Broadbridge Heath’s FA Vase campaign for 2017 came to an end with a thumping 8-2 defeat away to Hellenic Premier Division side Thatcham Town on Saturday.
The hosts came into the game in excellent form with just one defeat in their last ten matches, a run which sees them on the edge of an automatic promotion position in third.
Heath’s recent form had been good with players returning from injury and suspension, but availability struck Steve Painter’s team selection with first choice keeper Michael Chester best man at a wedding, Dan Sandell missing out with a groin strain, Darren Helsdown working and George Cousins pulling up in the warm-up.
Heath were a goal down within four minutes of the start and in somewhat controversial circumstances when Devon Fender was fouled on the halfway line, but play was allowed to continue and the ball came out to Shane Cooper-Clark in acres of space and the striker placed his shot wide of Conor Evento.
Things got worse for Heath six minutes later when some quick passing across the field ended with the ball being played out left to an unmarked Harry Grant who drilled the ball past Evento.
Heath finished the half on the ascendency, Tom Bold’s long-range effort was saved comfortably by the Thatcham keeper Chris Rackley. Stuart Chester had a shot blocked from the edge of the penalty area and Shaun Findlay was also denied.
In the closing minutes, Tim Martin got round the full-back and crossed to the near–post where the ball was eventually cleared following a scramble.
In the second half, Javlon Campbell found himself through on goal but his low shot was saved brilliantly by Rackley. The killer goal came 12 minutes into the restart, a counter attack picked out Josh Helmore on the edge of the penalty area, the Thatcham striker played a back-heel pass into Cooper-Clark who slammed home.
Two minutes later it was 4-0 when Helmore picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and danced his way through Heath defenders to net his second. Campbell reduced the deficit with a well-taken goal on 61 minutes but Helmore completed his hat-trick minutes later to make it 5-1.
The home side added further goals from Cooper-Clark completing his hat-trick on 70 minutes, Michael Miller and Tom Browne also adding goal for the Kingfishers, before Tom Frankland managed a late consolation in injury-time.
Painter said: “We lost to a very good side with some clinical finishing, once the fourth goal was conceded we were all over the place, we lost our composure and they’ve got the quality of players to take full advantage.
“On the plus side, the club has won £2,500 in prize money for reaching this stage and to a club like Broadbridge Heath that’s a lot of money.”
Heath: Evento, Findlay, Robinson, S.Chester, Flack, Howard-Bold, Weller (Frankland 60), Parsons, Fender (McNab 70), Martin (Elkana 60), Campbell.