Thatcham1 0Sholing

Scorers : Felipe Barcelos 68 (pen)

Date: Monday 26th August 2019 - 3pm - Betvictor Southern League South Divison One

Venue: Stacatruc Stadium

Thatcham Town: Paul Strudley, Jack Stanley (Michael Miller 24), Jordan Williams, Jack Alexander, Curtis Angell, Matt Day [c], Adam Kelly (Sam Barder 69), Callum Willmoth, Kyle Tooze, Felipe Barcelos, James Tennant (Joe Selman 18). Unused subs : George Jeacock, Scott Rees.

Yellow Cards: Adam Kelly, Sam Barder, Paul Strudley

Sholing: Ryan Gosney, TJ Cuthbertson, Marv McLean (Marlon Mason 92), Dean Faithfull, Dan Miller, Owen Roundell, Alex Sawyer (James Lauder 92), Byron Mason [c], Dan Mason, Brad Targett (Owen Royl 77), Jake Hoole.  Unused subs: Tobi Falodi, Michael Okubote

Yellow Cards: Owen Roundell, Owen Royl, Alex Sawyer

Attendance: 118 (approx 30 Sholing fans)

Referee: Benjamin Williamson  Assistants: Steven Brenchley & Rory Peacey

Sholing were on the receiving end of a debatable penalty decision as they slipped to defeat on a very hot day in Thatcham.  The home side missed a host of first half chances, so with Sholing battling to get on top in the second half, it was against the run of play when the spot kick was awarded and scored on 68 mins. 

Team News: TJ Cuthbertson was making his 200th appearance for the Boatmen, who had Byron Mason back in the starting line-up, although Jamie Bulpitt missed out through injury.  On the bench, there was James Lauder, a new signing, who played last season at this level for Dunstable Town.

The app on my phone said the temperature at kick off was 33 degrees, well it felt even hotter than that as the game got underway in intense sunshine, as both teams were playing their second game in as many days.  It was a clash of recent FA Vase winning sides, with the "Kingfishers" holding aloft the Vase in 2018, 4 years after the Boatmen had climbed the Wembley steps.

Thatcham were soon on the front foot and created their first good chance on 8 minutes when Tooze got to the ball before Gosney, but was pushed wide and his shot towards the open net hit the outside of the upright.  It was all Thatcham and Gosney was called into action to tip over a rasping shot, but he was soon seeing stars after a horrible clash of heads on 18 mins.  A ball over the top saw Gos' go up for a header with James Tennant, with both players making more contact with each other than the ball and clearly needing immediate treatment.  The game was stopped for almost 10 minutes as Gosney's forehead was bandaged up by Joel & Matt, the keeper having two deep gashes that needed attention.  Tennant came off even worse, with a nasty cut around his eyesocket and he had to be substituted and was later revealed he had 10 stitches in the cut.  All the best to James for a speedy recovery.  Gosney bravely carried on, with his welfare closely monitored by the bench.

Thatcham remained on top, despite having to make two substitutions in the first half, as Sholing struggled to keep possession in the opposition half.  Possibly the biggest difference between Step 5 & Step 4, based on the games played thus far.  In the Wessex, you can lose the ball and quickly get it back. In the Southern League, you lose it and the opposition seem to end up having an effort on your goal.  Boatmen's only two efforts of note were a good leap by Brad Targett to head goalwards, but comfortable for the keeper and Alex Sawyer curling a low effort just wide of the far post.  However, the Sholing defence remained over-worked, with Gosney making another good save, TJ deflecting a freekick just over the crossbar, Miller & Faithfull making a good blocks and Thatcham skewing an effort wide of the far post with the goal at their mercy.  With 12 minutes of added time, it was a relief for Sholing when the half time whistle finally blew and they were still in the game.  HT 0-0

Dave Diaper pushed Byron more forward for the restart, to link up better with the previously, isolated, Dan Mason.  Also, Jake Hoole switched to the right and the changes immediately worked in the Boatmen's favour, having and keeping more possession and giving Thatcham some defending to do.  A clipped in cross was nodded down by Byron to Dan, who swivelled on the spot and smashed his shot, but it fizzed just over the bar.

On 57 minutes, Jake Hoole picked up the ball on the half way line, cut inside and ran at the defence, before sliding a lovely pass into Dan Mason to go one on one with the keeper. D-Dan's powerful angled shot from the right deflected off Strudley and just wide of the far post.  The Thatcham keeper pulled off an even better save on 62 mins as TJ crossed for the unmarked Jake Hoole to head downwards towards the far corner, but Strudley scrambled down to save at the foot of his post and push it round for a corner. Dan Mason had another effort on the stretch, that went wide as the Boatmen looked dangerous.

The Kingfishers had barely been in Sholing's half, but from a breakaway down the right, they were awarded a penalty against the run of play on 68 minutes.  A cross was smashed from close range against Owen Roundell, who appeared to have his arms in front of his body, not outstretched, but the referee pointed to the spot and Felipe Barcelos sent Gos the wrong way to score.  It knocked the stuffing out of Sholing, who couldn't create any further chances to equalise.  However, they had a decent penalty shout of their own as Targett went to ground under a challenge as a cross came in, but the referee was quite a distance away and gave nothing. The home side could have scored again, with the powerful running & skill of Tooze, causing a tired Sholing defence problems, although he was a bit wasteful around the box.  Sholing forced a corner in the last minute of added time, but the delivery was too long to sum up a frustrating day.

Overall, Thatcham deserved the points, but needed a penalty to beat a hard working Sholing back-line.  Huge credit to both sides for playing a high tempo game in sweltering conditions. Even more so for Sholing, coming only 48 hours after a grueling local derby with a number of players still not 100% fit.  Considering the Southern League kicked off a week later than other leagues, it does seem strange to have 2 games in as many days for clubs when the FA Cup dates were known months ago.  FT 1-0.

Next Game : Sholing v Evesham United - SUNDAY 1st September 3pm - Southern League South Div 1

Photos courtesy of Ray Routledge (click an image to enlarge)