Waterside Park, Thatcham
Attendance: 80 (estimate)
Match Rating: 2
Today I decided to take the opportunity of taking in a friendly double in Berkshire, when I noticed that this match would be kicking off at midday. It almost didn’t happen for me though, as Southern Trains cancelled their once hourly train service, which threatened to mean that I would miss kick off. But fortunately, the replacement bus service was speedy enough to ensure that I would still make my connection en route, arriving at the ground twenty minutes before kick off.
The Waterside Park is barely a five minute walk from Thatcham train station, and spectators enter via a brick turnstile hut in one corner. Along this length is the clubhouse building, tea bar hatch, and an Atcost all-seater stand. It’s not the best place to watch the action from, as it is set some way back from the pitch and has floodlight pylons in the way of one’s vision. A small modern metallic stand covers some steps of standing is positioned between the corner flag closest to the entrance and the goal. Hard standing is available around the rest of the ground, but along the length opposite the main stand, the playing area is a long way from the standing area. The ground has a nice leafy, countryside background and feel to it, pleasant on a warm summer's day like today. No programmes were produced today.
Thatcham Town are in the Hellenic League Premier Division, finishing in second place last season with 90 points from 38 league games, seven points adrift of champions Kidlington. Maidenhead United finished in seventh place in the National League South, with 59 points from their 42 league games, five points adrift of the play-offs.
On a very warm and humid afternoon this game was something of a mismatch, dominated by the visitors who created plenty of goalscoring chances throughout, whilst the home side struggled to get near Maidenhead’s penalty area. Maidenhead took the lead on 12 minutes, when their striker teed himself up to volley the ball into the top right corner from the edge of the area. They doubled their lead on 35 minutes when a low pass forward was guided on with a first time shot that went low across the keeper and into the net.
Maidenhead continued their dominance after the break, forcing a succession of corners, but it wasn’t until the 65th minutes when they scored their third. A looped ball over the defence set the forward through on goal, and although the keeper parried the initial shot, he tucked away the rebound from an angle. Thatcham pulled a goal back on 70 minutes when a free kick was curled into the bottom right corner, but Maidenhead scored their fourth four minutes from time, when their player kept running towards the penalty area and eventually dispatched a low shot which found the back of the net despite glancing the keeper’s body on the way through.
So, Maidenhead would be pleased with their performance in this opening fixture of their pre-season, whilst Thatcham probably just wilted in the heat against technically superior opposition.