PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION
TUESDAY 10th JANUARY 2023
UXBRIDGE 2 SOUTH PARK (Reigate) 2 (HT 1-0)
The Previous Saturday Uxbridge came from behind twice to secure a point at Hanworth Villa, on Tuesday the tables were turned as the Sparks found two equalisers to earn their first ever point at Honeycroft. It’s now six games without a win for the Reds, their worst run of result for five years, and the ambition of a top five finish is going to require a quick turnaround of fortunes. With the inclement weather affecting most of the UK, the vast majority of games had fallen foul to waterlogged pitches. However, praise most go to the magnificent efforts of the ground staff whose hard work produced a perfect playing surface for the teams to showcase their talents. Uxbridge made just the one change from their visit to Hanworth Villa, Anthony Mendy replacing Dan Williams in attack.
Light rain continued to fall throughout the ninety minutes, accompanied by a moderate breeze which was to contribute somewhat to the Reds opening goal. Uxbridge had survived an early scare when Babz Jarra’s clearance was charged down by Sam King, straight into the path of Abel Vendrells. His first touch was assured and with only Tyler Tobin to beat he took aim – Harry Seabrook had read the situation magnificently and slid in to make an important block to deny the visitors an early lead. Mendy went close for the hosts in the 19th minute following a Callum Woodcock corner. The Reds striker collected the set-piece at the far post and let fly with a powerful low shot that goalkeeper Zak Basey deflected wide with an outstretched boot. The wind was swirling around the Honeycroft ground and as Joe Jackson, twenty yards out, looked to curl a shot into the top far corner it caught in the wind and left Basey wrong-footed and desperately grasping at thin air as the shot found the back of the net. I’m sure some in the ground were feeling Basey could have done better with the opening goal, but the Sparks keeper was soon receiving the plaudits of everyone in the ground, except Alan Hedley. The Reds midfielder pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area and hit a rocket of a shot towards the bottom corner from twelve yards. Basey flung out his left hand and produced a fantastic save, pushing the ball round the post for a corner. Alex Witham went close to extending Uxbridge’s lead five minutes before the break – his side-footed effort just clearing the bar from sixteen yards. South Park were far from quiet in the attacking department and Ryan Healy was also guilty of not keeping his shot down a minute later. Firing into the trees behind the far goal from the edge of the box. Tobin got down well to save from King as the clock ticked towards the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. End to end stuff. Half-time 1-0.
Uxbridge had been alerted to the Sparks intentions of keeping the promotion ambitions on track, with their spirited end to the first-half and ten minutes after the restart they were on level terms. Tom Drinkwater flicked on a corner at the near post and two South Park players were left unmarked in front of Tobin. Vendrells was quickest to react, poking the ball home from two yards. The Reds introduced new signing Eitel Goueth just after the hour mark and the former Slough Town and Beaconsfield Town midfielder was soon in the action, playing a part in the move that saw Uxbridge re-take the lead. His run into space was spotted by Jackson who played a perfect pass for the youngster to run onto – he collected the ball and back-heeled it to Mark Bitmead. “Bits” took the ball to the bye-line and sent in a low cross which Basey spilled – Witham was there to quickly take a touch and before anyone in blue could move he poked the ball into the net. The visitors didn’t crumble and went about looking for another equaliser. Bitmead’s last ditch tackle on Drinkwater earned him a yellow card, at the time it looked harsh, but replays show it was probably the right decision. Brendan Murphy-McVey stepped up and sent the free kick, from 20-yards, just wide of the upright. The conditions had a hand in the Reds opening goal and they certainly played a part in South Parks second. A long ball from the back deceived Jackson, it appeared to dip and swerve as it reached the Uxbridge full-back and skipped off the wet surface. Ben Jordan ran onto the loose ball and fired in a powerful shot from the corner of the penalty area – Tobin was caught by surprise and the ball flew past him before he had time to set himself. A shot he would probably save nine times out ten. Both sides huffed and puffed in the final quarter of an hour but were unable to fashion any clear-cut chances to secure all three points. Full-time. 2-2
Having led twice Uxbridge will feel this as two points lost rather than a point gained. However, draws against two sides currently above us in the table could be seen as a step in the right direction. As mentioned before this is a very tight league and a run of victories could yet propel us into the top five mix. Five games still to come in January and who knows?? COYR…..
Uxbridge Line-up: Tobin, Woodcock, Ireland, Jarra, Seabrook, Maloney, Hedley, Witham, Mendy, Osobu. Subs Used: Goueth for Ireland, Bitmead for Osobu and Williams for Witham. Not Used: Donnelly and O’Brien.