Once they had settled down it was Milton's Kira Ranxcha who got the first shot off in anger, stinging the palms of Alana Chester. That was just the first of many attempts on goal for the visitors, as they started to ramp up the pressure on the home goal. With 11 minutes on the clock Lily Norton called Chester into action again with a lovely strike that the keeper had to turn over the bar. Another good save from the keeper in what was to become a busy first half for her. Next to try her luck was Grace Wiseman, stepping up from the back to strike one from way out. The ball flew wide of Chester's goal but was a clear demonstration of how the visitors were using the conditions to their advantage. Abingdon were struggling to get a grip on the game. The conditions prevented them playing it long but, if they tried to play through midfield, they were faced with Milton's hard-working trio of Zoe Barnes, Amy Loveridge and April England. Teh hoem side did, however, generate a half-chance just before the half-hour. A diagonal ball forard found it's way through to Georgia Taylor who hit it first time from the edge of the box, only for the ball to sail well over.
As we approached the midway point of the first half, Milton put together a passing move that would have graced any pitch, anywhere. Four or five precision passes, from the edge of the own penalty area to the edge of the Abingdon area, lovely one or two touch football that carved a path through the ABingodon team. The ball eventuayl found Mollie Dyer who strucka powerful effort over Chester's bar. Ten minutes later Dyer tried her luck again, after being set up by a peect lay-off from April England. Once again the shot was off the mark but these, as we were to soon find out, were just 'sighters'.
Two minutes later England popped up in the box and looked set to open the scoring when the ball was fed to her, unmarked, some 10 yards out. However, Philippa Dellar showed all of her captains qualities, bravely throwing herself in front of the shot and preventing what looked like a certain goal. The Milton pressure was now incessant. With 33 minutes gone they won a free-kick some 25 yards out and slightly to the left of goal. Lily Norton struck the ball superbly only to see it come back off the junction of post and crossbar, hit Chester and bounce away to safety. It is quite possible that Chester got a fingertip to the initial shot and, if she did, it was yet another great save.
With ten minutes to go until the break, it was starting to look as if Abingdon may have weathered the storm (quite literally), until Mollie Dyer decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck. First of all she latched onto a ball through the middle, twisted this way and that, before unleashing a drive, from the edge of the box, that even Chester could do nothing about. 0-1. A minute later and it was two. Route One this time. A long ball forward found Dyer one on one with a defender. She used her strength to shrug off the challenge before lofting the ball over the onrushing Chester. 0-2.
Abingdon barely had time to come to terms with the two-goal blitz when it became three. Only four minutes since the game had been goalless, Mollie Dyer grabbed her hat-trick. Picking up the ball on the right-hand corner of the box, she took a touch, took aim, and rifled an unstoppable effort into the top corner. 0-3
Definitely the quickest hat-trick I've ever seen. There can't have been too many scored in a shorter timespan anywhere.
HT Abingdon United Development 0 Milton United 3. With the conditions in their favour, Milton laid siege to the Abingdon goal for much of the half. However, goalless after just over half an hour, it looked like Abingdon might hold out, until a blistering four minute hat-trick from Mollie Dyer completely changed the game. Having said that, an early goal for the home side could easily tilt the balance again with the wind behind them.
Milton's attacks were now being restricted, much like Abingdon in the first period. Although April England did get a shot on target on the hour mark. No real problem for Chester but a warning that Milton could stil find a way to goal. That was further illustrated two minutes later when a corner from the right was met by the head of Zoe Barnes, who saw her effort crash off the underside of the bar and out to safety.
Abingdon then broke straight back up the other end, with Taylor getting a flick on to put Hodges through on the left. However, from a tight angle the striker could only hit the side-netting. Milton's reprieve lasted just two more minutes though. Trying to play the ball out from the back, Mimi Hodges was quick to pressure and rob Becci Bostock inside the box. She took a touch before sweeping the ball past Beardsley 1-3. Could this be the start of a comeback for the home team?
They were certainly looking up for it now. Hodges was increasingly getting on the ball and, three minutes after scoring, the striker again created an opportunity for herself, striking well from the edge of the box only to find Grace Beardsley well positioned to make the stop. As we entered the final 20 minutes, Hodges was again played in on the left but, clean through, she fired tamely into he arms of Beardsley, and that could have been the turning point. Three minutes later a quick break down the right culminated in Milton substitute Maddie Welch being set up to calmly slip the ball under Alana Chester for 1-4.
Abingdon didn't give up the ghost but, in all fairness, the game was beyond them at this stage. Hodges did fire another long range effort over Beardsley's bar but the Milton keeper was not troubled too much in the closing minutes.
FT Abingdon United Development 1 Milton United 4. A game that hinged largely on which team managed to use the weather conditions to their advantage the most and, on this occasion, that was Milton United. If Abingdon had managed to hold out in the first half, or even restricted Milton to one, the game could have been very different. Abingdon were unable to quell the constant onslaught from Milton in the first half and, consequently, the pressure finally told. In the second half, Milton were forced into a similar position, defending for much of the half. However, they were able to defend higher up the pitch through their protective midfield shield of England, Loveridge and Barnes, which made it much more difficult for Abingdon to pepper the goal in the way that Milton had in the first half.
The win takes Milton above both Abingdon and Ascot United Reserves, into sixth spot. Abingdon are now eighth, but four points ahead of Beaconsfield in ninth, with a games in hand.
Abingdon United Devleopment: 1.Chester, 2.Biddle, 3.Lewington, 4.Dellar(c), 5.Ives, 6.Sadler, 7.Pearce, 8.Georgievska, 14.Southy, 10.Maitlis, 11.Taylor. Subs: 12.Phillips, 9.Hodges
Milton United: 1.Beardsley, 15.Taylor(c), 5.Bostock, 18.Wiseman, 7.Barnes, 9. Loveridge, 12.Evans, 4.Ranxcha, 8.England, 17.Dyer, 11.Norton. Sub: 4.Welch
It's been a while since I last visited The Northcourt and, although not too much has changed, the first thing I noticed was something that was no longer there. I am, of course, referring to the yellow submarine that used to adorn the back wall of one of the stands. There are two covered spectator areas. What was the yellow submarine stand, which provides standing only, and on the opposite side, seating. All of the facilities are at the Northcourt Road end of the ground, behind the goal. There you will the clubhouse, which features a patio area looking out over the potch, and additional matchday toilets, as well as the players and officials changing rooms. There are also bench style table son the grass behind the Northcourt Road end goal. The opposite goal is backed by trees and bushes.
The Northcourt, in my opinion, is one of the better examples of a non-league football ground. In fact, Abingdon is well-served with The Northcourt and Abingdon Town's Culham Road ground, which is another fine example in my book.
Ground Number: Re-Visit