The original blog was written before I adopted the current format but I doesn't appear that too much has changed in the intervening years. There were, however, a couple of things that caught my eye. First of all, the stadium was known as The UK Building Plastics Direct Arena in 2017 but is now referred to just as Radcot Road which is far less of a mouthful. Building wise, the main stand and clubhouse, which also provides covered seating, building looks the same as 4 years ago but there is, I think, an addition. Alongside the main block there is now a relatively new-looking wooden structure that houses the players changing rooms. I don't remember this being there when I last visited but, of course, I am have just not documented it.
Clanfield were coming into the game sitting on top of the Division One table, a point clear of Studley but having played three games more. Milton sat in fifth spot, 13 points adrift of the leaders but with a huge five games in hand. Whilst the extra games, if all won, would put the visitors top, having to play so many games in such a short space of time could well be a problem for Milton.
Canfield have been on a good run of form. Since losing 2-1 at home to Stonehouse Town in the first game of 2022, they have won 6 on the bounce. Milton have not lost a league game this year. Their last defeat came at Littleton in December and, since then, they have won two and drawn three. The sides met earlier in the season at The Heights with goals from Freddie Kennedy and Ollie Nadin giving the home side a 2-1 victory. Clanfield's consolation was scored by Jozef Fullerton.
The villages of Clanfield and Milton, separated by around 20 miles of Oxfordshire countryside, are similar in size as far as the 2011 census goes, although Milton can claim to be a a little bigger. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, both villages have or had two water mills. Consequently, it would be remiss not to christen this the Two Watermills Derby.
The home side were quickest into their stride and only a good save from Craig Griffiths prevented George Seacole from putting the hosts one up within the first couple of minutes. Milton didn't learn from their mistake though and the home kept up the early pressure on the visitor's goal. Declan Shepperd was presented with a glorious opportunity in the 7th minute as the ball dropped to him inside the box. He had a clear shot on goal but could only put his effort straight into the arms of Griffiths.
The hosts disappointment only lasted another two minutes though. A long throw-in from the left, deep into the United penalty area, was not cleanly dealt with by the defence. The ball fell to Rhys Darg who's effort looked to be going wide until George Seacole popped up to nod the ball past Griffiths. 1-0
There seemed to be quite a lot of disquiet amongst the Milton players, especially at the back. They were clearly not performing to the levels they expected but didn't seem able to up their game. They continued to needlessly give the ball away. Playing out from the back on 20 minutes, they managed to get in a mess again. Seacole latched onto the ball before shaping a superb effort around the last defender, narrowly curling it just wide of the far post. It wasn't all one-way traffic but, in all fairness, Milton really had not got going in this game and were losing out in the midfield battle with the ultra-competitive Rhys Darg mixing things up in the middle.
With six minutes to go until the break, Milton finally made Zoldan gets his knees dirty when Louis Joyce managed to get a shot on target. The home stopper made a comfortable save. Just to round off what had been a particularly disappointing first half for the visitors, they were reduced temporarily to ten men when Pablo Haysham talked himself into the sin bin
HT Clanfield 85 1 Milton United 0. The home side were quicker to the ball, stronger in the tackle and overall the much better team. Their only complaint would be that they were only one goal up at the break.
The second half was a totally different game to the first. Milton no longer looked shaky at the back and had found the chink in Clanfield's armour with the ball into the left channel. Time and again they probed down that side, getting in behind the defence on a number of occasions. Clanfield, despite having to defend more in this period, were still an attacking force themselves, although when they were forced to substitute Darg after he got a yellow, they lost a little bite in the centre of the pitch.
Jamie Zoldan was now the busier of the two goalkeepers and was once again called into action on 73 minutes, again with the ball through the gap on the left. This time the keeper was very quick off his line to make the save from Joyce once more. Not that all of the action was restricted to the Clanfield penalty area. With eight minutes to play Griffiths needed to be at his best to keep out a Connor Tinsley effort as Clanfield tried to up the tempo in the final few minutes. However, there was to be no late drama for either side.
FT Clanfield 85 1 Milton United 1. The visitors were a completely different team in the second half. After looking ragged for the entire first period, they sorted themselves out and gave Clanfield a lot of problems. A draw, although not useful to either team, was probably the fairest result. The result saw Clanfield drop to second spot after Studley beat FC Stratford 3-0 at The Beehive. Match of the night saw Hereford Pegasus beat Newent Town 6-4 at Old School Lane and that is where Clanfield head for on Saturday, the first time the teams have met this season. Meanwhile Milton are back at home as the welcome mid-table Stonehouse Town to The Heights, also the first meeting of the teams this season.
Clanfield 85: Zoldan, Moore, Weller, Dickinson, Gibbens(c), Pirie, Connor, Darg, Seacole, Shepperd, Tinsley. Subs: Fullerton, Haley, Wyatt, Bellenger, Linford-Pill
Milton United: Griffiths, Thomas, Woodley, Kay, Elkins, Lee, Nadkin, Bloomfield(c), Joyce, Haysham, Kennedy. Subs: Stanley, Alder, Garner, Higmoor, Parish
Ground Number: Re-Visit