Sat 7th Aug 2021
FA Cup - Extra Preliminary Round
TAFC First team 3-0 Keynsham Town

TAFC goals: Oliver Butler, Chris Blunden (pen), Tommy Twelves
(Sponsored by The Cook Partnership Chartered Accountants)

After 2 strange seasons affected by money woes then a world wide pandemic it was heartening to be back for our first game at The Grass Roots Stadium since the 12 December 2020. During that time much has changed at the Club with a new management team led by former player Ryan Sturges and a new sensible financial approach that has seen investments in new floodlights and an upgraded bar, with plenty more improvements to follow.
We couldn't have picked a better opening game than an FA Cup tie and we crowned the occasion with a stirring second half performance that saw us run out convincing 3 nil winners. We have not had a great run in this competition in recent years having gone out at the 1st stage in the last 5 years so it was encouraging to break that trend.
Our opponents were Keynsham Town who travelled from Somerset and play in the Premier Division in the Western League. Our guests came with some form having won their first 2 games 3-0 so we faced a tough task which was reflected in a tight, cagey first half.
Our opponents probably shaded the first half hour or so but there was little in it and few scoring chances. A visiting forward did force David Saunders into a flying save with a decent shot in the 13th minute but apart from dealing with a few set pieces and crosses our young keeper was not required to show off his considerable skills.
Our best moment during these early stages came in the 29th minute when Chris Blunden's pass would have sent Ollie Butler through on goal but for a timely intervention by a defender.
However during the last 15 minutes of the half we started to string some passes together and looked more threatening. Chris Blunden and skipper Keiron Turner linked up nicely down the right with the latters cross picking out Ollie Butler but he was unable to get a shot away. Soon after another flowing move instigated by George Carberry led to a fine cross from Frankie Hercules which was collected by Chris Blunden but the keeper did well to come out and block his shot.
As half time approached there were calls from the home supporters for a penalty when the Keynsham centre back appeared to grab Chris Blunden in the area but the referee waved away our appeals.
So a tough, competitive half ended goalless.
HT : 0-0
It looked as if the first goal was going to be crucial and fortunately it fell to us within 5 minutes of the restart. It followed a corner which was cleared but recycled back to Frankie Hercules and with the support of Manny Gbejuade managed to lay it off to Kieron Turner who from the left wing whipped over a magnificent cross to the far post where Ollie Butler lost his marker to place a header wide of the keeper. Score 1-0.
The visitors came back strongly with their No. 9 producing nice skills before firing a shot over the bar. In the 57th minute they had a great chance to pull level when their left winger latched onto a poor header back to Dave Saunders but he shot wide.
That proved to be a key turning point in the game because 2 minutes later we stretched our lead to 2 nil. It started when Frankie Hercules chased down a ball into the area which then fell to Chris Blunden who was pushed from behind for a soft penalty. Worse was to follow for our guests because the defender was red carded which seemed harsh unless of course he said something to the referee. Chris Blunden coolly slotted home the spot kick. Score 2-0.
The odds were now firmly stacked against Keynsham but to their credit they kept looking for an opportunity to pull a goal back but we defended well to give Dave Saunders plenty of protection.
With 8 minutes to go we put the game beyond our opponents reach when Kieron Turner, who was immense in midfield picked out Ben Johnsons run down the right wing with a super pass, Tommy Twelves got his nose in front of the defender and swept home Bens fine cross. It was a terrific finish from Tommy and was just reward for a fine game from the midfielder. FT Score 3-0.
A Gold Star performance from the players to add to the fine draw they secured in midweek at much fancied Oxhey Jets. Considering this is a new team with a sprinkling of young players this has been a very encouraging start to the season but Manager Ryan Sturges will know that there is still a long way to go but so far so good.
Man of the Match was given to Ollie Butler who had an outstanding game but this was a fine overall team performance and everyone did they part.
In the next round we face a trip to Gloucestershire to play Bishops Cleeve who beat Clevedon Town 6-1. Our opponents play in the Premier Division of the Hellenic League and the game will take place on Saturday 21 August 2021.
Finally a word of thanks to our opponents who stayed for quite a while after the game in the bar when so often you see teams disappear at the first opportunity especially if they had lost. We wish them every success for the rest of the season.
Also we must extend congratulations to staunch Athletic supporter Martin Richards who before the game predicted a 3 nil win. Well done Martin and we look forward to more of your predictions.
Team: 1 Dave Saunders 2 Harrison Cornick 3 Cam Brooks 4 Tommy Twelves 5 Scott Bonner 6 George Carbery 7 Frankie Hercules (17 Ben Johnson 73) 8 Ollie Butler (16 Luke Cestrone 76) 9 Chris Blunden 10 Kieron Turner (Capt) 11 Emmanuel Gbejuade (14 Chris vardy 73). Subs not used: 12 Tom Shaw 15 Joe Chott 18 Toni Bankole.
Scorers: Oliie Butler (50), Chris Blunden Pen (59), Tommy Twelves (82)
Crowd: 146
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