Halse play their home games in Syresham, a village just off the A43 approximately halfway between Brackley and Silverstone Circuit. Their pitch is at Syresham Sports & Social Club, a multi-sport facility which encompasses football and cricket and features quite a large clubhouse. There is a separate changing bock, built in 2002, next to the clubhouse. Parking is available in the car park adjacent to the clubhouse or, following a track around the pitch, in a field just the other side of the ground where, in bad weather, you could watch the game from the comfort of your car if you so wished. The pitch itself slopes slightly away from the clubhouse towards the technical areas and makeshift car park beyond. There are no dugouts as such. However, there is a lean-to shelter behind the home technical area which seems to be used as a dugout by Halse. The opposite side of the pitch is open to the cricket pitch.
There's no league history between these sides as far as I know. Garsington, who played in the Hellenic for a short perios in the 70s, have been playing the Ocfordshire Senior League for some time now and have fluctiated betwen the Premier and Division One in recent years. Halse promoted from the Banbury District and Lord Jersey League at the end of last season and are playing their first season at this level.
Halse had a great opening day 1-0 victory at Yarnton and were then awarded a walkover win against Eynsham in their second game, so today will be their first home game of the season. Gasington lost their opener, to another of the new boys Bicester Hallions, 6-1 but followed that up with a 5-4 win over Summertown Stars before going down 2-1 at home to Yarnton last weekend, so something of a mixed bag so far.
I don't know if Garsington had borrowed their game plan from West Brom's Valerien Ismael (or that Spanish bloke at that little club in Manchester, Pep something or other), but they started like they meant business. A full pitch press clearly designed to stifle their opponents. And it worked to begin with. In the first minute the visitors came close to opening the scoring when Chalmers was played in but, with just the keeper to beat, pulled his shot narrowly wide of the far post. Undeterred, Garsington continued to press their hosts and Halse really struggled to get a grip with The Greens intensity for the first 15 minutes. Credit to the home side though, they gradually started to play their way into the game as their midfield began to get hold of the ball more. On 17 minutes they finally made the Garsington keeper earn his corn when James Keen tried his luck from all of 40 yards. The ball was heading for the top corner until the stopper got a hand to it, diverting it for a corner. A few minutes later United striker Dean Ingram was presented with a better opportunity but volleyed wide of the mark. Definite signs that Halse were beginning to get a foothold on the game. Then, on 25 minutes, Liam Simpson demonstrated his passing ability with an inch-perfect ball into the channel between the right-back and centre-half, allowing Jack Hamblin to race clear and finish at the near post. 1-0
Garsington almost replied immediately with a lovely flowing move. A diagonal pass from Lewis Judd set Callum Lucas free. The run of the ball forced him slightly wide allowing a defender to between him and the goal. He cut the ball back to Coble who curled a lovely effort which beat George Kingham in goal but also just beat the far post.
Halse then hit back with a lovely move of their own, some neat interchange of passes and a decent finish but the linesman's flag had already gone up before the ball hit the net.
On 38 minutes Garsington got themselves level. Elliston Coble was played in on the right flank. His attempted driven cross was miscued slightly and, despite the best efforts of Kingham ended up in the back of the home net. 1-1. The equilibrium did not last long. Two minutes later another superb through ball found the full of Gilsenan. He controlled the ball well but was forced wide of the goal. He fizzed a cross shot across the six yard box where the unfortunate Brad Dolton inadvertently turned the ball into his own net. 2-1.
HT Halse United 2 Garsington 1. The away side dominated for the first 15 minutes but couldn't get a goal to show for their efforts. Halse worked their way back into the game, with Simpson's range of passing being a key factor in leading at the break.
Were were into the last 20 minutes when Ingram was again denied by a good save from the visitor's stopper. then, with 11 left on the clock, Garsington launched a good move down their right side. Joe Ryan was quick to latch onto a ball down the wing before driving a cross perfectly into the path of Callum Lucas, who made no mistake with the finish. 2-2.
There was still enough time for Garsington to almost snatch it at the death when they saw a header crash back of the host's crossbar, before the referee called time.
FT Halse United 2 Garsington 2. Both sides will probably feel they should have won it. Garsington looked happy to settle for a point and, overall, I think it was a fair result. Halse climb to fourth and continue their unbeaten start to life in Step 7 ahead of their trip to second placed Summertown Stars at the weekend. Garsington are in ninth spot and welcome fifth placed Southam United on Saturday.
Halse United: Kingham, Lloyd, Harris, Hamblin(vc), Gilsenan, Read(c), Simpson, Brown, Ingram, Hackett, Keen. Subs: Hilton, Shilderley,
Garsington: Smith, O.Ludlow(c), Loveridge, Dolton, Rees, Chalmers, Gaul, Judd, J.Ryan, Cobe, Lucas. Subs: Boaden, Bartlett, F.Ludlow, L.Ryan
Ground Number: 281