Just over a year ago, I actually saw Hailey play, and win, in the Witney & District Ted Young Senior Cup Final at Eynsham Park, but I had never before visited their home ground at Hailey Rec. That match blog can be found by clicking on this link (All Hail Hailey). It would be interesting to see how many of that cup winning team were on show in this pre-season friendly.
Hailey is around two miles North of Witney, not yet swallowed up by urban sprawl, which is nice to see. Hailey FC play their home games at Hailey Rec, adjacent to the village hall and very close-by to the villages 18th centrury public house, The Lamb and Flag and St John the Evangelist Church, which gives the pub its name, a reference to the Gospel of John and the Lamb of God. I mention this because the lamb and English flag feature on the club's badge.
Arriving at the ground just before the scheduled 6:45 kick-off time, I managed to find a parking spot next to the village hall and made my way over to the pitch just as the teams got started. Having arranged to meet up with @FACupFactFile before the game, I spied him positioned in a nice shady spot just one the halfway line. It had been a blisteringly hot day and, despite warnings that we may have overnight storms, the temperature had not dropped much into the evening. My car was reading 34 degrees when I parked, which made me grateful that I am now way too old to play, and that Phil had found a shaded spot to stand in.
The evening's visitors for the PSF had made the same journey as me, Oxford Senior League side Bicester Town Colts, one step up on the pyramid, but in a friendly during the height of the Summer, that counts for nothing.
So, onto the game. Forgive the brevity and any mistakes. I have to admit that Phil and myself chatted through the majority of the match.
As with my game last Saturday, there was a an early goal to set the match up. In this occasion it was a 3rd minute penalty for the hosts. I didn't catch the offence, but general consensus seemed to be that it was quite a soft one. Either way, Hailey's Number 3 (sorry, didn't get a name) made no mistake. 1-0
With less than a quarter of an hour gone Hailey grabbed a second. Joey Aust smashing the ball home for 2-0. It was starting to look as if it might be a long, hard, hot night for Colts.
Three minutes later, however, they were handed something of a lifeline when Josh Patrick pulled one back. 2-1 and maybe we were going to get a tighter game than we thought.
Shortly after the much needed drinks break Bicester were back on level terms. A scramble ensued in the Hailey box and, with their defence crying foul (to be fair they did seem to have a case) Jurgen Popp lashed the ball home. 2-2.
Any thoughts of Bicester going in level were banished on 43 minutes when Aust grabbed his second goal of the night with a low drive. 3-2
HT Hailey 3 Bicester Town Colts 2. Not the most fluid of games but not surprising in the heat. Still, given the conditions both sides putting in great effort.
As if six goals weren't already enough, they kept coming thick and fast. Another three minutes after the Bicester equaliser, Hailey struck again and it was Joey Aust once more, this time with an absolute peach of a goal. The striker controlled the ball some 25 yards out, took aim, and lifted a lovely effort over the keeper and into the net. Cue applause from all corners of the ground. 4-3.
Another three minutes went by (there's a pattern emerging here) before we were treated to an eighth goal. It was Hailey who grabbed it, their number 8 being sent clean through to fire under the approaching keeper. 5-3 and for the second time the home side had a two-goal advantage.
When another three minutes passed without a goal we were starting to think that maybe the weather had taken its toll and that maybe, that was that. However, Bicester still had a little sting in the tail. Winning a free-kick way out on the left touchline, Nathan Sandland sent over an in-swinging cross which deceived the stand-in Hailey keeper (their usual number one was at work apparently) and ended up in the net. 5-4.
Could there be another two goal swing on the cards? Well, no. The longest period in the game without a goal ensued and, even a drinks break could not inspire Bicester to find an equaliser.
FT Hailey 5 Bicester Town Colts 4. Great entertainment for us neutrals. As always, great to catch up with @FACupFactFile and chew the cud about football and life in general. A 100% record for the new Hailey Assitant Manager Mark Edmunds. Yeah, it's one game but a stat is a stat. It also means that I have now seen Hailey play twice and they have won twice. It must be a thing with teams in green. I have never seen Kidlington lose either (8 games).
Ground Number: 234