Sat 29th Jul 2017
TAFC First team 4-1 Redhill

We completed our pre-season preparations with two friendlies and endured contrasting fortunes. On Wednesday we suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat against Aylesbury United whilst on Saturday we beat Redhill 4-1.

In the midweek defeat we produced an uncharacteristically poor performance although we did face a very good Ducks side that play at a higher level and produced some very good football. We can console ourselves with the fact that we are very unlikely to meet a side as good as this during the season.

On Saturday we were again sluggish in the first half against Redhill, who will play in the Combined Counties Premier Division following promotion which is at the same level as us in the Football Pyramid. We started okay and opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Chris Blunden smartly finished off a fine move that started in our own half.

But then we started to look ragged and Marcus Richardson had to be alert to keep out a shot on target. From the resulting corner Redhill hit the post but that let off was short lived following an equaliser in the 25th minute.

We switched off as our opponents took a quick free kick then allowed a Redhill player to seemingly dribble through 5 or 6 so called challenges before planting the ball past our keeper. It was a fully deserved equaliser but it was poor defending from us.

Some well chosen words from Ian Richardson during the break and the introduction of some new players in the second half had the desired effect and we went on to dominate the rest of the game and score three more goals and run out easy winners in the end.

The turning point came just after the hour mark in a somewhat bizarre fashion when the Redhill keeper, who was evidently a trialist and been on the field a mere 5 minutes made a complete muck up of a clearance and grabbed hold of Chris Vardy to put him off scoring.

In a normal competitive game you expect to see a red card but as this was a friendly the general feeling was that a penalty was a sufficient punishment but the Referee disagreed saying he had no choice but to send off the poor chap who must have had the shortest trial in the history of the game!

Newcomer John Smith despatched the spot kick to put us back in front and from then on we controlled the game. Whilst the extra man obviously made a difference we were looking a different proposition following the changes.

Chris Vardy set up fellow striker Chris Blunden who doubled his tally with a confident finish and then Vards got in on the act latching onto a fine pass from Qwam Thomas to round the keeper and squeeze the ball home with his right foot from a tight angle. Vards then hit the post and Qwam Thomas missed a sitter but there were no more goals and the final score was 4-1.

Afterwards Ian Richardson said "apart from the performance against Aylesbury United, when we played well below what we are capable of, we have generally performed very well in the other friendlies, winning all four games, scoring 20 goals and conceding just 3. We have retained nearly all of last season's squad that produced a very successful season and we have added some players who I believe will strengthen the team and score more goals. I am really looking forward to the new season and we are optimistic that we will do better than last year"

We open our season on Tuesday with a tough home game against local rivals Leverstock Green in the Herts Charity Shield a competition we have won on three occasions but have been the beaten finalists in the last two seasons. Then on Saturday we travel to fellow South Midland side Colney Heath to commence our FA Cup campaign.

Squad: Marcus Richardson, Zac Crawford, Dave O'Connor, Dan Steadman, Tommy Twelves, Ryan Reeves, Max Hercules, George Carbery, Ben Seaton, Ryan Sturges, Chris Vardy, Sam Joliffe, James Shaw, Callum Woods, John Smith, Chris Blunden, Qwam Thomas.

(No photos on file)

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