Sat 25th Aug 2018
Sponsored by Barry Simmons
TAFC First team 3-3 London Tigers F C
TAFC goals: Mark Riddick, Billie Busari, Ashton Campbell
WE FAIL TO TAME TIGERS
Despite finding our scoring boots with 7 goals in our last two games and maintaining our unbeaten run in the league (one of only two teams in the division - the other one being Colney Heath) there was a feeling of disappointment and some frustration that having scored three times at home we only came away with a draw. But it would have been far worse had young Ben Johnson not produced a miraculous intervention to prevent London Tigers from scoring a very late winner.
We were missing some key players like Luke Dunstan and Alex Campana, who were away, so we made some changes to the line up with Roy Byron coming in to make his first start for the club. We also had a new keeper (our 4th of the season) with Connor Samson taking his place between the sticks.
Our opponents had made an average start to the season, winning one and losing two, and they can be an unknown quantity but they usually have some gifted players and that proved to be the case in this game.
The changes we made didn't seem to affect us adversely as we tore into the opposition from the kick off and created some promising early opportunities. This quick start soon paid off when we took the lead after only 10 minutes from a corner. Elliott Goward swung over a lovely ball and Mark Riddick got away from his marker to head the ball crisply home. It was his first of the season and got us off to a great start. Score 1-0.
We went close to doubling our lead when Elliott Goward curled a shot just wide of the far post and Mark Riddick headed over a lovely cross from Kieran Turner. Our talented 17 year old forward Billie Busari went even closer when he struck the bar with a superb shot following a nicely worked corner routine between Elliott Goward and Kieran Turner.
Apart from one slightly awkward moment when we failed to clear a free kick properly our guests were not in the game and many of us were thinking that this could be a comprehensive win especially as we were all over them.
Then midway through the half the game changed when we failed to clear our lines properly from a quick break and Tigers leading scorer Paulo Alves cracked home a shot from outside the box. It was a superb finished but it was against the run of play. Score 1-1.
The goal invigorated Tigers and they looked a completely different proposition, playing the ball around nicely and looking a threat going forward. Three minutes after their equaliser we were caught out by a lovely ball over our defence but fortunately for us Dayaan Salifou blasted his shot over the bar.
We knew we were in for a tough game now and that was confirmed in the 38th minute when again we failed to defend properly and Alves had an easy tap in for his second goal of the game. Score 1-2.
There were shades of the Crawley Green game when we started well and found ourselves chasing a game we thought we had sewn up. We managed to rouse ourselves and grab an equaliser within 4 minutes. Elliott Goward showed great skill to lose his marker from a throw and whip over a superb cross that Billie Busari converted for his second goal of the season. Score 2-2.
Ashton Campbell went close to regaining the lead, forcing the keeper into a great save from a firmly hit shot but Ash wasn't to be denied, slotting home a minute into time added on to ensure that after a topsy turvy first 45 minutes we would go into the break with a slender lead. HT Score 3-2.
Having retaken the lead and playing towards our favourite end many would have backed us to go on and win the game comfortably. We certainly started well again with Mark Riddick going close, flashing his header from an Elliott Goward corner just past the post.
But the script didn't go according to plan and for that we can blame ourselves when Connor Samson unfortunately misjudged a poor free kick in the 54th minute and Yuness En-Nouru was presented with an open goal. Score 3-3
It was an unfortunate mistake but we still had plenty of time to get a winner and we certainly tried our best. Tigers defended well and kept us on our toes with some dangerous breaks so we had to be careful not to leave the back door open.
We pressed forward and the opposition keeper pulled off a superb save to come out quickly and smother a shot from Ashton Campbell that deflected just past the post. Then a lovely move set up Jack Read but again the keeper pulled off a match wining save with Tommy Twelves smashing the loose ball just over the bar. Later a super cross with his right foot from Chris Vardy was touched on by Ashley Campbell with Jack Read just unable to reach it. Another fine move saw the ball crossed into Jack Read but a defender just got a touch to the ball before Jack could get his shot away.
We had to be aware of the oppositions counter attacks and the dangerous Paulo Alves fired one opportunity well over. Despite dominating possession we could find no way though the Tigers defence and then a minute into added time Ben Johnson came to the rescue, when sub William Rocha was faced with a seemingly open goal but somehow the teenager managed to block the shot and knock it away to safety. It was a huge let off but it would have been a travesty if we had lost this game. FT Score 3-3.
For the neutral this must have been a joy but for us Athletic fans it was a mixture of joy with a large dollop of frustration. To score three goals at home and not collect three points is a major disappointment. Give credit to Tigers they had some very talented individuals but we did gift them probably all three goals. Even then we had enough possession and chances to have still won the game.
That's six goals conceded in our last two games and we certainly need to tighten up all round, not just the defence but in midfield as well as there were times when the opposition broke far too easily through our ranks.
A win would have taken us to the top of the table but we are still unbeaten in the league and have produced some lovely football so far even though the team is still settling in.
On Tuesday we entertain London Colney in the League Challenge Trophy then on Saturday we are at home again this time to Leighton Town for a league fixture.
TA:1 Connor Samson 2 Joe Fitzgerald 3 Chris Vardy 4 Mark Riddick 5 Roy Byron (15 Ben Johnson 73) 6 Carl Mensah 7 Billie Busari (12 Jack Read 73) 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Ashton Campbell 10 Kieran Turner 11 Elliott Goward (14 Tommy Twelves 63). Sub not used: 16 Andrew McIntosh.
LT:1 Elgi Feszo 2 Dayaan Salifou 3 Ashkan Abbasi 4 Adam Smith (19 Abhshou Pant 58) 5 Alieu Kamara 6 Hernany Mercado 7 Yuness En-Nouru (20 William Rocha 67) 8 Cristiano Neto (Capt) (12 Ahmed Arbi 81) 9 William Able 10 Gustavo Ferraz 11 Paulo Alves. Subs not used: 16 Mohame Al-Ansare GK Cledis Ramos.
TA:Mark Riddick (10), Billie Busari (38), Ashton Campbell (45+1)
LT:Paulo Alves (23, 34), Yuness En-Nouru (54)