Sat 17th Aug 2019
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Thoughtfox Consulting Ltd.
TAFC First team 4-1 Harefield United
TAFC goals: Joe Naylor (2), Matthew Mitchell (pen), Luke Dunstan
JOE NAYLOR'S BRACE HELPS US TO THREE POINTS
After losing our opening league game against Colney Heath we got ourselves back on track with a solid win over Harefield United with 2 goals from Joe Naylor and a goal a piece from Max Mitchell and Luke Dunstan. The result suggests this was easy pickings but that was far from the case as the visitors were a tough proposition and the victory was only assured in the last 10 minutes when Harefield hit the self destruct button by getting one of their players sent to the sin bin.
With the likes of Dash, Mann, OConnor, Ferrigno and Swales all missing for one reason or another new Manager Kevin Christou was forced to make a few changes and he would have been delighted to see it bare fruit so quickly with Joe Naylor, who was making his first league appearance of the season, opening the scoring after only 2 minutes.
After an encouraging start to the game Joe Naylor swung the ball over from out wide on the left and the ball sailed over the opposition keeper and into the top far corner of the net. There may have been an element of good fortune about the goal but no doubt Joe would claimed it was a shot and not a cross! Score 1-0.
Harefield were returning to the Premier Division after a 3 year absence, winning promotion after a magnificent season in Division 1 where they notched up 110 points and dropped only 4 from 38 league games to run away with the title. They found the net 125 times and their line up included 4 players who between them bagged 101 goals last season, so they were clearly a team to be feared.
After the early set back they started to get into their stride and had much the better of the game up to half time, looking lively and dangerous on the attack. We were not playing our usual fluent football, and some credit must go to the opposition for that, but we defended well and Lewis Todd in goal was not overly stretched.
Harefield won a series of set pieces but failed to punish us but in the 17th minute Lewis Todds punch fell to Richard Pacquette who lobbed the ball wide of an empty net. Later the same Harefield forward was played into a good position in our area but Lewis Todd got a touch to the shot and Phil Lowen did extremely well to hold off a challenge and clear the danger.
Despite being second best for much of the first half we created the best chance when Max Mitchell whipped in a superb cross and Luke Dunstans diving header from close range was somehow kept out by keeper Reece Mallet, who ended up sitting on the ball.
The last action of the half saw the dangerous Pacquette strike a lovely volley from a well worked corner which Lewis Todd caught with confidence.
At the break we retained our slim one goal lead. HT Score 1-0.
We got another early boost when 4 minutes into the second period we were awarded a penalty for handball. It was one of those decisions that can go either way but luckily it went in our favour. Max Mitchell kept his cool to despatch the spot kick and maintain his remarkable record of scoring in his first 4 games for the Club. Score 2-1.
Max Mitchell nearly added to his tally 9 minutes later when his superbly struck free kick forced a terrific save from the keeper who got down low to save the shot by the post. After that early excitement the game deteriorated into a scrappy and fractious encounter.
The visitors brought on their leading scorer from last season Lenny Farhall, who found the net 37 times last year, and within 3 minutes of appearing he gave his side a life line by coolly finishing off a fine move with 23 minutes still left on the clock. Score 2-1.
However, Farhall went from hero to villain in the 79th minute when he was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. We took full advantage of our numerical superiority by extending our lead 7 minutes later with a superb goal conjured up by two local youngsters.
Ben Johnsons (aged 20) created the opportunity with a magnificent long raking pass from the right back position that picked out 21 year old Joe Naylor who controlled the ball superbly before calmly slotting it past the keeper. Joe has been a great servant to the club playing over 200 games over 5 seasons and its great to see him on the First Team score sheet. Score 3-1.
This goal took the wind out of Harefields sails and three minutes later Luke Dunstan nailed the win when he headed home Alex Wards fine free kick at the far post. Score 4-1.
Luke had a great opportunity to make it a thoroughly miserable day for the visitors when he found himself through on goal in added time but he was foiled by a very good save from the keeper. FT Score 4-1.
The visitors will feel with some justification that the score line did not truly reflect the game but we were unlucky to lose against Colney Heath so perhaps it was our turn to get the rub of the green.
Finally we should mention that Frankie Hercules made his First Team debut as a second half substitute. Frankie comes from a well known footballing family, his brother Max played for Athletic and of course his dad Cliff knew a thing or two about playing and scoring goals. He has only just turned 18 and he showed some lovely skills and will be a player to watch in the future.
Next Saturday we are in League action again when we entertain Oxhey Jets at home.
TA:1 Lewis Todd 2 Ben Johnson 3 Chris Vardy (12 Jack Sunderland 86) 4 Phil Lowen 5 Tommy Fletcher 6 Jay Lovell 7 Luke Dunstan 8 Jacob Carter 9 Joe Naylor 10 Matthew Mitchell (Capt) (14 Alex Ward 73) 11 Mulik Rickman (16 Frankie Hercules 83). Sub not used: Connor Blake.
HU:1 Reece Mallet 2 Harry McCorkell (17 Elliott Dobbs 72) 3 Steven Green 4 Ryan Wharton 5 Tashan Jordan 6 Sean Mangan (Capt) 7 Sam Shaw 8 Paul Underwood 9 Andrew Harewood (12 Lenny Farhall 64) 10 Richard Pacquette 11 Luke Baldwin. Subs not used: 14 Lee Clark 15 Callum Rogers 16 Gary Edwards.
TA:Joe Naylor (2, 86), Matt Mitchell Pen (49), Luke Dunstan (89)
HU:Lenny Farhall (67)