Thame crowned champions after final day drama

CHAMPIONS!
CHAMPIONS!

Thame United have clinched the Hellenic Premier Division title and sealed their return to the Southern League following an extraordinary climax to the season at the weekend.

Thame went into the final game level on points with Bracknell Town, but trailed the Berkshire side on goal difference, starting the day with a seven-goal deficit.

United knew that not only did they have to win against rock-bottom Henley, but they would have to do so by some margin to overturn the deficit.

With manager Mark West naming an unchanged team from the side that had drawn with Lydney, they could not have got off to a better start when, with only 22 seconds on the clock, a long throw from David Lynn found its way through to Ben Connelly, who controlled with his first touch before placing wide of Aulsberry in the Henley goal.

The second arrived only two minutes later when Dan West was fouled in the box and Lynton Goss stepped-up and placed the spot kick into the roof of the net.

United were then indebted to keeper Jamie Perkins who pulled off a fine save from a Byrne header, before the lead was extended further on 14 minutes when a Luke Ricketts ball found West through on goal, and he coolly lobbed Aulsberry from just inside the box.

The fourth goal arrived on 18 minutes when an Adam Morris corner was met by Tom Ashworth, who finished confidently from six yards.

Chances then came and went for United, as West saw a couple of headers go inches wide, before Ashworth was brought down in the box by Gardner on 28 minutes. Goss stepped up and again duly converted.

When news then came through that Bracknell had taken the lead in their home match with Highworth Town, it did not deter United, and they made it six just before the break when Goss capitalised on hesitancy and rounded Aulsberry to complete his hat-trick.

The opening moments of the second-half were not as frantic as the first, with skipper Ellis Hercules forcing a good save from Aulsberry, before Goss was put through on 55 minutes and he finished high into the net before scoring yet another penalty.

Substitute Andy Gledhill then fed Goss for his sixth, and United’s ninth, as he confidently beat Aulsberry.

Further chances came for United, with West going close twice, before his replacement, Ben Gray, saw a powerful effort well-saved by Aulsberry before his header from the resulting corner crashed against the bar.

News then started to filter through that Highworth had taken the lead at Bracknell and, whilst it did not change the approach from United, it calmed the nerves slightly.

That news was crystallised at the final whistle, and there followed euphoric scenes as United secured the Hellenic League title for the first time in over 45 years.