Worthy draw for Thame Youth
By Ian Bottomley
Thame battle hard to secure first point in inter-league cup
Thame got the New Year campaign under way with a well-deserved point-their first in this "champions' league"-against higher division opposition. After a slow start-both sides showing signs of rustiness-Thame played some great stuff to move into a 2-0 lead and then survived a fairly comprehensive onslaught in the second half. The youth team rode their luck but had several opportunities to nick the win.
For the first quarter of the game there was a general stalemate with much of the play in the Thame half. Kidlington forced a series of corners which they didn't really make count, and were very strong down their left hand flank with the full back and winger both creating problems with their pace and footwork. Thame were indebted on a number of occasions to the interventions of Matty and Alex-one tackle from the latter on the opposition striker as be broke into the box was a masterpiece of timing.
Going forward Thame had shown a lot of energy in midfield from Charlie in particular but the break through came via what is becoming a classic combination of the best elements of our forward play: Felix shows exceptional control to win the ball in the left of midfield-he finds a good pass into the left hand channel-Brandon turns it into a superb pass with his pace and persistence to get on the ball, ride the tackle and shoot from the left hand side of the area; and then Billy-tearing forward-anticipates the ball as it is deflected across the area and shows guts and skill to slide the ball in from an acute angle with the post rearing up in front of him.
The quality of the goal lifted Thame and knocked the wind out of Kidlington as the youth team began to play some very neat combinations through midfield and down the flanks with Charlie, Alfie, Billy and especially Felix prominent. This led to a sustained period of pressure and Thame finished the half on top at 1-0.
The second period started badly with a penalty conceded by Thame within 2 minutes-but a low effort was well-saved by Robbie. Almost immediately we had created a position half way into the Kidlington half on the right-Billy's throw finds an on-rushing Jacob. From right back he rides a couple of tackles and bursts into the area to produce a superb finish and extend the Thame lead to 2-0.
Almost from that point forward the game became a struggle-Kidlington upped the pace and their work rate and created any number of chances. Robbie had no chance with either of their goals, and the hosts proved wasteful from a series of corners and shots from range-most of which ballooned over the bar. Alex came off injured and from that point forward none of our defensive combinations quite worked. Thame were indebted to Robbie who made a series of point blank saves at the feet of the opposition strikers, sure-handed gathers of the long-range stuff and performed his usual effective sweeping up of through balls. When the ball was flicked passed our keeper, Chris got back with characteristic determination to flick the ball off the line, nearly crashing into the upright in the process.
In spite of this, Thame had their chances-Brandon twice feinted and created the space for a long range shot, and towards the end of the game Scott tore forward from left back to ride the tackles until he was fouled on the edge of the area just short of the goal line. Thame couldn't quite convert the free kick and after some more defensive heroics we had our point.
The general view after the game was that Thame were pretty sharp after our enforced break, but Kidlington were just a bit quicker in thought and deed and mostly kept their shape when we lost ours a little under pressure in the last quarter of the match. Good efforts throughout, with a lot of hard work from Ollie and Brandon up front to keep the pressure on the opposition when we didn't have the ball, and some nice creative play across the piece when we did-very little was wasted on the Thame side. Man of the match unquestionably to Robbie who kept us in it with a series of crucial saves.
Thanks to Kidlington for being such good hosts and to our travelling support who got the chance to freeze sitting down in the stand rather than on the sidelines for once! Next up back to the league v Tower Hill.