Ledbury Town Reserves 4, Weston under Penyard 2
Ledbury Town Reserves pulled off a remarkable comeback during a well-attended Wednesday evening fixture at New Street this week, coming back from being 2-0 down after just twenty minutes to score a 4-2 victory over Weston under Penyard in the opening round of this season’s Ross Cup competition, with man of the match Tom Skittery picking up a hat-trick.
Despite the fixture being rearranged to take place at Ledbury’s floodlit venue rather than at Weston’s ground, as had originally been scheduled over a week previously with the game having to be postponed at the last minute due to no referee being available, the home advantage didn’t appear to pay dividends for David Butcher and Nick Blakeway’s young squad at first.
The visitors opened the scoring from a free kick just before the quarter-hour mark, swiftly going on to convert a penalty six minutes later as it was Skittery’s first of three goals scored that night just before the interval which proved critical in keeping the game open going into the latter half of play.
Whatever Butcher said to his young players in the changing room over the break then appeared to work wonders, as a seemingly transformed reserves outfit equalized through Kieran Loveridge barely four minutes from the restart.
Both a Charlie Jones free kick and a forgiving crossbar enabled Skittery to complete his treble, booking his side a well-deserved place in the quarter-finals of the competition against all the odds after such an unfavourable start.
Skittery gained a chance to find his first goal before ten minutes of play were up when his opening free kick was struck past the four-man wall of opposing defenders to be caught by the keeper, before a volley from James Kenny positioned a few yards outside the box cleared the ball away back downfield.
Weston were denied a goalscoring opportunity on a very-much-unlucky thirteenth minute for the visiting outfit when Jake Bramley flagged one of their forwards offside while running the near sideline for the hosts, with the red and black shirts quickly replying by knocking the ball on past Blakeway, taking up goalkeeping duties for his side that evening as the free kick was finished to end up in the net.
Skittery saw an effort slip past the keeper and clip the post back up the far end, and after Tom Reid was forced to exit the field with a shoulder injury to be replaced by Samuel Palmer-Young in an earlier-than-expected first Ledbury substitution, the bad news continued for the hosts as referee for the occasion Nick Fish deemed Palmer-Young to have committed a foul in the box, enabling the opposition to fire home the penalty which further secured their lead.
Butcher yelled at his players to step up their game, with the Weston goaltender having to leap in order to seize the ball in front of an incoming Skittery following a deflection off Loveridge, with the reserves being unable to find anything from three consecutive corner balls on the half-hour mark as a further effort from the hosts was cleared out from the six-yard box.
Ledbury’s newfound persistence eventually paid off however when a well-taken free kick from reserves captain Nick Bolton enabled Skittery to slot in what would turn out to be a game-changing opener for his side, with the hosts managing to escape a further injury worry moments before the break when Alistair Holder returned to his feet after struggling momentarily from the results of an attempted challenge near the away dugout.
George Hackman replaced Bolton over the break as the second period began with a man down this time for the visitors near the corner flag downfield, with Fish soon waving the oncoming physio back to the dugout after deeming no further treatment to be necessary.
A Holder free kick from the near-wing saw Callum Blackmore-Davey, making a welcome return t the Ledbury second string following a bad ankle injury incurred during a friendly against Welland before the pandemic hit, put the ball just wide of the target with his left foot, before Loveridge restored the stalemate by firing home a corner ball which rebounded back out to him.
The regular reserves striker had a further chance denied barely a minute later when a free kick from Jones was nodded away by the defender stood in front of him on the edge of the box, with drama following on the 55thminute when a poor challenge against Palmer-Young saw Fish seeing no cause to issue a booking, despite Butcher entering the pitch to check up on his stricken player.
The hosts’ first substitute player was fortunately able to shrug the injury off, as Jones’ second free kick resulting from the previous foul saw Skittery miss out on connecting with a diving header in the box.
It was a then case of third time lucky for Jones as his further spot kick was nodded on by Loveridge, with Skittery sneaking in round the back and catching the opposing defence unawares as his cheeky chip beat the keeper to put his side ahead for the first time that night.
The Weston keeper put paid to a further strike from the reserves’ star player that evening with an impressive save, before a third Ledbury change of personnel saw Bramley enter the fray in exchange for Loveridge with twenty minutes left on the clock.
Skittery then embarked on a run down the far wing, managing to cross the ball in to Bramley whose effort lacked the power needed to trouble the visiting goaltender, before the reserves’ man of the match struck in more decisive fashion when his shot from inside the box bounced down from the woodwork and over the line to complete his hat-trick.
This fourth goal prompted Butcher to bring Brad Potter off for Jake Clueit as Bolton then had to return to the field for Blackmore-Davey who was struggling with cramp, and, after Skittery eventually retired at a job well done for Jack Dandy to take over for the remaining eight minutes, it was a simply a case for the hosts to close out the final moments of the game to reserves their place in the next round of the contest against Burghill Rangers at The Copse on Saturday 4thDecember (KO 1:30pm).
Before this takes place however, Butcher and Blakeway’s team will be looking to carry this cup success on as they return to their Herefordshire FA County League Division One campaign this coming weekend, hosting lowly Hinton Reserves at New Street before a fortnight’s break sees them entertain mid-table Holme Lacy Reserves (both games KO 2:00pm).
Ledbury’s first team make the lengthy trip to face formidable former Herefordshire League Premier Division champions Clee Hill United at the Knowle Sports Ground this coming Saturday, before Ian Merrick’s senior squad host other title contenders Hereford Pegasus Reserves the following weekend, then travelling to face Ewyas Harold on Saturday 20thNovember (all games KO 2:00pm).
Ledbury Town Swifts, the new men’s third team affiliated to Ledbury Town Football Club as a result of strengthened relationships with Ledbury Swifts Junior Football Club, have a busy November of fixtures ahead of them as they seek to lift themselves off the bottom of the Herefordshire League Division Two table, beginning with a visit to current fourth place holders and newcomers to the league Worcester United Reserves at The Jewry Field this coming Saturday.
The ensuing weeks will then see Richard Thick’s new young side play Tenbury United Colts away at Palmers Meadow, host mid-table Leominster Town at the Ross Road ground, and end the month with a visit to face Credenhill at Roman Park (all games again KO 2:00pm).
Febery brace sees Town score important away victory against former league champions
Clee Hill United 1, Ledbury Town 2
Ledbury Town repaired the damage done by a second Herefordshire FA County League Premier Division defeat of the season incurred at New Street last weekend with their 2-1 loss to Hereford Lads Club Reserves, achieving the reverse result this week as a Ben Febery brace secured an important victory away against former league champions Clee Hill United.
Febery’s opener came courtesy of a tenth minute assist from Tom Boyle as both sides battled against strong and freezing windy conditions at the Knowle Sports Ground, before Ledbury’s opponents managed to equalize at the worst possible time minutes before the interval in a fashion which very much mirrored the two recent losses against current league leaders Hartpury University and Lads Club Reserves.
Unlike Town’s two defeats so far this season however, it was the black and white shirts who took the advantage during the second period when a 60thminute Boyle free kick saw Febery sneak in to retake the lead, despite the previous quarter-hour of play witnessing countless chances for Clee Hill to go ahead.
A battling team performance, which included many fine saves from busy visiting keeper Joshua Worrell as well as some good defensive work from Dale Taylor, allowed Ian Merrick’s determined outfit to retain the scoreline right up until referee for the day Les Coultas blew the final whistle.
Things started brightly for Ledbury under the overcast skies at Clee Hill’s lofty venue thanks to the combined efforts of Boyle and Febery in securing the opener, before an 18thminute free kick from the hosts past the two-man Town wall of Curt Williams and Chris Wickham was assisted by the strong crosswinds to curl into the centre of the box, with Worrell just about managing to get a hand to the ball in order to narrowly deflect the follow-up shot.
Worrell performed further quick-witted blocks with his feet at either post, with Taylor being on hand to clear the danger away in the latter instance as a 24thminute spot kick saw the visitors just about manager to keep the ball out in a much more uncertain and nervy manner following a messy scramble in the box.
A highly-deceiving cross-shot from Ledbury’s opponents from the far wing appeared to have gone in from the viewpoint of some of the spectators braving the cold that afternoon at Clee Hill’s ground, as the ball actually made contact with the side of the netting.
Dwayne Tyndale was then judged to have committed a foul on the half-hour mark, as the resulting free kick from the hosts was helped along by the strong gusts to travel harmlessly wide of the target.
Impressive footwork from Boyle saw the seasoned striker make a run around several defenders and then out to the near wing, with his effort from a challenging angle clipping the near post although not without the diving keeper making contact with the ball to award Town a corner.
The opposing goaltender cleanly caught the set-piece away from Febery on the line as his side rattled the bar back across field, with a 37thminute free kick this time taken by Febery being curled straight into the gloves of the Clee Hill keeper.
Worrell dived to make another good save as Boyle volleyed the ball over the woodwork from close range while under pressure from a home defender, with the visitors squandering a second chance in barely a minute when Curt Williams nodded the ball wide of the far post from the ground with two defenders either side of him in the box.
Ledbury’s failure to find the security of a second goal before the interval was swiftly punished when an opposing striker raced down the far wing on the break, taking full advantage of Tom Trigg momentarily losing his footing to fire the ball home for the equalizer.
Clee Hill weren’t done as the opening period entered stoppage time, with Wickham being required to block a further effort as the hosts put the ball well wide of the target on the rebound, before a further cross-shot from the Shropshire-based outfit soared over the head of Taylor on the touchline before bouncing twice along the crossbar.
This stark warning to Merrick’s men rang all the more true going into the second period, as their opponents dominated the first fifteen minutes but missed chance after chance as Worrell was forced to make a superb catch while under pressure on the line on the follow-up from a 55thminute corner ball.
Wickham needed to perform a covering clearance after a Clee Hill forward put the ball through Taylor on the edge of the box, with Worrell making a close-range catch from a header as home supporters were left aghast as to how their side were not 2-1 up by this point.
This sustained attack prompted Merrick to make a rare triple change of personnel as Asten Griffiths, Wickham and Williams were all substituted for Alistair Holder, Sam Branch and Charlie Docherty, with this big shake-up of Town’s line-up heralding a turning point when Boyle’s free kick made it past the four-man wall of opposing defenders, as Clee Hill’s failure to clear the ball away was ultimately the key factor in deciding their fate that afternoon as Febery snuck around the back to complete his double in cheeky fashion.
The hosts kept the pressure on despite their major setback as Worrell was again required to make another great save in order to keep his side ahead, before Boyle managed to get the ball to Branch as the visiting substitute player’s cross-shot from the touchline saw the ball fly across the goalmouth and only just be deflected in time by the keeper.
Coultas then saw fit to have a brief word with Taylor and an opposing attacker for a spot of argy bargy between the two players near the corner flag on the 75thminute, with the seasoned official then ignoring Ledbury calls for handball despite the Clee Hill captain’s hand appearing to make contact with the ball a few yards outside the box.
After a further shot from Boyle flew narrowly across the front of goal as the prolific striker’s goal drought since the emphatic 6-0 Herefordshire FA County Challenge Cup victory achieved against Hereford Lads Club at New Street over a fortnight ago continued, the red and black shirts chose to make a substitution with ten minutes remaining for them to salvage their game.
Holder then volleyed the ball over and wide after receiving it from Docherty in the box, before Taylor’s free kick ended up in the hands of the keeper after the new Town signing this season himself was felled towards the near sideline.
The hosts made a final change of personnel as Worrell stretched to deflect an effort by just enough of a distance to allow Taylor to make the clearance, and after George Walker came on to finish the game for an accomplished Febery, the match entered a nervy extended period of stoppage time as a further free kick was deflected out to Tyndale, who managed to volley the ball away.
Worrell, seemingly unable to escape injury in recent weeks after he was sent flying by a late merciless challenge from Lads Club Reserves the previous weekend after suffering a blow to the head during the taking of a 78thminute corner ball during the 6-1 home demolition of Wellington Rangers a month ago, with striker Nathan Ince having to don the keeper’s gloves on both occasions, was thankfully able to continue playing after being momentarily felled on the line after the taking of the previous set-piece, with one final foul from Holder seeing one last-ditch spot kick from Ledbury’s latest opponents being sent wide as Merrick’s squad celebrated a highly-significant victory.
Fourth-placed Town, just a point behind Hartpury, Hereford Pegasus Reserves and Lads Club Reserves above them with a game in hand over the third of these table toppers, return home this coming weekend to host none other than Pegasus Reserves at New Street in another challenging encounter, before hitting the road again the following weekend to face Ewyas Harold (both games KO 2:00pm).
A great weekend for Ledbury Town Football Club was furthered by Ledbury Town Reserves moving up a place to ninth in Division One of the Herefordshire League, courtesy of a 3-1 win over lowly Hinton Reserves at New Street.
Man of the match Tom Skittery, picking up his side’s star player accolade for a second consecutive game following an impressive hat-trick scored during the remarkable 4-2 comeback achieved by the reserves at New Street against Weston under Penyard in a rearranged Ross Cup first round fixture just three days previously, added a brace to his stellar recent tally, with returning defender from injury Callum Blackmore-Davey also on target for the hosts.
Marlone Ransome found the sole consolation goal for Hinton as Ledbury second string manager David Butcher was extremely pleased with his side’s performance, commenting: “The lads dominated the game from start to finish, and it was probably the best performance we’ve put in all season. We deserved the win, and hopefully this will carry on to other games.”
The reserves now have the luxury of a fortnight’s break before entertaining mid-table Holme Lacy Reserves at New Street (KO 2:00pm), with a tantalizing quarter-final encounter in the Ross Cup awaiting them on Saturday 4thDecember following their fantastic first round performance, taking on Burghill Rangers at The Copse (KO 1:30pm).
Ledbury Town Swifts, the new men’s third team affiliated to Ledbury Town Football Club as a result of strengthened relationships with Ledbury Swifts Junior Football Club, remain bottom of Division Two of the Herefordshire League with a second consecutive 3-2 defeat away against Worcester United Reserves at The Jewry Field following the same result recorded at the Ledbury Rugby Football Club Ross Road ground against Ross Juniors Reserves last weekend, although with Richard Thick’s new young side continuing to show promise as they seek an elusive first win of the season.
A 25-yard screamer from Nat Dunk made it 1-0 to the Swifts by half-time, with a Clayton Hodges volley from outside the box later restoring the scoreline to two goals apiece with fifteen minutes left on the clock, as the visitors were then unlucky to concede a third goal.
Will Freer picked up a brace for Worcester, with Bradley Wooding also being on target for the hosts as Ethan Cox was named man of the match for the Ledbury third outfit.
Thick was again encouraged by his visiting side’s performance, commenting: “The lads were superb again, and yet again the improvements are clear. Instead of the inevitable collapse when Worcester took the lead, which was typical of our games a few weeks back, the players really dug in to get the scoreline back to 2-2.”
“We definitely deserved something from the game. Lapses in concentration cost us, but against strong opposition who are on a run of form at present, it was another great performance. The win is coming!”
The Swifts continue their busy November of fixtures this coming Saturday with a visit to Tenbury United Colts away at Palmers Meadow, before hosting mid-table Leominster Town at the Ross Road ground the following week and ending the month with a visit to face Credenhill at Roman Park (all games again KO 2:00pm).