Tue 9th Oct 2018
Dudley Latham Memorial Premier Division Cup - 2nd Round
Sponsored by Thoughtfox Consulting Ltd
TAFC First team 2-1 Stotfold
TAFC goals: Billie Busari, Ashton Campbell
FIRST HALF GOALS SEE US THROUGH TO NEXT ROUND
This game felt like a re-run of Saturday's game - we take the lead, look comfortable then concede a penalty around the hour mark then spend the rest of the game showing our defensive rather than our offensive qualities.
First half goals from Billie Busari and Ashton Campbell eventually saw us through but boy did we make a meal of it, hitting the woodwork 3 times and missing some very presentable scoring opportunities including a penalty.
Great credit must go to our opponents who arrived bottom of the table with just 3 points and a terrible record of just one win from 14 games, and that came in the FA Vase when they beat a team called Wadham Lodge 4-0. Their previous Manager Julian Robinson, is of course well known in these parts, stood down and they have a new management team who have evidently brought in some new players.
They certainly didn't play like a side propping up the table, playing some nice football and looking lively. They didn't threaten too much until the penalty but they made the last half hour a bit uncomfortable for us and if they continue to play with this much quality they will soon climb up the table.
It was a bitter sweet night for us as the joy of winning was soured by the nasty accidental head injury sustained by Dave O'Connor who was taken to hospital. We wish DOC all the best and hope he makes a swift recovery.
For this cup game Ian brought in Billie Busari, Jack Read and Chris Vardy, who was making a welcome return from injury but had to go off after only 29 minutes adding to our list of woe which is unfortunately getting longer. With Carl Mensah and Sam Joliffe missing Ian had to re-jig the line up with Luke Dunstan showing his versatility by dropping back into central defence and in Sam's absence taking the captain's arm band.
Before the game Roy Byron was presented with the September Player of the Month award Sponsored by Restaurant 23 (where the writer had lunch the following day!). A merited award for his consistent performances throughout the month.
It was an entertaining start to the game with both sides showing their attacking intent. Billie Busari whipped over a terrific cross that reached Chris Vardy on the far side who retuned the favour back to BJ who headed over. Our guests were keeping possession nicely and didn't look like a team struggling for form with Luke Burkett sending a decent effort wide.
It was fairly even but in the 17th minute a long ball released Chris Vardy and his super cross was smashed home at the far post by Billie Busari for his 3rd goal of the season. Score 1-0.
Three minutes later Billie was pulled down right on the edge of the area and from Chris Vardy's fine free kick Dave O'Connor was just inches away from making a connection. Soon afterwards Chris Vardy latched onto a long high pass from Joe Fitzgerald and tried one of his outrageous lobs, but the keeper read the situation well and got back to make a catch. A few minutes later Vards went off with a reoccurrence of his injury to be replaced by Alex Campana, a sign of the quality we now have in the squad.
It was far from one way traffic as Stotfold had their fair share of possession and territory but their moves tended to break down on the edge of our area and Connor Sansom was not called into any serious action.
Ashton Campbell twice went close forcing great saves from the visiting keeper Matt Fallon but he made no mistake when he broke through in the 37th minute producing a classy finish to double our lead. Score 2-0.
We were inches away from making it 3 nil when Alex Campana latched onto Billie Busari's cross and crashed a shot off the underside of the bar with the ball bouncing down on the line and out to safety. Stotfold retaliated just as the first half came to a close with a fine move and shot from Desi Da Silva which went over the bar. HT Score 2-0.
There was a lively start to the second half with Billie Busari heading Alex Campana's cross against the bar and Dave O'Connor again went mighty close to getting on the end of a corner at the far post. The visitors centre forward Lanre Balogun struck a fierce shot that would have stung Connor Sansom's midriff and for all their good play that was Stotfold's first shot on target in the 54th minute.
The visitor's next effort on goal came 3 minutes later when Ryan Young converted a penalty to make the score 2-1. We had been carved open by a fine move but Connor Sansom appeared to have saved our bacon until Joe Fitzgerald slid in and caught the player. Score 2-1.
Just like on Saturday the opposition tails went up and we had to dig in. We were fortunate when a free kick just outside our area took a wicked deflection and hit the top of the bar. Then came DOC's unfortunate injury to be replaced by Mark Riddick who was only just returning from injury himself. We thus had a centre partnership of Luke Dunstan and Mark who both normally ply their trade in midfield, but they both did well to keep Stotfold at bay.
Tommy Carroll had the best opportunity for the visitors but Connor Sansom was equal to the challenge making a terrific save from the big centre half. Later Carroll got to a well flighted free kick but he sent his header straight at Connor.
The opposition had the bit between their teeth but we were dangerous on the break particularly through Ashton Campbell who shot just wide of the far from one typical surging run then forced the keeper to get down quickly from another well struck effort.
As the game wore on we started to take control again and when Billie Busari was pulled down in the 80th minute we had a chance to put the game to bed. The 17 year old had the courage to take it but he will be the first to admit it was not a great effort and the keeper was able to make a save.
We needed a third goal to calm down our nerves as Stotfold were only a goal away from sending the game into penalties and with our record with spot kicks that would have probably meant certain elimination! We thought our luck was definitely out when Kieran Turner struck the bar for the third time and then Ash smashed a shot against the keeper, who then tipped a header over from BJ.
But there were not to be any late dramatic twists and we held on to book our place in the Quarter Finals where we will travel to Cockfosters who beat North Greenford United 2-0 on the same night. The game is scheduled for 6th November. FT Score 2-1.
We were given a tough game by Stotfold who kept going to the end but on the number of chances created and missed we were worthy winners. We now have a break of 11 days before our next South Midlands fixture when we entertain Edgware Town at home on Saturday 20 October. We do have a Herts Senior Cup game at Hitchin on Wednesday 17 October so hopefully it will give us some breathing space and a chance to get some players back from injury.
Finally that was the 4th penalty we have conceded this season, all of which were converted. The one against Arlesey on Saturday was bad luck and was extremely harsh but the other 3 were all eminently avoidable. It would be nice for the sake of the supporters nerves if we could cut them out!
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Chris Mason 4 Roy Byron 5 Dave O'Connor (15 Mark Riddick 67) 6 Luke Dunstan (Capt) 7 Billie Busari 8 Chris Vardy (12 Alex Campana 29) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 Jack Read (14 Jack Sunderland 75).
S:1 Matt Fallon 2 Kai Mearther 3 Mark Ansell-Carter (Capt) 4 Luke Burkett 5 Tommy Carroll 6 Joseph Ryan 7 Khy Cyrus (14 Bernard Nkansah HT) 8 Ryan Young 9 Lanre Balogun 10 Desi Da Silva (12 Terry Billy 68) 11 Craig Packham (16 Rob Teppett 83).
TA:Billie Busari (17), Ashton Campbell (37)
S:Ryan Young Pen (57)