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HELLENIC LEAGUE: Swatridge saves the day for New College
ALEX Swatridge saved two penalties as New College claimed their first Division One West victory in five-and-a-half months.
The students saw off hosts North Leigh Reserves 2-1, with the second of Swatridge’s spot kick stops coming in the 96th minute.
College took the lead midway through the first half when Ryan Stanners beat his man and cut back for Lee Toomey to tap in from six yards.
Swatridge palmed a penalty round the post at the other end before Toomey sent home another close-range finish.
North Leigh cranked up the pressure in the second half and were rewarded with a goal with around 15 minutes left, but Swatridge’s full-stretch penalty stop at the death ensured College took victory.
Boss Rob Hopkins was delighted with his players’ attitude in securing a first league win since September 15.
He said: “Credit to the lads because they conducted themselves very maturely in a game of quite difficult circumstances.
“I’ve written a report with the regard to the performance of the officials and it’s probably best I don’t elaborate further on that.
“The players didn’t let the situation get to them at all and 2-1 was not a fair reflection of the game, we should have made it a lot easier for ourselves.
“Afterwards the over 18s were told to go out and enjoy themselves and the under 18s were told to go home, have a hot chocolate and watch Match of the Day.”
New College are now out of the bottom two courtesy of their victory and Wootton Bassett’s 2-1 win at Letcombe.
And Hopkins is hoping Saturday’s win will inspire his team to kick on and secure their survival in the Hellenic League.
“The results have gone with us and we’re now slowly creeping up the table,” he said.
“Seven games of our last nine are at home and we have to take advantage of that.
“There are plenty of games there that we should be getting points from as a lot of them are against teams around us.
“We’re going to be alright if we can repeat anything like Saturday’s performance levels.”
In the Hellenic Premier Division, lowly Highworth secured a useful point as they drew 0-0 with midtable Flackwell Heath.
Shrivenham’s miserable campaign continued as they were hammered 5-0 at home by Thame.
Nik Rhodes, Niall Hodgkins and James Way put United 3-0 up at the break and Matt Johnson and Matt Hall continued the onslaught in the second half.