Bure Park 3 – Quarry Rovers 2
Sunday 8th January 2017
I know this has been a difficult season and we have been on the wrong end of some scorelines which did not tell the story of the match, but I cannot work out how on earth Quarry managed to lose this. After a three week break, Alex had a nearly full squad of 15 players (missing only Adam and Haider) eager to blow off the cobwebs on a mild January afternoon in the shadow of Bicester Village.
The first surprise of the game was that Quarry went ahead in the first minute: Azlan thought about a shot but instead fed Faizaan on the right wing; he cut inside, his first shot was blocked, but the rebound came straight back and he made no mistake with his left foot in at the near post.
The second surprise was that Quarry managed to hold on to their lead for the entire first half; indeed a third surprise was that they didn’t score more goals. Azlan’s bobbling cross was missed by Jacob then met by Sultan who blazed it into the cemetery from close range, and Jacob made a great header from a corner but unfortunately the Bure keeper was in the right place. It wasn’t all one-way traffic but generally Quarry were playing the better football and looked more likely to score, but there weren’t that many clear chances. The home team were restricted to the odd chance on the break, but didn’t seem to be able to hit the target or found Ollie in the way.
Even more surprising is that Quarry scored again just after half time, Azlan feeding Jacob on the left whose shot the keeper could only palm into the path of Faizaan who calmly finished to make it 0-2. Where the first half was a bit of a midfield battle, the second half became a breathless end-to-end affair: Bure broke down the left, Ollie came out but could only get a glove on the shot which was destined for the goal only for Joe to charge back and hoof it off the line; Azlan’s towering header from a corner crashed off the bar; and Ollie stood tall on the edge of the box to make a great save.
Then the footballing Gods decided that things were going too well and decided to take a hand – the linesman flagged Bure offside, Joe picked up the ball for the free kick, but missed the fact that the Ref hadn’t blown his whistle. A penalty was the only possible decision, but it was a bizarre one. Anyway, the shot was low to Ollie’s right, he got a hand to it but not enough to stop it going in.
For a while after this, Quarry seemed to lose their shape and confidence. Where they were comfortable on the ball in the first half, they seemed hurried and passes started going astray. Bure Park pulled it back to 2-2 on the half hour mark after two Quarry defenders went for the same cross, missed it, and left the Bure Park left wing loads of space to curl his shot in from the left side of the box.
Seeing three points slipping away seemed to galvanise Quarry – another Azlan header from a corner rocketed just over, then Azlan and Faizaan combined to force a point blank save from the Bure keeper. Bure Park weren’t settling for a draw either, and continued to attack up the hill. With 10 minutes to go, the left wing was allowed far too much space and time to cross, which found an unmarked forward who blasted it into the top corner for Bure Park to take the lead 3-2.
This was an injustice too far, and Quarry proceeded to lay siege to the Bure Park goal. Unfortunately they found the Bure goalie in sparkling form to deny Faizaan three times in quick succession. Then, when it seemed as though nothing would go their way, Sultan ended up on the floor in the area and the Ref pointed to the spot. Azlan struck it well, but too close to the keeper, who kept it out.
If the away supporters felt gutted at the final whistle, one can only imagine how the players felt. Quarry had more chances, and for most of the match outplayed the home team (Xander seemed to scare the daylights out of them, repeatedly picking up the ball and skipping through challenges as if the ball was glued to his feet) but three lapses of concentration at the back cost them the game.
Next up – the local derby against top of the League Headington Youth. Not one for the faint hearted.
[This report is entirely the product of bias and prejudice; any errors are due to failing eyesight]