Oakham United Reserves prepared for their rematch with PDFL Division Two leaders Glinton, by comfortably beating Hampton Sports 3-0 on Saturday in a match which should have produced more goals.
Oakham went into this game buoyed by last week’s battling win against Spalding Town and looked to take the game to Hampton early. However, after only two minutes of the match, it was Hampton who nearly broke the deadlock, when Luke Handley hit a first-time rocket, low and on target, but keeper Andy Collin dived quickly to his right and palmed the ball away.
Oakham sprang into life after that let-off and soon began to create chances of their own. The first of which came when Seb Archer-Fern was played into the area, but his effort just went wide of the far post. Hampton did try to catch Oakham on the break, but the Oakham defence and midfield held strong and made sure that no major chances were created and this allowed Oakham to play on the front foot for the entire first half.
Despite constant pressing and probing, Oakham couldn’t seem to find a way past Mark Scott in the Hampton goal, as Nathan Arkle headed on to the crossbar and Lucas Alais’ caressed dink just drifted wide.
Oakham’s two best chances of the half came around the half hour mark. First, Archer-Fern won the ball deep in his own half and went on a long, surging, 60 yard run into Hampton’s penalty area, but again his effort just rolled wide of the far post. Had his effort gone in, it would have definitely been goal of the season.
Secondly, Sam Linford twisted and turned past a couple of defenders in the penalty area, despite receiving a couple of kicks and whipped a cross towards the near post, which Will Lee headed home. But, the goal was ruled out for offside.
Between then and half-time, Oakham only created a couple of half chances and couldn’t do anything to break the stalemate.
The start of the second half was the reverse of the start of the first half, because it was Oakham who nearly opened the scoring after only two minutes. The ball was cleared from a Hampton corner and Robbie Pearce raced free on his own into the Hampton half. He was able to head the ball past the on-rushing Scott and stroked the ball first time, from the edge of the penalty area, towards the empty net. Everyone looked on in shock as the ball went past the post for a goal kick, leaving Pearce with an embarrassed smile on his face.
A little over five minutes later, he went some way towards redeeming himself for that miss. Another Oakham drive forward resulted in a bit of a goalmouth scramble and it was Pearce’s blocked shot which fell to Linford, who brushed the ball home from close range.
After the goal, Oakham looked to put the game to bed, but they experienced a lot of similar problems to those in the first half. It seemed that every effort on goal was just drifting wide or finding their way into the keeper’s arms.
Although the Oakham defence was rarely troubled by the tiring Hampton side, keeper Collin did excellently to stay alert and keep Oakham in the lead, as he again got down quickly to keep out Handley’s 20 yard drive, which he created from nothing.
Oakham finally put the game to rest with two goals in the final 10 minutes. The tireless Archer-Fern scored a volley, set up by Arkle’s blocked shot and Arkle coolly slotted home from the penalty spot, after Archer-Fern was clattered by the on-rushing Scott.
Assistant Manager Dave Grieve said: “This was another scrappy game for much of the 90 minutes, despite the fact that both teams were trying to play decent football. The ball spent a fair amount of time in the air in the midfield area, but when we got it on the ground, we looked very good, once again.”
“Seb and Sam on the wings were a nightmare for their full backs and Nath and Lucas’ constant pressure up front meant that their centre halves were always having to rush their clearances.
“Defensively, it wasn’t the toughest game we’ve had, but their striker did cause a few problems and Andy was excellent on the couple of occasions he was called into action - he made two vital saves!
“We’ve now got two weeks to focus on Glinton. We know what we need to do to beat them and we’ll be looking to avenge the defeat we suffered at their place.”
Oakham United Reserves: Andy Collin; Aaron Simpson, Will Lee (c), Ash Chamberlain; Seb Archer-Fern (Jasper Goddard), James Dalby (Rik Phoenix), Robbie Pearce, Joey Watchorn, Sam Linford (Sam Watchorn); Lucas Alais (Nathan Liptrot), Nathan Arkle