Thame hold off Cheltenham rally to go fourth

Ellis Hercules
Ellis Hercules

Thame United survived a stirring second half comeback to run out 5-3 winners after an exhilarating league encounter with Cheltenham Saracens.

Despite playing into a blustery wind in the first half, United needed just five minutes to break the deadlock when Dan Jones’ first-time cross was met by the head of Conor McDonagh, who made no mistake from five yards.

United continued to press and they quickly established a two-goal lead when McDonagh was again on hand to finish well after a goalmouth scramble.

The first half was all Thame as both Ben Gray and then Adam Morris hit the woodwork before Dan West slotted home a third goal on 19 minutes.

United were hungry for more and Cheal in the Cheltenham goal made three good saves, including an acrobatic effort from a West header, but it was only a matter of time until the hosts scored again with West adding his second after Ellis Hercules’ header was cleared off the line.

There was still time for a fifth before the half was over, with John Mulholland heading in off the underside of the bar from a Jones corner.

With a 5-0 half-time lead, the game appeared dead and buried, but Conor Patterson’s neat finish from close-range sparked a second half fightback from the visitors, who reduced the arrears to 5-2 through Declan Chick’s 70th minute goal.

United were then reduced to 10 men when Ollie Lynch was shown a straight red card before Ben Tunnicliffe netted Cheltenham’s third goal to set up a nervy last 10 minutes.

The visitors were unable to add any further goals, however, and instead it was Thame who came closest to adding a sixth when Cheal saved well from substitute Shannon Jesson before Hercules went close in the dying stages.

The win moves United back up to fourth in the Hellenic Premier Division, with a trip to Wootton Bassett Town to come this Saturday.