Ardley show improvement at leaders

Chris Jackson scored for Ardley at Thatcham
Chris Jackson scored for Ardley at Thatcham

Ardley United have an early opportunity to avenge their defeat by new UHLSport Hellenic League leaders Thatcham Town when they entertain the Berkshire outfit this weekend.

A much improved second half performance was not enough to prevent Ardley from slipping to 4-1 premier division defeat.

The home side’s domination of the first half an hour was almost total with Ardley struggling as Josh Baines, Adam Morris and Callum Willmoth gave them a torrid time. As has been the pattern in recent games, Ardley fell behind to an early goal with Tom Moran glancing home an unopposed header from a third minute free-kick.

More goals threatened to follow, Baines struck a post and then had one ruled out for offside before slack marking enabled him to swivel and double Thatcham’s lead in the 20th minute.

Ardley survived a goalmouth scramble before the visitors began to see more of the ball and managed to give themselves a lifeline by pulling a goal back three minutes before the break. A throw-in was allowed to run by Carl Tappin and Chris Jackson slammed the ball past a startled Chris Rackley.

Manager Paul Davis made two changes at halftime and a change in formation for Ardley gave them a more solid look as they began to compete on level terms with the Kingfishers.

But while the defence, with new signing Bradley Cox at centre-back had a significant influence and were coping with Thatcham’s front runners, Ardley were still lacking a presence at the top of the pitch due to the absence of Ade Talabi.

Chances were fewer than they had been in the first period with defences on top but Thatcham increased their lead in the 71st minute when Josh Helmore turned smartly to rifle home. Ardley’s best chance fell to Luke Cray but his glancing header from a free-kick was just wide.