United start season with defeat at an Abingdon side many tip for promotion
By Chris Burnett
Plenty of positives to be taken from opening day as new team getting to know each other net four times
In Jon Laugharne’s first league match in charge of Woodley, United gave competitive debuts to five new players. Toby Briggs, Pele Hagger and Liam Wilson returned from last season to start whilst Ben Clark, Joe Sissons and Luke Titcomb were also included in the starting eleven, returning after spells at other clubs.
On a baking hot afternoon, the hosts started well. Eric Odhiambo saw two shots from outside the box fail to hit the target.
After withstanding a lot of Town possession Woodley grew into the game. Two of the debutants were involved in the first chance of the season when a left wing cross by Chace Jewell found Kai Parton-Edey at the back post who forced Milan Barisic into a decent stop.
Eighteen minutes in saw United take the lead when Briggs through ball picked out Wilson who had timed his run perfectly. With just Barisic to beat, Wilson’s low strike found the right corner past the advancing keeper.
Ninety seconds later the lead was doubled when a cross from Jewell saw Tristan Lawrence get to the ball before Parton-Edey only to head into his own net.
A remarkable four minute spell saw Woodley go three ahead with Jewell once again turning provider. Just inside his own half and with Parton-Edey on the move the winger’s superb pass found the latter who coolly slotted home.
More pressure from the visitors followed courtesy of arguably the move of the match. Starting from the back, the ball was played to left back Hagger who sprinted into open space on the wing before passing to Jewell who in turn found Parton-Edey; but the forward saw his curling shot saved.
Abingdon pulled one back just before the half hour when Anaclet Odhiambo found the left corner from just outside the box.
The goal scorer was denied a second moments later by a good save by United keeper Calum Ellis-Jones.
On thirty four minutes the home side converted a great opportunity to cut the lead to one when Elliott Osborne-Ricketts was adjudged to have been tripped in the box. After picking himself up he sent Ellis-Jones the wrong way from the spot.
A minute before half time saw Town level when Anaclet Odhiambo got his second after a nice run and finish.
HT Abingdon Town 3-3 Woodley United
After being pegged back at the end of the first half, Woodley heads could have dropped. In fact, the reverse happened as Parton-Edey was thwarted by a great challenge by Tom Franklin after the United man had latched onto a Briggs pass.
Woodley came agonisingly close to retaking the lead on fifty minutes when Parton-Edey crashed a shot off the right post after excellent strength to hold off his man.
Town went ahead for the first time on fifty seven minutes when Odhiambo completed his hat-trick heading in a Nick Thorne cross.
Seven minutes later it was four each when Parton-Edey scored a marvellous goal, lobbing over Barisic who was rooted to the spot.
Before the home side could kick off United made a change when Reece Brown replaced Alex Freeth.
Midway through the half saw a crazy passage of play. Woodley right back Jack Parris made three incredible blocks each one better than the last as the ball repeatedly fell to a yellow shirt. The last time the ball was kept out saw a corner for the hosts that Parris then cleared off the line.
After withstanding the siege, Briggs shot narrowly over before two nicely flighted corners from Jewell had Barisic spilling the first and then flapping at the second.
Abingdon retook the lead on seventy six minutes when Odhiambo got his fourth with a fine strike into the left corner from distance.
United made their second change before the game resumed. Ben Clark made way for Michael Simpson. A further substitution was made with five minutes to go when Andrew Gilbert came on for Briggs. This was a big positive for Woodley as both Gilbert and Brown have come through the club’s youth teams.
Town sealed victory with three minutes to go when a nice move in the box involving multiple quick passes ended with Osborne-Ricketts tapping in from close range.
FT Abingdon Town 6-4 Woodley United