REPORT: Oxenhope Recreation 2 v 5 Wetherby Athletic
Opening Day Success For Athletic As They Brush Oxenhope Aside.
Athletic enjoyed the long journey back home knowing that some superb second half football had swept Oxenhope aside 5-2 on their own ground.
Playing in their white strip, it was a nervy start for the Tangerines and with thirty seconds on the clock, anxious faces glanced towards the referee as a coming together between two opposing players left the hosts screaming for a penalty. Fortunately for Wetherby, Mr Margetson waved the cries away.
A throw by Liam McEntee caused consternation in the Oxenhope box as keeper Stuart Devlin failed to collect it cleanly, but despite twisting, Josh Wilson couldn’t connect and the ball was cleared.
Oxenhope responded to Wetherby pressure by forcing a save from Mike Recchia and then moments later a block by Tom Frost was needed to divert a free-kick wide.
Wetherby’s first effort on goal came from Wilson when he latched onto a long clearance and beat his marker. Opting to shoot from distance, Wilson couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Devlin.
Playing well down the left hand side, Oxenhope looked to slip in behind Wetherby’s defence but the combination of Dave McKay and Brain Blewitt forced them back.
Both keepers showed their composure as the long ball provided a chance for each team. Recchia raced off his line and took the ball round the striker, whilst Devlin recovered from an initial slip to beat Freddie Jackson to the ball.
Oxenhope’s centre backs were having problems dealing with both the long ball and Wilson’s pace. Another clearance by Recchia saw Wilson sprint clear, going into the challenge with Devlin, there was an almighty collision that left the custodian rubbing his chest. Despite a bit of hand-bags from both sides, the referee awarded a free kick to the hosts and gave a lecture to several players.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Arran Horton latched onto Wilson’s pass and fired in a low shot that just trickled a couple of feet wide of the far post.
Using the middle of the park well, Oxenhope forced a great save from Recchia when he dived full length to his right and clung onto the ball. Minutes later the keeper was in action again to pounce on a dangerous pass.
Leaving his marker trailing again, Wilson sprinted clear of the defence and it looked like it would round the keeper, but a woeful first touch allowed Devlin to block the ball and clear.
Working well down the left, Joe Whiteley put in a superb curling cross that Scott Nelson could only divert goalwards, fortunately for him, Devlin pulled off an acrobatic save to pluck the ball from the air.
Another superb break by Wilson saw him put in a low cross from the right, sticking out his leg Devlin was able to divert the ball behind McEntee for Keann Shaw to clear.
Recchia pulled off another superb double save on 32 minutes when he blocked a shot from distance and then leapt onto the rebound with James Bailey closing him down.
Enjoying a good spell of pressure to end the half, Oxenhope forced another great save from Recchia as he had to push a dangerous shot from James Longley wide.
The second half started with Horton blasting a half volley over from twenty-five yards out and soon after Wilson smashed a cracking shot from just outside the area against the crossbar.
The game was suddenly end to end and Recchia was forced into another neat save to cut out a dangerous cross.
The hosts rattled the post after the 51st minute when a good spell of one touch passing allowed a shot from the angle.
Collecting the ball from Jackson, Wilson rounded his man and cut across the area, hitting the ball hard, it smashed into the crossbar and bounced down over the line to open the scoring in the 53rd minute.
Jackson nearly doubled Wetherby’s lead two minutes later when Horton and Wilson combined to set him up. Striking the ball well, his shot crashed into the netting behind the goal.
Blewitt and Andy Graham were digging in to prevent the hosts from finding an equaliser and with the industrious Paul Hustwit collecting any knock downs, Wetherby were looking difficult to beat.
Wetherby hit their second in the 58th minute when Graham rose highest to meet Horton’s corner. Powering his header across the keeper, the covering defender couldn’t keep it out and he, along with the ball ended in the net.
In the ascendancy, Whiteley’s teasing cross was met by McEntee, but he couldn’t connect cleanly to steer the ball past Devlin.
It was becoming the Josh Wilson show as the youngster was causing all sorts of problem to Oxenhope’s backline. Jinking past several challenges, his shot was well saved by Devlin before another pass freed Whiteley, but his surging run was ended by a good sliding tackle.
The first sub for Wetherby occurred in the 65th minute when Phil Milsom replaced Whitetely who left the pitch to warm applause from his teammates.
Wetherby were showing their teeth and snapping at Oxenhope as soon as they had the ball and this tenacity nearly afforded a third goal when McEntee latched onto a loose ball, however just as the striker set to shoot, a great tackle by Nelson robbed him.
Shuffling his deck again in the 67th minute, Jamie Gillies made his league debut when he replaced McEntee and he nearly scored when he threw himself towards Horton’s free-kick, but just couldn’t connect.
Powell was forced into a third substitution in the 73rd minute when Frost, who had injured himself in a previous challenge, couldn’t continue and Brad Spencer made his first appearance.
The game was wrapped up in the 76th minute when Gillies was in the right place to slot home follow a parry by Devlin from Wilson’s shot.
Oxenhope weren’t giving up and despite Hustwit trying to block the ball, a shot came in but found Graham in the way.
A strange decision by Devlin to thump the ball clear on the ground from McKay's cross backfired horribly for the custodian, as he powered into the back of his own net to hand Wetherby a fourth in the 82nd minute.
Switching off, Wetherby were caught cold twice in four minutes as Oxenhope scored a good goal at the near post in the 83rd minute and two minutes later the score was 4-2 when a cross wasn’t dealt with and the ball was forced home.
Gaining their composure again, Horton burst through and found the side netting from a narrow angle, whilst Gillies couldn’t fully control the ball in the centre of the area and the chance was cleared.
With the game in injury time, Jackson made the scoreline comfortable when Gillies squared the ball to the right winger who, after his initial shot was saved by Devlin, collected the rebound and scored at the second attempt.
A good opening day win for Athletic who will hope to add to this on Wednesday night when they travel to play Whitkirk Wanderers.
Report by Pete Arnett
The Red Lion Wetherby Man Of The Match: There were several great performances on the pitch with Mike Recchia, Dave McKay and Freddie Jackson putting in superb shifts, but because of the way he tied the Oxenhope backline in knots, a fact that was remarked upon by the spectators behind the goal, this one goes to Josh Wilson.
Gaffer’s Post Match Reaction: “Fantastic performance all round. I said when the fixtures came out that this would be one of the most difficult places to come to and get a result and it has been like that today. Granted it’s finished 5-2, but they played well and were a hard team to play. They are a solid side and I think they will be there at the end of the season.
Once we got a couple of goals and got to grips with the game, you could see the confidence building and we started to play our football. I think to be honest with you, we could have had more than five, but to come here and win 5-2 is a fantastic start.”