Tue 7th Nov 2017
Herts Charity Shield Quarter Final
Sponsored by Pete Stillwell were
TAFC First team 1-2 Berkhamsted
TAFC goals: Tommy Twelves
BATTLING CUP PERFORMANCE STILL ENDS IN DEFEAT
For the second time in a week we took our leave from a County Cup competition - last Tuesday we lost 1-0 to Oxhey Jets in the Senior Challenge Cup whilst on this occasion Berkhamsted were the victors again by a one goal margin in the Herts Charity Shield. This was a re-run of last season's cup final when two very late goals saw Berkhamsted snatch a late victory and lift this trophy for the first time.
We seem to have specialised in narrow one goal defeats this season and could be heading for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records but any disappointment at yet another set back should be tempered by a much improved performance by the players. This was a top versus bottom encounter with the visitors sitting pretty at the top of the Premier Division and us unfortunately, but hopefully temporarily, lying one place off the bottom.
On the evidence of this game we made a mockery of the 19 places that separated us from our guests because we produced probably our best performance of the season so far, especially in the second half, and we were unlucky not to get something tangible for our efforts.
We made three changes from Saturday's line up with James Butler and Mark Riddick both unavailable as well as Jack Seaton who was sporting a big shiner after the dreadful elbow he got in the face against St Margaretsbury. It looked painful but fortunately it appears there was no lasting damage done to his face or eye (some said it improved his looks!). So into the starting line up came Ben Johnson and George Carbery, against his old club, and also Chris Mason. It was great to see Mase back in action again and despite his lengthy absence he looked assured on the ball and played very well.
Berko included in their line Chris Blunden who was with us until a few weeks ago and is still our leading scorer by some distance with 13 goals. Interestingly Chris scored in our 4-1 win over Leverstock Green in an early round of this competition.
There were a couple of unfortunate injuries during the first half with Ryan Sturges appearing to pass out in the 20th minute to be replaced by young Max Hercules. Then the Berko centre forward Stacey Field sustained a nasty knee injury six minutes before half time. Neither were the result of any foul play and we wish them both a speedy recovery.
As you would expect from a team in superb form our opponents started strongly with Chris Blunden testing Jack Hopwood with a fierce shot that Hoppy saved but couldn't keep hold of. We have been prone this season to giving away silly goals and we did exactly that after only five minutes.
From our free kick in the opposition half Berko broke quickly and Chris Blunden whipped in a cross into our area. We had an opportunity to clear the danger but a weak header fell to Ashton Campbell who shot through a crowded area and into the corner of the net. We had hardly broke into a sweat and we were already a goal down. Score 0-1.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when right back Adam Mead's low free kick from just outside the area found the bottom corner of the net far too easily. It was Mead's 7th goal of the season a superb record for a defender. Score 0-2.
Most of our supporters must have thought that the game was over even though we still have three quarters of it left but full credit to the lads we started to play some decent football even though the weather was foul and the conditions wet and sticky.
There had been some early signs of improvement when a great break by George Carbery ended with a promising position for Luke Dunstan who unfortunately was unable to keep his shot on target. In the 27th minute we should have pulled a goal back when Elliott Goward's precise cross picked out an unmarked Jack Read whose close range header was somehow saved by keeper Carl Tasker, although he didn't much about it.
Jack Hopwood had to be alert to foil Campbell who nearly got on the end of a fine cross from Field. We had to make another early change bringing on Jack Sunderland for Elliott Goward in the 39th minute as a precaution with an important FA Vase game coming up.
We were playing some fine football but we needed a goal to get back in the game and Tommy Twelves come up trumps with a corker. He had already tried his luck with an effort that cleared next doors rugby posts but two minutes before the break he strode forward and from fully 35 yards smashed a shot that gave Tasker no chance. The goal came after a fine bit of play and was just the tonic we needed as it brought us right back into the game. HT Score 1-2.
There was a feeling of expectation as the second half got underway although we had to be grateful to Dave O'Connor for one of his trade mark tackles to cleanly rob Campbell after the powerful midfielder latched onto a long pass.
We were playing some good football and started to look like our old selves again. A Max Hercules free kick was headed narrowly wide of his own goal by a defender and although we had more possession we were not creating too many clear cut chances. We also had to be aware of our opponents quick breaks and the dangerous Campbell found some space down our left but he sent his shot/cross well wide.
We had a great chance to level the scores in the 75th minute when Max Hercules brilliant pass sent Jack Read through but Tasker came out to make a very good save. The Berko custodian made an even better one a few minutes later from Luke Dunstan's header from Jack Sunderland's cross which looked destined for the back of the net.
During the last 10 minutes we laid siege to the visitor's goal with Sam Joliffe seeing his shot from a corner cleared off the line. But despite a valiant effort from the players we could not get the elusive equaliser and Berkhamsted will take their place in the semi-final where we wish the every success. FT Score 1-2.
The result was disappointing but the performance was not. This is the best we have played this season and if we can maintain this form we will surely move away from the bottom of the table. We certainly did not look like a relegation side but we still need to get some basics right, like stop shipping soft goals and taking a higher percentage of the opportunities that come our way. It is indicative of our wastefulness that now Chris Blunden has left Tommy Twelves is our leading scorer with 4 goals, that's three behind Berko's full back Adam Mead.
Despite the defeat we will go into the FA Vase game against Ely City on Saturday in fine spirit especially as master chefs Oliver and Ramsey (sorry we mean Richardson and Phillips!) are promising to serve up some more high quality grub before the game!
TA:1 Jack Hopwood 2 Ben Johnson 3 Chris Mason 4 Tommy Twelves 5 George Carbery (16 Carl Clay 77) 6 Dave O'Connor 7 Ryan Sturges (14 Max Hercules 20) 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Jack Read 10 Luke Dunstan 11 Elliott Goward (12 Jack Sunderland 39). Subs not used: 15 Leslie Barkers-Obua.
B:1 Carl Tasker 2 Adam Mead 3 Dan Weeks 4 Steve Hawes 5 Jon Munday (Capt) 6 Max Farrelly 7 Alex Campana 8 Ashton Campbell (12 Frankie Jowle 80) 9 Stacey Fields (14 Dan Jones 39) 10 Chris Blunden 11 Ashley Morrissey (16 Jack Stephens 86). Subs not used: 15 Ben Bateman 17 Josh Chamberlain.
TA:Tommy Twelves (43)
B:Ashton Campbell (5), Adam Mead (23)