Stockton Town 0-1 Thatcham Town - Shane Cooper-Clark’s 62nd goal of the season wins FA Vase for Thatcham Town

Sunday 20th May 2018
Stockton Town 0 – 1 Thatcham Town
Location Wembley Stadium, Wembley, Middlesex HA9 0WS
Kickoff 20/05/2018 12:15

STOCKTON TOWN  0-1  THATCHAM TOWN
The Buildbase FA Vase Final
Sunday 20 May 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Wembley Stadium

THATCHAM TOWN celebrated winning The Buildbase FA Vase for the first time in their history to go with the Hellenic League title.

Danny Robinson’s side claimed the silverware, courtesy of a first half penalty from striker Shane Cooper-Clark, who scored his 62nd goal of the season.

The win for the Berkshire outfit ensured they put a dent on the Northern League’s dominance of this competition on Non-League Finals Day at a glorious Wembley Stadium.

Thatcham created the first opening after 11 minutes when Jordan Brown released left-winger Ekow Elliott and he cut inside and dragged his shot past he near post from 22-yards.

Stockton’s only first half chance saw a ball over the top put striker Fred Woodhouse in and his chip sailed over Chris Rackley’s head and was put behind by his central defender Baboucarr Jarra, who scooped the man-of-the-match award.

Thatcham Town scored the winning goal with 22 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock after referee John Brooks pointed to the spot after James Ward slid in to bring down Brown.

Cooper-Clark drilled his right-footed penalty straight down the middle but keeper Michael Arthur stepped to his right and stuck out his left-hand and couldn’t prevent the ball hitting the hallowed turf and bouncing up into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Thatcham skipper Tom Melledew played the ball into Gavin James’ feet inside the box and his shot on the turn flashed past the far post.

Stockton keeper Arthur was called into action on the stroke of half-time. 

Cooper-Clark drilled a free-kick into the wall and Melledew swept his shot across the keeper, who gathered to his left, before the keeper stepped to his right to gather Melledew’s 30-yard effort.

Stockton Town manager Michael Dunwell certainly gave his troops an inspirational half-time team talk as they came out on the front foot and enjoyed a five minute spell at the start of the second half.

Woodhouse found Chris Stockton in acres of space inside the box but his shot was charged down by Curtis Angell and Jamie Owens left-footed shot on the turn flashed past the far post from 16-yards.

Thatcham Town should have killed the game off with their next two chances.

Impressive winger Elliott raced to the by-line and cut the ball back for striker James who flicked his shot straight at Arthur from three-yards at the near post.

And in the 65th minute Cooper-Clark raced down the left on the break to reach the by-line to cut the ball back for James, whose left-footed shot from eight-yards crashed down off the underside of the crossbar and television replays proved that the ball bounced on the goal-line and had not fully crossed the line.

Stockton Town’s urgency levels increased during a dominant final 15 minutes and four of their six corners came during this spell.

They almost grabbed an equaliser in the 80th minute when Nathan Mullian’s free-kick was punched away by Rackley and Woodhouse’s low drive beat the keeper and was cleared away by Jarra.

Stockton wasted a glorious chance to equalise when Dale Mulligan came up from the back to plant a free-header over from eight-yards after Dale Mulligan’s corner from the right.

Thatcham winger Elliott came to alive again inside stoppage time, breaking down the left to set up substitute Ross Cook, whose shot sailed over the bar from 25-yards when left in space.

Stockton winger James Risbrough punted the ball into the Thatcham box and Nathan Mulligan’s looping header was caught by Rackley.

A hand-ball from Thatcham right-back Lewis Brownhill gave Stockton one final chance to equalise and their keeper Arthur came up into the penalty area.

Nathan Mulligan’s delivery from the left was punched away by Rackley and Thatcham broke down the middle and Elliott put the ball on a plate for substitute Ross Cook who slotted a low shot towards an open goal but Matthew Garbutt showed desire to get back on his line to clear as Thatcham Town came out winners on their greatest ever day to spark a night of celebration.

Stockton Town: Michael Arthur, Joe Carter (Matthew Garbutt 61), James Ward (Adam Nicholson 79), Nathan Mulligan, Dale Mulligan, Tom Coulthard, Kevin Hayes, Fred Woodhouse, Chris Stockton (Sonni Coleman 67), Jamie Owens, James Risbrough.
Subs: Alan Cossavella, Chris Dunwell

Booked: Fred Woodhouse 47, James Ward 51

Thatcham Town: Chris Rackley, Lewis Brownhill, Curtis Angell, Tom Melledew (Ashleigh James 83), Baboucarr Jarra, Tom Moran, Jordan Brown (Jemel Johnson 70), Harrison Bailey, Shane Cooper-Clark (Ross Cook 78), Gavin James, Ekow Elliott.
Subs: Harry Grant, Gareth Thomas

Goals: Shane Cooper-Clark 23 (penalty)

Attendance: 31,430 (over the two games)
Referee: Mr John Brooks (Leicestershire)
Assistants: Mr Adrian Waters (Hertfordshire) & Mr Craig Taylor (Staffordshire)
Fourth Official: Mr Anthony Coggins (Oxfordshire)

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EMAIL STEPHEN McCARTNEY:
stephen@kentishfootball.co.uk