason, they didn't manage to do this. Maybe a lot of it was down to the work rate of Hallions who closed the ball down very quickly in all areas. They also had the speed and tenacity of McGlynn as the perfect out ball if they needed it.
There was no way that the second half was going to have as much incident as the first. Eynsham huffed and puffed but Hallions, comfortable with a two goal lead, were happy to keep taking the sting out of the game before hitting Eynsham with speedy breaks. It was one of these, in the 77th minute, that led to the third goal of the game when a ball was floated into the box for Mundy to loop the perfect header over the keeper, making it 3-0 and claiming his hat-trick.
That was it as far as the action went. Eynsham had no way back from three down and Hallions were content to stick to 3-0 and take the three points.
FT Bicester Hallions 3 Eynsham 0. A comprehensive and comfortable victory for Hallions. Even with 10 men they controlled the game. The result leaves Hallions three points clear of Middleton Cheney, who won 2-1 at Woodstock, at the top of the table. Next week Hallions take on fifth-place Chalgrove Cavaliers at Ashdene Road. Eynsham drop to fourth below Adderbury Park Reserves, who they face at home next week.
Ground Number: 248