Chalgrove Cavaliers play their home games on what seems to be known locally as The Rice Pudding. I can only assume that the pitch gets a bit boggy in the Winter perhaps? The pitch is situated behind the Village Hall (which apparently hosts the World Miniature War-Gaming Championships. You don't get facts like this in the NLP). However, a note for any ground-hoppers that may wish to visit. You cannot see the pitch from the Village Hall. In fact, it appears to be an empty field with a children's play area and an enclosed 5-a-side pitch. You will need to walk across the field, behind the play area, through some trees and over a small brook before the pitch becomes visible.
Local history and geography lesson over, onto the football.
Barton's lack of preparation, meaning that they had assembled with any red (or nearing red) shirt that they could find, in juxtaposition to Chalgrove in their pristine pale blue shirts, this made it look as if this may be something of a mismatch. However, Barton started the game well and, as it wore on, showed that they could match their hosts in all areas.
Aside from the lack of kit and Barton's Arsenal shirt clad striker, Tom Lygo, stabbing an effort against the post, there was not a great deal of action in the first half. In fact, I was surprised and glad that a former dance school friend of my daughter's and her father happened to pass by walking their dog. Nice to have a little catch up with them (with an eye on the game too of course).
HT Chalgrove Cavaliers 0 Barton United 0. Not a hugely eventful game by any stretch of the imagination. Barton certainly had the edge overall but it can only get better in the second half.
Just like my game on Tuesday evening, we got a goal three minutes into the second half. Chalgrove won a free kick out on the left and when the ball was sent across Joe Croxford found himself unmarked 8 yards out to side-foot a volley past the keeper, making it 1-0.
The goal was against the run of play based on the first half but it was just what the game needed.
Before we had even got five minutes into the second period Barton managed to strike the woodwork again, this time hitting the bar although I think credit needs to go to the Chalgrove keeper who got a touch on the effort. Why do we still refer to it as the woodwork? How many pitches still have wooden goalposts?
On 55 minutes Barton found themselves two down and it was again a cross from the left that did the damage. This time it was a perfectly weighted ball that found John Clarke at the back post. His powerful header left the keeper with no chance. 2-0
In direct contrast to the first half, the action was positively thick and fast. Almost immediately after going two down, Barton went straight up the other end and got the ball in the home net only to see the assistant's flag raised. To be fair, there was next to no complaint from Barton, so I assume that it was a clear offside call. They did, however, get a goal back in the 68th minute when Lygo latched onto a ball (I am told I need to credit goalkeeper Jake Pritchard with an assist for this and who am I to argue) and tucked it away with some style. 2-1 and we had a game on for the final 20 minutes.
However, despite going to an all out attacking style, including a series of very late Hail Mary style launches, United couldn't find the equaliser that their performance probably deserved.
FT Chalgrove Cavaliers 2 Barton United 1. A much improved game in the second half. Two accomplished finishes from Chalgrove proved to be the difference between the teams. Great credit to Barton for getting a team together at such short notice and then putting in a very competitive performance. Good luck to both teams in the forthcoming season, I hope to catch both in action again at some point over the coming months.
Ground Number: 235