Oakham Reserves show their class

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Oakham United Reserves won their second home league game of the season and moved themselves into mid table in the PDFL Division Two with a convincing and quite comfortable 5-1 win over Coates Athletic A.

The opening 10 minutes were balanced, with both teams creating a couple of chances, but nothing that threatened either keeper.

Seb Archer-Fern and Rik Phoenix put a lot of early work in up front for Oakham and after 13 minutes were rewarded, as Archer-Fern pressured a defender into a mistake and the ball fell to Phoenix, who drove into the area and drilled the ball home at the near post.

Both teams continued to create chances, with Coates coming closest when a low drive hit the post. Oakham started to press more with Archer-Fern, Phoenix and Stu Lambie all having efforts at goal.

With 10 minutes of the half left a Liam Mullineaux corner wasn’t cleared properly and when he was given the ball back, he took a touch, beat a defender and then drilled a ball in which Archer-Fern rose to meet, heading home from 10 yards.

Oakham had another fright, as Coates hit the post again before halftime, but continued to press and Archer-Fern saw a header scrape the post and go wide, so it remained 2-0 at the break.

The second half started with a high tempo and Oakham had a chance within a minute, as a cross into the area was met by Tony Maher, but he jumped a fraction early and his header came to nothing. Coates went straight up the other end and won a penalty after a foul by captain Martin Owers. Adam Wenham sent goalkeeper Andy Collin the wrong way to pull a goal back.

But Oakham didn’t buckle under the pressure and were two goals clear again within three minutes as some excellent work on the left hand side led to Mullineaux laying the ball off to Phoenix, who curled the ball inside the far post from inside the area.

Coates got back into the game and pressured a bit more and with 65 minutes gone they had pulled another goal back, as the ball was chipped over Collin’s head but hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out. The rebound was headed straight back in and everybody thought Coates had scored, but Collin made a fantastic reaction save to keep the ball out.

Coates began to get riled up and racked up a couple of bookings as Oakham looked to put the game out of reach. With six minutes remaining, substitute Connor Sharkey set Phoenix clear down the right and he tried to put the ball back across the area to give Sharkey a tap-in, but the Coates keeper turned the ball into his own net instead.

Oakham completed the rout with two minutes to go as Sharkey sent Phoenix free again and he took the ball past the keeper before slotting it into an empty net to complete his hat-trick. Owers thought he’d made amends for conceding the penalty by scoring from close range with the last kick of the game, but the referee blew the final whistle as he struck the ball.

Assistant manager Dave Grieve said: “We looked sharper this week than in previous weeks and it was nice to get a few goals after going five games without a goal.

“The defence was solid, the midfield broke up a lot of the opposition’s play and the forwards looked dangerous and were constantly pressuring the defence.

“We’ve got to build on this now, with two home games on the spin.”

Oakham United Reserves: Andy Collin; Adam Clark, Martin Owers (c), Ben Richards; George Maxwell, Stu Lambie, Tony Maher, James North, Liam Mullineaux; Rik Phoenix, Seb Archer-Fern

Subs: Aaron Simpson, Carl Brierley-Lewis, Connor Sharkey, Michael West, Sven Hart