Hart saves Rangers blushes as cup-tie goes to penalties
Thame finally come out on top in shoot-out after being frustrated by packed defence
On paper this looked like one of the season's easier fixtures, a cup tie against Fourth Division opposition who have recently been leaking goals in their league games. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration for Thame Rangers who,despite dominating possession could not find a way through the home team's packed defence and were taken to a penalty shoot-out before eventually winning a place in the next round of the Howard Cup.
There were many factors that contributed to a difficult morning. Credit to Prestwood, they were the underdogs so they parked the bus outside their area and defended as if their lives depended on it. Any Thame player beating his marker was immediately confronted by another couple of blue shirts,often more.
The heavy pitch with its unpredictable bounce did not help attempts to play passing football and a surprisingly large number of the Rangers players seemed to be having an off day when it came to the basic business of finding a teammate in a red shirt.
As a result Thame launched attack after attack but rarely came close enough to trouble the Prestwood keeper. Matt Wigglesworth threatened with a couple of decent runs down the left but it was Tom Darling, so dominant in the centre of the Rangers defence, who emerged as the most potent attacking force, charging through challenge after challenge before eventually being stopped.
Billy Herbert went closest to breaking the deadlock with a powerful second half shot that the home keeper did well to hold but the 90 minutes finished with the game still scoreless so it came down to penalties.
The Rangers boys have not had a chance to practice spot-kick recently but the tie was effectively settled when goalkeeper Eddie Hart guessed correctly and blocked Prestwood's first attempt then watched their second fly wide of his post. By contrast Rangers first four penalty takers Tom Howard, Billy Herbert, Jordan Baker and Ed Hickman all found the net and the tie was won.
There have been more convincing victories but at least we go through to the next round.
Squad:Eddie Hart, Tom Howard, Matt Gomm, Tom Darling,Jordan Baker, Ed Hickman, Jack Thurnham, Jack Howland, George Bennetts, Alex McLeish, Niall Davies, Sam Muscroft, Matt Wigglesworth, Billy Herbert and Jake Dann.