Tue 2nd Oct 2018
Potton United 0-2 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: David O'Connor, Kieran Turner
WE TOUGH IT OUT TO PICK UP A GREAT WIN ON THE ROAD
We can breathe a big sigh of relief that after some very poor fixture scheduling, which saw us play a very tough Potton side twice within 3 days, fortunately turned out well with 6 points and 2 clean sheets.
Potton play with a physicality and intensity that we had not encountered in the games we have played so far this season and during the game in Tring and the first half at their ground they knocked us out of our stride. Fortunately we managed to compose ourselves in the second half on Tuesday night to score 2 good goals and miss a couple of other great opportunities.
Potton is probably the furthest ground from ours, about a 100 mile round trip, but it was worth the visit because they have a very nice ground and clubhouse and a very decent playing surface. They made one change from their starting line up on Saturday with Jordan Wright replacing Jonny Hall in defence.
We were missing midfield enforcer and Saturday's match winner Luke Dunstan, who was injured, and young Billie Busari. So in came Jack Read and Sam Joliffe who was handed back his captain's arm band. Ian decided to change the formation to 3-5-2 presumably to cope with our opponents 4-4-2 which caused us loads of problems in the previous game.
The playing surface looked very smooth but that seemed an irrelevance because the ball was pumped high and long and spent more time in the air than on the deck. It made for a pretty grim spectacle in the first half.
The play was intense and scrappy with Potton playing what little football there was. They enjoyed more possession and territory and looked the more threatening, the fact they created little was down to our defence which was solid throughout the game.
The home side's 2 lively forwards Jim Burnside and Aaron Murrell were the chief threats with the former sending over a useful looking cross early on that was not snapped up. A blocked clearance was heading its way towards our empty net until Sam Joliffe coolly headed the ball out to Connor Sansom. Murrell had a good run and shot that went wide but there was little to trouble either keeper. It was interesting that the first corner did not arrive until 37th minute which was awarded to us.
We seemed to have a hangover from Saturday and couldn't get our passing game going. Poor Ashton Campbell was living off scraps although he did manage to get in a cross which trickled tantalisingly across the opposition area with Jack Read just unable to get on the end of it at the far post. Ash also received a good pass from Jack Read but his shot was blocked and then just on half time a Tommy Twelves pass found him on a possible run at goal but he was just unable to take it in his stride.
So a very poor half ended unsurprisingly scoreless. HT Score 0-0.
Ian reacted to the first half showing by changing back to our more usual 4-2-3-1 formation and by changing some personnel before the hour mark, bringing on Chris Mason and Ben Johnson and pushing Alex Campana into more normal territory further up the pitch. These changes proved to be a master stroke as we were a completely different team in the second half and Camps showed his worth by creating the first goal and making a major contribution to a much more attacking display.
We went mighty close to scoring 2 minutes after the restart when Jack Read's header from Alex Campana's super cross went just past the post with the keeper stranded. The home defence had clearly not learnt from the move as from an almost identical position a minute later Camps produced another similar quality ball into the area but this time Dave O'Connor didn't miss with his header. It was just the early boost we needed after the restart and was DOC's second goal of the season and his 11th from 120 first team games. Score 0-1.
You could see and sense the change in our confidence and we created a couple of promising opportunities that didn't come to anything. Potton were still dangerous and the impressive Murrell struck a fierce shot that bounced off Connor Sansom. Chris Mason found himself in nose bleed territory and with thoughts of adding to his record of 2 goals for the first team decided to have a go when the ball fell kindly to him in the area but his well struck shot bounced off the keeper.
With Potton now committed to pushing forward in search of an equaliser space was opening up in their back line and we were breaking forward with some menace. Kieran Turner and Joe Fitzgerald both tested the keeper with fine shots and Kieran found himself through on goal in the inside left channel but shot wide although he was barged over as he took aim.
We still had to be alert and tight at the back as Potton launched the ball forward at every opportunity and following a good move Murrell fired a shot wide. We needed a second goal to give ourselves some insurance and it duly arrived in the 70th minute with a typical run and finish from Kieran Turner. Latching onto a fine pass from Ashton Campbell he kept his head as he was pursued by several defenders and then slotted home his 9th goal of the season. Score 0-2.
The home manager would no doubt be disappointed at the result but he could not fault the effort and commitment of his players who still piled forward at every opportunity in search of a way back into the game. They won a succession of corners and their winger Ryan Lewis forced Connor Sansom into a good save and Murrell again shot wide but by now we were in no mood to concede anything and we defended superbly.
Meanwhile we had a number of opportunities to add to our score with Kieran Turner being denied by keeper Tyler Josephs after finding himself in a one on one situation and Ashton Campbell nicely set up Scott Henderson who smashed a shot against the bar. Scoff's dad Liam played for Athletic and if he had scored he would have achieved distinction of getting a goal on his debut.
Last word nearly fell to Ryan Lewis deep into time added on at the end but his goal bound shot was headed clear by Dave O'Connor thus denying the home side of a least a consolation goal. FT Score 0-2.
A great result and full marks to the players who showed a lot of commitment and desire in difficult circumstances to keep a second clean sheet. All the players deserve praise particularly the 3 central defenders Carl Mensah, Dave O'Connor and Sam Joliffe who were outstanding.
Afterwards Ian Richardson said "A great response from the boys after what wasn't a very good first half! Could have scored 3 or 4 in the 2nd half but we'll take the 6 points from what has been 2 tough games against a good Potton side".
But there is no time to sit back and relax as the fixtures have thrown up another tough one with a visit to 3rd placed Arlesey Town on Saturday.
PU:1 Tyler Josephs 2 Ashley Farooqui 3 James Sage 4 Jordan Wright (16 Ryan Don 86) 5 Sam Parrish 6 Gareth Hunt (12 Martin Danobrega 71) 7 Danny Web 8 Christian Smail (Capt) 9 Jim Burnside (14 Gary Ansell-Carter 86) 10 Aaron Murrell 11 Ryan Lewis. Sub not used: 15 Jack Newland.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Alex Campana (15 Scott Henderson 84) 4 Tommy Twelves 5 Dave O'Connor 6 Carl Mensah 7 Roy Byron 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) (12 Ben Johnson 55) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 Jack Read (14 Chris Mason 55).
TA:Dave O'Connor (48), Kieran Turner (70)