The weekend’s big match saw Thame United FC (4th) travel to North Leigh (19th) to play in the scenic Eynsham area. Thame were on the hunt for a vital away win to remain in the playoff picture where as North Leigh were attempting back to back wins to fight off relegation. Today also saw the return of Thame number 1 Craig Hill between the posts.
*** Starting Line Ups ***
North Leigh FC – Eddie Cavanagh, Jordy Ngathe, Declan Peart, Rory Linford-Pill, Andy Gunn, Alfie Grant, Roger James, Harry Grant (Cpt), George Seacole, Henry Landers, Noah Alabi
Subs Used – Alfie Saunders, Kyreece Martic
Thame United FC – Craig Hill, Harry Mepham, Jamie Essex, Andy Gledhill, David Lynn, Tom Ashworth, Liam Tack, Lynton Goss, Ben Sturgess (Cpt), Dan West, Matthew Peake-Pijnen
Subs Used – Duran Martin, Jack Tutton
*** FIRST HALF *** HT SCORE 0-0
North Leigh dominated the first half in possession, set pieces and shots on target. Thame went into half time fortunate to be 0-0.
Some of the key highlights included on 2 minutes Craig Hill having to make a save with his legs. There was a relentless number of runs/dribbles down the left by North Leigh’s Noah Alabi in the first 10 minutes to put the Thame defence under real pressure. North Leigh were also unfortunate to take an early lead when Seacole fired a shot straight at Hill which then fell back to the forward who did manage to contact the follow up but over the bar. Not long after this Thame created a chance against the run of play. Whereby Goss’ pressing led to him getting the ball in the box and poking it between the GK’s legs. The shot was cleared off the line by North Leigh’s centre back much to the crowd’s amazement. On 23 minutes Thame were awarded a free kick which was hit with power towards Gledhill he got up above the defender and hit a firm header which went wide of the goal. On 34 minutes Goss played a corner outward which caught North Leigh by surprise and the shot by Thame did not hit the target but went over the crossbar. A final chance this time fell to Peake-Pijnen in the box when he received a diagonal ball which was only stopped a tremendous last ditch tackle which stopped him from getting the shot away.
*** SECOND HALF *** FT SCORE – 1 – 2
Following the half time break Thame showed an increase in tempo and work rate. Thame also began the half closing North Leigh down all over the pitch trying to force errors including a higher defensive line early on. The first real chance in the second half fell to Thame from a free kick which was hit over the bar by West.One of the greatest plays of the game was when Alabi was standing on the shoulder of Mepham and got behind him before dribbling 25 yards down the left wing and putting in a sublime cross for Seacole which he chested the ball towards goal resulting in Hill having to make a split second save to top it over the bar for a corner. North Leigh continued to push for a goal and it took a long diagonal ball towards Seacole which was headed firmly across goal given Hill at full stretch no chance. Thame manager Mark West made a double substitution late on in the second half bringing on Jack Tutton and Duran Martin. The two subs were crucial to Thame’s turnaround.
In the 82nd minute Thame were awared a free kick 28 yards out which was taken by left footed Peake-Pijnen. It was hit perfectly so much so that the GK in an attempt to save it could only parry it onto the post and in. this goal sparked a continued drive and desire by all players. As late in the 87 minute 5 Thame players were running towards North leigh’s goal and a ball from the middle was passed wife left to an unmarked Martin who on his weaker foot slotted the ball across goal onto the post and in. It was a nervy last few minutes but Thame were able to see the final spell of pressure off and manage the game by keeping the goal in North Leigh’s half. At the full time whilst the Thame players congratulated eachother before walking off the field.
*** KEY STATS ***
Shots on target – North Leigh 7 – 5 Thame
Corners – North Leigh 6 – 5 Thame
Yellow Cards – North Leigh 0 – 0 Thame
Red Cards – North Leigh 0 – 0 Thame
*** MAN OF THE MATCH – Craig Hill (Thame United) ***
Thame’s comeback victory changed this decision. Craig made countless top draw saves from start to finish, yet again proving he is one of the elite goal keepers in the division.
Overall this was a thoroughly entertaining match. North Leigh will feel disappointed to not get anything from the game not to mention remain in 19th place. Credit must be given to the Thame coaching staff for making key substitutions and installing the belief in the players for yet another memorable comeback. Thame will leave Eynsham Park on cloud nine and no doubt relishing the big encounter against Didcot next Saturday.
*** NEXT GAME *** @ The ASM Stadium, Thame
Kick Off 15:00 – Thame United V Didcot Town
*** Admission Prices *** @ The ASM Stadium