Yarnton play at Littlemarsh Playing Field on Yarnton Lane just across the A44 from Yarnton village. In fact, if you go past the ground, over the train line that runs right next to the ground, and drive for around a mile, you will come to Kidlington FCs ground, just as Yarnton Lane becomes Yarnton Road. There is a decent sized car park and, just inside the main gate, a very smart, new-looking, clubhouse. It does not have a Shed End but does have a On car park side, where the majority of spectators congregate. There are two blue painted dugouts, labelled Yarnton and Visitors. The opposite side of the pitch is open, forming part of the cricket ground in the summer.
The game this evening was an Oxfordshire Senior League Premier Cup group tie. With seven teams competition, each team has six group games, and this was the fifth for both of these sides. The top four after six games go through.
A win in this game was important to both teams. Yarnton were beginning the evening in third spot and a win would confirm their place in the final four. They had won three of their four games, only losing to table-toppers Kennington Athletic. Garsington needed the three points even more as they started the night just outside the top four but knowing that a win would put them into contention.
In the last, abandoned, Premier League season Yarnton were placed second when it was brought to an abrupt end. The sides had already met once, at Littlemarsh, with the home side coming out on top of a 5-4 score line.
After an initial few minutes of eyeing each other up, it was the home side who made the the early breakthrough. With just 9 minutes on the clock Hasnain Nadeem played a superb crossfield ball to find Josh Redfearn out on the left. His cross was met by Harry Ackland who christened his new boots by guiding his finish past the visiting keeper to make it 1-0.
An early advantage for Yarnton but Garsington were quick to attempt a response. They had a very loud penalty claim in the 12th minute when there appeared to be a trip in the area. The referee, however, was having none of it.
Having had the lion's share of the play and missed a couple of decent chances Garsington were then well and truly sucker-punched a minute into added time in the first half. This time Nadeem was the scorer rather than provider, latching onto an Ackland through ball and slotting past the keeper. 2-0
HT Yarnton 2 Garsington 0. The home side scored early and late but in between Garsington have probably been the better team. Lucas and Coble for the away side have caused all sorts of problems for the home defence, who are struggling to contain them. The late second goal was harsh on Garsington.
The home defence were well aware of the threat posed by the Garsington front two. Maybe that is why they were caught off guard by Joe Ryan on the hour, who, after receiving the ball wide on the left, cut inside on his right foot and unleashed a superb drive across Merritt and into the far corner. 1-2
On 67 minutes, Garsington completed the comeback. Ryan was again in the thick of the action, this time crossing perfectly for Coble to head in from close range. 2-2
Garsington had their tails up now and looked the more likely to take control of the game. However, Yarnton were not done. With 15 left to play they hit Garsington with a quick break. The ball was worked to Ackland on the edge of the box and his well hit strike was to much for the keeper, who got a hand to it but couldn't keep it out. 3-2
After fighting back from 2 down but then falling behind again, Garsington could have been excused for letting their heads drop. They, however, were having none of it. Back they came and within 4 minutes of going behind they were level again. Joe Ryan again, who was having a very effective second half, outpaced the home defence and let rip from just inside the box. His shot was way too hot for the home keeper to hold and there was Callum Lucas on hand to snap up the rebound. 3-3.
As we approached the final couple of minutes we were treated to a dramatic finale and maybe contentious. Garsington were pressing for the winner and the three points that would take them into the top four. With two minutes left of normal time Luke Warmington was played in by a superb reverse pass. In behind the final man he slid the ball past the keeper and into the net. Cue wild celebrations but the referee had already blown thinking that Warmington was offside. After a brief consultation with the Yarnton linesman, he signalled for the goal and it stood. Fair play to the linesman for being honest. 3-4. Yarnton could feel aggreived that the referee blew before the ball hit the net. Maybe the goal should not have stood?
Yarnton were behind for the first time in the match and there was not enough time left for them to hit back.
FT Yarnton 3 Garsington 4. A very good game to watch from a neutral's perspective, especially the second half. Two sides who both have great attacking potential. Yarnton looked to be in control at half-time and again when they made it 3-2. They'll be gutted to have thrown away a lead twice. However, great credit to Garsington who just didn't know when they were beaten. Both sides are now in the top four with one fixture left each. Yarnton face tricky away game at second placed Launton whilst Garsington have, on paper, the easier game as they travel to bottom side Summertown Stars. It could be a fascinating last weekend of the group stage as both Yarnton and Garsington need to win to ensure a top four finish. Any slip up and fifth placed Marston Saints, who entertain group winners Kennington Athletic, could leapfrog them.
Many thanks to Yarnton's Twitter admin for supplying a photo of the team sheets so that I could put names to the numbers, and for clearing up a few errors in my tweets.
Yarnton: Merritt, Abreu, Witcher, Welford, Chesterman(c), Robson, Fegan, Ackland, Nadeem, Redfearn. Subs: Taylor, Wells, Spooner
Garsington: Gaul, Ludlow, Massingham, Smith, Bartlett, Ryan, Chalmers, Warmington, Dolton, Coble, Lucas. Subs: Mutero
Ground Number: 263