Sat 12th Jan 2019
North Greenford Utd 4-4 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Mark Riddick, Luke Dunstan, George Ironton, Kieran Turner (pen)
WE SLIP FROM TOP SPOT AFTER 8 GOAL THRILLER
In terms of entertainment for the neutral this game would have been the first up on Match of the Day with plenty of goals, fortunes swaying from one team to the other and four cracking goals from the home side. However, from our point of view it was disappointing to score 4 goals away from home and only come away with a point.
For the 2nd game running we were without our big dominant centre backs Carl Mensah and Dave O'Connor and the home side recognised our weakness in the air and took full advantage to score from three set pieces and a long ball down the middle.
There is a bit of a dog fight at the top of the table with 4 clubs vying for promotion. As a result of dropping these 2 points we were knocked off the top by Hadley who lead us by 2 points although we have 2 games in hand. Immediately below in 3rd and 4th place are the 2 Biggleswade teams, with FC 2 points behind (with 3 games in hand) and United 6 points behind (with 2 games in hand). Biggleswade FC are the main threat and they visit Tring on Saturday for what should be an intriguing encounter.
This was our first ever visit and game against North Greenford United who moved across from the Combined Counties League after spending some time previously in the Southern League. They have had a tough baptism in the South Midlands occupying 16th place in the table following just 2 wins and 2 draws from their last 16 games but they have just strengthen their team with their line up showing a number of new signings.
In our previous 4 games we found themselves having to come from behind but for a change we took the early initiative by opening the scoring in the 18th minute when Mark Riddick scored his 5th goal of the season with a smart header from a free kick. Score 0-1.
Prior to the goal Roy Byron went close with a shot that just went wide of the post and Ashton Campbell had two great opportunities when he beat the keeper to the ball but his efforts just missed the target. We looked in control and the home side had barely threatened but mid way through the half their wily centre forward won a soft free kick just outside our area. The set piece was not great but we failed to deal with it and when the ball fell kindly to centre half Nick Turner he smashed it into the roof of the net. Score 1-1.
The equaliser unsurprisingly pepped up our opponents and the game became more evenly balanced with both sides having some half chances. With 3 minutes left on the clock to the break we had a stroke of good fortune when the ball pinged around the home side's area before falling to Luke Dunstan who stabbed the ball home from close range. Luke has been out injured since late October and it was great to see him in the starting line and on the score sheet. HT Score 1-2.
Three minutes into the second half George Ironton forced a terrific flying save from the home keeper Frazer Siddall who soon afterwards received an injury forcing play to be held up for some minutes which would later prove to be influential.
The keeper was annoyed about a challenge from Ashton Campbell who is not a dirty player and had the right to go for a 50-50 ball especially as the keeper was well out of his area. The Referee clearly agreed and didn't blow for a free kick but rightly stopped play so the keeper could get treatment.
The game was wrongly restarted with a free kick to the home side and the keeper thumped it down the field. We had clearly lost our concentration and didn't deal with the ball into our area allowing McLeish to shoot just wide of the far post. But our relief was short lived as from the resulting corner the home skipper Ben Long crashed a first time shot into the net to equalise in the 59th minute. Score 2-2.
Worse was to follow 3 minutes later when we again failed to deal with a big punt down the middle allowing United's leading scorer Aaron McLeish to latch onto it and smash the ball high into the net for his 21st goal from 26 games, a terrific record. Score 3-2.
It took a while for our players to get to terms with this sudden turn around especially as the opposition had their tails up and were pressing to finish us off. But full marks to our lads who showed a lot of character to come back and level the scores in the 76th minute through George Ironton who fired home a terrific shot from outside the area for the third goal on the trot. Score 3-3.
This topsy turvy game now swung back in our favour and 2 minutes after drawing level we took the lead again when nice link up play between Kieran Turner and Luke Dunstan led to the latter being fouled in the area for a penalty. Our record from spot kicks has been terrible this season but Kieran Turner took full responsibility and converted it Score 3-4.
The home side took off a defender and brought on Manu Oke-William, a big towering forward and went route one and bombarded our defence with long balls, free kicks, corners and long throws. It was back to the walls stuff for us and we worked hard to rebuff the strong physical approach from our hosts. We seemed to have weathered the storm but the Referee added on over 6 six minutes of added time to take account of the injury to the keeper, and just before the final whistle Harvie Gardiner produced a bullet header from a corner to grab a late dramatic equaliser. FT Score 4-4.
This was a bruising affair and one cannot criticise the players, some of whom were playing out of position, because they worked hard and gave their all. Some sympathy must go to Pat Sinfield who had no chance with any of the goals because the finishing from our opponents was lethal with all 4 goals ripping into the top of the net.
We have had a disappointing start to 2019 but we have a chance to make our mark on Saturday when title favourites Biggleswade FC, who have lost only one league game all season, are the visitors to Tring. It will be a tough match but hopefully we will be strengthened by the return of some key defenders.
NGU:1 Frazer Siddall 2 Harvie Gardiner 3 Dujon Desagurante 4 Andrew Manitou 5 Nick Turner (14 Manu Oke-William 81) 6 David Kalonga 7 Mileno Sanches (12 Sean Hillier HT) 8 Ben Long (Capt) 9 Aaron McLeish 10 Excellence Muhemba. Subs not used: 15 Danny Glock 16 Seldyn Grant 17 Darren Ankomah-Brew.
TA:1 Patrick Sinfield 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Jack Sunderland 4 Roy Byron 5 Mark Riddick 6 Tommy Twelves 7 James Verney 8 Luke Dunstan 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 George Ironton. Subs not used: 14 Ethan Holland 15 Billie Busari GK David Saunders.
NGU:Nick Turner (24), Ben Long (59), Aaron McLeish (62), Harvie Gardiner (90+6)
TA:Mark Riddick (18), Luke Dunstan (42), George Ironton (76), Kieran Turner (Pen 78)