Shane Cooper-Clark’s 62nd goal of the season won Thatcham Town their first ever Buildbase FA Vase.
On a gloriously sunny afternoon at Wembley Stadium, the Kingfishers’ prolific goalscorer found the net – albeit with the assistance of a weak hand from Michael Arthur – after Jordan Brown was fouled on 23 minutes.
Stockton came close to scoring inside five minutes but Thatcham defended well to clear the danger when Fred Woodhouse delivered a cross into the area.
In an extremely exciting end-to-end affair, Thatcham Town had a chance of their own – although Ekow Elliott was unable to keep his low shot on-target as it skidded wide of the left post.
Stockton came close once again midway through the first half but a moment of heroic defending rescued Thatcham. James Risbrough’s deft lob seemed destined for the far post but fell short at the last minute. Jamie Owens followed-up, looking to deflect the ball home but a last minute tackle saved the Kingfishers.
And shortly afterwards, the Anchors were left rueing their missed chances as Thatcham were handed a penalty. Jordan Brown’s clever feet inside the area drew a foul and Cooper-Clark swiftly convered the spot-kick.
Then Stockton had a plethora of chances: Gavin James turned inside the area but dragged a shot wide, then James Risbrough shot well over just before the break.
Thatcham almost doubled their lead in first half added time when Cooper-Clark’s free-kick struck the wall, with the Kingfishers’ striker have a firesome volley turned away by Michael Arthur.
Stockton came closest to equalising just a minute into the second half, but the Thatcham defence stood firm when Chris Stockton had his low shot turned away by Curtis Angell.
But it was Thatcham who looked more likely to score again. Ekow Elliott cut inside after beating two defenders, but James’ flick failed to beat Arthur.
Then Cooper-Clark drilled a shot towards the bottom corner, which Arthur spilled at the feet of James, but the Anchors’ shot-stopper leapt forward to correct his error.
It seemed as though Thatcham had doubled their lead midway through the second half, although the Goal Line Technology denied James a Wembley goal after his header crashed against the ground and left the crossbar rattling.
As the game headed towards it’s end, chances for Stockton suddenly came at a fast rate. Substitute Matthew Garbutt’s deep cross was flapped at by Chris Rackley, but Fred Woodhouse’s volley was turned away.
Then, with just thirty seconds left, Stockton’s final chance saw a deep corner dropped by Rackley and then cleared away – it just was not the Anchors’ day as Thatcham held on for their first ever FA Vase win.
Photos come courtesy of Andy Wilkins.