Thornhill Trojans kicked off life in National Conference League Division One with an agonising 11-10 defeat at Oulton Raiders last Saturday.
Despite a fantastic second half revival, the Trojans were left to reflect on what might have been as a late drop goal from Oulton’s Jordan Gale proved decisive.
It was touch and go as to whether the game would go ahead as at lunch time heavy rain had left large pools of water on the playing area.
However, after the pitch had been forked, the match referee deemed that the game should go ahead, all be it in very wet and muddy conditions.
The Trojans took far too long to make any real impression. This was compounded by giving too many needless penalties away which gifted Oulton too much field position.
Both of Oulton’s tries came on the back of penalties, while the Trojans inability to convert tries also had a bearing on the result.
The Trojans had the first real attack as the ball was flung out to winger George Woodcock and it looked as though he had scored in the corner but the referee waved the try away due to a forward pass.
The muddy midfield battled continued and play was momentarily stopped when Anthony Harris was floored and had to leave the field to have a head wound patched up.
George Woodcock kicked the penalty goal to give Thornhill a narrow lead.
Oulton scored their first try on the back of a penalty which allowed them to press for the corner.
A feeble attempt at a tackle from Thornhill gifted Oulton a way through and Chris Hope dived over for an unconverted try in the corner.
Oulton continued to test Thornhill in the run up to half time and another penalty took them up field.
A kick forward along the ground saw Adrian Holdsworth give chase and pounce to score. Tom Egan converted.
Tempers then became to became unstable. James Craven was sent to the sin bin for dropping on with his knees in the tackle before emotions boiled over in the centre of the field.
Eventually Oulton were awarded a penalty and this led to an exchange of views between Thornhill coach James Ratcliffe and the referee.
Oulton lead 10-2 at half-time but Thornhill showed fantastic spirit to stage a remarkable fightback.
Man-of-the-match Danny Ratcliffe came agonisingly close to scoring but couldn’t hold the ball with the line at his mercy.
But then the Trojans struck as Will Gledhill made a dash for the try line and held off several Oulton tacklers, showing great determination to score.
There were questions as to whether Gledhill had lost control of the ball in the process of scoring but the referee was in no doubt and pointed to the spot. The goal was missed.
Buoyed by this, the Trojans were revitalised. Josh Clough made a surging run down the field to take the Trojans forward before the ball was then worked across the field and James Craven raced over for an unconverted try to level at 10-10.
The Trojans continued to battle to the end but their efforts were in vain when Gale slotted over a late drop goal to secure Oulton’s win.