Woodley went into their final game of August looking to get back to winning ways after back to back defeats. Having been drawn away to Hellenic Division One West Malmesbury Victoria, the decision was made to move the match to Rivermoor as Malmesbury’s ground was unavailable.
After an uneventful opening ten minutes that saw the weather worsen and little goalmouth action, Victoria took the lead under controversial circumstances when Andy Baker netted after United cheaply gave up possession. With the lineswoman’s flag up, the ref seemed to initially rule out the goal; however, after further consultation with his assistant, the goal was given much to everyone’s confusion.
Looking for a reply, Sam Guze missed from distance before Woodley’s afternoon worsened when Pele Hagger was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge that later saw the Malmesbury player go off injured.
Midway through the half saw United keeper Pete Davies save from Shane Bumphrey following a headed pass from captain Sam Parker.
Despite the numbers disadvantage, Woodley were at times playing some nice football. A fantastic move that started on the right, deep in United territory, was worked to the left of the pitch and involved half the team ended with a Teddy Thomas shot blocked.
Thomas was part of the next passage of play. Picking up a Guze pass, his low cross was cut out at the near post. Thomas then swapped wings with Freddie Barron as Woodley looked to change things up.
Following a Parker shot that didn’t trouble Davies, a lovely bit of skill out on the right wing by United forward Toby Briggs saw him get away from several players. Exchanging passes with Guze, a promising move came to nothing.
A final kick to the teeth was delivered in stoppage time when Victoria doubled their lead. Taking advantage of Woodley giving up the ball, Parker cut back to Bumphrey who found the top corner.
HT Malmesbury Victoria 2-0 Woodley United
Before the second half got underway, United made a change when Bailey Hill replaced centre back Joe Sissons who took a knock in the final stages of the first half.
The first chances of the second period went to Malmesbury who saw multiple shots well blocked.
Woodley were the better team for the majority of the second half. Thomas and Briggs combined on the right with the former’s cross cut out by the keeper, then Guze forced a save.
Ten minutes after the break United had a fantastic chance to get back into the game when Briggs took advantage of the goalie taking too long on the ball. With the angle to shoot too tight, a couple of quickfire passes in the box saw Sam Wood’s shot cleared off the goal line.
A double change was made two minutes later when Barron and Wood made way for Ben Anderson and Harry Swabey. This also saw Woodley change to a very effective 3-4-2 formation, with Anderson partnering Briggs up top, Swabey on the right, Thomas on the left, Jon Malone and Guze in the middle and a back three of Conor Clarke, skipper Luke Axton-Hall and Hill.
The subs were instantly in the thick of things; Swabey had a shot from the right punched clear whilst good movement from Anderson saw him receive a throw in, spin away from his marker and fire a shot on the half volley wide of the left post.
With fifteen minutes to go, Swabey was cynically hacked down just outside the box. Guze’s free kick went over but he got a lot closer with his following set piece from further out when he hit the bar.
The game was put to bed with ten to go when Baker got his second with a well taken finish. Picking up a Kyle Witt pass, he found the right corner with a low shot.
United showed character in the final stages. Axton-Hall did superbly well to clear off the line at full stretch after Bumphrey had gone round Davies before three half chances at the other end. Guze had an effort tipped over after an Anderson cut back, a back post Thomas header deflected wide for a corner whilst the resultant set piece was headed wide by Clarke.
FT Malmesbury Victoria 3-0 Woodley United