Sat 9th Nov 2019
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Harpenden Town 3-2 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Luke Dunstan, Matthew Mitchell
HARPENDEN TOWN F C V TRING ATHLETIC F C 09/11/19
HEARTBREAK AT HARPENDEN
Multiple missed chances combined with basic defensive errors gets you one thing beaten. And thats what happened to us today at Harpenden.
Firstly, the chances. Decent chances must have been in double figures, but yet we rarely troubled the opposition keeper. We should have been clear and away before ever Harpenden scored their first goal and, reflecting back on the match, it is inconceivable that we had to wait until the 80th minute before scoring. The problem with profligate finishing is that it puts pressure on your defence as an opposition goal, whether a breakaway, a deflection or a worldy puts you on the back foot.
Now the defence. It would be unfair to be too harsh because, when Tommy Fletcher went off injured in the 30th minute it meant that we were missing our three first-choice centre backs and our back four was somewhat makeshift. Until that point we looked in control. Still, if we are to compete at the top of this league, we have to deal better with such mishaps as, during the course of a long season, they are inevitable. To ship three goals against a side whose primary tactic was the long ball forward, was disappointing.
Harpenden fielded three ex Tring players, which always adds spice. The ubiquitous Chris Blunden and full back Brima Johnson had already played against us this season for other clubs and there was an air of inevitability that last seasons favourite Carl Mensah would have a stormer and would hook a goal-bound shot off the line cheers Carl!
We dominated from the start and our box-to-box quality was there for all to see, despite the conditions being pretty unpleasant. Oran Swales and Dan Ferrigno were prominent in our forward play. All looked good until Tommy pulled up with a thigh strain and we had to re-organise. This understandably disrupted our shape and we had a few round pegs in square holes, but still we were doing enough good things for the Tring Army to be confident.
We went in a goal down when a long cross from our left was headed in at the far post. One became two, after 50 minutes, when Blunden popped up in the box and converted a cross.
We did show spirit in the last quarter of the match, creating enough chances during the last 15 minutes to have overturned the deficit. Luke Dunstan converted with class and composure in the 80th minute come on boys, we can do this! Pressing the self-destruct button, within two minutes the deficit was back to two goals when we failed to close down as they attacked us, and we paid the price.
Max Mitchells goal, some five minutes from time, was well worked but not enough to prise any points away from the home team.
Reasons to be cheerful:
1. We are still top
2. We have a high-quality group of players
3. We have Ben Johnson and Jay Lovell returning from suspension
4. We are not going to have any more suspensions this season
5. The world will look a better place after our victory over Hoddesdon on Tuesday
Team: C Mann, J Sunderland, P. Madu, T Fletcher(K Turner) J Carter, P Lowen, L Dunstan, D Ferrigno, O Swales (F John), T Dixon (G Brinkman), M Mitchell