Sat 24th Feb 2018
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Debbie & Will Dunstan
TAFC First team 1-0 London Tigers
TAFC goals: Jack Read
JACK READ MARKS HALF CENTURY WITH WINNING GOAL
Having gone 5 games without a win and sitting far too close for comfort to the foot of the table we went into this game against fellow strugglers London Tigers needing 3 points to boost our fight against relegation.
The fact that we achieved this aim says a lot about the commitment and determination of the players as they had to play for over an hour a man down after key midfielder Luke Dunstan was red carded for dissent in the 17th minute.
Jack Read making his 50th appearance for Athletic got the crucial goal early in the second half, his 16th of the season and 28th overall, a decent return of over one goal every two games.
We had to dig in at times and on a few occasions rode our luck but we defended well and were never over run and can feel highly satisfied at claiming 3 vital points and in keeping a clean sheet. As a result we moved up two places in the table to 16th and now have a gap of 6 points over bottom placed Stotfold and 5 games in hand.
In their previous game Tigers won at highly placed Biggleswade FC and they started confidently, playing the ball around nicely and keeping possession. We were slow out of the blocks but the first genuine scoring opportunity fell to Chris Vardy in the 9th minute when he latched onto a ball from fellow striker Jack Read but his lob over the stranded keeper went just wide. Five minutes later Vards shot just wide but he was offside.
Midway through the half Sam Joliffe slipped a quick free to Elliott Goward whose terrific ball across the area was met by Mark Riddick who should have converted a great opportunity at the far post. We had a lucky escape a minute later Mark Richardson, standing in new keeper Lewis Todd who was ill, sent a pass to Ibrahim Diawara who wasted the opportunity by shooting into the side netting.
Later Mark Richardson made amends when he tipped a fierce shot from Joel Ramos over the bar. Ben Johnson got forward well and was unlucky to see his header from a Jack Read cross just clear the bar.
Just before the break visiting forward Ibrahim Diawara missed a sitter when he hit the post from close range when it would have been easier to score. Last word of the half nearly went to Jack Read when he was found with a Chris Vardy pass, but under pressure from the keeper he was unable to hit the target.
We reached half time still in the game despite being a player short but with the prospect of more defending to do after the break. HT Score 0-0.
New signing from Aylesbury FC and former Athletic player and Tring boy Joe Fitzgerald had come on for the injured Elliott Goward in the 38th minute and he was to play a crucial part in setting up the goal four minutes after the restart.
Latching onto a fine Chris Vardy pass Joe pulled the ball back to Jack Read who turned and fired the ball past the keeper. It was a fine finish from our leading scorer and gave us a crucial lead. Score 1-0.
Chris Vardy nearly doubled our lead ten minutes later when a cross from Ben Johnson reached him on the far side of the area and his shot forced a good save from the keeper at the near post.
The visitors tried desperately to find the equaliser and enjoyed the lion's share of possession but they were finding it tough going against our well organised rear guard action. Our opponents main threat came from their tall forward Joel Ramos who was played into a good position in our area but was foiled by a good save from Mark Richardson.
Ten minutes from time Mark could do nothing about a spectacular shot from the same player with the ball hitting the post and then the back our keeper's head. But that that was about the sum total of Tiger's threat in the second half so well had the lads worked to restrict our opponents to few genuine scoring chances. FT Score 1-0.
This was a hard earned and much needed victory for the players who collectively worked their socks off and showed a lot of character despite the odds being against them. We are still in the danger zone but hopefully we can now build on this result and use the games we have in hand over our rivals to move up the table to safety.
It was good to see Joe Fitzgerald back and he played well and had a hand in setting up the winning goal. He will be a very useful addition to our squad which has a number of absent players due to injuries and forthcoming suspensions.
On Tuesday we visit Leighton Town and then on Saturday we entertain Colney Heath, both are Premier Division league games.
TA:1 Mark Richardson 2 Ben Johnson 3 Colm Parrott 4 Mark Riddick 5 Dave O'Connor 6 Luke Dunstan 7 Max Hercules (15 Steve Nott-Macaire 78) 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Read (14 Jack Sunderland 63) 11 Elliott Goward (16 Joe Fitzgerald 38). Sub not used: 12 George Carbery.
LT:1 Luciano Martines 2 Marius Chiolescu 3 Alieu Kamara 4 Cristiano Neto (Capt) 5 Kledan Sullari 6 Lamin Cole 7 Ibrahim Fallah 8 Ibrahim Diawara (17 Naim Berisha HT) 9 Joseph Moore (14 Yuness En-Nouru HT) 10 Joel Ramos 11 (15 Labinot Krasviqi 78) Mohammed Rahman.
TA:Jack Read (49)