Date: 17th November 2018
Kidlington 6-1 Yaxley
Southern League Division 1 Central
Kidlington FC - History
Kidlington were founded in 1909, initially playing in village leagues before joining the Oxford City Junior League after World War 2. In 1951, the club moved up to the Oxfordshire Senior League and finished as champions in the 1952/53 season, before moving up to the Hellenic League in 1954 and being placed in its Premier Division when a second division was added in 1956. In the 1961/62 season, the club finished second-from-bottom and were relegated to Division 1, remaining at this level for two seasons before earning promotion back to the Premier Division.
Relegation back to Division 1 occurred again after just two seasons and, after league reorganisation in the 1971/72 season, the club were placed in Division 1B, before Division 1 reverted back to the one division for the following season. It then took until the 1978/79 season for the club to earn promotion back to the Premier Division, a runners-up finish once again sufficient. However, the club only lasted three seasons in the Premier Division before being relegated back to Division 1 again.
The club then spent the next two decades in Division 1, moving into Division 1 West when Division 1 was further regionalised in the 2000/01 season. Eventually, the club finished 3rd in Division 1 West in the 2004/05 season, and this was enough to earn promotion back to the Premier Division for the first time in 23 years. The club then spent the next decade in the Premier Division before winning the title in the 2015/16 season to earn promotion to Step 4 for the first time. The club were then placed in Division 1 Central of the Southern League and finished 12th, before being transferred to Division 1 West the following season and again finishing 12th. At the start of this season, the club were transferred back to Division 1 Central again.
In the FA Cup, the club have twice progressed as far as the 2nd Qualifying Round: in the 2015/16 season, they beat Ascot United, Chertsey Town and Godalming Town before losing to Gloucester City; in the 2017/18 season, the club beat Wantage Town and St. Margaretsbury before losing to Paulton Rovers. In the FA Trophy, the club won for the first (and currently only) time in the competition in the 2017/18 season to reach the 1st Qualifying Round, beating Winchester City before losing to Slough Town. As for the FA Vase, the club made it all the way to the Quarter Finals in the 2015/16 season, beating Ashford Town (Middlesex), Deal Town, Thame United, Knaphill and Cleethorpes Town before losing in a replay to Bowers & Pitsea.
With this being one of the grounds that I could feasibly access from University for a Yaxley away game, my visit was inevitable and set in stone as soon as the fixture list was released and, to make matters even better, it fell at a time when continuing strikes on South Western Railway meant that my easiest option was to head out west towards Reading and Oxford. It was then just a matter of if Matt would be able to join me or not; when we had talked about it when we were last at a game together, he expected he would be free, but perhaps inevitably he ended up bogged down by coursework by the time it came around, so I would be on my own again.
With the ground being pretty far away from the nearest station (35 minutes away from Oxford Parkway station, according to Google Maps at least), I was keeping an eye on the weather to decide whether I'd take the bus or just walk to the ground on the day, as I knew the bus stopped right outside the ground. Ultimately, when yesterday came around it was bright and sunny, so I had no qualms walking to the ground once I eventually reached Oxford Parkway.
I left the house at 11:35am, my train leaving Guildford half an hour later (incidentally, roughly around the same time the Supporters' Coach would have been beginning its journey down from Yaxley), arriving in Oxford Parkway at around 1:50pm after a couple of changes. From there, it was a straightforward 25-minute walk to the ground (so my concerns about possibly needing to use the bus ultimately proved unnecessary).
Upon arrival, I paid £4 for admission and £1.50 for a decent programme before doing my usual circuit of photos ahead of kick-off. Once I was done, some other Yaxley fans had arrived and I waited for kick-off with them behind the near goal, moving towards whichever side was Yaxley's right-wing when we were attacking (in the expectation of seeing Matt Sparrow perform his usual magic).
The table left no room for doubt that this was already a relegation six-pointer, but with how poor Kidlington had been in the league up until this point, I was expecting that we would be able to win, although I was perhaps slightly overconfident about our chances.
Even this morning, I'm still too annoyed with how bad we were to give an actual match report, so here's a brief summary of the goals from what I was able to see of them:
18 mins: Anaclet Odhiambo scored from a free header to give Kidlington the lead
31 mins: Odhiambo scored again, a through ball splitting our high defensive line and leaving him one-on-one with Ollie Sutton, who he just had to round to score
33 mins: Mark Janes scored for Kidlington, our defence completely disappearing and giving him an easy finish
39 mins: Dan Cotton pulled one back for us direct from a free-kick from the edge of the box
66 mins: Odhiambo completed his hat-trick after our defence let the ball bounce from a corner, and he simply had to head in from close range
73 mins: Elliott Osborne-Ricketts was able to get a shot away and score because our defence once again disappeared entirely
89 mins: Joey Cowlishaw scored from close range as our defence didn't even attempt to do anything to stop it
So, on the whole, an absolutely disastrous day from a Yaxley perspective, in what was undoubtedly the worst performance I've ever seen from us. There can be no excuses for this nightmare of a game, as the collective lack of responsibility or fight was alarming and unacceptable, even more so after such a commendable performance against Bromsgrove a couple of weeks ago. I want to remain confident about our survival chances, I really do, but such a bad performance (and already the fifth time in all competitions this season that we've conceded six or more goals) it's very hard to see any cause for optimism at all.
In fact, I was thinking of going to our away game at Berkhamsted in a few weeks, but after that I'm not interested in wasting close to £30 when it's very likely that a performance like that will be my reward (especially in the build-up to Christmas, which would likely mean I'd not be able to afford it even if I actually wanted to go still).
That being said, credit where credit's due: Kidlington played at a high intensity with a strong desire and it paid off massively, especially as they never let off even when it was long-since clear that the game was won. They'll almost certainly be able to stay up based on that, but I just hope we aren't the ones to take their place in the bottom two.
As for what's next, I'm not entirely sure. There are still strikes on SWR next Saturday, so I will still be limited in where I can go. Henley Town vs Twyford & Ruscombe in the Thames Valley Premier League Division 3 is appealing as a cheap way to tick off a former Hellenic League ground, but it depends on if I can be bothered to drop down to the 14th tier or not, which will likely depend upon which routes are effected by the strikes (which will in turn influence where locally I can actually go).
Yarnton Road is likely one of the more basic Step 4 grounds, with a standard 100-seater Arena stand providing the only seating at the ground. There is also a covered Arena terrace behind the near goal, and next to the main stand is an additional area of covered standing. Other than this, the rest of the ground is open hard standing, with the only other feature of note being that there is a fence on both sides of the hard standing behind the far goal (one between it and the pitch, and the other between it and the training area behind).
In other words, it's pretty much the bare minimum required for this level of football, but there is nothing wrong with that really: it's more than enough for the crowds Kidlington get, after all. The ground has an overall capacity of 1,500, with a record attendance of 2,000 for a friendly against a Showbiz XI back in 1973 (presumably before more modern safety requirements lowered the capacity).