Sometimes in football, you don’t get what you deserve, that has been the story of Woodstock’s season so far and was accurately illustrated on Saturday as they went down 2-1 at home despite having the lions share of possession and play for the whole 90 minutes.
It was a very unfamiliar Woodstock side that lined up before the game with Josh Cullen pulling out in the warm up after injuring his wrist meaning that centre half Will Spackman had to put on a pair of gloves and start in goal. This compounded a string of late withdrawals from the squad which meant it really was ‘bare bones’ for Town.
It was nip and tuck in the early stages without either side really creating a chance of note and neither keeper tested. The first flashpoint decision came in the 10th minute when Bradbury lost possession of the ball in the Woodstock half and in an effort to win back possession, lunged in dangerously on Hugo Kelly over the top of the ball with two feet. It was clear that the intention was to play the ball but rules being ruled, the referee was left with no choice but to send him off, leaving the visitors with 10 men for the next 80 minutes.
Faringdon were well organised despite having less players on the field and made it hard for Woodstock to break them down. Indeed it was Faringdon with the first clear cut chance forcing a fine one on one save from Spackman on the edge of the area.
Woodstock has chances through MacBryan, Hawkins and Pike but without luck. As the half wore on, Woodstock became more dominant and if it wasn’t for some last ditch defending and a fine save from the Faringdon keeper, they would have gone in at the break with a deserved lead.
The second half was all Woodstock who harried and pressed, forcing several saves from the Faringdon stopper. The timely intervention of the post also prevented Town from taking the lead.
The pressure finally told as Pike was brought down twice in the area with the referee finally deciding to point to the spot on the second trip. Alex MacBryan made no mistake from the spot with a calm but powerful strike.
Charlie Collins then saw his effort hit the bar then post, Kelly missed a sitter slotting wise from 3 yards and several more fine saves prevented Woodstock from doubling their lead and being rewarded for their unrelenting pressure.
Town thought that they had doubled the lead on 73 minutes when Nathan Emmett slotted home Charlie Collins’ cross only for a somewhat dubious offside decision from a very partisan linesman (oh for the days of neutral officials) Woodstock players surrounded the referee pointing out the foul inside the box in the build up when Charlie Collins was cleaned out as he crossed the ball in. However referee decided to interpret the laws of the game in a unique way and said that the offside was the first offence despite the foul seconds earlier (for which it is worth adding he was observed to wave advantage).
With no goal and no penalty, the predicatbale (typical Woodstock luck) happened and Faringdon immediately went up the other end of the field (helped by a less than partisan Woodstock linesman who missed the 3 yard offside according to many a spectator, oh for the days of competent officials) and equalised with a deft lob over the on rushing Spackman.
Despite the set back, Woodstock continued to press in the later stages but were left cursing their failure to convert the pressure with 5 minutes remaining, a speculative through ball hit a bobble in front of Spackman, who missed his clearence and allowed James in to finish off the most undeserved of comebacks. Just one of those things with the keeper not to blame but is indicative of the luck and lack of reward Woodstock have had this season.
The game ended in an odd manner with another ‘unique’ interpretation of the laws by the official. After awarding a foul on the edge of the area, and spending 2 minutes taking to the offending player and a further minute ensuring the wall retreated the full 10 yards, blew for full time thus preventing any advantage for being fouled and allowing the kick to be taken! That’s a head scratcher!!
Hats off to Faringdon who showed character to still be in the game so late on and who refused to bow to pressure applied by the home side but once again, Woodstock get nothing from a game they could have and should have won. You make your own luck when you’re down at the bottom, which is where Woodstock remain with 6 games left to end the season with a bit of pride.
Next up is Brimscombe and Thrupp against whom Woodstock recoded their only win of the season so far. Town will be looking to repeat the feat on Saturday to reduce the gap to the other teams at the bottom.