Sat 6th Oct 2018
Arlesey Town 1-3 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Ashton Campbell (3)
HAT-TRICK HERO ASH KEEPS US ON WINNING TRACK
We successfully came through a very difficult 7 days with a highly satisfying 9 points from 3 games. After the two attritional battles against a tough Potton United side we faced a very challenging visit to 3rd placed Arlesey Town who were relegated from the Southern League at the end of last season but have made a very good start to life in the South Midlands League with just one league defeat so far.
We probably produced our best performance of the season so far with a scintillating display of attacking football with three goals from Ashton Campbell that simply blew our hosts away. Afterwards a beaming Ian Richardson said "this was an excellent performance from the boys especially in the first half when we played some excellent stuff. I am really pleased for Ashton with his first hat trick for the club".
The only blot on what was a very good day was a very dubious penalty awarded to Arlesey for handball around the hour mark which prevented us from keeping our 3rd clean sheet on the trot but worst of all it gave our hosts, who quite frankly looked dead and buried, a slim hope of redemption. Fortunately they were unable to make any real impression against our resilient defence, thanks to full backs Ben Johnson and Chris Mason and centre backs Carl Mensah and Dave O'Connor who were all again superb.
We looked sharp from the word go and got off to a flying start thanks to Luke Dunstan, Alex Campana and Ashton Campbell. Luke provided the pass inside the full back to Camps who knocked over a precise cross that Ash converted at the near post. Brilliant stuff and start. Score 0-1.
We were playing some lovely attacking football and Camps was running riot down the left wing giving the home right back and Captain Tom Guiney a torrid time with a succession of dangerous crosses which set up decent scoring opportunities, which we failed to take.
Luke Dunstan and Kieran Turner decided to also get in on the act, with Luke winning the challenge in midfield and Kieran providing the sharp pass to send Ash away, but this time he was foiled by keeper Robbie Ponting who made a great save. Soon afterwards Ponting was making an equally good save from Joe Fitzgerald at the post.
A second goal looked on the cards and arrived in the 19th minute. Camps was again the instigator with a super whipped in cross that Ash tucked away nicely with a deft header at the near post that completely foxed the keeper who stood and watched the ball nestle just inside the far post. Score 0-2.
We were dominating the game and could have gone three nil ahead in the 28th minute when Ashton Campbell latched onto a fine Kieran Turner pass and rounded the keeper but was denied by a defender getting back to make a timely intervention by blocking his shot.
The home side had been muted in attack but just past the half hour mark they finally had an effort on goal when Ash Fuller struck a fierce left foot shot that whizzed just wide of the post. Further efforts came from Arlesey's leading scorer Lorrell Smith and Fuller but none of them really troubled keeper Connor Sansom. There was one moment of concern when a rare misjudgment from Connor saw him miss a cross but Ben Johnson cleared the danger with some super defensive play.
Alex Campana again troubled the home defence when he flashed a dangerous free kick across the area that was missed by our players and to the relief of the home keeper went just wide of the far post.
But a brilliant first half ended with us in control after a terrific display of attacking football to produce two goals but we could so easily have been four or five ahead and out of sight. HT Score 0-2.
We were again quickly out of the traps scoring within 4 minutes of the restart. Joe Fitzgerald who worked tirelessly down the right released Ashton Campbell with a fine defence splitting pass. Ash coolly rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the empty net. It was his first hat-trick for the club and his 11th goal of the season from 13 games. A terrific return and we look forward to seeing a lot more goals from him. Score 0-3.
We looked home and dry but in the 59th minute Arlesey were awarded a fortuitous penalty when the ball bounced up and accidently hit Dave O'Connor's elbow. There was nothing our big defender could do about it and the decision seemed very harsh but Arlesey were not about to ignore a potential lifeline and Ash Fuller duly dispatched the spot kick. Score 1-3.
The goal had a rejuvenating effect on the home side who moments earlier had looked well out of it. They pushed forward and for the first time in the game looked threatening. They also won some corners and with some big lads in their line up it was always going to be a source of danger. We were now doing more defending than attacking but we coped very well and gave Connor Sansom plenty of protection, although he had to get down quickly to save a shot from Fuller who had a good left foot on him. .
The nearest Arlesey came to a goal came 10 minutes from time when a cross fell to Ryan Lamond and his shot forced a good save from Connor Sansom. The last word nearly went to Jack Read but he was just unable to get a decent shot off after young Billie Busari did really well to chase down a long ball and pull it back to him from the bye line. FT Score 1-3.
This was a superb performance from the players who could/should have won by a much bigger margin against a good side that had a 100% home record in the league.
Ashton Campbell was the head line grabber with a hat-trick and a terrific display of centre forward play ably assisted by Alex Campana who set up two goals and produced a terrific display of wing play not seen since the days of Stanley Matthews (!!).
Also a special mention for Roy Byron who cleared and tidied up in midfield and Ben Johnson who had his winger in his pocket, but in truth everyone played well.
This was our 8th consecutive win and cemented our second place in the table, a point behind Biggleswade FC. Our visit there on 8th December 2018 looks like it will be an important and interesting game.
Importantly we have opened up a 10 point gap over 3rd placed Arlesey, who have 2 games in hand. If they had won the difference would have been down to 4 points and if they then went on to win their 2 games in hand they would have overtaken us by 2 points. So this was a very timely and important win.
We are in action again on Tuesday night when we entertain Stotfold in the Premier Division Cup but are without a game on Saturday.
AT:1 Robbie Ponting 2 Tom Guiney (Capt) 3 Demi Debola (17 Kai Ashley 83) 4 Phil Payne 5 Aaron n Gooch 6 Adam Brown 7 Ryan Lamond 8 James Hatch 9 Lorrell Smith 10 Ash Fuller 11 Mukudzeyi Makuza (12 Aarron Browne 57). Subs not used: 14 Jason Darvall 15 Adam Randall 16 Carl Chambers.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Ben Johnson 3 Chris Mason (16 Jack Sunderland 80) 4 Roy Byron 5 Dave O'Connor 6 Carl Mensah 7 Joe Fitzgerald (12 Billie Busari 73) 8 Luke Dunstan (Capt) 9 Ashton Campbell (14 Jack Read 80) 10 Kieran Turner 11 Alex Campana. Sub not used: Chris Vardy
AT:Ash Fuller Pen (59)
TA:Ashton Campbell (4, 19, 49)