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First team report  

Sat 19th Nov 2016
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Pete Stilwell
TAFC First team 1-2 London Colney

TAFC goals: Luke Dunstan

After a good run of results, which included a fine 2-1 win in the FA Vase at Rothwell Corinthians in midweek, we faced a stiff test against league leaders London Colney on Saturday and although we came out second best in the end we did push them right up to the last 5 minutes when they grabbed a crucial second goal. We did pull one back but it came too late to make any difference.

Colney came into the match with an impressive record of having dropped only 5 points from 16 league games, being the highest scorers in the Premier Division with 47 goals and having the second best defensive record of just 12 goals conceded.

Despite these odds we matched our opponents in the first half as both sides cancelled each other in a game that was high on work rate and effort but low on goal mouth action. Neither keeper was tested until the 19th minute when Spencer Clarke Mardel just beat Jack Hopwood to a nicely lofted pass from Jon Clements but he lobbed the ball wide.

We were delighted to welcome back Kieran Turner after a spell at Aylesbury FC and he made an early appearance off the bench in the 34th minute to replace the injured Ryan Sturges to clock up a century of appearances for the club. Kieran had obviously gone through a transformation during his spell away from the club as his first involvement was two headers followed by several others soon afterwards, exceeding the sum total of headers he produced for the club in his previous 99 games!

Kieran was soon in the action, linking up nicely with Chris Vardy in the opposition area and just failing to get on the end of a clever back heel from Vards. Colney were sharp and lively all over the park and Jon Clements got his head to a cross and then corner, the first going just over and the second well wide. The busy Spencer Clarke Mardel had a sight of goal but his volley failed to hit the mark. We nearly committed a football version of hari-kari when from our goal kick we cheaply lost the ball to our opponents and were a tad fortunate that Archie McClelland failed to add to his impressive tally of 23 goals this season by finding the side netting when well placed at the far post.

We were also dangerous going forward with Chris Stapleton causing the visitor's defence problems with his pace and tenacity and just before half time we had two great opportunities to open the scoring. Kieran Turner cut inside from the left with a positive run and found George Carbery who set up Chris Stapleton but he was thwarted by a superb save from the visitor's keeper Tom Gowans. From the resulting corner Jack Seaton had a free header but his effort agonisingly just cleared the bar when you would have put your money on him scoring.

But after a tight, taut and at times physical first half there was nothing to choose between the two teams. HT Score 0-0.

We had to make some changes for this game to our back four with Dave O'Connor, Less Boka and Tommy Twelves injured or unavailable so Sam Joliffe dropped back to fill in at centre back alongside Dan Steadman, but despite this readjustment the defence did well to restrict the leagues most prolific scorers (75 goals in 29 games in all competitions) to few chances.

But nine minutes after the restart we conceded a soft goal from a set piece. The free kick travelled a long way from way out on the wing but we failed to deal with it and former Athletic player and Colney Captain Greg Shaw got a vital touch to put his side ahead. Score 0-1.

We now faced a severe test against a side with a mean defence (only 24 goals conceded from 29 games in all competitions) and the ability to hurt teams on the break. But two minutes after going behind we had the opportunity to get a quick equaliser when following a corner there was a mad scramble in the Colney area but we were just unable to force the ball home.

The players responded well by taking the game to our opponents who were happy to drop off deep, defend in numbers and break quickly when they had the opportunity. We were doing the lion's share of attacking and got into some great positions behind Colney's defence but we were not quite firing on all cylinders and we wasted some promising opportunities with our final passes and shots lacking the accuracy required to force open a stubborn and well organised defence.

With ten minutes left to play there was a shout for a penalty when Luke Dunstan's fine dribble into the area was ended with an apparent trip but to a loud groan from our supporters the referee waved away the appeals. Unsurprisingly most of the home supports, players and officials thought it was a penalty but perhaps we were clutching at straws.

During the latter stages of the game we were leaving ourselves open to quick counter attacks but we dealt with these very well but a moment of slack play five minutes from time when we failed to clear our lines presented Colney with an opening and Spencer Clarke Mardel took the opportunity to give his side an unassailable two goal lead. Score 0-2.

Throwing caution to the wind we threw players forward and Jack Hopwood had to produce a great save to stop Archie McClelland from making it 3-0 which would have been a travesty. The players kept going and we did manage to pull a goal back deep into added time when Luke Dunstan smashed a superb shot past the keeper but it came too late to affect the outcome although it did give the score line a more realistic feel. FT Score 1-2.

Having lost 2-1 away at Colney back in August it means they have done the double over us this season but despite this we can take some solace from the fact that our young side pushed them all the way in both games. Colney are a strong, well organised outfit whose record this season speaks for itself and they have the look of potential champions with only Hertford Town likely to challenge them.

Next week we travel the short distance to Aston Clinton for a local derby game in the Challenge Trophy.


TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton 3 Chris Mason 4 George Brinkman 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 Sam Joliffe 7 Ryan Sturges (14 Kieran Turner 34) 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 George Carbery 11 Chris Stapleton . Subs not used: 12 Paddy Downes 15 Cameron Brooks 16 Stuart Stedman.

LC : 1 Tom Gowans 2 Chris Cutler (16 Rickey Brennan 90) 3 James Lawrence 4 Gregg Douglas 5 Shaun Murphy 6 Roy Byron 7 David Parkinson (14 Tom Silford 81) 8 Greg Shaw (Capt) 9 Archie McClelland 10 Spencer Clarke Mardel (17 Mark Riddick 87) 11 Jon Clements. Subs not used: 15 Callum Dudrenel 20 Rhys Lawrence.


TA: Luke Dunstan (90+4)

LC: Greg Shaw (54), Spencer Clarke Mardel (85)

Crowd: 103