AFC Oakley First v Sharnbrook First
After a week off of league duties with last week’s opponents struggling with Covid, Oakley faced yet another tough battle, resuming with a home fixture against Sharnbrook, a young side who had been going well recently.
The Oaks were without captain George Cox (hamstring) and vice-captain Carl Warner (suspension) but welcomed new signing Ashley Henry-Brown and the returning Ryan Bray into the starting XI. There was not much in it for the opening parts of the match with neither team really playing any meaningful football, but the Oaks had the best chances to take the lead. First, the Sharnbrook keeper pulled off a tremendous save low to his right after Joe McDonagh met an inswinging Ali Smith corner with his head. Then, on 20 minutes, Oakley were given a great chance when McDonagh was brought down after a tricky run into the box for a penalty. Shaun Barnett stepped up but was not able to convert and the game remained level.
We were made to pay when Sharnbrook took the lead later in the first half from a set piece of their own. A shot from distance was palmed over by George Ripley for a corner; the first was cleared straight up into the air and bounced out for another, and then Ripley could only save twice before the visitors eventually prodded home for the lead.
Conditions in the first half had been difficult with the home side playing against the hill and the wind, so the message at half time was about showing composure and will to win their challenges in the second half. The aim was to play the second half in the opponent’s half and whilst we managed to do this, we were unable to convert the chances we created. A couple of late corners were not enough as Oakley slumped to their first dropped points at home this season, the first game we have failed to score in. The defeat moves Oakley down to third but it remains in our hands. We will look to improve on a disappointing performance and it sets up a great return fixture away to Sharnbrook later in the season. For now, our attention turns to the Britannia Cup where we host Marston at home next week, a competition Oakley will be keen to go all the way in. COYO