Tuesday night’s all-Berkshire clash at the Rivermoor saw two of our sides in contrasting form come out of the encounter with contrasting emotions.
For much of the season it has been Woodley United worrying about demotion from the Combined Counties League Division 1 but their narrow win against Chalvey Sports – who themselves recorded a thirteenth loss on the spin – was the Kestrels sixth win in ten in all competitions.
And whilst the hosts primary emotion at full time will have been one of relief the Stabmonks will be feeling a sense of frustration after a very spirited performance by their young side. The confident home side started well but the first save of the match came from their goalkeeper Andy Walker prior to his opposite number Jake Quelch heroically denying Woodley’s Gary Smith. The former Holyport ‘keeper turned from hero to villain however when he was adjudged to have fouled Kai Stubbs-Alleyne following a diagonal ball into the box and the Chalvey ‘keeper was unable to prevent Woodley ‘skipper Rafa Brandao from the penalty spot.
Quelch made some amends when somehow preventing Monay Mills-Chandler from doubling the lead at the far post before Tony Thompson saw a ‘goal’ for the visitors denied by an offside flag following a rare misjudgement by Walker. An entertaining half ended with Woodley on top and Stubbs-Alleyne was thwarted by Quelch having been played through on goal by the impressive Kaylum Barlow.
The same Woodley duo paired up again at the start of the second period, this time with a more clinical result. Stubbs-Alleyne worked his way down the left and his cross was prodded home at the near post by Barlow who scored his fourth goal in his last seven starts. The game looked to be up for the Burnham-based basement outfit but their youthful side maintained their belief and were rewarded with three minutes left when Connor Suckling plunged to head home Nick Baker’s cross.
The away side threw the kitchen sink at Woodley and had loud shouts for a handball in the box deep in added time before Bryan Taylor volleyed a presentable chance over the top right on the referee’s whistle. With games in hand the Stabmonks have a good opportunity on this evidence to pull away from danger but the wins must come soon. Woodley meanwhile can probably already start to plan for life at Step 6 again in 2022/23.