Ardley hold off Shrivenham to pull clear

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Ardley United have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Hellenic Premier Division after a 3-2 win over lowly Shrivenham at the weekend.

Kevin Brock’s side were made to work hard for the three points as they twice held a two-goal lead but the visitors fought back and almost snatched a point. Ardley sit top of the table on 49 points, four clear of Ascot United and five ahead of Wantage Town, who have two games in hand.

Although the early stages were played in the Ardley half, Shrivenham rarely threatened the home goal and it was Ardley who opened the scoring on five minutes. A free-kick on the left was floated in by Callum Convey and Troy Bryan headed in to put the league leaders into an early lead.

The hosts then began to asset themselves and gradually took control before doubling their lead when Stuart Bridges crossed from the right and Steve Howkins powered a header past Louis Latouche.

Ardley were threatening to run away with the game but, despite having more of the ball, they were unable to add to their lead before half time.

Shrivenham began the second half in determined mood and kept the ball better than their opponents, which led to a deserved goal. On 50 minutes, substitute Steve Robertson received the ball in the area, turned and shot past Jack Harding in the Ardley goal to reduce the arrears.

This gave the visitors new impetus and they pressed forward, but on 73 minutes, Bryan surged into the Shrivenham penalty area and was pushed to the ground for a penalty which Convey dispatched.

Just a few minutes later, however, Shrivenham had a penalty of their own when Dean Smith was adjudged to have pushed one of their players in the box and Matty Bown stepped up to make it 3-2.

The remaining 15 minutes were scrappy as the only scoring opportunity came in added time when Latouche pulled off a fine save to deny Convey as Ardley saw out victory.

Ardley twice play Oxford City Nomads over the next week, first in the league at the Playing Fields on Saturday, and then away in the cup on Tuesday.