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First team report  

Tue 9th Aug 2016
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Mick Eldridge
TAFC First team 1-0 Leverstock Green

TAFC goals: Christopher Stapleton
Athletic opened the new league season with a hard fought win against local rivals Leverstock Green played in front of one of the lowest ever crowds for this fixture, maybe emphasising the season is starting much too early being the main holiday period.

In ideal conditions Athletic started the game with defender David “Doc” O’Connor playing up front in an unfamiliar role. As early as the 2nd minute Athletic created a chance but the normally dependable Chris Vardy scuffed his shot and was easily saved.

The first 20 minutes Athletic were slightly the better side,but were unable to capitalise on a couple of half chances, however Levy then had a great chance, Curtis Donaldson hit a terrific shot from about 25 yards which hit the top of the bar.

In the 28th minute Levy were awarded a penalty after Athletic were unable to clear a corner. Curtis Donaldson stepped up but keeper Jack Hopwood brought off a terrific save to add to the 3 he saved last week in a penalty shoot-out. Athletics keeper came to the rescue again in the 35th minute when he again foiled Curtis Donaldson.

Half Time: Tring Athletic 0 0 Leverstock Green

Leverstock Green began the second half the better with Jack Hopwood saving from Curtis Donaldson yet again. Athletic slowly got back into the game with some good build up play but disappointingly the final pass let them down.

Athletic won 3 corners in quick succession,the final one was nearly converted by Doc but his header went just wide.

Tring then brought Chris Stapleton on in the 65th minute with Ben Seaton going off and Levy brought on Sean Owens and Bradley Hedges for Alex McCarthy and Lewis Bowers a few minutes later.
Athletics Jack Hopwood was the busier of the two keepers saving twice with his legs in a 5 minute spell.

With 10 minutes left Chris Vardy was played through but a defender managed to make a desperate tackle to thwart him.

Three minutes later Athletic did score. From Jack Hopwoods goal kick Luke Dunstan headed into the path of Ryan Sturges whose superb cross was met at the far post by Chris Stapleton to head into the corner of the net.

Full Time: Tring Athletic 1 0 Leverstock Green

A good start to the league season for Athletic against old rivals Leverstock Green,whose Curtis Donaldson on another day could have scored a hatrick but for the heroics of home keeper Jack Hopwood. Athletic now look forward to visiting London Colney on Saturday for another league fixture.

TAFC: Jack Hopwood,Tommy Twelves,Chris Mason,Luke Dunstan,Dan Steadman(c),David O’Connor,Ryan Sturges,Sam Joliffe,Chris Vardy,Ben Seaton(Chris Stapleton 65),Lessa Boka. Substitutes not used: Stuart Stedman, Joe Naylor and Jack Seaton

Leverstock Green:Liam John,Ryan Luke,Brima Johnson,Joel Williams,Shane Wood(c),George Biggerdike,Ross Adams(Ashley Addison 83),Alex McCarthy(Bradley Hedges 72),Aaron Lewis,Lewis Bowers(Sean Owens 72),Curtis Donaldson.

Crowd: 57

The following report has been taken from Leverstock Green's website.

Tring Athletic (0) 1 (Stapleton 84) Leverstock Green (0) 0

1. Jack Hopwood, 2. Tommy Twelves, 3. Chris Mason (14. Chris Stapleton 80 mins), 4. Luke Dunston, 5. Dan Steadman, 6. Dave O'Connor, 7. Ryan Sturges, 8. Sam Joliffe, 9. Chris Vardy, 10. Ben Seaton, 11. Lesse Boka. Subs not used: 12. Jack Seaton, 15. Paul Jeffrey, 16. Stuart Stedman, 17. Jack Sunderland).

Leverstock Green
1. Liam Jahn, 2. Ryan Luke, 3. Brima Johnson, 4. Joel Williams, 5. Shane Wood, 6. George Biggadike, 7. Ross Adams (12. Ashley Addison 86 mins), 8. Alex McCarthy (14. Shaun Owens 75 mins), 9. Aaron Lewis, 10. Lewis Bowers (16. Bradley Hedges 75 mins), 11. Curtis Donaldson. Subs not used: 15. Zak Howells, 17. Jamal Babb.

Match Report

Leverstock Green paid the price for a first half penalty miss as for the second game in a row they were beaten by a late goal to begin their league campaign with a defeat in a tight game at Tring Athletic.

There were few chances early on, with the game’s first real near miss coming on 24 minutes when Curtis Donaldson cut in from the left and hit a superb dipping shot from distance which hit the Tring crossbar.

Four minutes later there was an even better chance for Donaldson as Alex McCarthy was brought down while trying to turn inside the box. The referee pointed straight to the penalty spot, however Tring keeper Jack Hopwood guessed correctly and dived to his right to save Donaldson’s spot kick.

Donaldson was denied for a third time on 35 minutes after good work by Aaron Lewis set him up to hit a shot from outside the box which Hopwood turned round the post, and again three minutes into the second half when his chipped free kick from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by Hopwood.

Liam Jahn had his first real save to make from a shot by Ryan Sturges on 54 minutes, but within a minute Leverstock broke quickly and the ball was played through to Lewis Bowers, who shot wide. On the hour Tring had another chance when Sturges crossed to the far post but Dave O’Connor headed over the bar, and for the next few minutes the pressure was in the Leverstock box as Tring put over a series of dangerous crosses and corners.

Hopwood continued to deny Leverstock at the other end, pushing away a shot from Lewis on 76 minutes, and parrying a shot from Joel Williams four minutes later, with Lewis unable to get on the end of the rebound. A quick break from Tring then found Chris Vardy through on goal, but Shane Wood got back to put in a great tackle.

The game looked to be heading for a stalemate, but six minutes from time Tring produced one of the night’s few moments of quality as they broke quickly with three one-touch passes before Sturges put a great diagonal ball into the box where substitute Chris Stapleton came in to head home what proved to be the winner.

Leverstock certainly deserved something from the game, with the back four putting in a particularly solid display all night, however their inability to take their chances at the other end proved costly. They must now look to open their league account on Saturday when St Margaretsbury are the visitors to Pancake Lane.

(No photos on file)