Town crash in basement battle
Clevedon Town 1 Rugby Town 3 - CLEVEDON went into this relegation match against Rugby Town with a record of six wins from the seven league encounters between the sides at the Hand Stadium.
Clevedon Town 1
Rugby Town 3
CLEVEDON went into this relegation match against Rugby Town with a record of six wins from the seven league encounters between the sides at the Hand Stadium, and with Rugby pointless away from home at the start of the day, the home side were strong favourites.
Things are not always that black and white in football and this match certainly did not go to form as Clevedon turned in another dreadful second-half performance to hand their opponents all three points
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Clevedon started with Joey Evans up front for the suspended Tom Billing in an otherwise unchanged side from the one who put in such a good performance at Oxford in midweek.
As with last week, Clevedon's first half performance was quite reasonable, although it took a 30th minute goal by the visitors' Jed Murphy to shake them up as he latched on to a midfield error to beat Danny Greaves. Rugby had looked the more likely to score up until then, with good efforts by Richards and Brown just going wide, despite Josh Brigham hitting the post after a great run and pass by Danny, and Pete Sheppard's follow-up shot being blocked on the line by Chris Tullin.
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The Rugby goal sparked Clevedon and they equalised just two minutes later when Sheppard finished well after good work by Matt Townley and Josh Brigham on the right.
The second half was little short of a disaster for Clevedon as the drive and effort paled into insignificance as passes went astray and Rugby were allowed to run unchallenged with the ball, and they went ahead for the second time through Sam Young's superb long-range effort in the 52nd minute. More defensive lapses cost Clevedon a third goal as Liam Nicell was allowed to stroll through the defence before slotting the ball past Greaves.
Clevedon had completely lost the plot by now and Rugby could have added another goal when they were awarded a penalty against Greaves; but the keeper saved the shot.
Oxford City 1
Clevedon Town 2
CLEVEDON Town travelled to face Oxford City and in a strong all-round team performance came home with all three points from a deserved victory.
With Aaron Blakemore and Joey Evans unavailable, Tom Billing led the line, and Ben Evans replaced Gary Colborne in central defence.
Clevedon were quick to attack as a Josh Brigham shot was saved by Will Puddy in the Oxford goal, and a Pete Sheppard lob sailed over the bar. At the back Lee Molyneaux blocked an Oxford effort, but Clevedon came back as Danny Wring sent Tom Billing through on the keeper but his weak shot was saved by Puddy.
Sheppard went close again and Puddy could only parry his strong shot, and Craig Loxton was next to test Puddy with a shot that stung the keeper's hands. On 27 minutes the Seasiders made the break through when a Danny Wring free kick found Molyneaux at the far post from where he scored with a deflected shot.
Minutes later Puddy denied Clevedon a second as he bravely dived at Billing's feet to block his goal-bound effort. Oxford started to come into the game for the last third of the first half and Danny Greaves did well to tip a curling free kick from Mark Bell round the post for a corner.
Oxford started the second half attacking with venom and equalised on 46 minutes when a cross found Jonathan Douglas unmarked at the back post where he had a simple header. Clevedon then had to weather 15 minutes of home pressure as Oxford spread the ball wide and attacked down both flanks. Having weathered the storm Clevedon pushed out of defence. A miss-hit pass fell kindly for Billing on the left and his cross was chested down by Brigham to Sheppard a few yards out from where he turned and squeezed his shot just inside Puddy's post to put Clevedon ahead.
Oxford tried hard to retrieve the situation but did not look like scoring again until Greaves was hurt in an accidental clash with 10 minutes left. However the keeper struggled on with a dead-leg and was well protected by his defence as Clevedon ran out worthy winners.
The next game at the Hand Stadium will be on Boxing Day, Saturday December 26, v Chippenham Town.