FOOTBALL: Oakham move three points closer to safety

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Oakham United 2 Crowland Town 0

SUPERB strikes from Tony Maher and Richard Nelson have pushed Oakham United three points closer to safety in the Peterborough and District League’s top flight.

United beat Crowland Town 2-0 on Tuesday evening to claim all three points and, together with the points that they expect to be awarded by the league after Oundle failed to fulfil a recent fixture, Oakham are pulling away from the basement pack.

A goal towards the end of each half rewarded a dominant Oakham performance at the Catmose College, during which goalkeeper Shane Hicks was largely untroubled.

Maher put Oakham deservedly ahead just before the break. Jamie Forbes freekick from midway fell to Maher on the edge of the box and he volleyed into the top left corner beyond Crowland’s diving keeper.

United should have secured the points far earlier than they did but, as has been the case too often this season, they lacked the killer touch. Michael Nelson, Will Lee and Tom Caldicott all had chances to break the deadlock before Maher’s goal and further chances came and went in the second half kick, including an audacious attempt at a bicycle kick from Nelson.

Substitute Richard Nelson finally secured Oakham the points with a shot from 30 yards that bent away from the keeper as it nestled into the bottom corner with five minutes remaining.

Oakham joint boss Pat Johnson said: “Eddie and Stu bossed the game in midfield and I thought we played well at the back. Their only real chances were from set pieces.

“We created lots of chances and I thought we played well at the back and should have scored more.”

It was a similar case on Saturday when Oakham lost 4-1 to Netherton but could have been ahead at the break.

Johnson said: “It was 0-0 at half-time but we should have been two up.”

A careless ten minute spell in the second half then cost Oakham the game. Michael Nelson scored at the wrong end to put Netherton ahead and Oakham then fell asleep, quickly conceding two more. Netherton later added a fourth, catching Oakham on the break, before Will Lee netted a consolation for the Rutlanders.

United’s final home game of the season is against Eye Sports at the Catmose College at 3pm on Saturday.

Oakham (v Crowland): Shane Hicks, Craig Welbourne, Jamie Paff, Tom Bain, Jamie Forbes, Stu Lambie, Eddie McDonald, Tony Maher (Richard Nelson), Will Lee (Nathan Arkle), Tom Caldicott, Michael Nelson.

Match sponsor: Croft Bakery. Ball sponsor: Crucial.

Oakham (v Netherton): Shane Hicks, Darren Golding, Tom Bain, Jamie Saddington, Jamie Farr, Tony Maher, Jamie Forbes, Michael Nelson, Stu Lambie, Will Lee, Tom Caldicott. Subs: Nathan Arkle, Mark Gamble.

Match sponsor: Moat House Furnishings. Ball sponsor: Ball Admiral Hornblower.

OAKHAM’s reserves slipped to back-to-back defeats this week, losing 4-1 at Woodston on Saturday and then 3-0 to division two title-contenders Ryhall United on Tuesday.

Ryhall went ahead though a first-half penalty, scored by the prolific Ricky Pozella for his 50th goal in 44 games for the club.

Antony Sheehan doubled the lead, finishing a swift counter attack, and Pozella slammed home a free kick midway through the second half to round off the victory.

At Woodston, Oakham started well and had the better of the first half, and Jack McDonald thumped a fine strike against the post. But too often, they lacked composure in and around the box, and this cost them dearly.

Woodston went ahead before the break and before Oakham could get a kick in the second half, the lead was doubled.

A sweetly struck free kick by Gary Rix reduced the arrears but as Oakham pushed for an equaliser the hosts caught them out twice in the final 10 minutes.

Oakham (v Ryhall): Collin, Short, Reeson, Bottomley, Clapton, Smith, Chamberlain, Hibberd, Nicholls, Rix, Steele, Smith, Simpson, Dear.

Oakham (v Woodston): Collin, Smith, Reeson, Seagrave, Clapton, Smith, Nicholls, McDonald, Short, Perry, Steele, Rix, Simpson.

Oakham’s A team suffered a heavy 7-1 loss away against Farcet Reserves.

OAKHAM United A suffered a heavy defeat at Farcet despite starting strongly on Saturday.

United were two down at the break but shipped five more before Carl Simpson’s late consolation from 25 yards.

Oakham: S Busby, E Garden, M Owers, C Ward (D Grieve), J Twose, S McCall, M Roythorne, B Dickinson, C Simpson, L Mullineaux, C Baird (C Brookes).