Tue 23rd Oct 2018
Sponsored by Mason McAndrew
TAFC First team O-1 Hadley
BRILLIANT RUN COMES TO AN END
It was inevitable that our superb run of victories, which started with a 7-1 demolition of Leighton Town on 1 September and stretched to 10 games, would eventually come to an end. The fact that it was Hadley who ended our run was no surprise because over the years they have had some mysterious Indian sign over us that has now seen us win only 4 out of the last 19 games against them.
We did actually beat them 3-1 at their place just over 4 weeks ago but we were missing Dave O'Connor, Luke Dunstan and Sam Joliffe from that night. The game was intense and unforgiving with few good scoring opportunities and it was no surprise that it took only one goal to settle matters.
The crucial goal came in the 16th minute when Hadley's big centre forward David Laird latched onto a fine ball chipped over our defence. He was denied by Connor Sansom but the ball squirted out kindly towards Alfie Bartram who drilled the ball home. Score 0-1.
We then spent an hour chasing the game and although we did have a few scoring opportunities we were not at our best, in part because we were missing some key players but in the main due to Hadley who worked hard all over the park to deny us time and space and probably just edged the game.
We did actually start quite well and as early as the 7th minute Ashton Campbell produced a great cross that Billie Busari should really have converted. A goal kick suggested that it was a miss but subsequently it came to light that the keeper Charlie Mann had made a save.
Billie had another opportunity 7 minutes later when Kieran Turner's superb cross to the far post picked him out but he headed a good chance over. Hadley's goal was a blow but not disastrous as we have come from behind on a number of occasions this season including the recent game at Hadley.
Following a good move Kieran Turner, again wearing the Captain's arm band in the absence of Sam Joliffe and Luke Dunstan, fired in a shot that that was firm and on target but the keeper was able to get down low and make a comfortable save. A Tommy Twelves pass found Alex Campana who released Ashton Campbell but a defender made a super block to stop any potential goal bound shot.
The visitors were lively going forward and in David Laird they had a skilful forward who could hold up possession and bring colleagues into the game, particularly his tricky fellow forward Ibrahim Camara. As in the away fixture they were both a handful. But despite Hadley's dangerous attacks we were defending well with Tommy Twelves again doing a great job playing out of his normal position alongside Carl Mensah in the centre of defence.
Midway through the half Alex Campana and Chris Mason linked up well with the latter's fine cross picking out Ben Johnson free at the far post. Ben, who again played very well, produced a firm header but it went over the bar. Later the visitors called for a penalty when Carl Mensah used an old fashion shoulder charge to win the ball which was clearly legit but unsurprisingly led to howls of protest.
A good, competitive half ended with the visitors holding a slim lead but we were still very much in the game. HT Score 0-1.
We made a positive start to the second half when Alex Campana put in a sumptuous cross that run tantalisingly across the Hadley area that criminally went unclaimed. Later Ashton Campbell shot into the side netting from a tight angle after linking up with Jack Read and Alex Campana saw his shot tipped round the post by the keeper.
But as the game progressed we started to run out of ideas as Hadley took a grip and we were unable to find the creativity to open up their solid defence. With 13 minutes to go Joe Naylor whipped over a terrific cross to the far post where Jack Sunderland had a great chance to score but his effort ended up hitting the side netting.
That turned out to be our swan song and it was the visitors who then nearly increased their lead when Joe Naylor cleared a goal bound shot off the line then scorer Alfie Bartram wasted an opportunity to double his tally when he shot over when well placed.
Hadley were able to run down the clock without too much trouble to claim all 3 points that pushed them up to 4th in the table and continue their recent good run form which has seen them win 5 of their last 6 games. FT Score 0-1.
A disappointment night and a lost opportunity to go back to the top of the table but all good things come to an end. The players tried their best but it just wasn't happening for us. This was our first league defeat and only our 2nd loss in all competitions. It was also only the 2nd time we have failed to score and a lot of credit must go to Hadley who got their tactics rights and played very well.
One happy note is the news that Dave O'Connor, now sporting a scar on his head from 2 weeks ago that enhances his rugged good looks (!!), should be fit to return on Saturday where we face a difficult trip to London Tigers. Unfortunately it is uncertain when our other injured players will be back in action, we need to keep our fingers crossed that it wont be long.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Ben Johnson 3 Chris Mason (12 Jack Read 63) 4 Roy Byron 5 Tommy Twelves 6 Carl Mensah 7 Joe Fitzgerald (15 Joe Naylor 72) 8 Alex Campana 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 Billie Busari (14 Jack Sunderland 72). Sub not used: 16 Scott Henderson.
H:1 Charlie Mann 2 Tom Milton 3 Andrew White 4 Paul Wright (Capt) 5 Sam Lyon 6 Stephen O'Hara 7 Ibrahim Camara (12 Yemi Buraimoh (87) 8 Nnandi Harold-Egole 9 David Laird (14 Peter Rosemin 72) 10 Shaz Anwar 11 Alfie Bartram. Subs not used: 13 Karl Beaumont 15 Kenny Nobrega.
H:Alfie Bartram (16)