A fresh morning at Sibford with a light breeze meant we needed a quick start to warm up and it was Bloxham who started in the ascendency. The ball was being passed around and the Sibford defence had to deal with a number of through balls and attacks from both flanks. Their keeper wasn't really tested but it felt like a breakthrough was going to come. Sibford did grow into the game and their best chance came from a corner that ended up bouncing a yard from the goal line before a Bloxham swinging leg managed to clear the danger. The only real chances Sibford created were shots from outside the box that either Scott could deal with or went wide.
The break through did come starting from Mike playing the tactical 'lose possession on the edge of your own box' as their striker ran to the touchline and tried to play it back but got it all wrong and allowed Rich to complete the routine by collecting the ball and working it up the field to Nick, who played in Brooksy who turned and struck an effort at goal. The keeper made a good save but could only push it out to Gary who was rushing in and put it in the back of the net. It felt deserved and we needed to keep momentum going and avoid the customary lapse of concentration. Tempers did start to flair a little and the rotating refs meant stoppages in play but Bloxham saw out the rest of the half, without any danger and we could focus on the second half.
No changes at half time so we stayed with the 4-4-2 formation that had worked so well in the first half. With the wind in our favour and sun behind us we felt things were going our way but it was Sibford who got out of the blocks quicker and seemed to be looking to play positive football down the middle. Within a few minutes we were all square as a speculative strike from outside the box did no more than bobble it's way through to the corner of the goal.
There was no signs of panic but legs were visibly getting heavier with a bit of an onslaught on our goal to deal with. Ian took a rest to regain some energy for Gary's pending departure, in an attempt to get some fresh legs into the team, with Ant coming on. Before we knew it a second had been scored and we were on the back foot, sadly it was their fresh legs that was making the difference, as they kept their rotations coming giving us more to think about and the 3rd wasn't far behind the second. It didn't feel like game over until a dubious penalty decision gave them a 3 goal advantage and a mountain for us to climb. An inspirational decision from our left back to swap Ant to left back and give Rich a run out down the wing had a immediate impact as our kick off was played out the left, which their right back failed to control allowing Rich to pounce, lay it off to Brooksy who's shot fell to Ian. His clearance took a deflection off the defender which looped it into the top corner and we were back in the game!
It gave us the lift we needed and we found some more space up front and out wide to try and make something happen. Ian, fresh from his rest, made a run down the right and looked to cross but the ball was controlled by the defenders hand; the expected penalty wasn't given and that felt like any come back gone. Brooksy saw a 30 yard strike just bounce wide and Nick had a shot disappear the other side of goal but it was largely Bloxham on the back foot as our lack of substitutes cost us in pace around the park.
It was a hard fought game that could have gone the other way but as always there are positives to take away and we move on to the next one.