Thame go top
Thame maintain 100% record in league campaign
Thame did the double over Didcot and in doing so maintained their 100% league record and moved to the top of Division B. On a good pitch, in fine conditions both teams played good passing football and produced an entertaining,flowing and well-refereed game. Thame would have won the possession stats by a mile, and could/should have put the encounter to bed long before the final whistle, but ended up hanging on slightly as Didcot came back strongly at the death.
There was plenty of space in the centre of the park where Charlie and Alfie were in total control for long passages of the game alternating positions and roles, and Thame made good progress down both flanks-especially in the second period. That said, Didcot defended in numbers in and around their own penalty area and we struggled to break them down. In defence Alex and Lloyd had the measure of the attack for the most part and worked well with Robbie to clear their lines.
For about 30 minutes Thame-playing up hill and into the breeze had Didcot penned back into their half. We built well from the back with composed possession football and gradually began to create chances: Chris won the ball and slipped it to Charlie whose first time shot was just over; Felix won a ball on the edge of the area and his lobbed ball forward created havoc on the Didcot line; Alfie won a free-kick on the right hand side of the area and Scott's resulting effort swerved inches wide of the left post; Brandon played in Charlie who was just wide; Alex played a ball into the right hand channel for Jordan to cross where Felix met it first time and drew a good save. As the half wore on the chances got clearer: Charlie created space on the left of the area and pulled the ball back to Felix who got the ball onto his left foot but pulled his shot just wide on the right; and when Jacob came on he beat the left back and crossed at high pace to the near post where Brandon's clip was deflected just over.
In spite of all this pressure the fact that we had not taken the lead meant we were vulnerable and Didcot won a series of corners from the Thame left: each were superb in-swinging efforts which tested Thame out: Alfie headed the first behind under great pressure at the near post; then Robbie picked the flight of the ball and palmed the ball onto the bar; and finally Robbie produced a superb claim and take. Immediately prior to the break Alex got in a vital block as Didcot broke and then Brandon was denied after an equally well-timed tackle from the impressive Didcot centre back. 0-0 at half-time.
The half-time talk focused on keeping doing the good stuff and not throwing it away. The game became more open with Jacob running riot on the right-outpacing his full-back and whipping in a series of crosses; as did Felix and Chris from full back. Jordan and Jake both showed good positional sense to get onto this supply but could not quite convert with headers. Didcot started the half well with important tackles from Alex and Josh P and a crazy pinball moment when a low corner ricocheted across the Thame goal area. Thankfully we got the score to calm the game down: Alex held up and then dispossessed the opposition striker, Alfie carried the ball forward and laid it onto Brandon who cut in from the left and whipped a right -footed shot over the keeper and under the bar.
From this point it was all Thame and the players got forward and played some incisive passes in the inside right and left hand channels: Lloyd and Brandon broke at pace; Jacob drew a save from an Alfie pass; Charlie skimmed the bar from the right from a Felix pass; Brandon forced a good save low down to the keeper's right that just missed the post; Alfie played a superb pass for Felix to shoot from wide on the right, just evading both the far post and the onrushing Jordan. A goal had to come and it was a belter: Brandon laid the ball back to Charlie who skipped past 2 challenges and curled a shot in from range.
2-0 and coasting but there was a sense that Thame were becoming stretched as they pushed forward at pace: with 5 minutes to go Didcot's passing game paid dividends as the worked the ball smoothly down the right, across the box and Robbie had no chance. This led to an edgy finale as Didcot went close twice and Thame were again grateful to the calm and authoritative Alex and Lloyd.
So-ideally Thame would have scored more goals sooner and put this one away, and they will come under more pressure to be more decisive in tighter games but this was an excellent work-out with some high quality football from 1-15. The units worked well in defence and midfield and we looked good going forward. Several standout performances but joint MoM to Lloyd who marshalled the defence and instigated attacks and Charlie who had an excellent game in midfield and got a well-deserved goal.
Next week: Crowmarsh away.