Oakham United earned their first win in the UCL Division One on Saturday since the end of August, thanks to a goal from debutant Peter Shirley.
In fact Shirley scored with just his second touch of the game, controlling it before firing home in the 78th minute to set the Tractor Boys on the way to a 2-1 victory away at Northampton On Chenecks.
Shirley actually lives in Doncaster and has been travelling down at weekends from Leeds University with Sam Linford to play for Oakham United Reserves who are top of the PDFL Division Two. He has scored four goals in two games for the reserves and with Linford already called up to the first team to help ease a growing injury list, the striker was given his chance in the first team and he took it with both hands.
Oakham United manager Wayne Oldaker said: “The lads have come in and done a job and that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we have such a big squad. We used 37 players season because of injury last year and that’s going to be about the same this season.”
Oldaker said the large squad is also there to help the team through periods like this last month when they have played nine games in four weeks.
He said at the start of the year players said they wanted to play every game of the season but it’s just not possible.
But for now Oldaker and everyone at Oakham United are just happy to be celebrating a win after four draws and two loses in their last six league games. The last time Oakham won in the UCL was August 29 when they beat Bugbrooke St Michaels 3-1.
Oldaker said:“It was the ugliest game of football you will ever see. The most un-Oakham game, but that doesn’t matter. It was not about the performance it was about the result.”
“The boys were very happy at the final whistle and I am pleased for them because they are a great bunch of lads and they deserve it.”
Despite the celebrations at the final whistle Oakham got off to a terrible start, conceding to the hosts after just two minutes.
Chenecks fired in a brilliant corner which was punched clear by Oakham goalkeeper Jamie Lowndes but the hosts were first to react and Ashley Ogden hooked the ball over his shoulder to score.
After a poor opening 10 minutes United got back into the match with skipper Robbie Pearce and Adam Rothery wrestling control of the midfield.
On 20 minutes the sides were level. Centre-back Gav Cooke played a long ball forward into no man’s land. It was a foot race between the Northampton goalkeeper and Rix Phoenix to see who got there first and the Oakham striker won the dash to nod the ball home.
Oakham pride themselves on being a footballing side but like their first goal, the winner after the break came from another long ball forward this time from goalkeeper Lowndes, whose long, accurate distribution is a real weapon.
He cannoned the ball up-field and Shirley, on as a substitute for Ben Easson, raced onto to it and finished in style.
Chenecks had chances to level the score but defenders Cooke and Matty Holland dug in and put their bodies on the line to insure they went home with all three points.
The win moves United up two places in the UCL Division One to sixth.
However the victory came at a cost. Lowndes picked up a shoulder injury which the club fear maybe ligament damage.
Oldaker had already received bad news on Friday when he found out talented young winger Sven Hart will also be spending some time on the sideline after damaging his ankle ligaments while at college.
Oakham: Jamie Lowndes, Rick Phoenix, Jamie Maxwell, Gav Cooke, Matty Holland, Robbie Pearce (c), Adam Rothery, Sam Linford (Ash Civil, 65 mins), Ben Easson (Peter Shirley, 70 mins), Andy Sayers, Seb Archer-Fern. Subs unused: Wayne Oldaker and James Dalby.