Diddy End 2017 With Dominant Win
Didcot Town 3-0 North Leigh - Report by Ian East
Didcot Town signed off 2017 with a dominant victory over local rivals North Leigh on Saturday afternoon at the Loop Meadow Stadium.
On the back of Boxing Day’s thrilling draw at Kidlington Didcot made 2 changes to the starting XI for this game with Josh Pin earning a start in place of George Reid and Louis Joyce replacing Felipe Barcelos in attack.
Buoyed on by a decent crowd Didcot immediately got on the front foot and following neat play by Pin and Murphy it fell to Louis Joyce who from a narrow angle couldn’t get his shot on target, worse though Joyce was caught on the ankle by the defenders last ditch challenge and he was forced off after only 4 minutes. Joyce had to be helped off the field and was replaced by Barcelos whose ‘rest’ lasted under 5 minutes.
The hosts were dominating the game and wingers Pin and Marlon Agyakwa in particular were causing the North Leigh backline all kinds of problems with their forward running and trickery. Pin having his best game in a Didcot shirt put in two early dangerous crosses which North Leigh barely cleared and then Pin was on the end of a decent ball in from Agyakwa but he couldn’t divert his header towards goal as Didcot cranked up the pressure. Agyakwa too was weaving and beating players for fun down the other side and his mazy run into the box took 3 defenders out of the game but the ball just never sat in the right place for him to get the shot away and the chance was gone. That man Agyakwa then did get a chance as he combined with Barcelos down the left flank before cutting inside but he scooped his effort harmlessly over the bar.
Despite all of the forced pressure and nice football Didcot were playing it was from a North Leigh mistake that Didcot opened the scoring. The visitors trying to play out from the back woefully under-hit a back pass straight to Barcelos but before the striker could shoot Dan James made a good recovery tackle but the ball went out for a corner. Agyakwa delivered a decent ball to the front post where captain Adam Learoyd managed to get there first and flick the ball into the roof of the net and Didcot were deservedly ahead.
North Leigh did try to respond and had a brief spell of play where they forced a free kick shooting chance but nothing came of it. They then had a series of corners which Didcot slightly unconvincingly dealt with but nevertheless Leigh Bedwell was still a spectator in the host’s goal.
Following this spell Didcot should have made the game safe before half time, firstly Barcelos did well to create a shooting chance for himself but not for the last time today Manny Agboola in the visiting goal made a flying save to his left then David Murphy who was having another very good game in midfield received an excellent through ball from Sam Barder he did well to initially beat the last defender but with only Agboola to beat he hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper who saved well with his legs. Immediately afterwards Josh Pin found himself clear of the last defender but as he struggled to get the bobbling ball under perfect control he shot from 20 yards and again Agboola saved well to his left and Didcot had to settle for their 1 goal lead at the break.
Half Time. Didcot 1-0 North Leigh
Into the second half and the game continued in much the same theme as Didcot’s front 3 of Pin, Agyakwa and Barcelos were threatening to run riot only to be denied by an inspired goalkeeper for the visitors. Firstly Barcelos got in behind the backline but from a narrow angle was denied by Agboola, from the resulting corner Sam Elkins got there first but hooked his attempt way over the bar. There was no rest for North Leigh who were penned inside their own half and were offering precious little the other way as Didcot continued to press forward in search of the crucial second goal.
The second goal did arrive on 58 minutes when from a rare North Leigh corner Leigh Bedwell confidently plucked the ball out of the sky and delivered a perfect ball forward for Barcelos to chase down the flank. The striker got there first and with North Leigh players desperately trying to get back Barcelos was 1 v 1 with a defender who he beat with ease and drilled an unstoppable shot into the far corner and to seemingly wrap the game up for Didcot.
Didcot didn’t stop however and moments later from a free kick they should have made it 3 when Matt Woodley’s perfect ball in found Elkins head but the defender put his header inches passed the post.
At the other end North Leigh were offering precious little and the only thing Bedwell had to do of any note was stop a mishit shot into the ground which he comfortably caught as North Leigh were having a day to forget.
Didcot then introduced their two remaining subs as the tiring Pin was replaced by George Reid and Ollie Thomas was replaced by the returning Lewis Hayden in midfield.
The one thing missing for the hosts was a goal for Agyakwa who following more dazzling wing play drilled another attempt over the bar, North Leigh were then indebted to Agboola again as Murphy sent Reid clear and when he seemed certain to score with just Agboola to beat again the goalkeeper made a brilliant save with his legs.
It felt like Didcot were lining up to take shots on the North Leigh goal at this point and Barder was next to try his luck picking the ball up on the left hand side before cutting in and curling an effort inches wide from 20 yards. Moments later another incisive attack saw Reid beat two players and unselfishly lay it to Barder who was denied by Agboola to his left and then as Reid tried to follow in was brilliantly blocked by Ryan Paddock.
Didcot did add to their tally eventually when in stoppage time Lewis Hayden won a strong 50/50 challenge on the half way line before finding Agyakwa who in turn sent Barcelos clear and he unlike his team mates made no mistake giving Agboola no chance to make it 3-0.
There was still time for one final chance for Barcelos which fittingly was well saved by the excellent Agboola who had put up a 1 man blockade from stopping Didcot running riot throughout the game. The final whistle blew on an outstanding team performance for Didcot who will go into 2018 full of confidence off arguably their most dominant win of 2017.
Next up for Didcot is a trip to Shortwood Utd on Saturday 6th January 3pm kick off.