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First team report  

Tue 18th Apr 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Holmer Green 2-2 TAFC First team

TAFC goals: Jack Read (pen), Max Hercules
ALL SQUARE AT HOLMER GREEN

Both Green and ourselves have had to endure a lot of games recently as the season draws to a close (this was our 5th game in 10 days) but despite this punishing scheduled we both managed to put on an entertaining spectacle.

After falling behind midway through the first half we managed to work our way back into the game and took the lead with 8 minutes left on the clock. We should have then seen the game out but Green came back strongly to equalise and then had us on the rack for the final few minutes. Fortunately we held out for only the second draw at Watchet Lane in 19 games.

Green came into the game on the back of an emphatic 4-0 win over London Tigers on Saturday which halted a winless run of 7 games but more importantly secured their place in the Premier Division for next season which pleasingly will continue our friendly rivalry that stretches back over 20 years and has taken in 38 games.

Our normal roll call of missing players included (amongst others) both full backs Tommy Twelves (unwell) and Chris Mason (not fully fit - although he came on as sub with 20 minutes to go) as well as the unfortunate Sam Joliffe who dislocated his ankle on Saturday. The ever reliable and versatile Jack Seaton moved to right back, James Butler came in at centre back after his sojourn last Saturday (we will say no more about that!) and coach Stuart "Beamer" Stedman forsook his tracksuit, clip board and stop watch to take his place at left back. There will be no ageist jokes about Beamer but its worth noting that he made his debut for the Club before Max Hercules was born!

We started brightly and a lovely move after only 6 minutes was started by Jack Read's perceptive throw to Chris Vardy who laid the ball back invitingly to Ollie Butler, but from a great position he shot over. We were playing some nice stuff and Jack Read produced a skilful back heel to Chris Vardy whose cross picked out Ryan Sturges but again we failed to test the keeper with the resulting shot being dragged wide.

Luke Dunstan was in the thick of the early action and his lovely bit of skill led to a fine cross that was cleared. Later he picked up a poor clearance from home keeper Sam Butcher and appeared tempted to have a shot at the unguarded goal but instead opted for a pass which just failed to find Chris Vardy.

Despite our positive start it was Green who won the first corner in the 20th minute and made good use of it when we failed to clear our lines and Eliot Derby cracked an unstoppable shot past Jack Hopwood. It was a fine finish but it has to be said it was against the run of play. Score 1-0.

This clearly perked up the home players who grew in confidence and for while we were second best and struggled to get our rhythm back. We survived this period and went close to an equaliser in the 29th minute when Luke Dunstan met Jack Read's nicely flighted free kick that forced a great save from Sam Butcher who tipped his header over the bar. Five minutes later Jack Read hit the post from the bye line and moments later Ryan Sturges volleyed a shot over the bar.

Green were lively going forward and in Dean Powles and Tom Gant posed a real goal threat. Scorer Eliot Derby had a chance to double his tally when a shooting chance opened up for him but he couldn't replicate his earlier strike with his shot this time flying well off target.

A lively half ended with us probably a bit unlucky to be a goal behind and with plenty to do in the second half to get back on level terms. HT Score 1-0.

Again we started well and within 6 minutes of the restart Chris Vardy beat the keeper to a back pass and then worked himself into a good shooting position. You would have put money on Vards scoring but uncharacteristically he pulled his shot wide. But we were not to be denied an equaliser which arrived 4 minutes later in controversial circumstances.

Luke Dunstan did well to get round the back of the defender and there was a coming together of bodies but whether it was a penalty will depend on whether you wear Green or Red. In any event the Referee, after a moment of hesitation, point to the spot and Jack Read slotted home the equaliser. Score 1-1.

Green went close to reclaiming the lead midway trough the half when Tom Gant pulled the ball back nicely for Martin Lancaster whose shot was superbly saved by Jack Hopwood. We also went close when Jack Read beat the offside trap and his shot was tipped round the post by the keeper. Another poor clearance from the keeper reached Chris Vardy whose long range reply was not too far off target.

The dangerous Eliot Derby nearly worked his way through but elected to pass to Lancaster who ballooned his shot high, wide and not very handsome. With 10 minutes to go we brought on young Max Hercules who within 2 minutes had a moment to remember when he opened his First Team account.

Latching onto a fine pass from Jack Read he kept his cool to slot an accurate shot past the keeper and into the far corner. It was a measured finish from the 17 year old and his watching dad Cliff, who knew a thing or two about scoring during an illustrious career, would have been rightly proud. Score 1-2.

With our noses in front and only 8 minutes of normal time left we should have wrapped the game up but instead we lost our concentration and failed to deal with a routine pass down the centre which Tom Gant converted at the second attempt. Score 2-2.

Suddenly from being in control we were under pressure and had to rely on Jack Hopwood producing another superb save to keep out a header from centre half Ryan Tackley. Green won a series of corners and looked the more likely to score and the final whistle came as a welcome relief to us. FT score 2-2.

It was disappointing to drop two points after being in the driving seat going into the final stages of the game but full marks to Green for staging a great comeback and in the end we were happy to take a draw.

Green still have 5 league games left but will be glad they have found their shooting boots in the last two games in which they have scored 6 goals, having previously been the lowest scorers in the Premier Division with just 41 goals scored in 35 games.

We still retain our 5th place in the table and could climb to 4th if we win our last two games and Wembley drop points (they have 2 tough games against Champions London Colney and Biggleswade United) but WGC and Berko (on goal difference) could overtake us if they win their game in hand. So its still all to play for starting with our last home game of the season on Saturday against Crawley Green. Our last league game will be the following Saturday at Colney Heath and we still have a semi final (and possibly a Final) to play in the St Marys Cup, so the season is far from over yet.

Teams:

HG: 1 Sam Burcher 2 Gary Lines (Capt) 3 Martin Lancaster 4 Joe Collins 5 Ryan Tackley 6 Jamie Britnell 7 Curtis Stone (14 Anthony Tyson 70) 8 Eliot Derby 9 Dean Powles 10 Tom Gant 11 James Burrell (15 Matt Wooster 70). Sub used: 12 Ben Hodges (82) Sub not used: 16 Jake Plumridge-Dell.

TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton 3 Stuart Stedman (14 Chris Mason 70) 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 James Butler 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Ollie Butler 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Read 11 George Carbery (12 Max Hercules 80). Sub not used: 15 Tommy Twelves.

Scorers:

HG: Eliot Derby (20), Tom Gant (85)

TA: Jack Read Pen (55), Max Hercules (82)

Crowd: 41

Web: http://www.holmergreenfc.co.uk/

(No photos on file)