Mon 3rd Jan 2022
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Risborough Rangers 1-0 TAFC First team

When the team sheets were issued shortly before kick off our supporters amongst the large Bank Holiday crowd of 237 must have gasped at how many young players we had in our line up and then looked to the heavens in the hope that the outcome would not be too disastrous. After all we were facing a team at the top of the table with the only unbeaten record in the Division who score for fun, having notched 10 goals in their last 2 games.

But our fears were misguided because we put on superb performance, playing some lovely football and competing all over the park and it was by no means a backs to the wall stuff. It took a late scrappy goal to deny us a deserved point and the fact that we were disappointed at the end was indicative of the way we played.

We started well and should have had a penalty after only 6 minutes when Frankie Hercules was clearly fouled in the box. We were playing the ball around nicely and doing a good job on keeping the opposition forwards quiet.

Midway through the half our hosts stirred into action when a lovely one two set the dangerous Marcus Wyllie through down the inside right channel, but the young player, who heads Rangers scorers chart with 23 goals, fired his shot into the side netting.

That was a let off for us but it sparked a good spell for our opponents as they stepped up the pressure and went close on a number of occasions. An effort from Kieron Schmidt was cleared off the line and Jake Alley produced a super save to tip over a close range header from Asher Yearwood.

We were not helped when a sin binning reduced us to 10 players but we battled hard to keep out the home attacks and just before half time we had a scoring chance but Godlove Oppong was unable to find the net.
After a tough 20 minute spell we managed to reach half time goalless.

The second half was fairly evenly contested and neither side created any genuine scoring chances. We had worked hard to deal with the set pieces from our opponents and so it was disappointing that the only goal should stem from a free kick in 79th minute and from the only shot on target in the second half which came from Alex Kedierski.

We piled forward during the last 10 minutes but it was always going to be tough against a team with the best defensive record in the Premier Division with only 11 goals conceded in 20 games. The final whistle drew loud cheers from the home crowd and players which we would like to think was not only in celebration and also a sign of relief at picking up all 3 points.

We have now faced 2 top teams on the trot and can consider ourselves unlucky to have nothing to show for it. What was pleasing about these performances was that our young players are gifted and can play attractive football. However we still remain 3rd from bottom so we need to start picking up points hopefully starting on Saturday when we have another local derby against Aylesbury Vale Dynamos at the Grass Roots Stadium.

We wish Risboro Rangers all the best for the rest of the season (except when they come to Tring!) and on Saturday they have a huge game at home to second placed Leighton Town. A win for Risboro would surely make them red hot favourites for the title as they would have a 13 point lead and 2 games in hand. We will watch that result with interest.

Team: Jake Alley, Elijah Hearn, Matt Ellis, Harry Seabrook, George Carbery (Capt), Luke Peerless, Leo Farruch, Oliver Butler, Frankie Hercules, Godlove Oppong, Ellis Coffie. Subs played Charlie Beaton, Manny Gbejuade. Subs not used: Jimmy Doherty, Khy Smith-Reid.

Crowd: 237.

(No photos on file)

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