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First team report
Tue 31st Jan 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Ralph Griffiths TAFC First team 1-3 London Tigers TAFC goals: Christopher Vardy
TIGERS BREAK THEIR DUCK
At the eleventh time of asking Tigers finally won a match in Tring with a devastating burst of scoring with three goals in 8 minutes just before half time. Apart from that they were mainly second best but they dug in deep to keep us out to record a shock victory.
After two weeks of inactivity it was a relief to get a game in and that was thanks to the sterling efforts of Darrell who managed to get the pitch playable despite the wet weather.
A glace at the team sheet showed that we were missing quite a few players with three making their First Team debuts, namely Ben Alcock and Jordan Gilbert from the Reserves and Seb Smith who has just joined from London Coley. They all did well despite our much changed line up.
At the start of the season we had a surfeit of central defenders but with Skipper Dan Steadman joining the injuring list that already has Jack Seaton on it, Dave O'Connor suspended and Sam Joliffe missing we were short in that department. Newcomer Seb Smith stepped into the breach and he was joined by Luke Dunstan. Luke evidently played there as a youth but it meant we missed his presence in midfield where we were also short following George Brinkman being lured away by WGC and Kieran Turner again departing this time to Kings Langley. With Dan and Sam absent Chris Vardy took over the captaincy for the first time (I believe).
But despite these changes we started brightly and were the only team in it for first half hour. We played some nice football despite the sticky conditions and after only 2 minutes Chris Vardy nearly set up Chris Stapleton with a terrific pass, but Stapes was just unable to control the ball.
Seb Smith quickly settled in and within three minutes was displaying some Beckanbauer (for the younger ones he was a very classy German World Cup winner) skills to get past two opponents.
A poor defensive header presented Chris Stapleton with a presentable shooting chance in the 6th minute but he pulled his shot wide. The visitors keeper Ini Amabgt missed a corner and was fortunate that we couldn't take advantage of the opportunity. But the keeper made amends soon afterwards when he dived and pushed a shot from George Carbery round the post after Chris Vardy had delicately laid off a cross from Jordan Gilbert into his path.
In the 25th minute Chris Vardy's lovely flick found Chris Stapleton in loads of space but instead of taking the ball onto a better shooting position he went for an early strike and the ball flew over the bar. A goal had to come and it finally did in the 30th minute. The keeper made a right pigs ear of Lee Stobbs free kick and the ball fell to Chris Vardy who in an instant controlled and rifled it into the net for his 12th goal of the season. Score 1-0.
I think its fair to say that our supporters expected us to now go on and win the game quite comfortably as Tigers had produced hardly any attacking play at all but we were all in for a shock. Two minutes after we took the lead Tigers produced their first real threat when Yousef Benali was played through into our area. Jack Hopwood save his shot but the ball bounced back off one of our defenders and unluckily into the net. Score 1-1.
If that was a shock a bigger one arrived four minutes later when from fully 35 yards (or maybe more) Ruben Vasces spanked a magnificent shot that ripped into the roof of the net giving Jack no chance. Score 1-2.
The shocks went off the Richter Scale in the 40th minute when Yousef Benaki cut inside and fired a shot that Jack would surely have saved had it not hit a bump that took it away from him. Suddenly a game that we were in control of had swung away from us within the space of 8 minutes and there was a sense of disbelief and shock as we went in for half time after Tigers had scored from their only three shots they had on goal. HT Score 1-3.
The second half was like a training exercise of attack versus defence as we again dominated possession and Tigers were intent to defend in numbers and try and hit us on the break.
Jordan Gilbert was presented with a chance following some good play by Chris Mason and Chris Stapleton but he couldn't direct his header on target. We did manage to score just past the hour after a mad scramble in the Tigers area but Luke Dunstan was adjudged to be offside.
All the time we had to be aware of the opposition's quick breaks mainly led by Benali who was their most dangerous player. Jack Hopwood made a good save from Vasces but generally their shooting was wayward.
We stepped up the pressure as the clock ticked away and we were so unlucky when Lee Stobbs hit the post from a free kick with the ball managing to elude all our players in the box. The keeper's handling was far from secure and he was very fortunate to get away a couple of times when he dropped the ball near his goal. But he came up trumps when he superbly prevented Chris Vardy from pulling a goal back saving the shot with his outstretched leg.
Ryan Sturges good run and cross was pushed out by the keeper with the ball hitting a defender and then rolling just the wrong side of the post for us. It was clear that nothing was going our way and although we kept going until the end we did eventually run out of steam and Tigers were able to claim our scalp. FT score 1-3.
This was a very frustrating night and an opportunity missed to draw level with WGC and Wembley and reduce the deficit with Hoddesdon to three points. If we win our games in hand we can still overtake these three teams and in theory go above Cockfosters who are in third place.
The win moved Tigers up from 21st to 18th and they are certainly on a good run picking up 13 points from their last 5 games and scoring 14 goals. They are too good to languish too long down the bottom and they should start climbing up the table.
We seem to have hit a mini slump having lost our last two games and conceded 7 goals. We have been a tad unfortunate that our opponents have put away nearly all their chances whilst we have failed to do so. One good thing to come out of the game was the return of Ryan Sturges who has been out since early December.
Hopefully we will have some players back for our next game when we make the short trip to Leighton Town on Saturday. This will be a tough local derby as they have evidently recruited some new players and have only lost one of their last four games. It would be a good time to get back into winning form again.
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Chris Mason 4 Ben Alcock (12 Jamie Warne 74) 5 Luke Dunstan 6 Seb Smith 7 Lee Stobbs 8 Chris Stapleton 9 Chris Vardy (Capt) 10 George Carbery 11 Jordan Gilbert (14 Ryan Sturges 60). Subs not used: 15 James Banfield 16 Stuart Stedman.
LT : 1 Ini Amaebgt 2 Dwayne Cole-Parks 3 Adrian Assinor 4 Ruben Vasces 5 Julian Smith (Capt) 6 Michael O'Donnell (17 Kledis Ramas 77) 7 Josemar Lopes Gomes 8 Joel Ramos 9 Ahmed Boughanmi (15 Terrance Cariba 37) 10 Yousef Benali 11 Mohamadu Seidi (16 Justin Tompson 48). Subs not used: 12 Dheejam Ramphul 19 Naim Berisha.
TA: Chris Vardy (30)
LT: OG (32), Ruben Vasces (36), Yousef Benali (40).