Thatcham Town 3-2 Barnstaple Town
By Benjamin Schiffer-Harte
George Jeacock nets hat-trick on his debut for the Kingfishers
George Jeacock marked his Thatcham Town debut in style after scoring a hat-trick in his team’s 3-2 victory over Barnstaple Town at Waterside Park.
Two penalties and a second-half lob helped the Kingfishers to record their second Southern League win of the season whilst condemning the visitors to their sixth consecutive league defeat.
The game started with an action-packed first minute. First Barnstaple went close after Mark Hughes gave the ball away to Steve Holland on the edge of the area, but his looping shot was denied by the crossbar.
Thatcham then took the ball straight up the other end as Lewis Coyle went one-on-one with the Barnstaple goalkeeper Robert Holmes but his effort tumbled just past the far post.
New signings Jeacock and Lewis Gabbidon started the fixture for the hosts, and the former took wasted little time in making his presence known. The striker received the ball on the edge of the penalty area before turning his defender and being brought down to hand Thatcham their first spot-kick ten minutes in.
Jeacock stepped up from twelve yards and smashed the ball past Holmes to give the home side the advantage.
Ten minutes later the debutant nearly had his second after his curling effort from outside of the penalty area was whiskers away from finding the top corner.
Despite constant pressure from the Blues, Barnstaple kept their faith and had an equaliser on the 23rd minute. Jack Rice-Lethaby’s clever trickery on the right was matched by his pin-point cross to Jack Langford – who made no mistake in beating Chris Rackley to the near post to level the score.
Thatcham picked up the pressure after conceding and two close-range chances were narrowly missed by Ben Cook moments afterwards.
But the hosts were awarded their second penalty of the game seven minutes before half-time after James Clark was brought down by Ross Jones. The defender picked up a yellow card for his troubles and Jeacock slotted in his second of the game to restore Thatcham’s lead.
It took just three minutes from the second-half whistle for Thatcham to extend their lead. Scott Rees well-timed flick over the Barnstaple defence was met by a looping effort from Jeacock to record his first hat-trick for the club.
But the hosts were pegged back once again after visiting captain Jack Jenkins fired his free-kick past Rackley and into the bottom corner in an attempt to breath life back into his side.
The Kingfishers did manage to hold out late attacks from their opponents, most notably Tallan Mitchell’s close-range header towards the end of the match.
Victory for Danny Robinson’s side marks their second consecutive home victory in the Southern League whilst Barnstable slumped to their sixth defeat in the division – leaving them at the foot of the table without a point so far.
Thatcham Town: Rackley, Hughes, Angell, Gabbidon, Thomas, Scott, Coyle, Rees, Jeacock, Cook, Clark.
Substitutes: Sankoh, Tennant, Melledew, Cooper-Clark, Downes.
Barnstaple Town: Holmes, Jones, Last, Dart, Spence, Mitchell, Rice-Lethaby, Jenkins, Holland, Ndonce-Kivell, Langford.
Substitutes: Reed, Moulden, Pinnick, Darragh, Crook.
Stay tuned for upcoming photos and interviews from today's thriller!