Shane Cooper-Clark scores against Lydney Town
Thatcham Town 4 Lydney Town 3
THATCHAM had to withstand a rallying thrust from first-time visitors Lydney before chalking up their seventh unbeaten game to claim top spot in the Hellenic League’s Premier Division.
It looked like being a new year’s non-event as Thatcham raced into a three goal-goal lead inside a dozen minutes before Lydney hit back to make a game of it and force the home side to hang on to the points in the end.
They had looked set to pocket those with few problems, taking the lead inside three minutes when Adam Morris was found free on the right to fire an angled shot past goalkeeper Richard Thomas.
Two minutes later they struck again when Josh Baines crossed for Shane Cooper-Clark to head home, and number three soon followed when Thomas raced off his line to snatch the ball but catch Chris Gerrard in the process, collecting a yellow card before Morris helped himself to his second goal by converting the penalty.
Lydney clawed one back after 20 minutes when Lewis Halford hit a shot that spun off a defender and past Chris Rackley, but that merely served to drive Thatcham back onto the offensive and they made it 4-1 when Morris crossed to the far post and Cooper-Clark took off to head home.
Halford rattled a post although Thatcham had another effort
disallowed before the break when Cooper-Clark claimed a
hat-trick but his goal was struck off for a foul on Thomas.
Morris might have had his third shortly after the re-start when he hit the post, but the visitors found some extra energy and they cut the arrears in the 53rd minute when Pete Macklin latched onto a loose ball and the former Hungerford veteran lashed it home from 35 yards.
That set up a frenzied spell in which Rackley saved twice with Thatcham reduced to breaks, one of which saw Cooper-Clark thwarted by Thomas.
Luke Barker missed a good
heading chance for Lydney, who eventually scored a third in
stoppage time when Rackley kept out Jack Tutter’s free kick, but could not prevent substitute Matt Timmins from tucking home the rebound, leaving Town with a few nervous seconds to negotiate before snatching top spot.
Thatcham Town: Rackley; Hughes, Thomas, James, Browne; Baines, Melledew, Gerrard, Morris, Willmoth; Cooper-Clark. Subs: Lachacz, Pagliaroli, Bennett, Taplin, Helmore. Referee: Robert Holt (Oxford). Attendance: 97.