It's almost exactly 2 years since I last visited French School Meadows (Stalemate). At that time the club had just moved back to their ground after finally getting permission to install their telescopic floodlights. As far as I could see, nothing much has changed in the intervening two years. Everything is still very neat and tidy. The pitch looked to be in tip-top condition. All in all, it's a very nice ground with good facilities and a playing surface designed for good football.
The Berks & Bucks Senior Cup has been around for a very long time. The initial winners back in 1879 were Reading who beat Marlow 1-0 in the Final. Since that time six different teams have clocked up double-figures of wins. Wycombe Wanderers lead the way with 28 but Maidenhead united, Chesham United, Slough Town, Marlow and Windsor & Eton (now defunct) all have over 10 victories. Neither Penn nor Shrivenham have won the trophy or even been in the final as far as I can see.
Despite both teams plying their trade in the Hellenic structure for quite some time (Shrivenham are still in the Hellenic Premier), they have not played in the same division at any time. Penn, now in the Combined Counties League Division One, were always in the Eastern section of the Hellenic League whilst Shrivenham came up through Division One West. They have also not met in the FA Vase or FA Cup in the past. Therefore, unless they have played in the competition previously, this could be the first competitive meeting between the sides.
Shrivenham have already played one game in the competition, coming from a goal down at Abingdon United to win 2-1. Both goals were scored by Callum Parsons-McGhee, including a 91st minute winner.
Neither team have started their respective league seasons too well. Both are paced fourth from bottom but they also both have games in hand on a number of the teams around them. There is, of course, one Step difference between the teams with Penn still in Step 6 and Shrivenham in Step 5. However, with the lower ranked side at home, will this balance out?
The visitors were out of the blocks like Olympic athletes. With only 3 minutes played they made the breakthrough. A lovely ball down the right set Max Lloyd free to run clear. He drove towards the by-line before cutting the ball back perfectly for Zac Skinner to put the ball and himself into the back of the home net. 0-1. Shrivenham were flying at this point and, for the first 10 minutes or so, you had to worry for Penn. The way Shrivenham were playing the ball around, spreading play and generally cutting through Penn with ease, it looked as if it was going to be a long night for the hosts. However, a combination of the home side sticking with it and Shrivenham inexplicably seeming to take their foot off the gas, meant that Penn started to get a foothold on the game.
With fourteen minutes gone they had a gilt-edged opportunity to equalise A ball through the middle caught the Shrivenham defence calling for offside but although one player was clearly off he made no attempt to go for the ball. Instead Fred Tripp ran through from an onside position to be one on one with Sam Ayres. Unfortunately for the hosts he slotted his effort narrowly wide of the post.
Despite not levelling the game up one the scoresheet, it was certainly more of an even contest on the pitch now. Penn were having problems picking up Callum Parsons-McGhee, who was dropping deep to receive the ball. Comfortable with holding on to the ball in a tight spot as well as able to pick a good pass, he was causing some concern for the home side, as he did all night. However, Penn were also looking more dangerous now and just before the half hour mark they did get back on level terms with a goal quite similar to the one they conceded. Left-back Sydney Woods went on a great run down the left flank before producing a low cross that laid it on a plate for Tripp. 1-1
If anything now, the home side were slightly edging matter, although it was a fairly even match up and it was Shrivenham who almost got their noses back in front after 37 minutes. a long range effort was palmed away by Butcher at full stretch. The loose ball was picked up and recycled to Parsons who saw his effort cleared off the line by home captain De Franco. Then, just when it looked like we were going in all square at the break, Penn engineered a goal of their own. Shrivenham conceded a free-kick some 25-30 yards out. The ball was dinked over the top of the defence towards the left hand touchline. De Franco just managed to reach it before it crossed the line, slipping the ball back inside for Danny Jordan to score from close range. 2-1
HT Penn & Tylers green 2 Shrivenham 1. In some respects a strange half of football. Shrivenham looked like world-beaters for the opening 10 minutes, threatening to blow Penn away. However, credit to Penn for hanging in, equalising and then getting themselves in front just before the break. As a neutral, plenty of entertainment.
Just before the hour mark, however, Shrivenham got themselves back on level terms. Once again, as with both Penn goals, it was created with good work on the left side. This time Shriv captain Robbie Hendry was the creator, getting down the left before delivering a low ball across the six yard line. Joshua Elms got in front of his marker and finished with a deft, if not cheeky, little back flick past Butcher. 2-2.
Now it really was anyone's game. I'm not sure a supporter from either side would have been able to predict the outcome of the game at this stage. The home side made a few changes in an effort to get themselves back in front but, with 10 minutes to go, it was the visitor's who struck what was to be the killer blow. the ball was fed to Josh McGrory on the right-hand corner of the Penn penalty area. He unleashed a low drive across Butcher and into the far corner of the net. 2-3
A few minutes later Shrivenham's first scorer, Zac Skinner, was put clean through with a golden opportunity to seal the game but screwed his effort narrowly wide of the post. Penn threw everyone forward in the closing minutes, looking to force a penalty shootout, but it was all to no avail.
FT Penn & Tylers Green 2 Shrivenham 3. A thoroughly entertaining game of football that really could have gone either way. The game swung backwards and forwards with both sides always looking to go forward.
If you want to catch either of these teams in action this weekend, Shrivenham welcome bottom side Thornbury Town to The Recreation Ground whilst Penn host mid-table AFC Aldermaston.
Penn & Tylers Green: Butcher, Mirza, De Franco(c), Henry, Woods, Watson, Flint, Whitfield, Jordan, Isaac, Tripp. Subs: Jones, Nicholls, White, Hore, Zondo
Shrivenham: Ayres, Gregory, Hendry(c), Dodd, Taylor, Cook, McGrory, Lloyd, Elms, Parsons, Skinner. Subs: Bright, Hirst, Hall, Broadbank
Ground Number: Re-Visit
1 December, 1939 - 27 September, 2022
RIP Dad. Love you always.