No shortage of effort but Rangers are missing cutting edge
Absence of front men key to narrow defeat
Two moments of excellence midway through the second half decided the outcome of a desperately close match.Unfortunately in both cases the quality came from Berkhamsted players.
The first led to the game's only goal, a free kick from 25 yards out on the right curled over a four man Thame wall and into the top corner of Eddie Hart's goal. The second a few minutes later denied Rangers what would have been a well deserved equaliser. Tom Darling did everything right powerfully heading George Bennett's terrific cross just inside the post only to see the home keeper pull off a spectacular save.
Defeat was doubly hard on the Thame boys as their performance was worthy of at least a point and their line-up had been seriously disrupted by injuries and the absence of key players.
Starting without the leading scorer is always a challenge but on Sunday Rangers were missing all three recognised strikers, Jake Dann (running a half marathon) Billy Herbert(injured) and their understudy Jack Howland(also unavailable). Sam Muscroft was also marathon running,Niall Davies was in school and could only play the second half,Tom Howard picked up an injury in the warm-up and Ollie Gibson suffered a painful attack of cramp and had to leave the field.
To their credit,instead of feeling sorry for themselves ,the reshuffled Rangers did a good job in matching their opponents.The defence was back to being mean, midfield competed fiercely but within the rules and,that impressive free kick apart, a decent fast-passing Berkhamsted were restricted to a couple of half chances.
The lack of a natural striker limited Thame's ambition though, despite the efforts of a number of players to fill the role. Alex McStay ran himself into the ground and was close to scoring in the first half when his shot struck the Raiders keeper and was deflected past the post.
Centre half Tom Darling who had cleared off his own line in the first half was pushed up as an emergency striker late on and looked the most likely to break through only to be denied by the keeper.
It was all Thame in the closing stages. Niall Davies sent in some inviting crosses but without an instinctive poacher they came to nothing.Cameron McLaren won a race with the Raiders keeper wide on the left but his attempt at a wonder goal equaliser drifted wide of the post and it was not to be.
After the final whistle there were compliments from the home team coaches and even the referee who all agreed Rangers deserved more from a well matched and entertaining game played in the right spirit. We'll gratefully take all compliments of course but the expressions on the faces of the Rangers players suggested most were thinking about the difference just one striker would have made.
Squad: Eddie Hart, Matt Gomm, Tom Howard, Jordan Baker, Tom Darling, Ed Hickman, Ollie Gibson, George Bennetts, Jack Thurnham, Cameron McLaren, Alex McStay, Matt Wigglesworth and Niall Davies.