September 2007

Otway on fire as Thatcham cruise through

Thatcham Town effortlessly brushed aside Newcastle University this afternoon to cruise into the second round of the Longhorn Hardware sponsored Stan Seymour League Cup. Thatcham’s victory came courtesy of a Lee Otway hat-trick that ended the contest before half-time,  securing our place in the draw for the next round.

The game was put-back seven days to allow The Students to assemble a full squad with the start of the new term, but they had a miserable opening to their season at Cochrane Town as Lee Otway struck thrice before half-time to give the visitors, who fielded seven changes from Wednesdays draw with champions Harraby Catholic, an irreversible lead.

Thatcham will go into the draw with the other six Premier and four Second Division sides who booked their place in the second round last Saturday, while a myriad of byes and Preliminary Round contests will boost the number of clubs in the draw to thirty-two.

Meanwhile, Thatcham should be happy with the rest of today’s results, nearly all of which worked in our favour. Joint leaders Gateshead Leam Lane suffered defeat at the hands of Alnwick Town, who now take the lead, with Cramlington Town and Harraby Catholic Club, (with whom we were effectively tied – ahead by three points but having played an extra game) also losing.

Alnwick defeated by ruthless Town

Mike Linden – you are not welcome at Thatcham Town FC. The first game our devoted secretary missed this season saw a weakened Thatcham Town destroy league leaders Alnwick Town, six-two. Before the game, Alnwick had conceded only six goals in the seven league games so far. Thatcham matched that in one afternoon.

Jimmy McMurdo’s free-scoring side had to contend with the absence of no less than ten first team players and in the second half the manager was forced to field himself, yet in fried-egg-on-the-pavement conditions Thatchams everywhere was too hot to handle for Alnwicks everywhere.

The visitors, themselves admittedly without four or five regulars, took the lead after sixteen minutes and doubled the advantage shortly after, but there were no further goals to add to Jeffery and Halambliec’s early marks, with Thatcham fighting back to level the scores ten minutes before half-time and grabbing a third in the final stages – the first from Lee Otway and the latter pair courtesy of midfielder Dave Renyard.

The Black and Whites manager, Malcolm Belisle, no doubt had some choice words to say at half-time and he saw his side race out of the blocks in the early second half, but there was no way for them through to the Thatcham goal and after riding the early storm the all-whites came out the other side stronger.

With twenty-minutes of the second half played Tom Brocklebanks header from Dean Lamonbys cross put the home side in a more commanding position and, fifteen-minutes later, Lee Otway added a fifth with a shot that found the roof of the net. To everybody’s amazement, there was still room for one final goal as, in the fortieth minute, Tom Brocklebank scored again with a shot from close range.

As impressive a win as it is, it gives Jimmy some tough questions when pondering the teamsheet for this Saturdays game at Heaton Stannington. Do you stick with the team that just one six-two, or do you go back to what is thought to be your strongest side? Do you field a player on form, or ability? And should a player who has been playing well lose his place in the side because he missed one game? I’m glad it’s not me that’s got to decide!

All even at Grounsell Town

It was far from a good performance and we were far from a full-strength team, but Thatcham Town couldn’t help but feel heartbroken at full time yesterday, as an eighty-seventh minute strike by John Campbell forced a share of the points.

The travelling outfit had to cope without the goalscoring assets of both Lee Otway and Daniel Rayson, while the midfield was considerably weakened with the loss of Mark Butler and Steve Skinner – the latter turning out instead for Lancaster City – and neither side looked particularly impressive after Danny Palmer’s opening goal nine minutes into the game.

Chris Grainger made a welcome return to the side while hosts, Heaton Stannington, showcased the talents of Manchester City Reserve midfielder John Campbell, and twenty year old defender Paul Hutchinson, released by Glasgow Celtic Youth in the summer.

And it was Campbell who, after a shaky start, fired home the equaliser that saw Thatcham Town drop down to third. Alnwick Town, who had already played an extra game, were given handed a free weekend and a win would have put Thatcham top but as it was our counterparts in second spot, Walker Central, succeeded when Thatcham fell, and a three-nil defeat of Newcastle University launched them into top spot.

Town players in League Rep defeat

Two Thatcham Town players were selected to represent the Northern Alliance on Saturday, as the league representative side was beaten by the Wearside League in an FA National League Systems Cup game.

Mark Butler and Lee Otway joined players from eight other Premier Division clubs in the twenty-three man squad chosen to face the Wearside League, whose side had been drafted from just two of their leagues twenty clubs. And the familiarity clearly paid dividends as they won two-nil and secured a place in the next round of the competition, which eventually leads to the Europe-wide UEFA Regions Cup.

October fixtures announced

Details of Thatcham Town’s next round of matches have been released, and there are some interesting contests ahead with Walker Central, Blyth Town and First Division outfit, Newcastle East End Railway, on the cards.

However, the first test of the Halloween month will see struggling Peterlee Town travel across to Carlisle to provide the opposition, on October 6th, having also been in action three days prior to the trip, against Ponteland United at Eden Lane.

Meanwhile, on the same night there will be a grudge match at St James Town between current first and second, Walker Central and Alnwick Town, and with Thatcham just one and two points behind at present the best outcome would appear to be a draw – though the situation may change after Alnwick’s match next Wednesday, September 26th, also against Ponteland.

Indeed, Alnwick’s busy schedule shows no signs of easing and they will be two games ahead of the chasing pack by the time we face current leaders Walker Central on October 13th, also at home.

The following week we’re back on the road and back on cup duty, travelling to Newcastle East End Railway in the 2nd Round of the League Cup – minibuses depart 12.00pm – and then finally South Newsham Playing Fields are the destination with a visit to mid-table Blyth Town – bus departs 12.15pm.

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