By Richard Holmes
Defeat but could have been so different
We looked to set off the 2018 campaign on a high, following the euphoria of the recent victory, and the team remain largely unchanged with just Matty filling Andy T's boots. It was a hard pitch with an overnight frost but Bloxham started brightly with plenty of pressure being applied without finding any real threat on the Honington goal. 10 minutes in and Honington began to grow into the game with some good passing moves to keep the defence on their toes. Neither goalkeeper had really been troubled when the first goal came, from a back pass that fell in the path of a Honington player who slotted it home.
Some changes in personnel and pressure started to build on the Bloxham goal, as we adjusted to the revised line ups. Honington won several corners that were largely dealt with, we just couldn't sustain enough attacks of our own to cause problems at the other end. The second came from a cleared corner that fell to a Honington player who took a long range shot. Scott blocked the shot but the rebound was followed in and we found ourselves 2 down.
Despite the clinical finishing it didn't feel justified and the remaining 20 minutes of the half saw a more relaxed, attacking Bloxham find their feet. Pushing Matty up to join Andy gave us skill, pace and an ability to hold the ball up allowing the midfielders to push forward in support. It was Dan who found himself in some space and made amends for his earlier error to get us back into the game. This was followed by a shanked effort from a young right midfielder who showed why he's a defender and Ian having a difficult effort from a corner. Dan also did well to give himself another opportunity under great pressure but sadly his shot landed in Banbury but we could go into half time with our heads held high.
The second half started with as we were, for 10 minutes, before changes gave us a fresh look and some fresh legs. It took a while for either team to threaten an opposition keeper but it always felt like an equaliser was within our grasp. The opportunity did present itself when Andy had an effort ricochet back into his path, with the goalkeeper out of position. Catching his left foot strike too well it thundered into the bar when the goal was gaping. This was the start of a number of half chances with Scrap needing longer legs to reach a ball flashing in front of goal. Gary had 3 chances with the last of them taking a deflection over the bar. The game ended with a goalless second half and Bloxham in the ascendancy.
An enjoyable game against a good footballing team. We've now played everyone in the league once so know what we have ahead of us. No question we're becoming a more difficult team to beat and experience is pushing us forward.