Sat 20th Oct 2018
Sponsored by Dick Lovelace
TAFC First team 2-0 Edgware Town
TAFC goals: Alessandro Campana, Jack Read
WE EXTEND OUR WINNING RUN TO 10 GAMES
On a lovely warm Autumnal afternoon our supporters would have enjoyed the sunshine and the 3 points we collected from a tough encounter against Edgware Town. It stretched our winning run, that started on 1 September, to 10 games and has seen us generate some impressive stats so far this season.
Here are a few. We have had just one defeat in 16 games in all competitions, have scored 43 goals, conceded just 16, have the second best scoring and defensive record in the Premier Division, have kept 6 clean sheets and only 3 teams have scored more than one goal against us.
We have produced some quality football during this fine run of form but on Saturday we had to show another side to our game as we had to grind out a win against stubborn opposition who made life difficult for us and kept the game in the balance until late on.
In mitigation we can point to the long injury list we have at the moment with 7 key players missing (eg Sam Joliffe, Luke Dunstan, Chris Vardy, Elliott Goward, Dave O'Connor, Mark Riddick and Connor Church) so we are having to do without a lot of quality players but that's part and parcel of football.
Some changes to the line up were therefore required with Tommy Twelves showing his versatility by dropping into central defence alongside Carl Mensah, who was again immense. It also meant Kieran Turner playing a deeper role than normal in midfield and taking the captains armband, in the absence of Sam and Luke,, with Alex Campana taking on the number 10 role.
Our opponents came into the game on a dreadful run of form with just 2 wins from their last 12 games but the previous Saturday they drew 2-2 with leaders Biggleswade FC so they were a side to be respected. There are no easy games in the South Midlands League and with us having a bit of an injury crisis at the moment we knew we would be in for a difficult afternoon.
We started on the front foot and came close to opening the scoring after just 10 minutes when Tommy Twelves header from a corner was cleared off the line by Sam Addae with the keeper well beaten. Many supporters will remember Sam from his time at Athletic, playing 48 games for the club between 20012 and 2015. The most memorable moment from his time here was a stunning goal he scored against Hertford Town in the 1st minute of the game. We later went onto win 6-0 but as least he can say he broke the ice first! He later modestly described it as his Roberto Carlos moment! Interestingly, the others in the team that day were current players Sam Joliffe and Jack Sunderland.
A minute later the Town keeper Greg Ellingham tipped a free kick from Kieran Turner round the post although it looked as if it was going wide anyway. We had most of the early possession and territory with the opposition failing to test keeper Connor Sansom but despite doing most of the attacking we created just a few half chances rather than clear cut openings.
Midway through the half the opposition left back David Sota did head a decent cross just wide but the Referee said he would have awarded us a foul on Connor Sansom had the ball hit the net. Chris Mason's astute pass nearly picked out an unmarked Jack Sunderland in the area and a fine Ben Johnson cross seemed to hypnotise the Town defence but they cleared the danger before we could pounce.
It was all bits and pieces and nothing clear cut then Alex Campana sent a free kick just over the bar. However, it proved to be a bit of a prelude for the real thing when Camps lined up to take another free kick on the left hand side of the area in the 40th minute.
This time he whipped in a fierce shot that beat the keeper and hit the roof of the net. It was Camps first goal for the club and was a long over due reward for some impressive performances for us. Score 1-0.
That was the last action of any note and we went into the break deservedly holding a slim one goal lead and although it had been a game of few clear cut chances we had been the better side and looked the more likely to score. HT Score 1-0.
The visitors were a different proposition from the restart showing a lot more attacking intent and creating some moments of danger for our defence. However, the first move of the second period saw Alex Campana make a great run to set Ashton Campbell free who was denied by a terrific saving tackle from a defender.
Ben Johnson cleared a potentially dangerous moment in our area and Connor Sansom had to be alert to come out to beat Sam Odusoga to a through ball shortly after the same player had shot wide following a fine move.
Just before the hour Sansom was forced to show off his skills by denying Steven Banavides with a great save, blocking the shot with his legs. The visitors had their tails up and we were forced to show off our defensive capabilities.
Gradually we weathered the storm and Kieran Turner was unlucky to see his shot drift just wide of the far post. After the frenetic start to the second half the game evened out and chances were at a premium again. Jack Sunderland did put the ball in the net but was adjudged to have fouled the keeper.
We nearly settled the game in the 81st minute when Carl Mensah smashed a shot against the bar. With just four minutes remaining Town nearly snatched a late dramatic equaliser when their leading scorer Mikkel James was played through but again Connor Sansom came to our rescue by using his legs to keep out the shot. Connor has really settled well into the side and has made a major contribution to our winning run with some crucial saves at key moments, he has been a superb signing.
With just 3 minutes left on the clock we sealed the victory when Ashton Campbell made a brilliant run to the bye line then pulled the ball back nicely to Jack Read who found the back of the net for his 36th goal from 77 first team appearances, which is a superb return of nearly a goal every other game. Score 2-0.
There was just time to show our strength in depth when we brought on one of our up and coming youngsters off the bench, yes Stuart "Beamer" Stedman. Somebody cruelly said he was 40 but he is much younger than that at 38! He made 2 tackles and then showed he has not lost any of his skills with a pass made with the outside of his right foot. Shame it hit the advertising hoarding!! FT Score 2-0.
Overall we just about deserved the win although our opponents did have some scoring opportunities in the second half. It was really pleasing to have kept another clean sheet and our winning run going despite fielding a depleted side. We still remain 2nd in the table, two points behind Biggleswade FC but with a game in hand which if we win will take us back to the top.
However, the game in hand will be a difficult one against bogey side Hadley who will be the visitors to Tring on Tuesday. Then on Saturday we have another tough test when we visit London Tigers one of only two teams to take a point off us when they drew 3-3 in Tring back in August.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Ben Johnson 3 Chris Mason 4 Roy Byron 5 Tommy Twelves 6 Carl Mensah 7 Joe Fitzgerald (14 Billie Busari 67) 8 Alex Campana (15 Stuart Stedman 90+1) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 Jack Sunderland (12 Jack Read 74).
ET:1 Greg Ellingham 2 Sam Addae 3 David Sota 4 Fergus Moore (17 Chase Grant 61) 5 Denis Marhajan 6 Mark Burgess (Capt) (16 Claudio Tipote 67) 7 Martin Flannery 8 Sam Odusoga 9 Mikkel James 10 Rio Beach 11 Steven Banavides (15 Ethan Mooney 78). Subs not used: 12 Ryan Carruthers 14 Andrew Manitou.
TA:Alex Campana (40), Jack Read (87)