This week's local skirmish with Oxford couldn't come soon enough for the chums after the previous Saturday's catastrophic encounter with Newbury and Thatcham. In an eventful week the 2's welcomed back a reinvigorated Connor Payne home from 2 weeks spent in the Amazonian rainforest - presumably clad only in a loin cloth and with a bone through his nose. No sooner were we up to full strength than Clarky stepped on a ball at training which resulted in the end of his season and Dan Andrews ( who may well acknowledge he had not been at his best in the Newbury debacle) was moved into the 1's (where he apparently turned in a heroic performance against Banbury).
Oxford made a half hearted application to reschedule the fixture apparently because someone in their side had a stag do to attend on Saturday night. Unsurprisingly the League decided that reason did not amount to "extreme circumstances" as defined by the rules and the request was given short shrift. So Friday night arrived with the chums having a bare XI. Some desperate phone calls and the fortuitous cancellation of the Falcons fixture meant the chums were able to recruit Tom Bacon aka Danish (clever huh!) at the last minute.
Saturday arrived with the chums determined to consign the failures of the previous week to the garbage can. Our spiritual inspiration and muse made an impassioned plea for commitment, focus and bouncebackability urging the chums to scale previously unimagined heights of achievement - many of the group were visibly moved by his exhortation, some in tears, and one actually broke wind. Sausage rolls were passed round and feverishly devoured - a unique moment which will live with us all.
Even then the day had a further surprise in store when it became clear that the visitors numbered among their squad a player who bore a spooky yet striking resemblance to the player formerly known as Charlie Firth. Readers of this column will, no doubt, recall that this shadowy figure made a brief appearance for the chums at Maidenhead earlier in the season and then just as suddenly as he had appeared - disappeared without trace. A man with no apparent past and no future - very odd. And yet here he was again displaying the same level of skill that he had shown in that earlier appearance. The chums, however, coped well with this extraordinary development, deploying some gentle joshing, which seemed to unsettle tpfkaCF.
As to the game the chums were, thankfully, in rather better fettle than the previous week and won the encounter reasonably comfortably 2-0 with a goal in each half from Dan Bradley and Jack Knight. The chums finishing was not as clinical as it might have been and Oxford's goalkeeper Callum Chapman (brother of Ethan) had a terrific game - at one point making three quite sensational point blank saves to frustrate the chums.
For the 2's Danish had a fine debut and youngster Ollie Dunn, in only his second game, played as though he's been a fixture in the side all season - sensational!! - but then nobody in the chums believes he is only 14. Altogether this was a very disciplined team performance with Stotty also having one of his best games.
Sadly no report of this game would be complete without recording also that Dom Bennett suffered a very bad injury when he took a mishit ball in the face early in the first half losing a number of teeth. It was a complete accident but, nonetheless, a quite distressing incident which required the emergency attendance of paramedics. Dom was stretchered off to hospital and later referred to a local dental surgery. Your correspondent wishes to record the club's thanks to those who helped to make Dom as comfortable as possible pending the arrival of the ambulance especially Andy Clark, Sam Clark , Alison Chapman and Oxford's manager John Dykes. We also send Dom our very best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Finally with the students shooting off to play in the varsity day at Brookes no vote was taken for MoM or DoD and neither our principal wino nor your correspondent remembered to bring a wine of the week. Must do better.