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First team report  

Sat 3rd Dec 2016
The Buildbase F A Vase Third Round Proper
F C Romania 1-1 TAFC First team

TAFC goals: Sam Jolliffe

We had to undertake a 120 mile round trip to Hornchurch on Saturday to face Essex Senior League outfit FC Romania in the 3rd Round of the FA Vase, and although we earned a creditable draw and the chance to finish the job off on home territory we came away with mixed emotions because we should have had the game wrapped up after only half an hour.

Our hosts, as their name suggests, contained players who were all from the eponymous East European Country and they were highly skilled individuals who had lost only once in their last 11 games. But during the opening 30 minutes we took them apart, creating a succession of clear cut chances which should have seen us safely through to the next round already.

We met FC Romania 4 years ago in the same competition when we were well beaten 3-1, with Andy Humphreys getting our goal that day. To show how much has changed in that time only Sam Joliffe from the present team played that day. The game was switched to Hornchurch because their normal ground share arrangement with Cheshunt was unavailable, so in that sense it was an away fixture for both teams. The atmosphere was colourful with Romanian flags being flown with their small band of followers making a cacophony that rang around the stadium.

Both teams started tentatively but we soon settled into our stride earning the first corner of the game in the 9th minute after a fine move started by Kieran Turner that led to Lee Stobbs, making a very welcome return to the club following his sabbatical at FC Aylesbury, firing in a super cross that a defender did well to intercept with Kieran waiting expectedly in the middle.

From this corner we opened the scoring with Jack Seaton heading the ball across the area to Sam Joliffe who neatly half volleyed the ball in off the post. It was a great finish from Sam and makes him our leading scorer with 10 goals and again showed his versatility having been moved back into a five man defence from his usual midfield position. Score 0-1.

It was a great start and two minutes later we should have doubled our lead when Chris Vardy produced a lovely touch to send Lee Stobbs away down the right and his accurate cross picked out Kieran Turner unmarked in front of goal but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the keeper from point blank range.

The home side retaliated with Dan Steadman blocking a strike from home Skipper George Taban and then Ionut Danila and leading scorer Andrei Pavel linked up well down our right with the latter's shot from an acute angle being saved by Jack Hopwood.

But we were looking the more dangerous side with George Brinkman shooting over from the edge of the box and then some lovely interplay between Dave O'Connor and Luke Dunstan resulted in a cross from Lee Stobbs being cut out for a corner.

Mid way through the half we had another great opportunity to add to our lead when a superb flick from Lee Stobbs sent Kieran Turner through on goal. Kieran rounded the keeper but his shot was dramatically stopped on the line by a defender who then did equally well to block a follow up shot from Chris Vardy. The defender did superbly well to get back so quickly but it was a great opportunity wasted.

Dave O'Connor did well to clear a potentially dangerous situation after an uncharacteristic bit of miss control in defence but in the 26th minute it was Chris Vardy's turn to go close, beating the keeper to a through ball but being clipped in the process. Vardy sportingly stayed on his feet and was crowded out but still managed to shoot just wide of the far post. Had Vards gone down, like most forwards tend to do, the home side would have been looking for a replacement keeper. As it was the keeper earned just a yellow card and the sacrifice kept his team in the game.

With just over half an hour gone not much had been seen of the home attack which was the second most prolific in their division having scored 57 goals in 19 league games, which was down to our great defending, but against the run of play they found an equaliser and the balance of play became more evenly contested after that.

The goal stemmed from a cross from winger Llie Vasile that hit the top of the bar which we were unable to clear and when the ball was recycled back to the same player he cut inside and fired a shot past Jack Hopwood. Score 1-1.

The goal transformed the home side who now looked much more assured and started to keep possession much better then earlier in the game when they mainly resorted to hitting a lot of long balls. They won their first corner in the 39th minute and although it was poorly executed it was an indication that we no longer held the initiative.

But neither side were able to create any meaningful chances and the half ended all square at 1-1 with the game finely balanced. HT Score 1-1.

The second period continued to be evenly contested with both defences keeping things tight and as a consequence neither keeper was tested. Kieran Turner struck a nice shot that the keeper safely gathered and Chris Vardy found the side netting with an effort.

From our corner the opposition broke quickly and Vasile fired a shot well wide when there better options open to him. A few niggles started to creep into the game as frustrations grew and the Referee started to make use of his Yellow Cards, which he flashed to both sides.

Home centre forward Ionut Danila tried a snap shot that failed to hit the target and Kieran Turner was just unable to direct his header on target after being found by a good cross from Chris Stapleton as the game headed towards extra time. Normal FT Score 1-1.

We started the period of extra time with a fine move involving Kieran Turner and Chris Vardy which resulted in a cross from Chris Mason being saved by the keeper. But 10 minutes into the first period of extra time we were dealt a big blow when key midfielder Luke Dunstan was shown a second yellow card and we had to play out the last 20 minutes with 10 players.

Down a player we had to dig in but apart from a header from defender Ion Costache which went just wide our defence coped superbly with the opposition attacks given them few sights of goal until the very last minute when Jack Hopwood made a great save from Danila from 6 yards to keep us in the competition. Following the final whistle there was an unsavory incident when Danila was given a straight red card for allegedly spitting. Final Score 1-1.

A superb performance from the players against a strong, technically gifted team and if we can recapture the sharp play we produced in the opening 30 minutes we will stand a good chance of progressing to the fourth round of this prestigious national competition for the first time in our history.

Good performances from every player but special praise must go to Tommy Twelves, Jack Seaton, Dan Steadman, Dave O'Connor and Sam Joliffe who did a superb job to protect Jack Hopwood against a very prolific goal scoring team.

The replay will probably take place at The Grass Roots Stadium on Tuesday and on Saturday we face a tough local derby when we visit Leverstock Green.


FCR: 1 Adrian Darabant 2 Dinu Barcari 3 Cosmin Sandu 4 Marius Teleoaca 5 Gabriel Ghinea 6 Ion Costache (16 Sergio Maxihov 91) 7 Llie Vasile 8 George Taban (Capt) 9 Ionut Danila 10 Andrei Pavel (15 Sergiu Pitaru 57) 11 Liviu Pop. Subs not used: 12 Gabriel Stroe 17 Ionut Roman 18 mihai Botosan

TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Jack Seaton (14 Chris Mason 90+4) 4 George Brinkman (12 Jamie Warne 72) 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 Dave O'Connor 7 Luke Dunstan 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 Kieran Turner 11 Lee Stobbs (16 Chris Stapleton 77).


FCR: llie Vasile (31)

TA: Sam Joliffe (10)

Crowd: 69