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Wokingham Wanderers F.C.
Wanderers 2 Rides United 1
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15th February 2004 - Division 3 - Langborough Rec.

After seven winless matches, the last thing Wanderers needed was a shortage of players. 


With Edward Townsend, Alan Pearce, Owen Holland, Darren Wakeley and Mark Timms all absent, Wokingham were relieved to see goalkeeper Allan Mellor arrive minutes before kick-off to take his place in the starting eleven.  Matthew Elliott joined Dan van der Laan O'Donnell in the centre of defence, Jamie Ryall started on the left-wing and Anthony Prior moved into attack alongside Tom Soane.


Wanderers began well and came close to scoring after only ten minutes when Scott Ford fed Tom Soane, who shot narrowly wide.  All eleven Wanderers' players were battling relentlessly, with Chris Orbell and Jamie Ryall working particularly hard.


Midway through the half Wanderers got their first goal in almost four hours of play.  A fine passing move released Ryall on the left, and his cross was volleyed beyond the Rides' goalkeeper by Prior.


Rides almost replied immediately as a free-kick was awarded just to the right of the Wanderers' box.  The cross moved in the wind and the intoxicated Mellor superbly tipped the ball onto the bar.


Wanderers had chances to extend their lead before the interval.  The first opportunity fell to Soane following Lewis Trusty's thirty-yard pass.  As the 'keeper rushed out Soane's excellent lob drifted just wide of the goal. 


Minutes later  Soane fed Prior who stretched to reach the ball before the 'keeper, however his shot was cleared off the line by the Rides' defender.  Kieron Sherwood then had a chance following a counter-attack but his delay in shooting saw Rides clear the danger.


Wanderers' nearly started the second-half in traditional fashion as Rides came close to scoring.  A rare lapse in concentration saw the Rides' striker shoot just wide of Mellor's far post.


At the other end Scott Ford came close as he linked up well with Soane.  The Wanderers' captain attempted to dink the ball over the onrushing Rides' 'keeper who did well to block Ford's effort.


Clint Falcus was introduced in place of Trusty, and he battled effectively in the midfield and was able to make some key challenges.


With twenty minutes remaining Rides equalised in controversial circumstances.  Ryall's shoulder barge was harshly penalised and the Wanderers' midfielder was then struck on the back of the head, which the referee missed.  When the free-kick was eventually taken, it was floated to the far post and forced beyond Mellor in the Wanderers' goal. 


As time ticked away it seemed that Wanderers' winless run was to continue.  In the 88th minute Tom Soane flicked the ball through and Prior got in front of the Rides' defender, took the ball around the goalkeeper and tapped into the net for a late winner.


The Blues' defence of Hillsdon, van der Laan O'Donnell, Elliott and Orbell had been superb for the whole ninety minutes and there was no way that they were going to be breached again in the two remaining minutes of stoppage time.


This was the lift that Wokingham needed and with a tough match against Tin Hut Ascot next week they will be hoping for more of the same.


TEAM: Allan Mellor, Chris Hillsdon, Dan van der Laan O'Donnell, Matthew Elliott, Chris Orbell, Kieron Sherwood, Scott Ford, Lewis Trusty, Jamie Ryall, Anthony Prior, Tom Soane.

SUB: Clint Falcus (for Trusty).