Sutton Coldfield Town 1 Thame United 4
By Jake Collinge
The last time Thame United left Coles Lane it was on the back of an 8-0 drubbing some 13 years ago. This time the tables were turned.
United opened with a 4-1-4-1 formation and were immediately on the front foot with, in the second minute, an effort from captain Ben Sturgess from 12 yards coming back off the woodwork. The home side enjoyed their own spell of possession, forcing a couple of corners, before the opening goal for United arrived on 13 minutes. A cross field ball found Liam Tack on the wide right who drilled a low cross in to the box that the home defender could do no more than direct in to the bottom corner of the goal, giving Gwillam in the home goal no chance.
Craig Hill in the Thame goal was then forced in to action, saving an overhead kick, before Tack went close on 23 minutes with an effort that cleared the bar. Tack had another opportunity three minutes later when, after good approach play, he saw an acrobatic effort go wide. For the remainder of the half both sides continued to press but with no meaningful goalmouth action.
The second half opened with the home side pressing and, in the early stages, Hill had to be alert as a shot went just wide. United thought they had secured a penalty on 48 minutes when Tack was felled in the box, but the referee waved away the penalty claims before, on 53 minutes, a Tack free kick from 20 yards was well saved by Gwillam.
On 65 minutes the home side were reduced to ten men when Stephen Palmer was shown a straight red for an elbow to the face of Mealing, who left play shortly afterwards to be replaced by Andy Gledhill. And it did not take long for Gledhill to get on the score sheet when, on 74 minutes, he blocked an attempted clearance on the edge of the box with the ball ricocheting wide of Gwillam and in to the far corner. With a 2-0 lead against ten men and with only 15 minutes remaining, United were looking to see out the game but they could have extended the lead when first Jamie Essex headed over and the Duran Martin saw Gwillam push a low shot wide of the post.
Then, with 8 minutes remaining, the home side pulled a goal back when a low corner in to the box was swept home by Leo Brown from 8 yards. As the home side pressed forward in search of an equaliser, it was United who went on to extend their lead when, on 87 minutes, Tack again found space on the right and this time he finished low in to the far corner from an acute angle. United still had time for a fourth when good passing down the right lead to a ball through to Duran Martin who finished confidently from 8 yards.
That was game over and, in the absence of Manager Mark West, Assistant Stuart Blaik and Coach Ben Johnson were able to celebrate three hard-earned points.
United have their first home league game of the season on Tuesday evening when North Leigh are the visitors, 7:45pm kick off.
United: Hill, Mepham, Lynn, Essex (James), Jewell, Ashworth, Martin (Evans), Sturgess, Tack, Mealing (Gledhill), Goss
(Photo courtesy of Tim Lloyd)