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First team report
Sat 4th Mar 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Wembley 1-0 TAFC First team
WE COME UP JUST SHORT AT WEMBLEY
We produced a battling performance to restrict one of the Premier Division's most prolific teams to just one goal scored late in the first half. A better second half showing set the home nerves jangling particularly towards the end but we could not find the quality needed in the final third to secure an equaliser.
This was our third visit to Vale Farm, having won one and lost one there previously, and with bright sunshine albeit with a bit of a blustery breeze and a nice pitch it was a good setting for a game with the famous Wembley Stadium arch visible in the distance to provide added inspiration.
What motivational vibes provided by the surroundings were initially picked up by the home players who generally bossed the first half. They were sharp and quick in attack and with a scoring average of over three goals per league game they were full of confidence. But we were fully aware of their potency and defended with spirit and determination and made life difficult for our hosts.
We had to make a few changes to the line up with three key players missing - Skipper Dan Steadman and Lee Stobbs were injured and Tommy Twelves was unavailable. Sam Joliffe took over the captaincy and dropped into central defence where he played well as did his defensive colleagues Jack Seaton, Chris Mason and Dave O'Connor.
We had an early scare when Jermaine Heron found himself through on goal but Jack Hopwood made a good close range save with his face or to be more precise his nose! After a bit of treatment Hoppy was back to his good looking self!
It was certainly a busy start for us and following an early corner the Wembley right back Carl Pearce whipped a sumptuous ball across our area which beat everyone. We were finding it difficult to keep possession during these early stages and when we carelessly gave the ball away on the half way line from a throw Wembley broke menacingly, fortunately the final shot was easily saved by Jack Hopwood.
However, Hoppy could do nothing about a shot from Joe Wright that struck the post, but justice prevailed as Wembley's 28 goal leading marksman had clearly fouled Dave O'Connor in the process.
In stark contrast to their forward line the Wembley defence was not so formidable having conceded 54 goals in 29 games, the worse record in the top half of the table (bar Leverstock Green) and there were signs of vulnerability when we attacked. They were fortunate when their keeper, who clearly fancied himself as a bit of a libero, gave the ball away near the corner flag but regrettably we were unable to take advantage of this opportunity. Never-the-less there was a ray of hope that we might be able to exploit this weakness later in the game.
The home side were doing most of the attacking and we didn't help ourselves when midway through the half we sent a sloppy pass straight to a home player that resulted in Jack Hopwood making a great save from Heron. In the 32nd minute the same player finally scored but was flagged offside but spurred on by this near miss they put us under a period of pressure and we finally cracked three minutes later when Zaied Sabti crashed a shot in off the underside of the bar. Score 1-0.
We tried to retaliate with Chris Stapleton firing a shot well over then George Carbery had a great opportunity in the 41st minute when he latched onto a pass that had caught out the home defence but he shot wide of the far post. Later a great run and cross from Luke Dunstan ended with Chris Stapleton shooting just wide.
The menacingly Calvin Kasirye went on a mazy dribble with the home supporters calling for him to shoot, but he failed to pull the trigger and we managed to clear the danger. Three minutes into added time Dave O'Connor came to the rescue when he produced a superb blocked to prevent Wembley from adding to their tally.
After a difficult half in which Wembley had been the most dangerous and dominant side we were still in the game with just a slim deficit of one goal to overcome. HT Score 1-0.
The second half started with opportunities at both ends. Wembley's Charlie Weir just failed to reach a corner at the far post and Heron's control let him down when he latched onto a long ball into our area. A shot from leading scorer Chris Vardy was spilled by the keeper who did really well to deny George Carbery as he attempt to slot home the loose ball.
The game was far more evenly contested and Jack Read did actually put the ball into the Wembley net with a nicely executed lob but was deemed to be offside. The home side were still dangerous on the break with Wright dragging his shot wide of the near post and Weir heading over from a corner. Later Jack Hopwood had to beat away a shot from Calvin Kasirye.
Some fine control and a lovely chipped pass from Ryan Sturges presented Jack Read with a shooting chance but our hat-trick hero from midweek pulled his shot well wide of the far post.
As the play entered the final stages it was our turn to exert the pressure and Chris Stapleton did superbly well to rob the full back but his shot went just wide of the far post. We were desperately looking for an equaliser and a through pass was picked up by Chris Stapleton but a defender did well to get back and deny him a shooting chance. Then a free kick appeared to pick out Ryan Sturges in the area but he was just unable to get the ball under control. The final chance fell to Sam Joliffe from a corner but his overhead kick went over the bar. FT Score 1-0.
On the balance of play Wembley deserved the victory but we put in a spirited performance against a side 4th in the table but came up just short when it came to taking advantage of the opportunities that came their way.
Despite this defeat we remain in 8th place in the Premier Division but could still climb up a few places if we win our games in hand. We have another tough game on Tuesday with 3rd placed Cockfosters the visitors to Tring followed by another home game on Saturday when we entertain bottom of the table Broxbourne Borough.
W: 1 Przemyslaw Mierzwa 2 Carl Pearce 3 Adam Humphries 4 Wayne Walters 5 Richard Brown (Capt) 6 Charlie Weir 7 Zaied Sabti (14 Jonathan Iley 79) 8 Ayoub Amellai 9 Joe Wright (17 Conor Carroll 90+5) 10 Jermaine Heron 11 Calvin Kasirye (12 Yassine Fehmi-Gil 79). Subs not used: 15 Adrian Dinham 16 Charlie McKee.
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton (14 Ben Johnson 60) 3 Chris Mason 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Dave O'Connor 6 George Carbery (12 Ben Alcock 79) 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Read 11 Chris Stapleton. Sub not used: 15 Seb Smith.