So the season ended with a gallant defeat at the hands of local rivals Hook Norton. The final 5-2 scoreline did not reflect the game, which was considerably closer than that for 75 minutes, before we conceded twice in the last five, having just got back into the game with an excellent goal from Charlie.
It was exceedingly hot and while Hooky sportingly matched our threadbare squad of ten, the benefit of having three subs on the sideline to roll on and off eventually told on a big pitch. However, there was no disgrace in losing and there were some outstanding individual performances with Charlie Maudsley just taking the man of the match award ahead of a whole host of candidates. Special mentions go to Max, Sonny, and Oli who were all exceptional and played some of their best football of the season and to Luke Kelly who gave everything trying to get us back into the game and was simply superb in the centre of midfield. Luke Thompson put in another in his personal series of calm and assured performances at the back and Fred, despite suffering a sore knee, also gave everything for the team across the eighty minutes. We scored two fine goals as well – excellent build ups for both, and lovely first time finishes from Archie H and Charlie.
The game kind of summed up our season where we have played better in terms of performances than we have for a couple of years, but haven’t got the results we have deserved. We have been dogged by bad luck and also being on the wrong end of some really poor officiating at times too. In all, we lost four league games by a single goal – three times in the last minute – and at no time did any team have a comfortable win against us. Having said that we struggled at times to convert enough of the many chances we created in games and AJ’s boxing commitments meant we had to rely on goalkeeping heroics from Oli on nine separate occasions.
We were boosted by the return of JK for the latter part of the season, and Luke Thompson our new signing at the start of the season brought a welcome sense of relaxed quality on the ball that has helped us immensely to play through the thirds – while not vocally an extrovert on the pitch, his influence has been very noticeable on the team and our play.
We had good cup runs, being very unfortunate to lose to Banbury Irish in the KO Cup semi final and getting two excellent wins away at Oxford Mail League teams Summertown and Crowmarsh before losing to a strong Bardwell side in the quarter finals. The curious Champions League Plate competition gave us the chance to score some goals against Launton (9), Chesterton (8) and Brackley (7) as well as a superb revenge victory over a very good Banbury Irish side. If Deddington hadn’t withdrawn from our fixture with them I think Joe may well have finished the season as the leading scorer in the A league, but alas he had to settle for third, just five goals behind the top scorer despite playing three games less. Congratulations also go to Fred who reached double figures for goals for the fourth season running and now has 59 in total for Charlbury.
Other milestones this season included Jamie, Luke Kelly, Max and Sonny reaching the 100 appearances milestone (joining Jake, Joe, Oli and Felix), Fred reaching 75, and AJ, Archie Hawley and George passing 50 appearances. Well done to all!
I’m pleased to say that the majority of the squad have recommitted for next season (we will be in the W&DYFL once again), and I am also very hopeful that Will Pulham and Sam Alvin (both of whom made such an impression when guesting for Charlbury at the Chesterton tournament this month) will also be joining us. A couple more quality players to strengthen the squad still further would also be ideal – suggestions welcome!
With a little bit of luck, some decent officials and some composure in front of goal we have a great chance of a very successful season starting in September.