It’s been a strange old week and one of juxtaposition which illustrates just how frustrating a season Town have had.
A humiliating second half performance on Tuesday against Adderbury didn’t give portence for what would turn out to be a spirited response to what one spectator described as a “shower of s**t” in midweek.
On paper at least, it was a weakened squad made the journey to Newent. Knight came back in to the squad after making himself unavailable the previous weekend, Charlie Collins passed a late fitness test (hamstring) as did Will Spackman and Ryan Chambers (calf and knee respectively). Ben Curley came back into the squad foronly the second time this season.
On a hard pitch and in blistering heat, then game kicked off and it was a fast paced opening exchange. Josh Cullen saved well at the feet of a Newent player after Emmett misjudged a high pass. Jacob Haynes saw an effort well saved at the near post by the Newent keeper.
Hawkins was able to exploit the space on the right side but was not able to provide the final product, blazing high and wide after breaking through the back line.
Newent had a very animated and tenacious Romanian forward who harassed and harried the Woodstock defence at every opportunity but was kept at bay in the early stages by Shaun Pike.
Neither side threatened but the breakthrough came on 34 minutes when a foul 25 yards out resulted in a free kick which left Cullen rooted to the spot and it flew in to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
As the half wore on, Newent increased the pressure, not helped by some poor decision making from Town, but they managed to see the half out without conceding again. Most importantly, Newents Romanian striker received a yellow card for a needless and wreckless challenge on Chambers (seen straight reds given for less).
Despite going in 1-0 down, there were plenty of positives and Woodstock were out early waiting to get started.
From the restart, the belief and desire was abundantly clear with Woodstock dominating from the early stages. It took a series of fine saves from Newent’s stand in keeper to prevent an equaliser.
The midfield pair of Collins and Simmons began to impose themselves on the game and linked in well with Kev Pike who played in the typical ‘number 10 role’ to link up play and pull the strings. Indeed he was able to skip through the Newent defence only to be denied by another top drawer save.
Newents efforts were restricted to a free kick that struck the bar as Woodstock had all the pressure and possession. Woodstock had a free kick of their own but Chambers’ effort sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Matt Richards put on a fine display on the left wing, giving the Newent full back a torrid time, twisting and turning his way into the box but could not provide the final pass not any meaningful effort on goal.
Newent were denied the chance to go 2 up when Will Spackman heroically blocked on the line when really Newent could and should’ve put the game beyond Woodstock.
In the 55th minute, Hawkins was forced to come off with injured toes to be replaced by Curley. It took a while for him to get into the game and make an impact but when he did, not was it an impact! Kevin Pike threaded a ball through to split the Newent rearguard which Curley siezed on, skipped past two players and slotted the ball home for his first of the season.
Newent were forced to play the last 20 minutes with 10 men after their Romanian hot head was given a second yellow for another late challenge, this time on Collins who was taken out whilst flicking on a header. There was a delay whilst the carded player refused to leave the pitch, a delay which would ultimately cost Newent dear.
Woodstock cranked up the pressure, introducing Hugo Kelly, forcing a series of late corners but could only hit the cross bar. More pressures and a 91st minute corner to Woodstock saw Matty Pike go all in, bringing Joe Knight off the bench for his aerial prowess and it was this additional pressure that allowed young centre back Will Spackman to power a header home right at the death to make the score 2-1 to Woodstock in the most dramatic of fashions and to give Woodstock their second away win of the season.
The Reds truly deserved the win on the balance of play with the polar opposite sending half performance compared to Tuesdays debarcle. Everyone played their part and it was a real team effort with a positive attitude and team spirit in abundance.
It’s a shame we couldn’t have done this consistently for the past 9 months!!!
Next up, we travel to Bourton Rovers for our final league game looking to go out on a high
Cullen, S Pike (Kelly 70), SPACKMAN, Emmett, Chambers (Knight 89), Collins, Simmons, Richards, Hawkins (CURLEY 55), K Pike, Haynes
Unused: M Pike & Walker
MOTM: Spackman - worked hard, covered well, vital goal line clearance and the last minute winner (his first for the club). An eventful day for the young centre half