Thatcham Town 2 Cirencester Town 0
By Benjamin Schiffer-Harte
Blues cruise into the Buildbase FA Trophy First Round Qualifying stage.
Match report by Dan Lewis
Shane Cooper-Clark marked his return to first-team action in style after bagging both goals in Thatcham’s 2-0 win over Cirencester Town.
Victory for Danny Robinson’s side in the Buidbase FA Trophy sees the Kingfishers qualify for the First Round Qualifying stage in two weeks’ time, whilst condemning Cirencester to their second consecutive cup exit.
The home side dominated possession throughout the first half and rarely gave the visitors a sniff at goal.
But the Kingfishers had to wait until the 20th minute for their hard work and patience to be rewarded.
A Thatcham throw-in close to the corner flag deflected off of the away side’s defence before landing at the feet of striker Cooper-Clark, who made no mistake in smashing his first-time effort into the bottom corner.
Cirencester aimed to bounce back from the resulting kick-off but Aiden Bennett’s looping header flew over the bar, failing to trouble Chris Rackley in the Thatcham goal.
The hosts pushed on just eight minutes later and came close to doubling their lead after Lewis Gabbidon crept into the penalty area before firing his shot towards the top corner, forcing an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Mateusz Wieczorek.
Lewis Coyle also shone for the Blues, linking up well with Cooper-Clark before the latter saw his strike go inches past Wieczorek’s near post shortly before the half-time whistle.
The visitors started the second period in a much better fashion than the first, and came close to levelling after Alan Griffin had his close-range effort swiped off of the line by Gareth Thomas.
But it was the hosts that took advantage after the resulting corner was pumped up field for Cooper-Clark to latch onto. The striker’s bursting run past Ellis Dunton allowed the forward to slot past Wieczorek to grab his second of the match.
And the forward nearly added his third moments later, turning Adam Connelly on the edge of the box before his strike was parried away by the Cirencester ‘keeper.
George Jeacock then turned provider for Cooper-Clark, swinging a cross towards the back post, but his header went just wide.
Ben Whitehead attempted to breath life back into his side, linking up well with Griffin before forcing a save from Rackley.
James Mortimer-Jones also came close to cutting Thatcham’s lead, but his volley from range was blocked well by Tom Melledew on the 80th minute.
But it was the Kingfishers who finished the game strong after Gabbidon forced a late double-save from Wieczorek in the final moments.
The win marks Thatcham’s third consecutive win in all competitions as Robinson’s side continue to take shape.
The Kinfisher’s next game comes in the Southern League Challenge Cup as the Blues take on Hartley Wintney at Waterside Park on Tuesday night.