Sat 22nd Sep 2018
Hadley 1-3 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Ashton Campbell, Luke Dunstan, Jack Read
WE OVERCOME JINX TO REMAIN AT THE TOP
Hadley have been a bit of a bogey side to us over the years and our visits there have been hospitable (because they are one of the friendliest clubs around) but not too productive with just one win to show from 10 visits.
They have had a bit of a see saw start to the season, losing only one of their first 5 games but had failed to win their last 3 during which they had failed to score. Those last 3 games were in FA Competitions so they had slipped to 6th in the table but if they won their games in hand they would move up to the top 3.
Not withstanding their recent record they are always tough opponents particularly on their own turf but this season we are made of sterner stuff and we showed a lot of spirit to come from behind and claim the 3 points which keeps us at the top of the table.
Before kick off we were presented with the strange sight of the Team Sheet lacking the names of all our left footed players. It was suggested that they had attended a convention for players who just use their right foot to stand on (!!), but whatever the reasons for their absence we were without Chris Vardy, Chris Mason, Connor Church, Mark Riddick and Elliott Goward.
It meant that Ian had to reshuffle the team and change to a 3-5-2 formation. Last season we would have struggled to get a decent team together but our squad is so much stronger this time around that the line up was still impressive. Alex Campana showed his versatility by dropping into the left wing back role with young Ben Johnson doing likewise on the opposite flank and both did a great job.
We started the game badly, conceding a goal after only 10 minutes. We failed to deal with a corner and the ball pinged around our area until Stephen O'Hara poked the ball forward and it seemed to bounce off one of our player and into the net for an own goal. It was a sloppy goal to concede and was not the start we wanted. Score 1-0.
Things nearly went from bad to worse a minute later when Hadley's big centre forward David Laird, who was a right handful, scored after we gave the ball away with a slack pass out of defence. Fortunately we were rescued by the Referee's whistle for a blatant foul much to the chagrin of the local supporters.
Hadley had their tails up and a good move lead to the ball being laid off to Yemi Buraimoh who smashed a shot just over from the edge of the area. We played our way back into the game and Carl Mensah headed a cross over and in the 19th minute we grabbed an equaliser with a fine goal.
The instigator was Luke Dunstan who strode through midfield before slipping an inch perfect pass into the path of Ashton Campbell who tucked the ball away with aplomb. It was an impressive finish from Ash, who has been a superb signing with 8 goals to his name from 10 games. Score 1-1.
The play swung from end to end as both teams worked hard to create scoring opportunities. Kieran Turner produced some terrific footwork before whipping in a great cross that Ashton Campbell touched over the bar. Hadley were dangerous going forward with Ibrahim Camara a constant thorn in our side. Their centre half Tom Milton must have thought he has scored following a well worked free kick until Connor Sansom dived full length to tip the ball round the post with a brilliant save.
We were also sharp in attack and a towering header from Luke Dunstan sent Ashton Campbell away and his fiercely struck shot forced a terrific save from home keeper Gregg Marsh. Corners late in the half saw goal bounds shots from Sam Joliffe and Kieran Turner cleared.
An entertaining half ended with no further goals with the honours evenly shared. HT Score 1-1.
We had a huge let off 4 minutes after the restart when Connor Sansom uncharacteristically spilled the ball at the feet of the Hadley number 9 David Laird, who was probably taken by surprise as he failed to take advantage by wafting his shot well wide of the goal.
Two minutes later we punished the home side's profligacy by taking the lead. From a throw near the opposition area Luke Dunstan clipped in a lovely left footed ball towards the far post. Ashton Campbell missed with his attempt to get a touch but did enough to put off the keeper as the ball nestled just inside the post. It was Luke's 3rd goal of the season and his 28th for the club and a fitting reward for another terrific performance from him. Still only 21 Luke is closing in on his 200th appearance. Score 1-2.
Hadley pushed forward seeking an equaliser but came aground against our solid central defence of Carl Mensah, Sam Joliffe and Dave O'Connor who were successful in preventing the home forwards from testing Connor Sansom. The home side were not helped when Shaz Anwar received a second yellow card and had to play the remaining 10 minutes with 10 players.
With gaps appearing in the Hadley's defence we looked the more likely scorers and created some promising opportunities. Ashton Campbell twice tested the opposition keeper with fierce shots firstly from a flowing move and then from a defensive mistake.
We needed a 3rd goal to put the game to bed and most of us thought it had arrived in 68th minute when Ash set up Jack Read who smashed a shot that Gregg Marsh did brilliantly well to keep out. Hadley to their credit kept going and when a cross from Rhys Shirley-Clarke reached Ibrahim Camara in the area we feared the worse but the Hadley forward slipped and ended up sending the ball back to where it came from.
Finally the elusive 3rd goal arrived in the 87th minute. Gregg Marsh had repelled shots from Ashton Campbell and Alex Campana but he could do nothing to stop Jack Read from heading home Ash's superb cross from close range. Score 1-3.
Stephen O'Hara tried his luck from long range forcing Connor Sansom to get down quickly to save at the post and Marsh did well to prevent us from adding further to our tally with some fine saves from Joe Fitzgerald and Jack Read but he could not prevent his side from suffering their third straight defeat. FT Score 1-3.
A fine result against difficult opponents especially as we had to show a lot of character to recover from an early set back. This was our 5th consecutive victory and maintains our unbeaten run in the league, the only one left in the Premier Division.
After the game Manager Ian Richardson said "Another three points towards the target and although we were not at our best today we reacted well to going behind so early. We could have scored 2 or 3 more goals but for the Hadley keeper who had a good game. We now have two tough games home and away against Potton United".
H:1 Gregg Marsh 2 Rhys Shirley-Clarke 3 Alfie Bartram 4 Paul Wright (Capt) 5 Tom Milton (12 Peter Rosemin 62) 6 Stephen O'Hara 7 Yemi Buraimoh (16 Brodie Couzins 77) 8 Bradley Marriot 9 David Laird (15 Bradley Osborne 70) 10 Shaz Anwar 11 Ibrahim Camara. Sub not used: 14 Jake King.
TA:1 Connor Sansom 2 Ben Johnson (15 Jack Read 62) 3 Alex Campana 4 Roy Byron (14 Billie Busari 81) 5 Dave O'Connor 6 Carl Mensah 7 Luke Dunstan 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) (12 Tommy Twelves 62) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 Joe Fitzgerald.
H:Own Goal (10)
TA:Ashton Campbell (19), Luke Dunstan (51), Jack Read (87)