Thackley returned to winning form yesterday with a 2-0 victory against local rivals Eccleshill United. Late goals from Terrelonge-Jones and Donovan secured the three points on a day that saw three red cards in nearly 30-degree heat. The match experienced a 30-minute delay as the referee was dissatisfied with the pitch’s line markings. In true non-league spirit, the Thackley committee hastily made a trip back to Dennyfield to retrieve the Thackley AFC line marker (as Eccleshill United’s was unavailable) and re-marked the pitch. The game finally kicked off at 3:30 pm.

Lewis Morgan made a return to the starting XI after recovering from injury, taking his place in a back three alongside Billy and Hudson. Claridge also joined the team in place of Green, who was unavailable due to illness. Bodle faced his former team after switching from Eccleshill United to Thackley AFC just over a week ago.

The game started evenly, with Thackley holding a slight edge. Greaves won several aerial duels, and Thackley dominated in Eccleshill United’s half. In the 5th minute, Everingham delivered a deep cross to Greaves, narrowly missing him at the back post. On the 12th minute, Thackley earned a central free-kick after Claridge was fouled. The free-kick was played wide to Mitchell, who sent in a cross to find Greaves. The ball eventually reached Prata at the edge of the box. He skillfully maneuvered past his marker and struck a powerful shot that rebounded off Eccleshill United’s crossbar. However, from this attack, the Eagles swiftly countered. Wilson performed admirably to narrow his angles and made a crucial save, followed by a clearance from the resulting corner.

In the 23rd minute, the referee wisely called for a drinks break. It had been a promising first quarter for Thackley, but after the break, the hosts demonstrated that they were not going down without a fight. Ndlovu sought to exploit the space behind the Thackley defense, and on a couple of occasions, Eccleshill United managed to beat the offside trap, delivering crosses and taking shots. However, their finishing was imprecise and failed to trouble Wilson. In the 29th minute, Woodward displayed nimble footwork to make a dangerous run down the left and sent a threatening cross into the box, narrowly eluding two sliding Thackley players. On the 43rd minute, Claridge skillfully won the ball on the Eccleshill United goal kick line, wide of the area, and cut it back to Greaves, who fired a left-footed shot over the bar. On the 44th minute, a lofted ball once again saw Billy in a footrace with the Eccleshill United attacker. While it appeared he was clipped, the referee waved play on. The attacker found himself one-on-one with Wilson, who he rounded, but Hudson sprinted back and cleared the ball off the line with a magnificent effort.

Both teams headed into halftime level, each with their share of chances. Despite Thackley’s brighter start, it could be argued that Eccleshill United finished the half with greater momentum.

Half Time: Eccleshill United 0 – 0 Thackley AFC

In the 47th minute, Everingham delivered a fantastic cross that Greaves could only head over the bar. On the 54th minute, Claridge outplayed his opponent, making a penetrating run into the box. However, on his weaker right foot, his shot was well-placed but saved by Wilzynski in the home goal. The game then witnessed a red card for each side in the 58th minute. Morgan went up for a header after a corner, leading to a clash of heads with Sumaili. Both players writhed on the ground in pain, and their contact on the floor resulted in the referee issuing red cards to both. The game would continue with 10 men on each side.

In the 61st minute, Haigh replaced Billy as Thackley sought to reorganise after the dismissal. On the 63rd minute, Bodle made a commendable effort down the left, sending in a good cross that found Greaves. He attempted a shot with appeals for handball after the defender blocked it, but the referee waved play on. Thackley was awarded a free kick on the halfway line, which was delivered to the hosts’ box, but it was cleared. A counter-attack saw sub Bayoh unleash a shot wide of Wilson’s post. Another drinks break occurred on the 66th minute, leaving the game wide open.

On the 70th minute, Woodward seemed poised to score as he directed a header toward the far top corner, leaving Wilzynski stranded. However, the effort narrowly missed the post. On the 74th minute, King replaced Prata, and on the 81st minute, Terrelonge-Jones and Donovan came on for Woodward and Claridge. Amidst the substitutions, Aliya attempted a long-range shot that sailed well over the bar.

The substitutions had the intended impact, as Thackley increased the pressure in the final stretch. First, King evaded Gordon on the right, closing in on goal. However, his shot was blocked by a combination of the keeper and the defender at the front post. Mitchell then sent in a cross on the 87th minute, and Hudson headed toward goal, but he couldn’t quite get enough on it to trouble the keeper.

In the 88th minute, Thackley took the lead. Hudson won a defensive header from an Eccleshill United goal kick, which Greaves nodded down to Mitchell. Mitchell then released Donovan down the left wing. Donovan cut inside and struck a fine effort that Wilzynski saved. The ball rebounded, and Mitchell again found Donovan on the left. He cut inside, faced opposition, but Terrelonge-Jones was there, controlled the ball, outwitted his marker, and fired into the roof of the net with his left foot, sparking cheers from the travelling Thackley AFC supporters. (GOAL – Terrelonge-Jones (81st minute) – Eccleshill United 0 – 1 Thackley AFC). Terrelonge-Jones received a yellow card for celebrating on the wrong side of the pitch perimeter fences.

The game entered seven minutes of added time, and in the 93rd minute, Thackley sealed the victory. Terrelonge-Jones and Mitchell combined effectively, releasing King down the right wing. He tried to set up Greaves, but his pass was overhit, forcing Greaves wide. Greaves regained control and found Donovan. Donovan cut inside and unleashed another powerful strike high into the near post. (GOAL – Donovan (90+3rd minute) – Eccleshill United 0 – 2 Thackley AFC).

In the 95th minute, Eccleshill United were reduced to nine men as the referee took exception to something said by Bayoh. After some encouragement from the home bench, he eventually left the pitch and made his way down the tunnel. Thackley then saw out the game with a clean sheet, two goals, and three points.

Full Time: Eccleshill United 0 – 2 Thackley AFC