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First team report  

Sat 24th Sep 2016
Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Round Qualifying
Winslow United 1-4 TAFC First team

TAFC goals: Sam Jolliffe (2, 1 pen), Christopher Vardy, Ryan Sturges

Sam Joliffe celebrated his 26th birthday with 2 goals that came at crucial times in this absorbing cup tie, the first was an equaliser and the second put us in pole position against a gallant Winslow side. There was also a well taken goal from Ryan Sturges and a brilliant finish from Chris Vardy which ensured that our name will go into the hat for Monday's draw of this prestigious national competition.

The final score line suggests it was an easy victory, but that was far from the case as Winslow put up a sterling fight in front of a decent crowd of 103. They led 1-0 at half time and battled throughout, and although we dominated most of the second half they only succumbed in the latter stages when to quote a home supporter "our quality finally told".

It has been a while since we visited the "Gate", where in the past we have had many mighty battles, and it was nice to still see some familiar faces who gave us a warm welcome. Football receives a lot of poor publicity at times, but the "Football Family" do a lot of unselfish work that benefits the local community and are by and large genuinely nice people. Winslow face a possible threat of being moved off their present ground and we hope that common sense and justice prevails and they are allowed to stay where they are.

Winslow now play in Division 1 and have had a mixed start to their season. They are currently in 14th place, but they won 6-4 in the previous round and it was clear from the start that they were a better team than their league position and results suggest. Throw in the fact that it was an away cup tie, a local derby and that we are notoriously slow starters and you have a recipe for a tough game, and that is exactly what we had.

We had to make a few changes from last weeks line up with Dave O'Connor and Tommy Twelves away and Jamie Warne unavailable we brought in Lessa Boka at centre back and there was a first start for James Banfield who slotted in well at left back. Jack Sunderland started in place of Adam Scotcher who had been unwell during the week and Chris Mason, Chris Stapleton and Lanrewajh Ladipo still remained on the injured list.

The pitch looked good but despite it being a fine late Summer/early Autumn day there was a surprisingly strong breeze blowing right down the pitch into our faces and we seemed to take a while to get used to these conditions.

George Brinkman and Jack Seaton had early shots on target but they didn't trouble home keeper Carl Knox. Winslow looked lively going forward and Dan Steadman and Luke Dunstan had to make timely challenges, but generally the play was a tad scrappy.

The strong wind was causing us problems from long passes down the middle and set pieces and it was therefore no surprise that the first genuine scoring opportunity should arise from a corner midway through the first half when home Captain Ryan Freshwater's fine header produced a good save from Jack Hopwood.

Chris Vardy forced a good save from Carl Knox who punched his shot away and soon afterwards Vards headed a cross from Ryan Sturges wide. In the 31st minute our hosts produced the first real moment of quality in the game when their leading scorer Drew Mitton played a sumptuous pass inside the full back to Grant Karwacinski who finished with aplomb to put Winslow into the lead. Score 1-0.

This seemed to stir us into action and we started to play with a bit more belief and purpose. A good build up saw Jack Sunderland chest the ball intelligently down to Chris Vardy in a good position, but he failed to get any power or direction behind his shot. Dan Steadman's fine break from defence (did he get a nose bleed!) led to a shooting chance for Sam Joliffe but his effort went wide.

Just before the interval we should have equalised when we carved open the home defence to set up Jack Sunderland but his shot went agonisingly wide of the far post. The half ended with Winslow holding a one goal lead, but we finished the half strongly and with our tendency to play much better after the break there was optimism we could still win the tie. HT Score 1-0.

As has been the case for much of the season we were a different proposition from the restart (do Ian and Colin put something in the tea?) and we kicked off the second period in a determined mood. The pressure finally bore fruit within 10 minutes with Luke Dunstan (who put in an another hugely impressive performance) being the provider.

Luke dribbled his way into the area before his precise pass picked our Sam Joliffe who rammed the ball past the keeper to level the score. Score 1-1. Five minutes later we were ahead following a special piece of play from leading scorer Chris Vardy (see TheMowdog blog for an action replay). His speed enabled him to latch onto a through pass before the keeper who forced him wide, but despite the very acute angle he half volleyed the ball into the net. It was a terrific finish and put us in the lead for the first time in the game. Score 1-2.

We were now in the driving seat and hogging possession but Winslow, led by centre back Ryan Freshwater, defended well and we failed to find a crucial third goal that would clinch the tie. We brought on Adam Scotcher for Jack Sunderland, who had been a constant thorn in the oppositions side with his energetic running, and we also replaced Lessa Boka, the big man getting an unwelcome bang to the eye, with another new signing George Carbery. The former Berko player slotted seamlessly into midfield with his neat tidy play and he will be an asset to the team.

With just over a quarter of an hour left the tall midfielder Richard Armstrong headed a presentable chance wide and this seemed to spur Winslow on knowing that a goal would bring them right back in the game. Ryan Sturges sent a shot over the bar and Luke Dustan's fine play nearly set up Chris Vardy but the game was more open now. We had to deal with another injury when James Banfield went off to be replaced by player/coach Stuart Stedman.

Charlie Flanagan sent a super volley just off target and with 4 minutes left came a defining moment in the game with Jack Hopwood repelling a well struck volley from sub James Davy. Had that gone in the final outcome may have been different.

With time almost up Adam Scotcher was pulled back by Alex Iyenger and Sam Joliffe rammed home the penalty to give us a commanding lead. Score 1-3. A few minutes later Chris Vardy rattled the underside of the bar with a thunderous shot before Ryan Sturges, who played well throughout, fired home a good shot from 25 yards (or to be precise 23 as stated on twitter!) to finally put the game to bed. FT Score 1-4.

We were made to work hard for our victory by a Winslow side who never gave up and we hope this spurs them on to climb higher up the table. This was a good performance which stretches our unbeaten run to 8 games.

By now everyone will know that we have a first half syndrome which has seen us score just 3 goals in the first half of our 12 competitive games as against 16 in the second periods. For solutions please send them on a postcard to Ian or Colin! On a positive note congratulations to Sam Joliffe on his birthday and well done for his influential contribution to the win. Sam is in his 6th year with the club and has clocked up over 200 First Team games. Not only did Sam score 2 important goals but he showed his versatility by dropping back into defence when injuries to Lessa and James required some readjustment.

We now return to league action and face 2 tough games in the week ahead with a trip on Tuesday to Cockfosters, who have made a very good start to the season and are 4th in the table. Then on Saturday we entertain Stotfold, who are just below us in the table but had a superb 4-1 win at Hertford Town a few weeks.


WU: 1 Carl Knox 2 Alex Iyenger 3 Hateley Mercer 4 Ryan Freshwater (Capt) 5 Ben Baines 6 Richard Armstrong 7 Geno Tosolari (17 James Davey) 8 Ollie Goulding 9 Drew Mitton 10 Charlie Flanagan 11 Grant Karwacinski. Subs not used: 12 Chris Setterfield 14 Leo Brooks 15 Carl Clay 16 Michael Reed.

TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton 3 James Banfield (14 Stuart Stedman 85) 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 Lessa Boka (16 George Carbery 70) 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Sunderland (15 Adam Scotcher 70) 11 George Brinkman . Subs not used: 12 Callum Gregory


WU: Grant Karwacinski (31)

TA: Sam Joliffe (55, Pen 89), Chris Vardy (60), Ryan Sturges (90+3)

Crowd: 103


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