Jake Rhodes’ 19th minute winner was enough to earn a big three points for Tuffley Rovers, as they took a giant step towards Hellenic Premier survival with a 1-0 win over local rivals Brimscombe & Thrupp.
A slow burner of a first half saw limited action in the opening 10 minutes or so. That was until the ball was played into the Tuffley penalty area and after it fell to forward Jack Smith, the Brimscombe man could only curl against the foot of the post from about 12 yards out.
Jack Horrell then had a half volley that scuffed wide from the edge of the box as Brimscombe wrestled the early initiative.
As Tuffley managed to get further forward they felt they should have had a penalty when Kieran Alder was appeared to have been tripped in the box. However, referee Ed Turner had fallen over himself just seconds prior and didn’t see the incident.
Within five minutes Tuffley were in the lead though as Alder found a pocket of space and laid it to Jake Rhodes. Rhodes’ initial shot was saved by keeper Ash Gale and after the rebound was smothered, Rhodes was able to hook the ball in at the third time of asking.
Rhodes was slipped in down the right side of the box five minutes later, but his shot was blocked for a corner and it began a mad end-to-end final twenty minutes of the first half.
From the corner Rhodes saw his effort hooked off the line and from there Brimscombe broke. The ball was slipped in for Horrell, who could only chip the ball into keeper Luke Merchant’s hands when one on one.
Rovers then went down the other end and won a free kick that looked dangerous until Macaulay Herbert was penalised for a foul.
The Lilywhites then flooded forward and would have levelled had it not been for a great sliding challenge from Rovers skipper Joel White. After the ball in fell to Smith, he took one too many touches before White slid in to stop any goalbound effort coming in.
Tuffley full back Luke Payne then fired wide after carrying the ball a good 50 yards across the half way line, with the visitors appealing for a handball that was never going to come.
Kieran Alder then had a glorious chance to double the lead, but after side stepping two defenders his shot was saved by Ash Gale – with the Brimscombe defenders smothering the rebound.
Rhodes curled one over from 18 yards within the first five minutes of the second half, it would be the only real chance for the first 15 minutes or so of the second half.
Will Dawes headed wide for Tuffley on the our mark before Smith had his shot blocked by Herbert, in fact a Tuffley defender blocking a Brimscombe shot was the running theme throughout the second half.
Ed Major went close with a spectacular volley from nearly 30 yards, but Luke Merchant watched it fly wide quite comfortably.
As the time ticked on Tuffley began sucking the life out of the game, much to the annoyance of the visitors. Taking their time over things, including the longest walk off the pitch ever seen by Warren Mann.
Brimscombe introduced Sam Blackie and James Campbell as they pressed for the equaliser, but ultimately they found a Claret & Blue wall in the way everytime.
After the game Lilywhites manager Sam Prior took to social media to give his view on the game, whilst praising the hosts defensive display.
Disappointed to lose in a game that we created countless chances in. But a lack of quality throughout the side has cost us today. Credit to the @TuffleyRoversFC back 5 who defended for their lives and deserved their clean sheet.
We go again next week at home v Bassett🔵⚪️🔵⚪️
— sam prior (@samprior5) March 9, 2019
The result has implications at both ends of the Hellenic Premier table, with Tuffley’s fellow strugglers Abingdon United & Reading City both winning and Brimscombe’s title rivals Brackley Town Saints losing.
Tuffley pull 8 points clear of bottom placed Longlevens, who had their home fixture with Royal Wootton Basset Town postponed. For Brimscombe, they stay 3 points clear of second placed Wantage Town – who have three games in hand, 7 points clear of Brackley Town Saints – who have two games in hand and 10 points clear of Bishops Cleeve – who have four games in hand after their fixture with Flackwell Heath also fell foul to the weather.
Tuffley travel to Binfield next weekend, whilst Brimscombe welcome Royal Wootton Bassett Town to the Meadow.
Tuffley Rovers: Merchant, Payne, Loveridge, White, Herbert, Carter (Kent 84′), Alder, Briscoe, Dawes, Rhodes (Birkett 84′), Mann (James 70′)
Subs Not Used: Davies, Bloomfield
Brimscombe & Thrupp: Gale, Deakin, Hill, Parrott, Pitts, Greenhough, Major (Swales 72′), Caldwell, Smith (Campbell 72′), Horrell (Blackie 67′), Pitt
Subs Not Used: Simpson, Pates