Shortwood United 1
Didcot Town 0
SHORTWOOD United skipper Ashley Thomas made an emotional farewell to his beloved club on Saturday but even he could not have dreamed of the fairytale ending.
Applauded on to the pitch by both sides before the game Thomas proceeded to give the sort of performance he will long be remembered for at the heart of his defence – rock solid and immovable.
Alongside him, his colleague Mark Pritchett was equally steadfast and one thundering challenge from Pritchett in the second half will live long in the memory.
But this was Thomas's day and he escaped the shackles of his defensive duties to head the only goal of the game seven minutes from time.
In truth this was not a good game for the spectator as chances were few and far between and play was dominated by the defences of both sides.
It was also hindered by an overly fussy referee who interrupted play constantly for minor infringements, while letting major ones pass without comment and irritated both sides with his lack of consistency.
In the early stages Matt Bennett found plenty of space down the left flank but the Didcot defence performed well as a unit to deal with any danger.
Thomas had one header deflected over the bar and Tim Haddock was denied by some alert goalkeeping from Namibian Marcos Belloli-Perriera.
Just before the break Luke Gullick's fine run and cross had James Baldwin stretching and just unable to turn the ball home.
The second half was largely patchy as play was time and time again interrupted by the whistle and frequent use of the referee's pencil.
TJ Bohane and Kevin Slack were introduced to give more width and force up front and Slack's introduction certainly gave the visiting defence more to think about.
Finally, with seven minutes to go Shortwood were given a free kick wide on the right. Jake Parrott curled the ball in and Thomas rose above the visitors to head the ball over Pereira and under the bar to send his team mates and the Wood faithful wild with delight.
There was still time for Slack to be robbed by a great last-ditch tackle before the final whistle and the skipper was roundly applauded by everyone as he left the Meadowbank pitch for the last time.
Shortwood United: T King, J Coates, A Axton, M Pritchett, A Thomas, T Haddock, J Tustain (T Bohane 70), J Parrott, L Gullick, J Baldwin, M Bennett (K Slack 75)