Reserves Come Out Narrow Winners in a Muddy Eleven Goal Thriller
With the first team not in action, all eyes turned to Marsh Lane where the second string faced off against Lustianos in less than favourable conditions.
The pitch was subject to an inspection and despite both goal mouths resembling boating lakes, the game was allowed to start.
Town started the brightest with Haynes and Davies going close in the early stages as both teams struggled (literally) to gain a foothold on a very slippery playing surface. The Lustianos keeper was in fine form and prevented Woodstock from gaining a early advantage.
Indeed it was the hosts who delivered the first blow as Parker was guilty of overplaying in the middle of the park, and taking advantage of a poorly organised defence, the home side launched a quick break, too quick for the chasing Strange as the Lustianos front man Marcelo Rossi rounded Cullen to slot home against the run of play.
Woodstock came back to equalise when Murphy delivered a fine cross from the right which was converted by Patryk Wartalski's head, his first goal for the club.
Woodstock attempted to turn the screw, the Portuguese defence creaking under the pressure being applied. Woodstock were thwarted however by a string of fine acrobatic saves from Chebron, the Lustianos keeper.
However, the home stopper should've done better to stop Jacob Haynes putting Town 2-1 up when a speculative effort from range found the bottom corner for his 6th goal of the campaign.
Lustianos were limited to hitting on the counter, exploiting gaps in the Woodstock defence. It was on one of these breaks that they gained a free kick 25 yards from goal. The resulting effort from Jordi Munoz was fired over the wall and in past Cullen to make it 2-2 just before the half.
The second half got underway on a pitch that was slowly but surely resembling the Somme. This time Lustianos started the better, forcing Cullen to save smartly at his near post and then again coming to the rescue when Town failed to clear their lines
Woodstock were again guilty of losing possession too cheaply and were punished as Lustianos exploited their pace advantage to break though and neatly tucking the ball past an advancing Cullen.
Woodstock looked dangerous from set pieces and were soon level after Ward headed home a Wartalski inswinging corner (with the aid of a deflection) with the hosts undone once again by Woodstocks aerial dominance.
Anyone who has followed the fortunes of the reserves this season will know that they love to make things as difficult for themselves as possible and they didn't disappoint with a mad 5 minute spell where they conceded 2 cheap goals from their own sloppy play. First a speculative 30 yard effort hit the underside of the bar only to hit Cullen on the back and drop on the line. In an obvious case for VAR to be introduced at senior league level, the referee (somewhat predictably) gave the goal and Woodstock found themselves 4-3 down.
4-3 became 5-3 when more sloppy play saw the ball given away needlessly on the right with Lustianos breaking clear to slot the ball home.
With less than 15 minutes to play and 2 goals down, "typical Woodstock" was the cry from the sidelines, but there was nothing typical about the superb response from a young Town side with would've learned a lot from having to play in those tough conditions. Ironically they started to do all the things they were asked to do in the half time team talk! They pressed higher, they played simple football but with a higher intensity. They spread the play and used the wide areas to get in behind the Lustianos back line.
Woodstock halved the deficit when another cross caused confusion in the Lustianos defence, Strange firing home at the second attempt for his second Reserves goal of the season).
Davies went close only for another superb save from Chebron to deny an equaliser.
An agreement was in place prior to kick off that any first team players used would not play the full 90, but First team manager Matty Pike, who was in attendance gave the green light for Strange and Davies to finish the game. This along with the introduction of Robbie Jacques would prove pivotal as within a minute of this decision, Jacques played a pin point pass up field with Chambers combining well with Davies who raced through to power the ball past Chabron to equalise with 6 left to play.
Woodstock were rampant, looking to do the impossible. The pressure finally told with time running out. A series of dangerous Wartalski corners caused panic in the hosts back line and when Haynes flicked on at the near post, captain Joe Knight was able to lose his marker and power his header home to make the score 5-6 to Woodstock and complete the most unlikely of comebacks.
This performance shows what can be achieved with hard work, a never say die attitude and dare we say it, doing as your manager tells you!
What a game!!!