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Kingfishers make a winning start to life without former skipper as Thatcham beat South Park 3-0

Thatcham Town made it back-to-back victories with a commanding 3-0 win over South Park on Saturday.

A spectacular overhead kick from in-form Jordi Ebanda, who scored his third goal in two games, and well-taken efforts from Sam Tanner and Mo Ceesay helped the Kingfishers make a winning start to life without skipper Nathan Jones and experienced defender Curtis Angell.

Yashwa Romeo’s side looked a lot different to recent weeks, with captain Nathan Jones signing for promotion-chasing Marlow and versatile defender Curtis Angell putting pen to paper on a deal at Basingstoke. The Kingfishers are also much-changed in forwards areas, with Christian Johnson’s loan spell having come to an end and both Harry Hoath and David Nyarko still absent – between them, the trio have notched 22 of Thatcham’s goals this season.

Attacking midfielder Mo Ceesay completed the scoring in Thatcham’s 3-0 win over South Park. Picture by Phil Cannings
Attacking midfielder Mo Ceesay completed the scoring in Thatcham’s 3-0 win over South Park. Picture by Phil Cannings

However the Kingfishers were able to maintain their promising recent form, winning for the fourth time in six matches, leaving Romeo delighted with his new look side’s impressive showing.

“It was another good result,” he said.

“It was a fast start – that’s something we’re very capable of.

“We knew what South Park bring, they play a lot of football, so we went aggressive with the press from the off to try and knock them out of their stride.

“We put two up front to make it harder for them to knock it around at the back and in the end they had to go long a lot of the time.

“We scored an early goal and scored three times from set-pieces.

“It was a great, great team performance. We had to make an early change and move Tinashe (Gwavava) into centre-half; he hasn’t played there all season but he was colossal back there.

“Everyone played their part. Callum (Smart) made a couple of outstanding saves in the second half. We were really good.”

Romeo refused to be too ruffled by the unexpected departure of two of his senior players last week, with both Nathan Jones and Curtis Angell accepting offers from elsewhere.

Jones, who scored on his debut for new club Marlow, had captained the Kingfishers since the summer departure of former skipper Josh Edwards.

Romeo was confident that the recently arrived Jay Welch, who won the FA Vase with Ascot United last year, would prove a ready made replacement for Jones while he handed the armband to the vastly experienced Callum Willmoth – a decision the boss admitted was a no-brainer.

He said: “That was an easy decision.

“He’s captained sides before and he’s been a top player for us, he’s a leader in the dressing room.

“It was a challenge to the boys. Some people might have expected us to struggle after losing Nathan and Curtis, but I know how good this squad is and the depth that we’ve got.”

Romeo did move to bolster his attacking options, bringing Harvey Harry back to the club for a second stint. The fleet-footed forward returns to West Berkshire after spells with Slough, Binfield, Bracknell and Southall.

And Romeo is confident that the 20-year-old, who went straight into the squad on Saturday, will have benefitted from the experience gained since he last pulled on a Kingfishers’ shirt.

“He’ll just give us a bit more up front,” he said.

“We’ve had a few missing and we’ve been a bit lacklustre in forward areas over the last few weeks.

“He gives us another option and some competition for places. He’s dynamic, he’s quick and he’s got quality.

“He’s got a little bit more experience now since we last saw him. He’s a great addition to the squad.”

Thatcham will go in search of a third successive win tomorrow night when they welcome Hartley Wintney, who are one place above the Kingfishers in seventh but have lost their last two games, to the Mettal Stadium.

Romeo is hopeful that the Kingfishers, who are 10 points outside the Isthmian League South Central play-offs, can maintain their impressive form against a Row side that includes familiar faces Conor Lynch and Harrison Bayley, who won the FA Vase with Thatcham in 2018.

He said: “We’re confident with how we’re playing.

“Jordan Brown is going to be back and that gives us another forward option.

“I went and watched them against Leatherhead and they’re a very, very good footballing side so we’ll have to be aggressive again.

“We know about their qualities but there’s no reason we can’t get another three points.”

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