Calor Southern League Division One South & West Yate Town 2 Thatcham Town 1
A SUPERB 90th minute winner from substitute Martin Lenihan lifted the tension at Lodge Road as Yate Town showed their battling qualities to come from behind against Thatcham.
With the Bluebells going into the game on the back of three straight home league defeats, there was an edgy atmosphere around the ground, which became more palpable once the visitors took the lead against the run of play on the hour mark.
However, Lewis Haldane equalised five minutes later before Lenihan’s first goal for the club secured a crucial win which saw Yate leapfrog their opponents and move into the top half of the table.
Manager Rob Cousins handed three players their first league starts for Yate with Jake Jackson rewarded for his two-goal performance from the Red Insure Cup win against Paulton Rovers on Tuesday night, while Danny Lane and Mitch Tippins were also retained from that side.
James Harmer returned after missing the last two games through injury but Ross Staley and Tom Seery remained ruled out, while club captain Mike Bryant was left on the bench.
Jackson was involved straight away as Thatcham defender Matt Bowler’s header inadvertently sent the striker through on goal but goalkeeper Aaron Carter raced off his line to save at his feet in the penalty box.
In a flat first half, Yate captain Jake Cox tried to get his side going with a speculative attempt from 35 yards that had Carter scrambling to his left to tip around the post.
From the resulting corner, Cox was given a second chance to deliver and Ricky Hulbert shot wastefully over after the ball reached him at the far post.
Yate kept the pressure on as Mitch Harrison’s header was cleared off the line by Jordan Seward following a Cox corner and when Joe Chandler picked up the loose ball near the touch line, his cross went straight into the net only for the referee to blow his whistle for a foul on Carter in a crowded six-yard box.
Thatcham rarely threatened but took the lead when Callum Willmoth drove a pass into box and Tom Gooding slotted the ball past Martin Horsell.
Cox got a tongue lashing from Cousins for not closing down the goalscorer down but responded magnificently by playing a big role in the equaliser. After making a fine run infield from left back his 25-yard shot was spilt by Carter and Haldane pounced to score.
Cox provided Yate’s biggest threat going forward and six minutes later his delightful cross was glanced narrowly over by Jordan Rogers.
Yate had half-hearted penalty appeals for handball when Haldane’s shot in the box was blocked by Bowler, but at the other end Yashwa Romeo’s cross almost sneaked into the top corner until a back-pedalling Horsell tipped over.
However, Yate were finally rewarded for their pressure in the last minute of normal time and Cox was involved once again in the winner as his cross was only punched as far as Lenihan, who volleyed into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Yate Town: Horsell, Cox (c), Harrison, Chandler, Tippins, Abraham, Harmer, Lane (Bryant, 57), Haldane, Jackson (Rogers, 68), Hulbert (Lenihan, 75). Subs not used: Felix, R Cousins.
Ref: Mr A Bennett Att: 132 Gazette star man: Jake Cox – Sparkling attacking performance from the full back.
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