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Wood top the pile thanks to Earle’s double

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Shortwood 4

Malmesbury Victoria 1

Hellenic League Division One

Chris Earle bagged a brace as early season pacesetters Shortwood United made it three wins from three to top the Hellenic League table, writes Jim Cunneen.

Wood took the lead after 24 minutes. Nathan Payne’s free-kick saw Clatworthy lose the flight of the ball with it hitting Korey Pring and dropping in.

Malmesbury netted parity on 30 minutes – Kyle Witt finding Harrison Archer at the far post. Shortwood’s response was immediate. Payne lifted the ball in and it was met with a strong header from Jake Rhodes, which Clatworthy saved, but the ball fell straight to the feet of captain Joe Tryner who smashed the ball home for his second goal in a week.

Kieran Marks was narrowly wide with a shot and on the stroke of halftime, Jacob Muir preserved Wood’s lead with a superb save to turn round a Witts free- kick.

Wood subbed Keegan Bowes on for Rhodes shortly after the break before Pepa caught Clatworthy who was dithering and dispossessed him before sending the ball across and somehow Soule could not turn the ball home. After 55 minutes Pepa was fouled and while on the ground he and the offender tussled which led to other players from both sides being involved. When the dust had settled the referee yellow carded both players. Before the game was restarted there was a separate incident and Pepa was shown a straight red card.

Soule was subbed for Tosdevine and Wood waited for a comeback that never really happened.

Witt had a shot deflected wide but Wood reasserted themselves and dominated. Earle had a shot saved before Byrnes set him free. Clatworthy came and Earle sent a delightful chip over him and under the bar to make it 3-1 after 72 minutes. Bowes hit one just wide and then after 76 minutes, the game was wrapped up. Bowes was the supplier this time and Earle ran on, held off the defender and powered the shot home.

Again Wood utilised their subs wisely and although Archer hit the bar for the Vics in the dying moments the game and the points were well won.

Shortwood: Muir, Marks (Harper – Emerson 69), Barrett (Soliman 68), Byrnes, Tryner, Tunnicliff, Payne, Pepa, Soule (Tosdevine 60), Rhodes (Bowes 48), Earle (Lewis 78)

Star Player: Chris Earle

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