Sat 9th Mar 2019
Baldock Town 0-1 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Ashton Campbell
ASHTON CAMPBELL AND CARL MENSAH KEEP US ON TRACK
Our performance may have lacked its usual fluency but boy we showed a lot of grit and determination to come away with 3 vital points from a tough trip to Baldock Town who were the form team of the moment having lost just one of their previous 18 games.
Ashton Campbell's terrific goal midway through the second half secured the points that keep us at the top and still on course for the title but the team also had to be thankful to Carl Mensah who had to don the keepers gloves after Connor Sansom was sent off 15 minutes from time. The big centre backs first task was to save a penalty which enabled us to see out the game for a fine victory.
After a tense and difficult afternoon Ian Richardson was able to find some humour from the game when he said "A performance full of character and belief against a very good Baldock side. We scored a great goal, kept a clean sheet, my centre back saves a penalty and 3 more points. Couldn't ask for any more. The boys were imMensah!"
The match was hardly a classic - the swirling wind, bumpy surface and the importance of the game contributed to that but it was fiercely contested with little to choose between the sides.
We started quite well with Jon Clements fine cross field pass picking out Ashton Campbell, but it was a difficult angle and his left foot shot went wide. That was after only 3 minutes but any hope we had that this was going to be the shape of things to come was to be disappointed as some promising moves broke down with the final pass or control being poor.
The home side responded around the quarter of an hour mark with a fine set move from a corner, with the ball reaching an unmarked Kieran Barnes on the edge of the area but his shot/lob was tipped over by Connor Sansom.
Nearly all the action was confined to the highly contested midfield areas with little goal mouth action and with neither keeper being really tested. Five minutes before the break Jon Clements did force home keeper Adam Harpur to make a good save at the near post. A few minutes later Connor Sansom tussled for a cross with Harry Holland who went down claiming a penalty. The Referee who was well placed waved away the appeals from the home bench and supporters.
A tight and competitive first half that lacked scoring opportunities unsurprising ended scoreless. HT Score 0-0.
After the break it was more of the same with neither side able to take control although the capricious wind was undoubtedly making life difficult for the players. In the 63rd minute a searching pass picked out home forward Daril Ngwala and he did well to hold off a challenge from Carl Mensah and get a shot away which was just wide of the post.
Two minutes later came a rare moment of genuine quality which would decide the match. Kieran Turner did well to slip a pass to James Verney who then clipped the ball into Ashton Campbell in the oppositions area. Ash produced a superb turn to lose his marker then smash the ball past the startled keeper. It was his 24th goal of the season and may proved to be his most crucial. Score 0-1.
We were now holding the cards but with a quarter of an hour left came a decisive moment which could have cost us the game. A cross from the left was too far in front of Kim Forsythe and appeared to roll safely out of play. It was therefore a surprise to many of us who had our eyes on the ball to see the Referee red card Connor Sansom and award the home side a penalty. It subsequently came to light that Connor had unfortunately clattered into the Baldock player after the ball had passed through our area.
Carl Mensah stepped into the breach and faced United's leading scorer Kieran Barnes, a definite case of little facing large. Fortunately for us it was Large that won the day as Carl pulled off a stunning match winning save. Many of us marvelled at how such a big man could get down so quickly.
We still had 15 minutes to go so the game was far from over especially as the opposition had their 3 leading scorers on the pitch (Kieran Barnes, Kim Forsythe and Lewis Barker) who collectively have bagged 36 goals so far this season.
We had one scare when Barnes (who looked a mile offside) was played through but Mark Riddick, who had another great game, produced a superb tackle to rob the Baldock midfielder.
Our 10 men defended stoutly and we managed to see out the rest of the game for a much needed win. FT Score 0-1.
With our 3 main rivals all picking up wins it was vital that we also collected 3 points to keep our noses in front. This win extends our unbeaten run to 6 games with special praise going to our defence of Tommy Twelves, Brima Johnson (who has settled in so well), Dave O'Connor and of course Carl Mensah who have now conceded just one goal in our last 3 games.
But this was an all round effort so praise should also be extended to the rest of the team because this was a very tough fixture against a strong Baldock side who recently beat Biggleswade FC.
Next Saturday we have a tough local derby when we travel to Leighton Town.
BT:1 Adam Harpur 2 Stephen Brooks 3 Josh Furness 4 Charlie Hayford 5 Dean Gilbert 6 Kieran Barnes 7 Alex Coppin (12 Charlie Joy 70) 8 Lewis Barker (Capt) 9 Harry Holland 10 Daril Ngwala 11 Owen Robertson (16 Robbie Buchanan 59). Subs not used: 15 Charlie Payne 17 Jack Farmer.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Brima Johnson 4 Mark Riddick 5 David O'Conner 6 Carl Mensah 7 James Verney (12 Lee Stobbs 70) 8 Jon Clements 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner (Capt) 11 George Ironton (16 Jack Sunderland 88). Subs not used: 14 Joe Fitzgerald 15 Roy Byron.
TA:Ashton Campbell (65)