Didcot 4-1 Cwmbran Celtic
Report by Ian East
Didcot rounded off their home pre-season schedule with a commanding win over Welsh League Division One side Cwmbran Celtic on Saturday afternoon.
In truth the contest was a lot closer than the score-line, the visitors having a particularly strong first half but a combination of some slack finishing and an individual error gave Didcot a first half lead before Didcot finished the stronger in the 2nd half.
Didcot lined up with Leigh Bedwell in goal, a back 3 of Cam McNeil, Adam Learoyd and player/manager Andy Ballard filling in for Stuart Cattell who was forced to miss the game with an eye injury. George Jeacock started at right wing back a role he did so well last season with Matty Woodley on the other side. The midfield 3 were Callum McNish, Seth Humphries and Sam Elkins with Louis Joyce and trialist youngster Dejon Noel-Williams up front.
Diddy were struggling to get their passing game going in the early stages and in fact it was the visitors who looked the more confident in possession and looking dangerous on the break. They took the lead when Diddy carelessly gave the ball in midfield and as the defence stepped up looking for the offside, the flag stayed down allowing the Celtic striker a free run on goal and as Bedwell came out to meet him, he was able to calmly finish passed the Didcot ‘keeper.
The Diddy response was good Noel-Williams finding space in the box but he blazed his right footed shot over the bar. Jeacock in particular was causing the Celtic backline problems down the right hand side and fittingly it was him who levelled the scores. Celtic didn’t clear a Didcot corner well and as the ball came back in it landed at the feet of Jeacock from no more than 5 yards out and he rifled it into the roof of the net to bring Diddy level.
Disaster was to strike for Celtic on the stroke of half time when Jeacock latched onto a ball around 30 yards out, he controlled it well and hit a firm volley towards goal but it went straight at the goalkeeper who comfortably saved it. The ‘keeper than got to his feet and went to kick the ball up-field but he completely sliced the ball barely a yard outside the box and straight to Noel-Williams and the 17 year old from Oxford United calmly rounded the stranded ‘keeper and rolled it into the net to give Diddy a lead they probably didn’t deserve.
Into the 2nd half and it was Didcot who seized control of the game and the 3rd goal wasn’t long in coming when from another set piece, this time a free kick on the right hand side taken nicely by Elkins into a dangerous area towards Noel-Williams it inadvertently came off a Celtic head and ended in his own net. There probably wasn’t a lot he could do with it in truth such was the quality of the ball in and with Diddy forwards queuing up to finish it the unlucky defender tried to clear but couldn’t do so.
The game really changed when substitutes Josh Pin and the returning George Reid entered the fray. Their pace, strength and persistence causing absolute havoc in the Celtic defence, Pin in particular proving an absolute menace. Holloway and Thomas were also brought on for McNish and Elkins
giving fresh legs into the midfield as Didcot finished the game really strongly. Pin then created the 4th goal with an excellent run in behind the defenders, he held off 2 challenges before his shot was blocked, he then rolled the ball to the unmarked Reid who coolly slotted home Didcot’s 4th goal. Pin deserved a goal himself and nearly had one when Holloway cleverly dummied the ball through to Woodley whose excellent ball in evaded defenders it fell to Reid at the back post who beat his man and stood up a perfect cross to Pin who unluckily volleyed it over from close range. Only more desperate defending stopped more Diddy goals as Celtic gladly heard the final whistle and thus ended a very productive run out for an improving Didcot side.
Pre-season has gone about as well as it could have done for this exciting Didcot squad, the only problem the manager is going to have is how to get them all in to his starting XI!!
The final game of pre-season is on Tuesday 8th August when we travel to Thame United for a 7:45pm kick off.