10 Man Diddy Fightback For Point
Shortwood 3-3 Didcot - Report by Stewart Unsworth
Didcot’s decent run of form in the league stretched to only one defeat in their last ten as they shared the spoils in a highly entertaining six goal affair at Shortwood’s Meadow Bank stadium on Saturday. The Railwaymen have often started sluggishly; in the first 25 minutes of their thirteen league away matches to date, they have fallen two goals behind five times and have conceded 13 goals in total. However, of those five games they have only gone on to lose twice, a testament to their battling nature.
The first few minutes of the encounter were open enough to suggest goals would come, but the hosts scored from their first clear-cut opportunity. Ryan Thwaite was afforded far too much room on Shortwood’s left and his cross fell to the feet of Nick Humphreys deep inside the penalty area. Humphreys also had too much time and he punished Didcot’s lethargy with a deft finish into the bottom corner.
Diddy had not settled at all and their Gloucestershire opponents seized the initiative by swiftly adding a second goal. Bakare Aliu clipped a well weighted pass up the left flank and Wood forward Joe White raced free. Due to the lack of defensive numbers, Adam Learoyd had to try an effect a last ditch interception but he could only divert the cross past Leigh Bedwell and the two players watched in anguish as the ball dribbled over the line.
The two goal deficit appeared to act as a catalyst for a marked increase in tempo from the visitors and it was not too long before they pulled a goal back. A corner was not properly dealt with but Stuart Cattell did very well to keep the ball in play on the by-line. The pin-point cross that followed was met with a thumping header by Sam Elkins that gave Wood keeper George Burton no chance.
Just as it appeared the pendulum was swinging firmly in their favour, the Railwaymen were knocked off track when they were reduced to ten men. Ollie Thomas executed a challenge that mainly connected with the ball but also caught the man and the two footed nature of it meant that the decision became borderline as to whether he would remain on the field. The referee ruled against the Diddy midfielder, meaning that the Oxfordshire outfit were faced with playing nearly an hour a man short.
Burton, who was impressive in the Shortwood goal and Bedwell traded good blocks to deny David Murphy and White respectively either side of half time but a fourth goal was on the horizon and duly arrived in the 49th minute. Didcot failed to deal with a set-piece but Liam Meredith, on the angle about fifteen yards out, could not have connected any better with an absolute scorcher that slammed off the underside of the bar and into the net.
Didcot’s response was immediate, Marlon Agyakwa was having a quiet game but is a player that can suddenly ignite and his shot was beaten away by Burton before falling to fellow forward Felipe Barcelos. The Brazilian was only inches away from goal but in an impossible scoring position on the right by-line. However, in a quick piece of thinking Barcelos realised backtracking defender Rich Thwaite was at an unfortunate angle and by slamming the ball against him knew it could only cannon into the net.
Chances were coming thick and fast at both ends, Barcelos being denied by Ismail Samyan swiping a clearance against his own crossbar the pick of them. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Diddy were finishing the stronger and netted a deserved equaliser six minutes from time. Agyakwa embarked on a mazy dribble that took him clear on goal and although he did not strike the ball quite as intended the direction was perfect, resulting in his effort nestling in the bottom corner.
Neither side could fashion a winner and the point gained leaves Didcot out of the play-off places only on goal difference, but with most of the sides around them having games in hand. The Railwaymen will be looking to maintain their promotion push and complete a double over rivals Cirencester Town when the rivals meet at the Loop Meadow next Saturday.
Didcot: Bedwell; Elkins; Woodley; Thomas; Cattell; Learoyd; Pin (Reid 46); Murphy (Hayden 46); Barcelos; Barder; Agyakwa (McNeill 88).
Subs not used: Jeacock; Ballard.