Ardley finish 2013 on a high

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Ardley United will head into the New Year top of the Hellenic Premier Division after a 3-0 win over Flackwell Heath in their last match of 2013.

Kevin Brock’s side are five points clear at the top, although third-placed Wantage will leapfrog Ardley if they win their three games in hand.

Saturday’s encounter at The Playing Fields was barely three minutes old when top scorer Ryan Brooks opened his account as a mis-kick from a visiting defender allowed the Ardley strike to burst through the inside right channel and place a shot into the far corner of the net.

Despite going a goal behind, Flackwell produced the better passing and retained the ball well, but the home defence remained untested, until Mike Jones’ inviting cross was headed onto the crossbar by Joe Blount.

On 20 minutes, Ardley had a penalty appeal turned down as a free kick appeared to be handled in the area, before the hosts doubled their lead when a right-wing cross from Dean Smith found Stuart Bridges and he hammered home a 25-yarder, giving the visiting goalkeeper no chance and sending his side into the break 2-0 up.

Ardley came out for the second half in buoyant mood, looking to wrap up the points, but they had to wait until the 78th minute for a third and final goal as Brooks scored his second to clinch United’s 17th win of the season.

On Boxing Day, Ardley were held to a 1-1 draw against local rivals Thame United.

Chris Jackson gave the visitors the lead with a powerful header from Callum Convey’s second half corner, but Ryan Brooks was then sent off for a second yellow card offence before Thame earned themselves a point thanks to Luke Ricketts’ free-kick.

Ardley begin 2014 with a home game against mid-table Binfield on Saturday.