In a tense and full-blooded encounter as was to be expected in a match which was both a local derby and a semi-final, Woodcote won by the narrowest of margins to go through to the final of the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup.
A crowd of nearly 120 spectators on the Village Green helped to create an electric atmosphere. The windy conditions and the occasion meant that throughout the match good football was at a premium and the excellent referee was forced to use his whistle regularly to signal fouls.
Berinsfield were marginally quicker out of the blocks and might have taken the lead after 8 minutes, but somehow a forward manged to shoot over from close-range with the goal at his mercy.
Shortly afterwards, Mike Mattimore had the ball in the net for Woodcote but was ruled offside. The next clear chance fell to Berinsfield from a free-kick and Woodcote were fortunate that keeper Steve McMullen was in top form as he dived to save the shot and then managed to block the follow-up.
Eventually it was first-blood to Woodcote after 35 minutes. Mike Mattimore was the provider as he left defenders sprawling in his wake only to see his shot blocked, but the ball rebounded to Matt Ploszynski who fired home an unstoppable shot.
The second half was less than a minute old when Berinsfield levelled the score with a close-range shot and soon afterwards, Steve McMullen was again called-upon to make an excellent save to deny the visitors the lead.
On 55 minutes, the tie appeared to have turned in Woodcote’s favour as Berinsfield were reduced to ten men. Joe Webber was clean through and bearing down on goal when he was brought down and the offender was shown a red card.
Webber soon found himself in a good position again, but he was thwarted by a brilliant save. Berinsfield refused to lie-down in spite of the numerical disadvantage and on the hour mark they were awarded a penalty for a foul by Ryan Corbett. The penalty was a good one, but Steve McMullen’s save was outstanding.
With 10 minutes remaining, Woodcote scored the decisive goal and it owed everything to long-serving twins Frank and Jake Dillon. Frank’s inch-perfect free-kick found Jake whose back-header found the net, the keeper having rushed from goal and failing to make contact.
The home side then found themselves reduced to ten men as Ofari Boateng was shown a second yellow card for a foul. The last ten minutes were nervous ones, and it took yet another great save from man-of-the-match Steve McMullen to see Woodcote through to the final, where they will play Easington Sports on a date and at a venue yet to be decided.
An interesting historical coincidence is that the last time Woodcote played in this final (and won the cup) was in 1976 when they played Easington Sports with club President, Sam Peates and club groundsman, Stuart Higley, in the team.