Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thetford have to settle for second

It has been a superb season for Thetford and at the start of the season I think that most people at the club would have been more than happy with promotion, which they had achieved a while back.

For a long time thought they were at the top and after seeing off the challenge of Whitton United looked like they would walk their way into the Premier Division as Champions. However, a late surge by Godmanchester meant that Thetford were in second on goal difference and needed Godmanchester to slip up against Whitton or to hope that they beat Long Melford by 3 more goals than Godmanchester won by.

Both teams looked pretty even for the first 10 minutes, but it was obviously Thetford who had the bit between their teeth in their endeavours to try and score as many as possible. The best chance in the opening encounters was when a mis-hit clearance by Paul Wood in the Melford Road hit Thetford hot-shot Matt Dixon and nearly went into the back of the goal. One thing to note though was that even in these opening encounters Melford were intent on wasting time and the keeper was in no hurry to take any goal kicks.

After the opening encounters Bruno Tavares started to pull the strings on the left wing for Thetford and Melford's only chance of stopping him seemed to be to upend him or try and wind him up. It was all in vain though, as on 21 minutes a shot from Tom Cusack was parried by Wood in the Villager's goals and Bruno was ready to pounce and make it 1-0 to the Town.

Thetford doubled their lead just 7 minutes later when some great play from Sean O'Donnell was sorted out in a melee of players and found Liam Bolton on the right wing who put the ball into the path of Matt Dixon who was able just to tap it in to give Thetford a 2-0 lead.

Thetford continued to press with the hope of extending their lead and looked dangerous, however a fantastic shot on 34 minutes was expertly saved by Ian Fancett in the Thetford goal on 34 minutes. Thetford should really have gone in 3 up at the break when just before a half time a brilliant through ball by Steve Davis, who had just come on for a presumably injured Nathan Szyszlyk, found Matt Dixon, who uncharacteristically shot over.

The second half got under way in some of the worst rain I have ever seen, it was like the monsoon season, but cold. Thetford continued to press, but the pitch was getting slippery and you couldn't have blamed the teams if they had just wanted to give up. On 52 minutes Thetford were given a chance to be 3-0 up when Matt Dixon was upended in the box. He stepped up and scored what was to be his 49th goal of the season.

Thetford continued to supply some good through balls but Melford finally seemed to be getting wise to it with the best chance falling to Matt Howard, whose final shot was what only what could be called a defender's shot. Melford finally conjured up their first chance on 63 minutes when they hit the Thetford post. At this stage though a lot of the fluency was being lost from the passing game of both teams as the pitch became increasingly greasy, as the rain continued to stop and start. Melford had clearly had enough and the keeper was finally booked for time wasting on 68 minutes. Thetford on the other hand wanted to win and win big and it was mainly due to the pitch that 2 minutes later a comedy of errors saw the ball missed by Cusack, Dixon and Tavares when it would have been easier for all of them to score.

Inevitably as news went around the ground that Godmanchester were winning 4-0 Melford pulled a goal back one minute after Thetford's mix up in front of goal, Adam Rickwood hitting the ball home for the visitors.

The wind wasn't taken out of Thetford's sails though and they continued to pepper the Melford goal, Cusack was replaced by valta Rocha, who gave the Town an extra dimension and his crossing skills looked like they may pay off dividends. A great cross from Rocha on 84 was almost hammered home by O'Donnell and another cross in the last minute from Rocha was put met b y one of the Melford defenders who steered it into his own net, but a push in the box meant it was disallowed.

Thetford won 3-1, but it didn't matter as Godmanchester put 5 past Whitton without reply, but what a great season for Thetford. The performances that I saw against Halstead and Cornard earlier in the season were as clinical as you could see anywhere in non league. They are waving goodbye to the First Division and Matt Dixon received the league's version of the golden boot at the end of the game. They still have a Norfolk Senior Cup Final against Gorleston to look forward to and hopefully Matt Dixon will be able to get his 50th of the campaign in that game.

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