Sat 11th Aug 2018
The Emirates FA Cup - Extra Preliminary Round
Sponsored by Paul Vockins Ground Control
TAFC First team 0-2 Berkhamsted FC

Two late goals settled this A41 Classico in Berkhamsted's favour and they will now meet Thame United in the next round of The Emirates FA Cup. It was a harsh lesson for us because after an even first half we were the better side in the second period but we failed to take our chances and the visitors took full advantage when the opportunities came their way.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that we went out of this historic competition because our recent record has been very poor. We have now stumbled at the first hurdle in 4 out of the last 5 years. The one exception came in the 2015/16 season when we beat Leverstock Green 2-1 in Tring with goals from Chris Vardy and Sam Joliffe. However, we went out in the next round at home to Arlesesy Town who triumphed 2-0.

There was added piquancy to this encounter as we have within our ranks Alex Campana and Ashton Campbell who played key roles in Berkhamsted's promotion at the end of last season to the Southern League. Ashton was their leading scorer with 24 goals and in addition Kieran Turner has also turned our for our nearest neighbours.

The first half was evenly contested and at times a bit scrappy. Luke Dunstan had an early shot blocked following a good run through the Berko defence and Elliott Goward nearly set Ashton Campbell free into the visitors box. Berko saw a free kick cleared with Courtney Massey's follow up shot being saved by Mark Richardson.

Clear cut chances were thin on the ground during the early stages but midway through the first half a long pass was collected by Elliott Goward who neatly laid the ball off to Kieran Turner who cut inside and struck a fine shot that was destined for the bottom corner. But the visitors keeper James Weatherill produced a fine save to the tip the ball round the post.

From a well worked corner the ball was headed back across goal by Sam Joliffe to Carl Mensah whose header went straight to the keeper. From another Alex Campana corner Luke Dunstan flicked the ball over the bar.

The visitors came close ten minutes before the break when their left back and Captain Danny Murphy whipped over a superb cross which found centre forward Marcus Campbell whose header was tipped over by Mark Richardson.

Chris Vardy moved from his normal position up front to left back (Tommy Twelves, Connor Church and Chris Mason were all either unavailable or injured) and he did very well, sending over a great cross in the 36th minute that forced a defender into a poor hurried clearance that rolled dangerously across his own area. Unfortunately we had no one on hand to snap up this great opportunity.

Generally both defences looked impregnable and a competitive and even first half unsurprisingly ended scoreless. HT Score 0-0.

We started the second half well and looked lively going forward with Luke Dunstan sending an early header over in the 51st minute after a bout of head tennis following a free kick. Ten minutes later Kieran Turner played the ball out wide to Joe Fitzgerald, who had a fine game, and his cross found Luke Dunstan but his shot was saved by the keeper.

Then midway through the half we had two great opportunities to open the scoring. In the 66th minute a magnificent long free kick from Carl Mensah sent Elliott Goward free down the left and his dangerous cross found Ashton Campbell in the area but from close range his shot cleared the bar. To be fair to Ashton the ball bobbled as it reached him. A minute later Ashton seized on a poor back pass from Kyle Anthony and poked the ball past the keeper but the ball rolled agonisingly the wrong side of the post.

We were enjoying more possession and territory than our opponents and Joe Fitzgerald struck a nice shot that forced James Weatherill into a flying save to push the ball away to safety.

With the clock ticking down we conceded a soft penalty when our talented young player Billie Busari was lured into a rash challenge and a penalty was correctly awarded. Billie showed his inexperience and will learn from the incident but that's two soft penalties we have given away this week which have proved to be costly.

The former AFC Dunstable player Courtney Massey confidently tucked the penalty away to give the visitors a crucial break through with just seven minutes of normal time left. Score 0-1.

The goal clearly affected our concentration as our defence which had been solid throughout was carved open within a minute and sub Louis Austin scored to double Berkhamsted's advantage and effectively take the tie away from us. Score 0-2.

We frantically pushed forward to try and make the score more realistic but the visitors were not going to give up their hard won advantage and they were able to easily hold on and book their place in the next round. FT Score 0-2.

The final result was very disappointing but we put in a decent performance against a side who will be playing at a higher level than us. We have a much stronger squad at our disposal this year and we can hopefully look forward to the new season with a degree of confidence.

Next up will be a trip to Crawley Green on Saturday 18 August for a league match. Our hosts have started superbly, winning their opening three games and scoring 12 goals in the process so we can expect a tough match.

Finally, we wish Berkhamsted all the best in the next round of the FA Cup and hope they have a successful season in the Southern League.


TA:1 Mark Richardson 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Chris Vardy 4 Mark Riddick (14 Jack Read 85) 5 Luke Dunstan 6 Carl Mensah 7 Alex Campana 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 Elliot Goward (16 Billie Busari 71). Subs not used: 12 Dave O'Connor 15 Roy Byron.

B:1 James Weatherill 2 James Towell 3 Danny Murphy (Capt) 4 Jack Stevens 5 Liam McCrohan 6 Kyle Anthony 7 Courtney Massey 8 Dara Dada (12 Max Farrelly 59) 9 Marcus Campbell (14 Mileno Sanches 84) 10 Anthony Ball (18 Louis Austin 71) 11 Ibe Lukulay. Subs not used: 15 Garry Jones 16 Ross Adams 17 Ryan Young 19 Sean Coughlan.



B:Courtney Massey (Pen 83), Louis Austin (84)


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