James and Vanbrugh share the spoils in close contest

Vanbrugh and an understrength James drew 1-1 on 22 Acres this morning, with goals from Phil Taylor and Josh Spurling


Images: Philippa Grafton

The poor pitch at 22 Acres didn’t prevent a good game of football being played out as both sides took a point from this contest.

James and Vanbrugh both signalled their intent from kick-off, with each side getting the ball down and passing in the opening exchanges, but it was Vanbrugh who had the first meaningful chance as Elliot Rous-Ross’ shot was saved on five minutes.

James soon had a chance of their own blocked in the area, but as the game settled down, chances were few and far between. Nevertheless, Andreas Boedt bossed play down the left wing for James while Vanbrugh’s Phil Taylor was commanding in the middle of the park.

On 17 minutes, Rob Rix’s sublime cross-field ball was picked up by Rory Sharkey to pump a good cross into the area, but the James defence managed to clear. However, just seconds later, as Murison’s throw-in for James went awry, Vanbrugh captain Johnny Grout held the ball up for Rix and Rous-Ross to direct shots towards goal.

Having survived pressure from their opponents, James then had a handful of chances to take the lead themselves, with both Boedt and Josh Spurling working the channels well – but they found themselves unable to get past some superb defending from Rix. Freddie Ferrao then took control of the ball and put in an excellent cross which Vanbrugh keeper James Wilson caught.

The opener eventually came on 34 minutes; following some quality build-up play, Kieran O’Dwyer burst through the James defence to be one-on-one with Luke Bradley, and had a strong penalty appeal waved away as he was hauled down in the area. With the ball still alive, Rous-Ross directed a shot on target, which was saved by Bradley, before Taylor cropped up to slot home the rebound and give Vanbrugh a 1-0 lead.

The game then settled as Vanbrugh took control in midfield, with Grout particularly impressing. Chances were at a premium, and the men in stripes were able to see the half out with their lead intact.

After the restart, Vanbrugh almost immediately doubled their lead as Rous-Ross had a shot saved when one-on-one with Bradley. However, a determined James side began to seize control of possession and applied sustained pressure to the Vanbrugh back-line; earning a corner, Ralph Gill had a good chance to drag his side level before the ball was superbly cleared by Grout. However, just seconds later, a superb strike from 18 yards out by Spurling deservedly levelled the scores at 1-1.

Once again, following the goal, the game settled down as both sides tried to dominate proceedings; Sharkey had a good cross well-intercepted by James Russell, before a foul on the edge of the area on 71 minutes gave Ameer Alhassan the chance to have a go at goal.

It wasn’t until the 80th minute that another major chance came along; Ferrao and Matija Pisk combined well for James, as both players forced superb saves out of Wilson, before the ball was eventually hacked away by Rix. In the final exchanges, Vanbrugh then once again appeared to be in the ascendancy, as Sharkey, Grout and Taylor all worked tirelessly in midfield to work openings for their side.

Vanbrugh could have snatched victory at the death, as Taylor’s stinging shot was deflected for a corner, from which his header sailed inches over. As Bradley took the resulting goal-kick, the full-time whistle was blown to bring the game to a close – which at 1-1 was probably a fair result on the balance of play.

James captain Josh Spurling told Nouse; “We were missing nine first-teamers today, so we didn’t really expect to get anything because Vanbrugh are a very good side – but we weren’t outmatched at all, and our performance was really pleasing, so I’m happy to walk away with a point.”

Meanwhile, Vanbrugh’s Johnny Grout said; “I thought we dominated in the first half, and we were good value for our lead at half-time, but to be fair to James, they were perhaps stronger than us for much of the second half. Although we were unlucky not to take one of our chances in the last 10 minutes, a draw was probably a fair result.”

Man of the Match: Rob Rix

James: Bradley, Murison, Gill, Pisk, Russell, Spurling (C), Malik, Ferrao, Alhassan, Boedt, White. Sub: Schofield.

Vanbrugh: Wilson, Graham, Brewer, Rix, Wignall, Grout, Woodall (O’Brien), Taylor, O’Dwyer, Sharkey (Lewis), Rous-Ross.


  1. Nice report, but it was Taylor who scored following up Ross’s effort for Vanbrugh.

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  2. Thanks, that’s been amended.

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