Match Preview: Isthmian League South Central Division
Thatcham Town v Basingstoke Town
When: Monday 30th August 2021 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Waterside Park, Crookham Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire. RG19 4PA
Thatcham Town (Nickname – The Kingfishers), Average 2020-21 Home Attendance 162
Admission Prices: Adults £10, Concessions £6 Aged 16’s £2
Just 48 hours after the battling performance and win against a professional Hanwell Town side, we visit our local rivals Thatcham Town with a chance to take top spot in the league.
Not quite last season, but with both teams moving to the Isthmian League, we last played them (well sort of), just two weeks before the shutdown of the 2019-20 season on a warm sunny afternoon in Thatcham. The sun was about the only bright spot of that day, as we fell behind in what seemed the very first minute of the game and further goals were conceded at various intervals throughout the game, as we went on to lose 8-0. From that game back in Feb 2020, we have just five players returning from that squad, plus the Kingfishers goalkeeper on that day Paul Strudley.
The Kingfishers are currently managed by Jamie Leacock and he has them currently sitting in 6th with an opening day 1-1 draw at home to Northwood (Bradley Pagliaroli), and a 1-2 win at Tooting & Mitcham yesterday, with Thatcham scoring either side of halftime through striker Balai Dembele and defender William Edwards.
They are now captained by ex-Stoke defender Josh Edwards and they recently signed ex-Stoke goalkeeper Chris Rackley who has won the starting role at Waterside Park.
Up front alongside Dembele, they have Lamin Ceesay and Bradley Pagliaroli who has played in Hellenic Premier league football with Royal Wootton Bassett and had a spell at Binfield as well too.
In midfield they have ex-Hungerford and Thatcham academy player Alex Fragata, who has returned to the Kingfishers following a spell at Tadley Calleva.
In defence as mentioned they have popular Josh Edwards whilst at Stoke and ex-professional Andy Gunn who played for Oxford Utd as well as Oxford City, Banbury Utd & North Leigh.
Well we enter this important (aren’t they all), local derby this Bank Holiday Monday, with three wins from three in league and cup.
Yesterday’s victory down to determination and quite possibly better fitness as we put pressure on a talented Hanwell side in the last twenty minutes, and quite possibly the introduction of pacy Lloyd Snell who replaced our opening goalscorer Conor Lynch who chased everything all game, was the difference. Lynch’s finish in the first-half put the visitors on the backfoot for a while, and he now has three goals from league & cup already this season.
Both Bradley Wilson & McKoy Palmer looked good when they had the ball and the thunderbolt from Palmer that smashed against the bar was unfortunate not to go in, the keeper was motionless to say the least.
In midfield the loss of Lewis Hayden for an unknown length of time, will mean the next man in the queue will be pushed forward to a more permanent role, but to be fair, every player who has played this season, has more than earned their spot on the team. With Simon Dunn leading this group, we have the energy of Ben Cook, and the slick play of D’Andre Brown who is a fan favourite on his return and promotion to the first team line-up. We have the experienced Adam Everiss, and last and certainly not least Lloyd Snell who can play up front as well as in midfield. It was Snell whose calmness as he skipped around the Hanwell keeper and finished from an acute angle that impresses me as well as his Sam Smart acrobatic flips.
In defence many fans felt Dan Williamson was their man-of-the-match, and what a great signing he has been. For me I thought Shaun Dallimore was exceptional in the air and also on the ground, and the partnership between him and Scotty Armsworth should only strengthen throughout the season. At left-back James Haworth had another confident performance, and this area will need to continue no matter who will be between the sticks tomorrow.
What we do know as I’m sure many fans who will be heading to Waterside Park tomorrow is that we will need to again be out best on a ground we have not done well at in recent seasons.
Match Preview by Martin French..