Oakham almost fail to capitalise on great start on artificial pitch

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Oakham United got back to winning ways with a 3-2 win over Crowland Town on Saturday on Netherton’s artificial surface.

United moved their own fixture to the 3G pitch in Peterborough to beat the waterlogged pitches.

Oakham manager Wayne Oldaker had no complains with the surface.

He said: “We like to bring the ball down and play and it is perfect for that. Personally I think all games should be played on 3G in the future.

Overall Oldaker was left slightly disappointed by his side’s performance and its repercussions on their league standing.

He said: “It could have been a little bit better. If we had won by four clear goals we would have gone above them in the league. But in the end it was a crucial three points and at the start of the day that was our aim.”

Despite playing into a strong wind Oakham opened the scoring in the 35th minute somewhat fortunately.

Andy Buckle fired in a free kick from wide out on the left but his effort cannoned against the first defender. However the ball spun high into the air and Ashley Clipston was first to react, driving the ball past the keeper from 10 yards out with a firm strike.

United could have been up by more than just the one goal at half-time but squandered their opportunities to score.

However Oldaker went in at half-time happy with his side’s performance. He said: “The first 45 minutes against the wind was a perfect display of how to handle the conditions.

“There was plenty of commitment and desire from the players.

With a switch of ends Oakham had to readjust to the wind at their backs and struggled to find any rhythm.

However in the 60th minute Michael West extended the lead with a wonder strike from 25 yards.

The midfielder latched onto a half cleared ball, heading it down with the Crowland defence in chase before dispatching a powerful shot on the half volley.

Agonisingly he had to watch it first strike the left post and then the right before crossing the line.

Manager Oldaker came off the bench on 65 minutes to replace the exhausted goalscorer.

He said: “He was dead on his feet after putting in a really decent shift.

“He played in defensive midfield, breaking things up and then playing the easy pass. He was very good on Saturday.”

Michael Nelson added a third, neatly chipping the ball in past the Crowland keeper. Moments later he turned creator, driving the ball in from out wide to Eddie McDonald who was just about to strike when he was up-ended by a Crowland defender.

The referee has no choice but to award a penalty. Up stepped reliable taker Nelson. However the normally clinical set-piece taker had his shot saved which sent shock waves through the Oakham team.

Crowland took advantage of the situation and scored two quick goals. The first through their manager Teddy Palin, whose looped shot comically spun up over the Oakham defenders and Nathan Arkle in goal to lodge in the top of the net.

The second goal soon followed when a whipped in free kick was dealt with by Oakham’s Robbie Pearce. However his headed effort missed its target and flew into the goal to make it 3-2.

In the final moments Oakham had to hold on to see out the result.

The win moved them up one place in the league, above Pinchbeck United, to 14th.

Oakham are away to Riverside on Saturday. Ko 2pm.