Oakham United Reserves finished the calendar year on a high with a 3-1 win away at Wittering, who had beaten them 4-0 earlier in the season.
The game was open and moved at a fast paced and within a minute Oakham had a claim for a penalty turned down, when Cameron Sharp appeared to be fouled inside the penalty area.
Wittering played with a very direct style in the first half, trying to use the tail wind and the slight slope to their advantage.
Their early balls through bounced straight to keeper Andy Collin, but inside 10 minutes he was called into action as he pushed away a shot from close range.
Oakham began to press back and while Wittering still had chances, they started creating chances of their own.
Liam Mullineaux and Rik Phoenix saw a lot of the ball on the wings and Sharp and Sven Hart constantly hassled the Wittering defence.
After 23 minutes, Oakham spurned an excellent opportunity to take the lead, after Sharp was fouled by the keeper. The ball fell to Mullineaux and he, somehow, missed an open goal. In spite of this advantage, the referee pulled play back for an Oakham free-kick and George Maxwell’s effort just curled wide of the far post.
Just after half an hour Oakham took advantage of Wittering’s wastefulness in front of goal and got themselves in front after some good build up play. James North won the ball in front of the defence and set Joey Watchorn free down the left-hand side. He drove forward before slipping the ball to Mullineaux, who cut inside and hit a cross-field pass to Phoenix and he, somehow, nicked the ball under the keeper, leaving himself with an empty net to pass the ball into.
Within 5 minutes it was 2-0. Maxwell won the ball in the middle of the pitch and played an inch-perfect, slide-rule pass to Sharp, who showed great composure before slotting the ball under the keeper. Oakham finished the half comfortably, but Mullineaux and Watchorn received unnecessary cautions.
Oakham started the second half strongly, but aside from a few long range Mullineaux free-kicks, they didn’t create many chances. The game became scrappy, with both sides committing a fair few silly fouls.
With 25 minutes remaining, Wittering missed an easy chance from close range and not long afterwards, Oakham made them pay. Collin hit the ball direct and long and after a flick on, Sharp got on the end of it and lobbed the ball over the on-rushing ‘keeper to make it 3-0.
For the next 10 minutes or so, Wittering pressed more in an attempt to get back into the game. The Oakham defence were camped in the edge of their area for much of this time and after a poor clearance, eventually conceded. The final 5 minutes was end-to-end stuff as Wittering created a few chances and Sharp tried to add to his tally, without any success.
Assistant manager Dave Grieve said: “We’re very happy with the win, it was a very open game and at times we had to ride our luck. But, we soaked up their pressure and took our chances when we needed to. We played well on possibly the worst pitch we’ve played on this season and are looking forward to a few home games in January.”
Oakham United: Andy Collin; Carl Brierley-Lewis, Aaron Simpson (c), Michael West, Joey Watchorn; Rik Phoenix, George Maxwell, James North, Liam Mullineaux; Sven Hart, Cameron Sharp
Subs (used): Ben Richards, Jamie Palmer, Martin Owers
Subs (unused): Sam McCall, Nick Buff.