It was a case of so near yet so far for Thornhill Trojans as they suffered a 24-20 defeat in their vital National Conference Premier Division game against bottom of the table Kells.
om of the table Kells.
The Trojans made the long trip to Whitehaven hoping to capitalise on the previous week’s good win at home to Leigh Miners.
However, a poor start saw them trail 24-4 and was compounded by the 19th minute of Zach Johnson for punching.
Despite the handicap of having a man dismissed the Trojans produced a remarkable second half fight back to give their large number of travelling supporters plenty to cheer about.
Thornhill’s man-of-the-match was Jake Wilson as the prop returned to the line up after a two match ban and made a major contribution which was rewarded with a brace of tries.
Danny Ratcliffe also looked good taking the Trojans forward and he made a number of telling breaks which often lacked the support to complete the attack. Liam Morley also shone with some fine creative play.
Thornhill initially made a good start as Will Poching took them forward before Morley sent out a pass which put Jack Geldhill over for an unconverted try in the corner.
Thornhill then seemed to switch off and allowed Kells to take a hold. Their defence failed to close down Tyrone Dalton, who picked his way over for a try which Dom Wear converted.
Thornhill then failed to prevent the ball from going into touch and the referee called for a 40/20 and a Kells scrum. The resulting pressure saw Barry Boyd score and Wear converted.
Then came the flash point and Zach Johnson took exception to a Kells player and was shown the red card.
Straight from this dismissal Kells pressed forward and Troy Armstrong went between the posts. Wear converted.
During the half-time break there was a frank exchange of views amongst the Thornhill squad but initially this seemed to make no difference.
Straight from the restart Dalton sold a dummy which blew the defence wide open and he went alone through the gap to score with Wear converting.
The flow of play then began to shift in Thornhill’s favour. Wilson went on a striding run towards the try line, holding off his tacklers and managed to plant the ball down for a try. George Woodcock converted.
Thornhill continued to maintain the upper hand and another strong run from Wilson proved unstoppable in surging towards the line for his second try Woodcock converted and Thornhill were now buzzing.
Danny Ratcliffe broke up field on a terrific run. He was brought to ground but the referee deemed that he had been held down and Grant Gainford was shown a yellow card.
With the teams now 12 players each this was a real opportunity for Thornhill to salvage the game.
Danny Ratcliffe made another fantastic break but his final pass was agonisingly intercepted.
Another Ratcliffe beak this time paid off as Lewis Farren continued the move. The ball was worked to Casey Johnson who in turn put Jack Gledhill over for an unconverted try.
Thornhill tried frantically as the clock ticked towards full time but they were unable to complete the fight back.
Defeat saw the Trojans slip to the foot of the table and they host Rochdale Mayfield on Saturday.