Sat 5th Jan 2019
Sponsored by Jenson
TAFC First team 1-2 Crawley Green
TAFC goals: George Ironton
WE STILL REMAIN TOP DESPITE DROPPING 3 VALUABLE POINTS
Top of our list of New Years resolutions would undoubtedly have been to continue our winning run into 2019 but that bubble of optimism was burst at the first hurdle by Crawley Green who ground out a 2-1 victory with goals early in both halves from their right winger Jake Alderson.
We still retain our position at the top of the table but it is disappointed that we did not put a bit more daylight between us and the chasing pack by not making more of the chances we created particularly in the first half. Past encounters between our two clubs has seen the net bulge on 23 occasions in the 5 previous games, but the visitors gave clear signals from the start that they would be no pushovers and that goals would be hard to come by.
We started strongly and when the ball fell to James Verney he produced a first time snap shot that forced a terrific save from the opposition keeper. From the resulting corner the ball fell nicely to Mark Riddick who would normally tuck these chances away in his sleep but he unusually headed the ball wide.
We were bereft of defenders, with only Joe Fitzgerald retained from the previous game, and were missing regular centre backs Carl Mensah and Dave O'Connor, keeper Pat Sinfield, right back Ben Johnson as well as the all our specialist left backs who seem to have some voodoo spell on them. In came the ever versatile and reliable Tommy Twelves and Jack Sunderland as well as 17 year old Ethan Holland on loan from Beaconsfield, who did well, and highly promising 16 year old Dave Saunders for his 3rd game in goal.
It was a very young defence with an average age of just 20 and that inexperience showed in the eighth minute when Green had their first real foray forward. The dangerous left winger Josh Williams managed to work himself enough space to cross nicely to the far post where his colleague Jake Alderson was waiting to plant a header past Dave Saunders. The scorer took his goal well but he was completely unmarked and had all the time in the world. Score 0-1.
This was the 4th game running that we have conceded the first goal so this was not a new experience for us and we were not about to press the panic button and we responded by producing some fine attacking football. Ashton Campbell's fine run took him to the bye line where he pulled the ball back nicely for James Verney. It was identical to the move the two produced against Cockfosters when young James scored but this time he was inches wide.
The visitors defended in depth but pushed forward dangerously when they had the opportunity with Phil Draycott and Skipper Aaron Morgan whipping over tempting crosses into our area that went unclaimed.
When a long throw reached Lee Stobbs we expected to see the net bulge but Lee didn't connect properly and his shot was blocked. We were playing some lovely football and George Ironton managed to get through the Green defence but was thwarted by a fine save by Josh Mollinson, one of may the keeper made during the afternoon.
Around the half hour mark Ashton Campbell went mighty close twice, getting his head to a cross from Lee Stobbs that the keeper saved on the line at the second attempt then when Kieran Turner astutely headed a cross from Joe Fitzgerald to him he volleyed over from close range.
It seemed like it was not going to be our day but then with 10 minutes to go to half time the gods finally smiled on us with a goal that was reminiscent of the goal Mark Bunker scored against us in the away fixture back in August.
George Ironton, who prior to the game was deservedly awarded the Player of the Month Award for December, swept the ball over from the left hand edge of the area towards the far post where it sailed over the keeper and nestled into the top corner of the net. Whether it was a cross or shot is academic because we fully deserved to be back on level terms. Score 1-1.
Green were always dangerous going forward with midfielder Tyler Ingham sending a long range header not too far off target then tricky winger Josh Williams went even closer with a lovely shot that clipped the bar.
We nearly had the last word of the half when just before the break Kieran Turner was denied by another good save by the keeper's legs after a fine flowing move also involving James Verney and George Ironton.
A tough first half ended all square at 1-1 but we had enjoyed much more possession and created far more scoring opportunities and should have had our noses in front. HT Score 1-1.
After doing well to come behind to level the scores we gave ourselves another mountain to climb when a defensive error allowed Jake Alderson to score his second of the game just three minutes from the restart. Again the forward took his chance well but again where was the cover. Score 1-2.
So barely had the second half started and we had it all to do again and chase the game. But any similarities to the game in Luton back in August when 2 goals from Luke Dunstan in the last few minutes turned defeat into victory were spurious as our opponents were clearly intent on holding onto their advantage.
We piled forward, enjoying a lot of possession and territory and at times it looked like a game of attack versus defence. James Verney shot just wide after a flowing move involving Lee Stobbs and Kieran Turner and then later Kieran spanked a couple of 25 yard shots that forced the opposition keeper Josh Mollison, who was excellent throughout, into a couple of terrific saves.
Our opponents called for a penalty in the 74th minute for what they perceived as a foul on Phil Draycott by Ethan Holland but the referee waved away their appeals. We never gave up but we ran out of ideas and found it hard to get through their massed forces until near the end when there was a scramble in their area but the ball didn't fall our way which just about summed up our day.
We were left to rue the many opportunities we wasted in the first period as the visitors held on to claim a hard earned victory to extend their winning run in the league to four games and retain seventh place in the table. FT Score 1-2.
A disappointing result for the players who gave everything and although we still remain top as our main challengers Biggleswade FC were involved FA Vase action we now hold just a 2 point lead over the Beds side who now have 3 games in hand. However, the league is becoming more and more competitive and there are no easy games so there are bound to be more ups and downs before the season ends.
Our next game will be away at North Greenford United on Saturday for a Premier Division match.
TA:1 Dave Saunders 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Jack Sunderland 4 Mark Riddick (Capt) 5 Tommy Twelves 6 Ethan Holland (12 Jack Read 85) 7 Lee Stobbs (14 Luke Dunstan 64) 8 James Verney 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 George Ironton. Subs not used: 15 Ben Johnson 16 Les Barkers-Obua
CG:1 Josh Mollinson 2 Mark Bunker 3 Sam Willett 4 Connor Waite (16 Craig Meyrick 69) 5 Sam Pemberton 6 Sam McLelland 7 Jake Alderson 8 Tyler Ingham 9 Phil Draycott 10 Aaron Morgan (Capt) (14 Mike Draycott 84) 11 Josh Williams. Subs not used: 12 Jack Keating 15 Danny Wilson. 17 Nathan Randall.
TA:George Ironton (35)
CG:Jake Alderson (8, 48)