Sat 10th Nov 2018
Sponsored by Ethan McAndrew
TAFC First team 1-0 Colney Heath
TAFC goals: Elliott Goward
LATE STRIKE FROM ELLIOTT SENDS US BACK TO THE TOP
With the clock ticking round to the 90 minute mark it looked as if we would have to settle for a draw and miss out on the opportunity to leap over Biggleswade FC (who were without a game) to occupy top spot again.
It would have been a hard earned point against a strong and organised Colney Heath side who played well and could have justifiably claimed they deserved something from the game. This was not one of the better performances from the lads but they dug in and showed some spirit and in the end were rewarded for their endeavours with a late winner from Elliott Goward.
Colney Heath arrived 6th in the table, on a fine run of form with just one defeat from their last 7 league games and are always tough opponents. Within their ranks are some former London Colney players who won the Premier Division title 2 seasons ago (of course we have 2 in Roy Byron and Mark Riddick) so they know how to win games and trophies.
With Sam Joliffe, Dave O'Connor and Chris Cook unavailable we were a bit short in central defence so the very reliable and very adaptable Tommy Twelves (shame on Hitchin for making a remark about his name!) dropped in alongside Carl Mensah and as usual he didn't disappoint. There was also a welcome return from injury for Connor Church at left back making his first appearance since the away game at Oxhey Jets on 8th September. The back four was completed by Joe Fitzgerald at right back and as usual he played with passion and determination.
Before proceedings could begin there were a number of ceremonies held. Firstly there was our Player of the Month award for October which went to young Ben Johnson and we were awarded the Team of the Month for September by the League. The final and most poignant moment was the one minute silence which was impeccably followed in remembrance of the 100 years since the end of the First World War.
The visitors started more positively than us with winger Harry Shepherd sending a weak header wide after he was picked out by a long cross and then Colney skipper Dan Fitzgerald fired a shot well over after a fine attacking move. Our first response came in the 9th minute when a nice turn and run gave Kieran Turner space to shoot with his effort just clearing the bar.
Six minutes later a fine Alex Campana cross caused all sorts of problems in the visitors defence before the keeper finally grabbed the bouncing ball to quell the danger. Then a free kick fell to Billie Busari but he didn't connect with his shot and the ball dribbled wide of the post. Later Alex Campana went close to creating a chance for Billie but we were not playing to our usual standard and credit must go to our opponents who knocked us out of our stride by shutting us down quickly to deny us time and space on the ball.
The visitors were looking the better side and they went close to taking the lead in the 28th minute when Harry Shepherd beat Patrick Sinfield to a long ball but fortunately for us his lob just cleared the bar. Soon afterwards the same player whipped a super ball across our area that went unclaimed. Then centre forward Reece Cameron cracked a fierce shot that was not far over the our bar.
We did have a glimmer of hope when Ashton Campbell did really well to rob a defender and then charge towards goal but he was at a tight angle and could not beat the keeper with his shot.
A tough and closely contested first half with few clear chances ended scoreless with Colney edging the first 45 minutes. HT score 0-0.
There was a livelier start to the second half with Kieran Turner's shot that hit the target but was easily saved by the keeper. Only a super Tommy Twelves tackle and follow up save from Patrick Sinfield kept out Joe Newton who had made a good run into our area.
Billie Busari showed us what he is capable of by ghosting past the right back and striking a great shot that the keeper did well to tip away. With the ball falling to Kieran Turner at the far post you would have put your pension on him scoring but he seemed to slip and shoot wide of the post.
The game went back to being a midfield battle with neither side dominating but as we reached the final quarter both teams stepped up their efforts to snatch a late victory. Harry Shepherd was well placed when a cross reached him but he failed to control the ball and Elliott Goward sent a lovely chip just wide. New signing Kyle Johnson will feel he should have scored when he headed a nice chip from Alex Campana wide.
All our hard work was nearly undone with a sloppy pass which Dan Fitzgerald seized upon but our young keeper Patrick Sinfield saved our bacon with a superb save to tip the resulting shot round the post. Then a few minutes later Patrick tipped away a shot from sub Shaquille McLean.
With time almost up a draw seemed inevitable but then we struck a late cruel blow. Jack Read instigated the crucial attack by flicking the ball through to Ashton Campbell who avoided the keeper before picking out Elliott Goward. He still had a lot to do but from just inside the area Elliott managed to squeeze his low shot past 5 defenders and a keeper to find the corner of the net. It was a fine finish and his 3rd and most important goal of the season so far and a fitting reward for a player who is only just returning to action after a lengthy spell out injured. Score 1-0.
The visitors made a 3rd and last substitution and threw players into attack but time was short and we were able to hold onto our lead and pick up 3 precious points that could prove to be crucial at the end of the season. FT Score 1-0.
This was a tough encounter against a well organised team who didn't deserve to lose. But the old adage is that good teams still win when they play badly so hopefully that is a good omen for us because we were certainly not at our best. We did however show that as well as producing good attacking football we can also dig in as well when required.
This result took us back to the top a point ahead of Biggleswade FC who have a game in hand. The 2 league and 1 FA Vase games coming up against them over the next 4 weeks should be very interesting.
This coming week we have two away fixtures, travelling to Cockfosters on Tuesday for a Premier Division Cup game then on Saturday we go to London Colney for a league match.
Finally it was great to see a crowd of 153 at the game which is our best of the season so far, lets hope we do even better in the home games to come.
TA:1 Patrick Sinfield 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Connor Church 4 Roy Byron (12 Kyle Johnson 62) 5 Tommy Twelves 6 Carl Mensah 7 Billie Busari (15 Elliott Goward 70) 8 Mark Riddick 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 Alex Campana (14 Jack Read 84). Sub not used: 16 Ben Johnson.
CH:1 Charlie May 2 Jack Woods 3 Charlie Hunter 4 Callum Dudrenee 5 Sam Doolan 6 Andy Sears-Black 7 Joe Newton (17 Shaun Murphy 90+1) 8 Dan Fitzgerald (Capt) 9 Reece Cameron (12 Kai Peters 65) 10 John Humbert (15 Shaquille McLean 84) 11 Harry Shepherd. Sub not used: 14 Akim Akinbinci
TA:Elliott Goward (90)