ADVANTAGE THATCHAM – BUT ALL STILL TO PLAY FOR
By Garry Clarke
THATCHAM TOWN 1-0 1874 NORTHWICH FA V ASE SEMI-FINAL 1ST LEG 17TH MARCH 2018
Thatcham Town carry a one goal advantage into next Saturday’s Buildbase FA Vase semi-final second leg at Wincham Park.
18747 Northwich went down 1-0 to a 4th minute penalty in the first leg at Waterside Park, but for an outstanding display by goalkeeper Greg Hall it could have been much worse.
Beaten by Ross Cook’s spot kick, awarded after Shane Cooper-Clarke tumbled over Mark Jones’ outstretched leg, the 1874 custodian several fine saves during the first half to prevent Cooper-Clarke from adding to the home side’s tally. Also excelling as a sweeper keeper cleaning up a number of balls played behind the 1874 back four, he also pulled off a spectacular flying save to push away a Ekow Elliott shot.
Playing in difficult conditions with a bitterly cold wind blowing flurries of snow across the exposed ground, the early goal settled Thatcham’s nerves, while 1874 looked tentative and took their time to settle into the game.
Unbeaten since October, harassing, closing down space and intercepting passes, Thatcham worked hard to prevent 1874 playing in their usual passing style. With the home side dominating the first half 1874’s attacking opportunities were limited.
Thatcham goalkeeper Chris Rackley did well to turn a Taylor Kennerley effort around the post from close range in the 15th minute, and 15 minutes later had to scramble across his goal to turn the ball behind for a corner after Jake Parker lofted the ball towards goal.
In between these two saves 1874 had a penalty appeal turned down as Scott McGowan was upended, play was allowed to continue with Sam Hind shooting just wide. In the closing minutes of the half Rackley raced off his line to clear beating McGowan to a Parker through ball by a split second.
In the second half Thatcham employed a more direct style, sitting deeper they started to rely on a long ball game which did not pose as many problems to the 1874 rear-guard as Hall and his defensive colleagues dealt comfortably with everything thrown in their direction.
1874 started to come more into the game after the break and looked the more likely to score, although they did have to survive a period of sustained pressure around the hour mark. Green shirted defenders were throwing their bodies in the way of Thatcham shots as the protected their goal.
Rockley pulled off a good save to deny Sam Hind in the 70th minute. A few minutes later 1874 had another penalty appeal waved away as McGowan drilled the ball into a packed penalty area where it was blocked by a defender amidst shouts for handball.
As the minutes ticked away 1874 went in search of one of their famous late goals, but it was not to be. In the closing moments Ryan Mitchell headed just over the angle of the goal frame and a Lee Jackson shot skidded wide of the target.
Referee Carl Brook brought proceedings to an end with his final whistle with the tie delicately balanced ahead of next Saturday’s second leg with both teams retaining their Wembley dream.
Thatcham |Rackley (GK), Miller, Moran, Jarra, Angell, Brownhill (Blount 80), Melledew, Bayley, Elliott (Grant 73), Cook (Gavin James 26), Cooper-Clark Subs not used Ashleigh James, Browne
1874 Hall (GK), Connor, Mitchell, Pritchard, Lee Jackson, Parker, Matthew Woolley (Fallon 80), Jones, Hind (Ryan Jackson 73), McGowan, Kennerley Subs not used Riley, Lever, Meadowcroft
Goal Thatcham Cook 4 pen
Referee Carl Brook Attendance 1,134
|Sat 17 Mar 2018||3:00 pm||F.A. Vase||2017/18|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|Referee||Assistant Referee 1||Assistant Referee 2||Fourth Official|
|Carl Brook||Scott Williams||Dave Bushell||Lee Brennan|
KO 66 73 81 FT