Scorers : Josh Dutton-Black 19, John Mills 28 & 85 / Sam Wilson 61
Date : Saturday 3rd January 2015 - 3:00pm kick off - Evo-stik League Southern, South & West Division 1
Didcot Town : James Foster, Sam Elkins, Matthew Woodley, Andy Ballard, Luke Carnell [c], Adam Learoyd, Josh Dutton-Black, Jack Self, John Mills, Pablo Haysham (Josh Baines 73), Ryan Brooks (Jack Longford 85). Subs Not used: James Organ, Matt Clark, Jamie Heapy.
Yellow Card : Adam Learoyd 40
Sholing: Rory Anderson, Kev Brewster, Taurean Manders, TJ Cuthbertson, Dan Miller, Macaully Smith (Sam Wilson 55), Barry Mason, Byron Mason [c], Pete Castle (Dan Mason 45), Nick Watts, Jess Walklin. Subs Not Used: Declan McCarthy, Owen Roundall, Jordan Brooks.
Yellow Card : Jess Walklin 85
Attendance : 132
Man of the Match : Dan Miller
Referee : Philip Saynings. Assistants: Grzegorz Kornasiewicz & Roger Smith
The Boatmen put up a strong second half fight, but a late Didcot goal killed off the fightback as the promotion pushing hosts got a deserved win.
Team News: Rory Anderson & Jordan Brooks both were carrying knocks meaning they couldn't take goalkicks, but Dave Diaper went with experience and Rory started in goal. Alex Sawyer was away on holiday and Jack Smith was suspended. The big news was the return of Pete Castle to first team action having not kicked a ball in anger this season. The shock news was that he went straight into the starting line up... up front! The other noteworthy change was that Byron was given back the Captain armband from Barry.
Despite the heavy overnight rain, Didcot's relatively new ground was able to cope better than most with draining it away so the game went ahead on a heavy, but still pretty good surface. Game started with some end to end action, firstly Rory Anderson getting down well to a low shot, then Nick Watts had a flying header plucked out of the air by the Didcot keeper. Sholing were having some luck down the right wing and a cross-come-shot by Barry Mason smacked against the top of the bar. Anderson saved a well executed volley before Didcot took the lead on 19 minutes. Josh Dutton-Black was on the end of a quick attack and the one time Southampton FC youth team player, fired home.
Five minutes later and Byron powered through on goal, but a sliding tackle knocked the ball back to the keeper, with the referee giving it harshly as a back-pass. As nearly always happens with indirect freekicks in the box, Kev Brewster's effort cannoned off the mass of bodies near the line and was cleared. Didcot went down the other end and won a penalty when the forward got goalside of Taurean who clipped him. Rory guessed the right way, but the penalty by John Mills was too powerful and accurate as it found the net. For the rest of the second half, it was all Didcot. Both TJ & Dan Miller had to hack balls clear from near our goal line and the home team also had a shot whistle an inch past the post. HT 2-0
Pete Castle was replaced by Dan Mason for the restart. Rory Anderson was busy again as Didcot passed their way through the Boatmen to create a good opening, but Rory dived away to his left to push it round the post. Sam Wilson came on for Macaully Smith and he scored with his first touch. A nice move down the left by Sholing saw the ball played into Byron's feet inside the box and he touched the ball back to SAM WILSON to drill a low first time shot past the keeper. Sholing suddenly looked full of energy and Didcot looked uncomfortable as the Boatmen dominated the play. Nick Watts picked up the ball on the left wing, cut inside past three players, but his shot on the run curled over the bar. Then Barry Mason turned past his man on the edge of the box, his effort almost squirmed under the keeper, but Didcot were able to clear. There were a couple more scrambles in the area, but Sholing couldn't work the keeper.
Then with their first attack for much of the second half, Didcot killed the Sholing comeback. John Mills found space inside the area and he fired a high shot in at the near post for his 37th goal of the season. With a player of that quality up front, it really makes a huge difference in this league. Didcot were able to see out the remainder of the match to move into 3rd place in the table. FT 3-1
View from the Stand: Can't argue against the result, Didcot could have been 5 up at half time and they have a formidable attacking threat from a settled side and a lethal striker. The second half fightback was pleasing to watch, showed the spirit in the side and the lads kept going right to the final whistle against a good team. There is just a chink of light at the end of the long injury tunnel, with hopefully Pete Castle soon to be back to match fitness to go back into his favoured central defensive role. Once again our substitute forwards made an impact coming off the bench, but what we really need is for them to do that when they start games, to avoid the uphill battles we often face and give us something to defend.
Photos below by Terry Miller