Sat 12th Aug 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Barry Simmons
TAFC First team 0-1 Welwyn Garden City
WE START OUR LEAGUE CAMPAIGN OFF WITH A DEFEAT
After an entree of two cup games we opened our league season with a disappointing home defeat to Welwyn Garden City. Only one goal separated us but the visitors were much the better team and should have won by a bigger margin.
Last season WGC finished sixth in the Premier Division, one place and two points behind us, but during the summer they have invested heavily in new players and their team sheet contained a number of familiar faces that previously appeared for other clubs.
Looking back at our last game against them in February, when we came away from Herns Lane with a 3-2 victory, only three of that team appeared on the Team Sheet for this game whilst we had nine.
Included in the visitor's line up was Jon Clements who was the leading scorer in the South Midlands last season with Champions London Colney. He scored an amazing 41 goals and he soon showed his mettle forcing Jack Hopwood to make a save with his legs with only 4 minutes gone on the clock. Ten minutes later Clements superbly took a pass in his stride and thumped a shot just wide.
Later WGC winger Emmanuel Melford-Rowe produced a good long range effort that wasn't too far over and former Cockfoster player George Ironton tried to test Jack Hopwood with a couple of shots. Hoppy was a bit fortunate when his attempted clearance was blocked but we somehow managed to clear the danger. Clements then produced a superb turn on the edge of the box and struck a fine shot just wide.
It has to be said that it was all WGC as we struggled to find our form but we are a difficult side to beat, even when we are not playing well, and we defended with spirit and determination. But that all changed in the 38th minute when we switched off and allowed our opponents to score.
It all stemmed from a period when we enjoyed some possession but a long clearance caught us out allowing Clements to lay the ball off nicely to Brandon Carney around the half way line. With no cover the former AFC Dunstable player ran through virtually unopposed to finish smartly. It was no more than our opponents deserved but from a defensive point of view the lack of cover was disappointing. Score 0-1.
Soon afterwards WGC nearly doubled their score when Clements, looking distinctly offside, found the side netting when in a good position and then a header from a corner hit our post.
We had not tested the opposition keeper Oliver Leslie but with half time looming we finally had a shot on target when Chris Blunden tried his luck. The keeper easily caught it but a minute into added time he had to produce a fine save from Chris Vardy after newcomer Mark Riddick nicely flicked on a free kick.
After a difficult half where we had been second best we were still only a goal behind and still in the hunt. HT Score 0-1.
During the interval Ian Richardson made a number of changes to formation and personnel with Tommy Twelves coming on for young Zac Crawford. Despite the changes the opportunities were still falling to our opponents with Clements fizzing a dangerous ball across our area then forcing Jack Hopwood into a save with his fellow striker Carney heading a free kick just wide.
A terrible back pass nearly proved suicidal and Dave O'Connor produced a magnificent challenge on Carney to prevent a certain goal. With a quarter of an hour still to go we were surprisingly still in the game and from a corner Dave O'Connor's header was blocked on the line. A mad scramble ensued but we couldn't get a shot on target and the danger was eventually cleared.
The best chances were still falling to our opponents with Carney shooting wide after a great run by Ironton and then Jack Hopwood and Dave O'Connor denied Clements. With just over 10 minutes remaining we had an opportunity to snatch an undeserved equaliser when Jack Read and Ryan Sturges linked up superbly to give Ready a great shooting opportunity but the keeper made a superb save with his feet.
But justice prevailed and our guests recorded their third win in Tring from 14 visits and we cannot have any complaints. FT Score 0-1.
A disappointing start for us but on the balance of play we can at least take some solace from keeping the score down and our slim hopes alive of getting something from the game. WGC are a good side and on this performance will be challenging for the title, but we know we can play better than this.
There is some good news in that we will have Luke Dunstan back for the next game, and his competitiveness has been sorely missed in midfield, as well as exciting youngster Max Hercules.
Our midweek game against Leverstock Green has been called off because Green have a replay of their FA Cup game against Edgware Town following a nasty injury to one of their players. So our next game will be on Saturday when we face another toughie when Sun Sports are our guests.
Sun did the double over us last season and have made a reasonable start with wins over Harpenden Town in the county cup and Stotfold in the league on Saturday. Their only defeat came in the FA Cup. We will have to show a big improvement if we want to get to winning ways.
TA:1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton (15 James Shaw 77) 3 Lewis Smith 4 Mark Riddick 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 Dave O'Connor 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Sam Joliffe (Jack Read 66) 9 Chris Vardy 10 Chris Blunden 11 Zac Crawford (17 Tommy Twelves HT). Subs not used: 14 Qwam Thomas 16 Seb Smith.
WGC:1 Oliver Leslie 2 Jay Rolfe 3 Johnny Sexton 4 David Corran 5 Yasin Boodhoo 6 Ben Long 7 Emmanuel-Melford-Rowe (12 Ashley Kersey 63) 8 Ben Spaul 9 Jon Clements 10 George Ironton 11 Brandon Carney (15 Ben L'Honore 80). Sub not used: 14 Charlie Joy
WGC:Brandon Carney (38)
What our opponents said about the game: