Thatcham town secured a 3-1 friendly win over Berkshire rivals Hungerford town thanks to goals from Zidan Akers, Gareth Thomas and Shane Cooper-Clarke. Tommy Rees and Elliot King made their home debuts in a friendly match that threatened to boil over. Ian Herring set up with a back 3 which ultimately back fired.
The visitors made the brighter start with Cooper- Clarke heading over the bar but it was the hosts who claimed an early breakthrough thanks to Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis’s fine finish. Cooper-Clarke missed another opportunity soon after to level the scores before ex-Kingfisher Conor Lynch was denied by goalkeeper Trinovas. Lynch then set up the adventurous Marvel Ekpiteta in the penalty area but he saw his shot cleared off the line. The centre back then had to clear a certain goal off his own line when Akers rounded goalkeeper Tommy Rees. Cooper-Clarke curled just over the crossbar before his side got their equaliser courtesy of an Akers strike on the stroke of half time.
Rees was replaced by McCready, at half time, who was busy from the off having to deny vocal front man Cooper-Clarke. With 20 minutes to go the visitors did go ahead when a Jordan Williams’s corner was headed in by Gareth Thomas. The third come a minute later when a wicked clearance from Tommy Ouldridge turned into a shot towards goal. McCready had to claw out the long range attempt which fell into the path of Copper-Clarke who was on hand to thump in the rebound. Hungerford left spaces at the back which James Tennant failed to exploit with his two strikes going wide. Trinovas saved from Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, with the resulting corner falling to Mike Jones in space. The midfielder’s crisp drive failed to hit the target. Lynch had one final chance against his former club but couldn’t convert as the Crusaders ultimately fell short.
Without natural full backs and a host of other players the Crusaders lacked that spark need to break through a tough rear guard. King had a good debut but often left isolated at the back with the athletic Ekpiteta looking to join the attack at every opportunity. An injury to Richie Whittingham also didn't help the hosts with Mike Jones having to replace him. The midfield worked hard but lacked a cutting edge which Whittingham could've brought to the table. The front two also put themselves about with Lynch clearly wanting to make a statement against his former employers. However, a lack of opportunities in the second half led to frustration.
Next up for Hungerford, its back to league action. On Saturday we travel to Champion Hill to face Dulwich Hamlet.
Updated 18:03 - 24 Apr 2019 by Mark Halewood