Cinderford United suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the death of an epic Zoo Sports Shield encounter in Bedfordshire. Ampthill were talented opponents and with their first team also playing on the adjacent pitch they were eager to put on a show. The home side started strongly and the United had little answer to the power and energy of the Ampthill second string. Within minutes the home side were ahead as a powerful driving maul produced the first of four unanswered tries. The second try was virtually identical to the first as the United forwards failed to match the strength of the home forwards.

The third home try, however, came after a superb break by United centre Sam Hanks produced the visitors first real attack and a resultant scrummage on the visitors five metre line. Disappointingly the home side ran the ball out and evaded several weak tackles to spectacularly score another unconverted try. The fourth came as the home side laid siege to the United’s line and several pick and goes produced a try by the posts – this time converted. United fly half Tom Law broke his nose during this series of attacks and a rejigged United backline, at the restart, saw captain Ollie Whiting go to ten and Will Hodgetts join the fray at twelve. With five minutes to go before halftime Whiting dummied and eluded some Ampthill defenders to race in for a try in the left hand corner. Whiting converted superbly and added a penalty goal to give the United hope at 22-10.

The rejuvenated United side were now unrecognisable from the side that played the first quarter and two converted tries before the hour mark put them in a scarcely believable lead. Swift passing, with Whiting and Hanks linking well saw the excellent Stefan Hawley cross for a try. Whiting’s conversion closed the gap further and a few minutes later a chip kick by the talented United scrum half, Andy Uren, was pounced on by Dan Fry to level the scores. Whiting’s third successful conversion took the United into a lead. Seconds before the hour mark United second row, Angus Hodges, received a nasty blow to his neck. The excellent home medical staff deemed Hodges unwise to be moved, An ambulance was called and the game was suspended for nearly thirty minutes until the adjacent first team game was finished.

The game was restarted on this pitch. The delay seemed to reinvigorate the home side but the United still increased their lead with a second Whiting penalty goal. However, the last ten minutes was all Ampthill and in their increasing anxiety the United leaked penalties, Fry was sin binned and deep into injury time the home side ran back a desperate clearance kick by the United. They exposed the United’s lack of numbers and their right wing cantered round under the posts. The conversion was a dagger to the hearts of a brave United side who suffered only their second loss of the season.

Cinderford United; Stefan Hawley, Jack Richards, Sam Hanks, Ollie Whiting (Captain), Liam Littleton, Tom Law (Will Hodgetts), Andy Uren, Jamie Baglin, Neil Cully (Toby Farrier), Chris Bundy, Sam Morse, Angus Hodges (Matt Allcock), Rhys Luckwell, Marcus Brown, Dan Fry