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Thatcham out of FA Cup following emphatic 5-1 defeat to Paulton Rovers





Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, for Thatcham Town as the Kingfishers suffered a 5-1 defeat to Paulton Rovers in the FA Cup extra preliminary round on Saturday.

Boss Yashwa Romeo endured a difficult week in the lead-up to Thatcham’s return to competitive action, with injuries to skipper Nathan Jones and Jordan Alves, new recruit Christian Johnson having not been registered in time, while Noah Coates and Mo Ceesay were unavailable through suspension, with a mix-up meaning Coates’ enforced absence didn’t come to light until the day before the game.

With another couple of players unavailable, Romeo was so down on numbers that he had to call upon teenager Jacob Wallace, who was set to take part in a pre-season friendly for Newbury, where he’s signed on a dual-registration.

Thatcham Town boss Yashwa Romeo
Thatcham Town boss Yashwa Romeo

To make matters worse, Thatcham, who could only field three substitutes, were stuck in traffic for over an hour while making the trip to Bristol and arrived much later than planned.

While Romeo was pleased with how his side started, last season’s set-piece problems reared their ugly head again and the Kingfishers found themselves two down after conceding twice in four minutes from balls into the box.

Thatcham had the chance to halve the deficit but Cameron Rohart-Brown missed a spot-kick in the 34th minute, while the visitors conceded another two goals in three minutes in the second half, with Aaron White getting sent off for a foul that led to a penalty and Paulton’s fourth goal.

New recruit and second half substitute Justin Bangura, who signed from Fleet after impressing in pre-season, pulled one back seven minutes from time but a long distance strike late on made it 5-1 as the Kingfishers crashed out of the FA Cup.

While it couldn’t have been a much more calamitous return to action for Thatcham, boss Yashwa Romeo remained upbeat despite admitting he was disappointed by much of his threadbare side’s showing.

“It was a bit of a nightmare,” he said.

“It was always going to be a tall order, bad news just kept coming and coming.

“That said, I felt like we still put out a side that was good enough to go and win the game.

“The result doesn’t look good but the performance wasn’t that bad.

“The first 20 minutes, we were in control of the game and had chances to go ahead.

“We got undone by two set-pieces again and then we missed a penalty, it’s safe to say I wasn’t happy at half time.

“We wanted to get an early goal to get back into it after the break and hit the crossbar, it just wasn’t our day.

“We went 4-0 down and were reduced to 10 men, we didn’t have the better of any of the key moments but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Thatcham’s attention now turns to Saturday’s Isthmian League South Central season opener on Saturday, a tough trip to Buckinghamshire to take on Marlow.

The Blues finished third in the league last term before losing out to Hanworth Villa in the play-off semi-final and are expected to be amongst the challengers for promotion again this season.

The two teams drew both of last term’s league meetings 1-1, while Marlow were 5-3 victors on penalties following a thrilling 3-3 draw in the first round of the Berks and Bucks FA Senior Cup.

And while Romeo is expecting a real test in Saturday’s curtain-raiser, he’s set to have a number of last weekend’s absentees, including former Marlow man Jordan Brown, back in the fold and is hopeful his side can make a good start to the season.

He said: “It’s a difficult one to start.

“Football being football, it’s a bit of a local rivalry and a lot of the players know each other so I’m expecting the lads to be right up for it.

“Fingers crossed we can go there and get a result, it’s not out of the realm of possibility and we’ll go there confident we can do it.”

While there wasn’t much to cheer following Saturday’s defeat, Romeo was celebrating his 50th game in charge of the Kingfishers.

Having played and coached at Thatcham, Romeo took over from Jamie Leacock towards the end of the 2021/22 season and steered the Kingfishers clear of relegation.

After making a slow start, Thatcham flirted with the play-offs before finishing 13th the following campaign, Romeo’s first full season in charge.

And the popular boss is confident he can continue to lead the team in the right direction on the dawn of his third season at the helm.

“I found out on the trip home from Paulton, I needed some good news,” he said.

“It’s been really good, stressful at times and results like Saturday don’t help.

“I’ve loved it and I think the squad we’ve got now is so much better than last season’s.

“I’d definitely like to think I’ve got at least another 50 games in me, I want to take the club further than it’s been before.

“I aim to go and manage higher and I want to go and do it with Thatcham Town.”

The Kingfishers’ first home game of the new campaign is scheduled for August 26, when Ashford Town travel to the Mettal Stadium.



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