Sat 16th Feb 2019
Suburban Football League North Division
TAFC Reserve team 3-0 Abbey Rangers
TAFC goals: Billie Busari (2), Ollie Ruttle
Tring Ath.Res.(2)3 Abbey Rangers Res(0)0
If our opponents had won they would have gone top of the table and before kick off with 9 players missing and a threadbare squad things looked grim.
Of the 15 players 7 were making their debut for either the Club or this side and 1 making a seasons debut.
This was also probably the youngest side I've managed at Tring with 9 under 18. We were grateful to U17 Manager Alex Thomson and to Steve Boone from Hemel Hempstead U 18s without whom we would have struggled to fulfil the fixture.
Perhaps not too surprisingly we took a while to settle and playing up the slope we were put under pressure by Abbey Rangers. Our cause wasn't helped by a couple of hairy moments at the back but as the result shows the back four included 17 year old Dave Saunders and (18 years old yesterday) Joel Nketia were excellent, together with Skipper Chris Clark and although the midfield struggled to keep a shape we managed to hold out with a combination of staunch defence and some poor finishing and both wide men Emanuelle Gbejuade and Linus Kusi supplied a number of decent crosses which could well have resulted in goals. Up front 17 yr old Alex Holmes worked hard and with some quality together with Ollie Ruttle who continues to improve.
In midfield Will Salmon and Connor Blake had their hands full but gave as good as they got and in front of them Billie Busari kept us on the front foot and opened the scoring with an individual left footed strike off the post after 20 mins.
As the game went on we began to improve and a second from the same source meant we ended the half grateful to be 2 up.
Playing down the slope we changed the shape by dropping Billie Busari slightly deeper and letting the ball do the work. We then defended with 5 across the pitch and kept, apart from couple of occasions, Abbey Rangers, in front of us and set them questions they couldn't answer. With another debutant, Alvin Magagada, who showed boundless energy and quality we created a 3rd from the back by our custodian and an exquisite pass from Mr. Busari converted by Ollie Ruttle to seal the win.
The other subs Tom Ainsworth, who'd already played 90 mins for the A team in their Cup win, returnee Ikeani Ejimofor and Connor (the better) Fitzgerald played their part in a game that was only spoilt by my losing my lower denture!
Fortunately due to excellent work by First Team gaffa Ian Richardson and Barry Simmonds it was recovered in a bin!!!
D.Saunders, C.Clark, J.Nketia, S.Henderson, C.Blake, W.Salmon, B.Busari, E.Gbedjade (C.Fitzgerald), A.Holmes (A.Magmadada), O.Ruttle (T.Ainsworth), L.Kusi (I.Ejimfor)