Saints struggle to get past improved Long Crendon

Southam United were given a fright when twice having to come from behind to overcome Long Crendon Reserves, with a late winner from Ethan Champkins securing all three points, writes David Hucker.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 1:58 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 1:28 am
Levi Steele fires home for Southam United. Picture: Lou Smith

Having come away with a 7-0 win when the two teams met in Oxfordshire earlier in the season this looked, on paper, to be a pretty straightforward assignment but things did not go according to plan as the visitors took the lead on the half-hour.

Chidilim Okolo put Saints back on level terms with his fourth goal of the season in the 36th minute but there was another shock in store when Long Crendon got a second to go in at the break with a 2-1 lead.

Two half-time substitutions saw Saints step up a gear and leading scorer Levi Steele brought them level again in the 65th minute. Playing with ten men after captain Brandon Smith was banished to the sin-bin for dissent, Champkins saved their blushes with a last-gasp winner.

With Adderbury Park losing their unbeaten record in a surprise 3-2 home defeat to Heyford Athletic and second-placed Headington Amateurs also going down, Saints ended the day four points ahead of Woodstock Town, with both clubs having played 13 matches to reach the half-way point of the season.

“A classic game of two halves, where we were really poor and lethargic in the first and, after a frank team talk and two changes in the line-up, excellent in the second,” said Kay.

“We threw the kitchen sink at them to not only get back in the game but turn it around completely to win. We all knew the significance of the goal and it sparked some big celebrations on and off the pitch.

“We haven’t been behind in a game since late September, so the players looked a bit shell-shocked.

“Credit to Long Crendon, as they were much improved and had a different squad of players that were hard working and organised and, for them, as with every club we play now, we are at the top and the team to beat.”

Saints will be seeking their tenth win in a row on Saturday against bottom-of-the-table Risborough Rangers Reserves. Kick off at Southam College is 2.15pm and admission is free.