Season Ends With Win
Mangotsfield United 2-3 Didcot Town - Report by Stewart Unsworth
Didcot ended the season with an eye-catching victory at the Doug Hillard Sports Stadium on Saturday. The Railwaymen’s superiority was not reflected in the final scoreline as they could have run up a mammoth lead with the number of clear goalscoring chances they failed to convert. Instead, they had to rely on a late Ben Whitehead winner after Mangotsfield had turned the match on its head with a two goal burst in three minutes.
The first twenty-five minutes of the contest were pretty even with both defences looking relatively secure, until George Reid wriggled free from his marker and had a clear sight of goal. Unfortunately the effort skewed wide but Didcot were not to be denied for long. Ollie Thomas and Sam Barder combined well in midfield and the ball was shifted quickly to Whitehead in space just outside the penalty area. The Railwaymen’s top scorer took a touch and promptly crashed a low drive into the bottom left corner.
Reid planted a header just wide but the remainder of the half was punctuated by injuries to both sides, one of which resulted in Taylor Janes being replaced by Sam Elkins at the interval. However, going into the second period, it was the visitors who took the game by the scruff of the neck and goalscoring opportunities began to arrive thick and fast, mostly falling to Reid. A header that lacked power, being only inches away from applying the final touch to Sam Barder’s centre and putting another effort onto the stand roof numbered among the misses. Nevertheless, the Diddy forward kept his belief and was rewarded with his side’s second goal. Reid appeared to be shoved to the ground for a clear penalty but with no award forthcoming, Didcot recycled possession and Reid eventually worked an opening. The strike took a significant deflection but flew into the top corner, beyond helpless keeper Steven Phillips.
Callum McNish then smote an effort against the crossbar as the Railwaymen pressed for more goals but the Oxfordshire side were to be stunned when Field netted from their first two shots on target. Matt Groves swept in from close range after Didcot failed to sufficiently clear a corner and Lewis Powell leapt highest at the far post to power a header past Leigh Bedwell.
In between the Mangotsfield goals, Reid had a shot hacked off the line and soon after the scores were level Whitehead had a strike on target beaten away by Phillips but Diddy’s attacking prowess throughout the game deserved a winning goal and thankfully for the visiting faithful, it arrived five minutes from time. Phillips tried to deal with a through ball towards the edge of his area and chose to effect a headed clearance. However, to the Mangoes’ custodian’s horror, the ball fell straight into the path of Whitehead, who merely had to continue his run and bunt a finish over the goal-line.
Didcot’s encouraging end to the season enabled them to accumulate thirteen points out of a possible eighteen and climb to a final position of twelfth in the league. The Railwaymen tended to rack up their wins in clusters, perhaps indicating that their confidence ebbed and flowed throughout the season, but there is certainly enough talent in the squad to expect them to improve in 2017/18.
Didcot: Bedwell; Jeacock; Janes (Elkins 46); Thomas; Cattell; Learoyd; Barder; McNish; Reid (Thorne 84); B.Whitehead; Organ.
Subs not used: Joyce; Parish; H. Whitehead.