Sat 21st Jul 2018
TAFC First team 2-2 Aylesbury Utd

Preparations for the new season stepped up a gear when we faced neighbours Aylesbury United at The Grass Roots Stadium on Saturday. Our guests play in the Southern League and they presented our biggest test so far this pre-season as they play at a level higher than us.

We coped well against a strong opposition and even took a two goal lead but the Ducks showed their class by coming back to draw the game which was fair outcome on the day.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the Ducks line up as they included Max Hercules, Jack Hopwood and Ben Seaton who all came through the ranks at Athletic. In addition Manager Ben Williams, who is moulding together a very strong team, had also donned an Athletic shirt as did player Ollie Hogg who is a regular for United but was absent from this game.

Ian Richardson again mixed the sides up in the first and second halves to ensure everyone had some game time. The conditions were far from ideal, being played in exceptional warm weather with an extremely dry pitch which made life difficult for the players. But full marks to both sets of lads for producing an entertaining game and to the officials for allowing water breaks throughout the game.

We took the lead after only 4 minutes when Elliott Goward's clever free kick picked out an unmarked Kieran Turner who easily headed the ball home giving Hoppy no chance. Hopefully this will be the first of many goals Kieran will score this season. Score 1-0.

Both teams were playing some decent football and it was clear that Ben Williams wants his side to play out from the back. The Ducks centre forward Aaron Berry forced a couple of good save out of Marcus Richardson and he also went mighty close twice with a shot and then a header.

Not to be outdone Jack Hopwood produced a superb double save from a trade mark Kieran Turner belter then was alert to also stop the follow up shot from Chris Vardy.

We ended the first half with a one goal lead and Ian would have been pleased with the performance from players and with his new signing Carl Menshah who was a towering presence in the centre of defence. HT Score 1-0.

Ian made quite a few changes in the second half which included new comers Roy Byron, Ehban Nancarrow-Martin and a very young keeper called David Saunders. There was also the welcome sight of Ashton Campbell who scored 24 goals last season and along with fellow new signing Alex Campana, who was unavailable for this game, made a major contribution towards Berkhamsted's promotion last season.

Ashton soon made his presence felt forcing a superb one handed save from Hoppy ten minutes after the restart. The resulting corner was cleared and Roy Byron lobbed the ball back into the area where it fell to our new unmarked centre forward. Ashton found himself with a one on one with the keeper and he showed his quality by taking the opportunity to open his account for the club. Score 2-0.

Our opponents reduced our lead within a minute when Sonny French latched onto a long pass and thumped a terrific shot against the bar. Fortunately for the visitors Aaron Berry followed up to head the ball into an empty net. Score 2-1.

The visitors pushed forward for an equaliser and it came in the 73rd minute when we were caught out day dreaming at a corner and veteran Greg Williams scored at the near post. Score 2-2.

Both teams had chances to win the game but the result was not that important, it was more about giving the players time on the pitch and a draw seemed like a fair and reasonable outcome for a game played in a good spirit. FT Score 2-2.

A good run out for the players and another chances to blow away a few cobwebs. We come up against two more Southern League sides this week when we travel to Aylesbury FC on Tuesday 24 July and then entertain AFC Dunstable in Tring on Saturday 28 July.


First Half: Marcus Richardson, Ben Johnson, Chris Mason, Carl Menshah, Sam Joliffe, Luke Dunstan, Mark Riddick, Tommy Twelves, Elliott Goward, Chris Vardy, Kieran Turner.

Second half: Marcus Richardson (David Saunders), Connor Church, Joe Fitzgerald, Sam Joliffe (Steve Nott-Macaire), Tommy Twelves, James Butler, Ehban Nancarrow-Martin, Roy Byron, Luke Dunstan (Ben Johnson), Ashton Campbell, Elliott Goward (Chris Vardy).

(No photos on file)

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