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FOOTBALL: Didcot's fighting spirit earns a deserved point
8:00am Monday 16th December 2013 in Non League
Didcot Tn 2
(Whitehead 31, Mills 78)
Mangotsfield Utd 2
(Powell 5, 70)
Didcot Town twice came from behind to earn a draw against high-flying Mangotsfield United in Calor League Division 1 South & West at a windswept Draycott Engineering Loop Meadow on Saturday, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
Ben Whitehead first cancelled out Lewis Powell’s early opener in the first half, before John Mills levelled 12 minutes from time after Powell had edged the visitors in front once more.
Mangotsfield had the advantage of the wind behind them in the first half, and almost benefitted immediately when England futsal captain Luke Ballinger’s wind-assisted free-kick drifted inches wide after two minutes.
But the visitors didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough.
Didcot captain Sam Elkins put goalkeeper Alex Williams under pressure with a poor backpass and his attempted clearance fell to Powell, who immediately curled it into the net.
Didcot, who gave a return debut to Josh Dutton-Black, newly- signed from North Leigh, were struggling to cope with the conditions, but they did create chances of their own, Mills and Nick Thorne both going close.
But they had the fingertips of Williams to thank for keeping them in the game midway through the half as he responded excellently to tip Jamie Reid’s powerful strike over the bar.
And the visitors were ruing their luck just moments later when Whitehead’s long-range effort snuck into the bottom corner to draw the hosts level against the run of play.
Mangotsfield goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer almost restored the visitors’ lead in bizarre fashion when his long free-kick caught a gust of wind and almost lobbed Williams at the other end.
The hosts survived the scare and came out for the second half with the wind at their backs, but soon found themselves on the back foot once more.
Williams got down well to deny Powell a second goal, but it wasn’t long before the striker doubled his tally, prodding in from Ashley Williams’s cross.
Didcot responded well to falling behind and levelled again when Mills bundled the ball over the line at the back post after Michael McKirnan’s centre had been headed into his path.
And despite heavy pressure in the closing stages the hosts were unable to find a winner.
The final whistle wasn’t the end of the drama, however, when McKirnan went down in the centre circle having allegedly been punched by an opponent, which was followed by ugly scenes as the sides brawled in the tunnel.
Didcot Tn: Williams, J Parish, Janes, McKirnan, Elkins, S Parish, Dutton-Black, Longford, Mills, Whitehead, Thorne (Baines 87). Subs not used: Thomas, McDonald.
Referee: A Gillett.
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