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Romeo ‘couldn’t be happier’ with youthful Kingfishers squad despite missing out on three points after Thatcham concede late spot-kick in draw with Westfield

Thatcham Town boss Yashwa Romeo was full of praise for his players despite conceding a late equaliser in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Westfield.

It was the second time in five days that the Kingfishers let a lead slip after Thatcham forfeited a two-goal advantage in a draw with high-flying Southall in midweek but Romeo insisted he was satisfied with his side’s showing in both matches.

Former Kingfishers’ forward Jordan Alves fired Westfield in front at the weekend after 19 minutes with a trademark strike from distance but the hosts drew level less than 15 minutes later when Sam Tanner continued his impressive goalscoring campaign to make it 1-1.

Yashwa Romeo was full of praise for Mo Ceesay, who has scored nine goals despite having to play in a variety of different positions. Picture by Phil Cannings
Yashwa Romeo was full of praise for Mo Ceesay, who has scored nine goals despite having to play in a variety of different positions. Picture by Phil Cannings

Thatcham were ahead on the stroke of half time when Tanner turned provider to set up the in-form Jordi Ebanda to score his seventh goal in seven games.

Westfield equalised five minutes from time when Greek midfielder Manolis Gogonas scored from the spot and the visitors thought they’d won it in the final minute of normal time only for Jacob Breckon’s effort to be ruled out for offside.

And Romeo was keen to focus on two points gained and was quick to praise his youthful and injury-hit squad despite twice dropping points from winning positions.

“I’m happy,” he said.

“In all honesty, Westfield should have won the game. With the amount of chances they had I thought they should have been out of sight.

“We were just really clinical and managed to get our noses in front. We grew into the game and started to press more aggressively. We had two chances and we took them.

“I thought we were comfortable but we started to play a few risky passes, we got caught and then we gave a penalty away.

“The frustrating part is, a bit like in the week, we slipped up from a winning position.

“We didn’t play that well but, when you don’t play well, you’ve got to make sure you don’t lose too many games.

“On Tuesday we were really good. We scored two great goals but we conceded 40 seconds into the second half. We knew they were going to come out at us but we couldn’t live with them.

“We’re still learning and there are a lot of positive signs.

“I have to give credit to the boys. It’s been a tough few weeks and it feels like we’ve had injury after injury.

“I can be harsh on them but the lads have been absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t be happier with them.”

The mercurial Jordan Alves came back to haunt his former club as he scored the opener on Saturday but Romeo feels he’s more than happy with his current options in attack.

Alves never quite hit the heights in West Berkshire and, while he often looked threatening, only scored two goals last term.

Jordi Ebanda and Sam Tanner were on target again on Saturday and the two talented attackers are both enjoying impressive campaigns, leaving Romeo feeling his side have improved in forward areas since the departure of Alves.

He said: “Jordan (Alves) is a great player, an absolutely brilliant player, and I still get on really well with him but he wasn’t as clinical as we wanted him to be for us.

“He’s (Alves) gone on to do well but Jordi (Ebanda) has come in and he’s on a real hot streak.

“Sam Tanner’s stepped up and chipped in and we’ve got goals all over the pitch. Mo (Ceesay) has scored nine goals and he’s played on the wing, up front, in midfield, at full-back and in defence. He’s been brilliant everywhere.”

Thatcham have been notably lacking in experience following the departure of skipper Nathan Jones and defender Curtis Angell but have been bolstered by a solid start to life in West Berkshire from towering centre-back Andrew Matthews.

The 31-year-old has had to be patient since signing at the beginning of last month but marked his first start with a goal in midweek and Romeo admits the six-foot-nine centre-half gives his side something different in both boxes.

“He came in and trained well but I was honest with him and I told him I wasn’t sure when he was going to get his chance,” he said.

“We’ve had a few injuries and he’s come in and grabbed his chance with both hands.

“He’s dominant in the air, he’s a threat and he allows us to be a bit more direct from throw-ins and corners.

“He gives us a different dynamic, he’s an organiser and he’s got some experience. He’s been really good for the boys and he’s fitted in well.”

Romeo was handed a boost following the return of attackers Harry Hoath and Jordan Brown but the Kingfishers’ boss is still having to contend with a long injury list although the likes of Tinashe Gwavava, Basim Mirtahmasebi, Jay Welch and Levi Heholt are all nearing a comeback.

He said: “It’s fantastic to have Harry back and Jordan’s getting there as well. He’s working his way back to fitness and we’re probably at the stage where we can count on 50-55 minutes from him.

“I’ve been without both of my right-backs but we’re hoping to have them back in training this week.

“Jay Welch has done his knee and he’s going to be a week or two and Levi, who has also done his knee, is going to be another three weeks.

“We’ve been reduced to three on the bench a couple of times so we will be looking to add one or two over the next couple of weeks.”

The Kingfishers are set to go in search of a first win in four matches this weekend when they travel to fifth-placed Raynes Park Vale, who have been on an indifferent run since the turn of the year and were beaten on Saturday.

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