Fairford edge past Longlevens after ref’s Halloween Horror show

Ben Saunders’ second half header was enough to secure a 2-1 win for Fairford Town over Longlevens on a night that saw both teams frustrated but some poor officiating. 

Fairford took the lead before the break when a long ball forward lead to John Thomas nipping in ahead of Longlevens keeper Ash Wintle, before smothering the ball over the line.

Longlevens substitute Myron Turner came off the bench to level the scores with less than twenty minutes to go before rattling the Fairford post.

Just seconds later after a long ball forward the game was spoiled. With the ball wide on the right and about 30 yards from goal Wintle and Fairford Town’s Jack Beardsley went for the ball and the ball rebounded off Beardsley onto Wintle’s hand just inches away and tight to the body. Referee Spencer McNaught blew for the free kick and pulled the red card out straight away leaving the spectators stunned and Longlevens livid.

With defender Matt Sysum then in goal for the hosts, he was left absolutely no chance when Saunders thundered in a header from a corner. The defender’s headed flew in off the post, leaving Sysum no chance between the sticks.

The red card shouldn’t take away from a very professional second half from Fairford as Jody Bevan’s men saw the game out and in the edge held on comfortably.

Earlier on in the piece both sides started like a house on fire, with Fairford forward Danny Gudger have four good opportunities in the opening 10 minutes. His first effort saw him take the ball down on the edge of the box inside the opening minute, with Wintle standing tall to beat away the effort.

Then, after breaking the offside trap Gudger fired over from the left side of the box before volleying over at the back post from inside the box. Moments before James Campbell saw his effort diverted onto the crossbar by Fairford keeper Harrison Ellis.

Gudger and Longlevens midfielder Harry Emmett exchanged opportunities as the game became very end to end.

Thomas broke the deadlock on the half hour mark as Fairford looked to get back to winning ways after two defeats in their last two games.

Both sides were committed and were committed at winding each other up, with Jamie Reid of Fairford and Matt Sysum of Longlevens constantly nibbling verbally at the opposition. Both sets of players went into challenges at full throttle but as a neutral it wasn’t great to see the constant surrounding of the referee McNaught.

Into the second half and Jonty Welch had his shot blocked from just outside the six yard box as Longlevens went looking for a leveler. It came when Myron Turner was in the right place at the right time in order to turn the ball home from within six yards.

Just before Turner came on though, Fairford keeper Harrison Ellis pulled off a sublime save to stop Mason Lewis’ effort after Ryan Dunn drilled the ball across goal.

After the leveler came the red card and from there it became desperate from the home side. Saunders’ goal knocked the wind out of their sails and thanks to an injury save from Ellis the points were safe for Fairford.

Both sides are at home on Saturday with Longlevens welcoming Ardley United to Saw Mills, whilst Fairford take on Hellenic League leaders Brackley Town Saints at Cinder Lane.

Longlevens: Wintle, Dunn, Sysum, Smyllie, Lewis (O’Connor 68′), Long (Squires 53′), Welch, Rich, Emmett, Martin, Campbell (Turner 68′)

Subs Not Used: Roach, Callinan

Fairford Town: Ellis, Watson, Weaven (Oakes 90+1′), Saunders, Joe Thomas, Snook, Reid (James 72′), Bailey, John Thomas, Beardsley, Gudger (C Bailey 87′)

Subs Not Used: Hawkins, Hall

Severn Sport Man Of the Match – John Thomas (Fairford Town)