Ten man Rangers give all but exit cup
High flying visitors given early shock as Thame do themselves proud
This Howard Cup quarter final was always going to be a tough challenge against a Widmer team unbeaten in SBYL Division One this season. On Sunday morning the size of that challenge was doubled when a long injured and unavailable list left Rangers with only ten players.
Far from throwing in the towel Thame produced their gutsiest performance of the season, taking the game to their high flying visitors straight from the kick-off.In the first minute Matt Wigglesworth found Billy Herbert and the striker's powerful shot crashed against the crossbar. Four minutes later Jake Dann looked to have scored when he headed past the Widmer keeper only to strike a defender on the goal line.
Rangers could easily have been two up after five minutes and in the face of such a determined effort the visitors found it hard to get going although it needed good work from keeper Eddie Hart and Tom Howard to close out Widmer's first scoring attempt.
Midway through the first half bravery was rewarded when the Thame strike pairing combined to deadly effect, Herbert setting up Dann for a well taken and thoroughly deserved goal.
For a while a famous against the odds victory looked on the cards as Rangers continued to press forward. But football can be a cruel game and, as Thame legs tired , two Widmer goals in the last few minutes of the half would ultimately settle this cup tie.The second of the goals scored more than two minutes into time added on was a real heartbreaker.
The second half saw Rangers once again take the game to the opposition but suffer two major setbacks, a second breakaway goal that gave the visitors a two goal cushion and an injury to captain Tom Howard who had been having a terrific game in defence as well as encouraging his players to give everything they had.
With his team down to nine men now winger Niall Davies who had come along as a supporter having suffered a painful injury playing for his school 24 hours earlier pulled a boot over his swollen foot and entered the match. Tom Howard later limped back onto the pitch but neither could run properly and there was no way back into the tie.
It had been a brave effort and for long periods of the first half spectators didn't realise Thame were a man short. There were many outstanding performances. The strikers again showed that playing together they are a handful for any team at this level and every single player did himself proud.
Squad: Eddie Hart, Matt Gomm, Tom Howard, Tom Darling, Ed Hickman, Alex McStay, Jack Thurnham, Matt Wigglesworth, Jake Dann, Billy Herbert and Niall Davies.