Promoted already but the title battle is on...

Thame Hockey push for the title
Thame Hockey push for the title

THAME Mens first team are guaranteed promotion after a hard fought 6-0 win over local rivals Aylesbury.

The home side started brightly but found it difficult to break through the resolute Aylesbury defence.

The visitors were evidently wary of the Thame midfield after being thrashed 9-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and set up very defensively.

Prolonged pressure stemming from solid possession in midfield eventually led to a near post half chance which Will Sawrey-Cookson gleefully snapped up.

Excellent running from James Cunningham and Mark Brookes spread the play and allowed Thame to avoid the densely packed Aylesbury midfield.

A smart finish from Joe Quilter meant Thame went into the break two goals up.

The visiting side changed their tactics in the second half and elected to man-mark the talismanic Thame captain Gareth Birkett.

Although this strategy restricted the normally influential Birkett’s say on the game, it allowed Sawrey-Cookson and sweeper Chris Humphreys to make the most of the developing gaps.

Two fine runs down the right from Brookes gave Clifford Brown goals before Sawrey-Cookson grabbed his second and then secured his hat-trick with a fine third.

The home defence of Nicholas Moore, James Rudolph, Tim Trailor and Ben Bennet put in a solid performance.

The win secured Thame’s hold on second place, guaranteeing automatic promotion.

They currently lie six points behind league leaders West London but have to play them twice in the next four weeks.

If Thame manage two wins against their championship rivals, their vastly superior goal difference will see them snatch the title.

Thame’s Men train on a Wednesday at Thame Leisure Centre. 8.45pm to 10pm. The Ladies train from 7.30pm.