Sunday, 26 March 2017

Didcot Town 1 v 2 Yate Town

Saturday 25th March 2017
Southern League Division One South &West
Loop Meadow, Didcot
Admission: Pay What You Want
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 178
Match Rating: 3

Today I decided to support a club offering Pay What You Want entry, and for me a very rare dip into the Southern League Division One South and West.

Loop Meadow is located very close to and is clearly visible from Didcot Parkway train station, but with no direct path between the two, it is about a 15 minute walk. After passing through a car park, the entry turnstiles are located to one side of a long brick building which houses the changing rooms and clubhouse, which is cosy and with lots of memorabilia such as professional club shirts adorning the walls, but the room lacks natural daylight. Once inside the ground, straddling the half way line there is an elevated covered all-seater area backing onto the clubhouse building, which indeed looks rather attractive with its bricks coloured into neat linear pattern. Neatly tucked in towards the far corner from the entrance there is a black hut housing the tea bar, and immediately behind the goal closest to the entrance, there is a relatively large stand covering three terrace steps, whilst either side are smaller metallic all-seater stands. There is just hard standing around the remaining two stands, with flat grass between the hard standing and the wooden fencing. Whilst a very unremarkable place, it is very neat and tidy and a pleasant enough place to watch football. The programme was fairly standard fare for the level of football, containing everything it needed to.

There is very little left to play for both teams this season. Didcot were in 13th place, following ten wins and 14 draws from their 35 league games, but came into this game in very poor form, picking up just one win and five draws from their last 12 league games. Yate were in 18th place in the 22 team division, but with only two teams being relegated, the 14 point gap makes them virtually safe. Yate had experience an even worse form up to the end of February, picking up no wins and four draws from 14 league games, but March has been kinder, winning two wins and draws from their last three league games. When the two teams met earlier this season, Yate won 3-2.

On a brilliantly sunny afternoon but was chilly due to a strong wind, the first half was a midfield battle for the most part, and although Didcot showed more attacking intent - but showed a distinct lack of quality in the final third - Yate looked more dangerous on their occasional breaks. It was no real surprise that the scoreline remained goalless at the break, though.

Five minutes into the second half and Didcot took the lead. After some panic in the box, with the ball being whipped across the six yard box a couple of times, eventually the ball fell kindly for George Reid, who smashed the ball in off the underside of the bar. It did appear that Didcot were coasting towards seeing out a narrow win, as their played neat possession football and Yate barely threatened to get back on level terms. Out of nothing, they did though, with a terrific goal on 79 minutes, the ball landing at the feet of Lewis Fogg outside of the penalty area, and he drilled the ball into the top left hand corner despite the keeper getting a palm to the ball. A share of the points was about fair for two clubs that showed little flair or quality, but Yate won it with virtually the last kick of the game with a wonderful goal. Mike Baker took a free kick from his own half and, spotting the keeper off his line, struck a powerful shot which carried in the wind and sailed over the keeper who could not quite scamper back in time. Immediately after the restart, the referee blew the final whistle, with Yate victorious winning it courtesy of two moments of real quality in a match where precious little was otherwise on show.

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