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First team report  

Tue 7th Mar 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Sponsored by Pete Oakley
TAFC First team 0-3 Cockfosters

The score line shows that we lost conclusively to a very good Cockfosters side who look nailed on to finish third in the table. The visitors played very well and took their opportunities despite missing through suspension their 30 goal striker Ioannis Varouxakis and key defender Jason Beck, a former Athletic player.

Whilst the result is indisputable, our opponents were worthy winners, our performance was puzzling and it was frustrating to see us miss so many good chances that could have made the game much closer. They say the hardest thing in football is scoring and we certainly proved that point.

We knew we would face a tough challenge against one of the League's best teams and it was imperative to keep it tight at the back so it was really disappointing to concede a soft goal after only 6 minutes. A free kick was given some way out to Fosters for handball (interestingly we had three handball decisions go against us but when Ben Hart clearly handled the ball in his own area the referee took no action). The set piece travelled a way and was headed back across goal where we got in a right old pickle and ended up scoring an own goal. Score 0-1.

This early set back put us under a bit of pressure as our opponents pressed forward playing some really nice football. But we stood up well and start to put some attacks together ourselves with Jack Read connecting with a free kick and forcing the keeper to get down well to make a save.

In the 16th minute we should have equalised when Jack Read got to a through ball before the keeper who proceeded to flatten his own centre back (who had to be replaced 5 minutes later). With the goal at his mercy Jack's goal bound shot was somehow deflected over the bar by the outstretched leg of a defender. It was a superb intervention and was perhaps an early indication that it wasn't going to be our night.

From the corner the ball reached an unmarked Jack Read at the far post but his shot went the wrong side of the post for us and into the side netting. We were going through a purple patch and third opportunity in a two minute spell again fell to Jack Read who was sent through by a superb pass from Luke Dunstan but Jack shot wide.

Fosters had to reshuffle when Carl Resch went off injured to be replaced by Bradley Marriott and the game became more evenly balanced with the play flowing from end to end. Luke Dunstan, who had a fine game in midfield, picked out Lee Stobbs who smacked a fierce shot that keeper Austin Byfield did well to tip over the bar.

Back came our opponents and Jay Rolfe should have done better than clear the bar from close range following a clever cross from the impressive Ben Hart. Soon afterwards a fine ball across our area went unclaimed and Jack Hopwood made a good save from Hart. George Carbery's pass set up Jack Read for a shot that the keeper beat away.

The game was finely balanced but the odds swung distinctly in Fosters favour in the 37th minute when they doubled their lead. Emmanuel Melford-Rowe cut inside a challenge and struck a superb shot from outside the area that beat Jack Hopwood. Score 0-2.

We needed to get a goal back and again had opportunities in the period up to half time. Seb Smith headed a Lee Stobbs free kick straight at the keeper then from a another set piece Jack Read forced the keeper to get down superbly with George Carbery firing the loose ball over the bar from 6 yards.

We ended the half stunned that we were still two goals behind despite creating more and better chances. HT Score 0-2.

We possibly could have had a penalty at the start of the second half when the ball was clearly handled in the area but the referee disagreed. Again we needed to keep things tight and again we conceded an early third goal. You could argue there was an element of good fortunate for the visitors when a shot at goal was sliced horribly wide, but then again full marks must be given to Ben Hart who kept the ball in then crossed for Bobby Sears to head home. This goal probably summed up the difference between the two sides. Score 0-3.

We were now facing an impossible task but to be fair to the players they kept going, kept creating chances and unfortunately kept missing them. Soon after creating his side's third, Hart was in action again testing Jack Hopwood with a shot. Lee Stobbs was played in down the inside left channel but from a tight angle only find the side netting. Soon afterwards Stobbsy set up George Carbery following one of his trade mark runs down the wing, but Carbs shot was blocked.

Just before the hour Fosters went close to making it four when Jack Hopwood came out to block an effort by Sears with the ball falling to Rolfe whose shot towards an unguarded net was headed clear by Dave O'Connor. We brought on Ben Alcock and Chris Stapleton for Jack Seaton and George Carbery, and Jack Read was again sent through but under pressure shot at the keeper. Soon afterwards Jack got in front of the defender to connect with a fine Chris Stapleton cross but his firm headed ended up in the side netting.

Time was running out and it was obvious that we had little chance of getting anything out of the game but a goal would have been a morale booster. We certainly tried with Lee Stobbs cleverly nodding a long throw to Chris Vardy who was denied by the quick reflexes of the keeper. The next action saw Jack Read sent away again but his thumping shot went wide as did Chris Stapleton's curling shot. FT Score 0-3.

A good win for Fosters who will surely cap a fine season by claiming third spot in a very competitive league. For us it was frustrating and disappointing but we did create an awful lot of good, clear cut chances and we can take some positives from the game.

We remain in 8th place and can still claim a top six place if we can turn around our recent form starting with Broxbourne Borough on Saturday who will be the visitors to Tring.


TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Chris Mason 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Seb Smith 6 Dave O'Connor 7 Jack Seaton (14 Ben Alcock 58) 8 Lee Stobbs 9 Chris Vardy (Capt) 10 Jack Read 11 George Carbery (15 Chris Stapleton 63). Sub not used: 12 Dan Steadman.

C: 1 Austin Byfield 2 Callum Lee 3 Jonny Sexton 4 Ben Spaul (Capt) 5 Carl Resch (17 Bradley Marriott 21) 6 Tom Massey 7 Ben Hart 8 Jay Rolfe 9 Bobby Sears 10 George Ironton (16 Bradley Harrison 83) 11 Emmanuel Meldord-Rowe (12 Cameron Currie 71). Subs not used: 14 Gary Simmonds 15 Luke Alfano


TA: -

C: Own Goal (6), Melford-Rowe (37), Sears (49)

Crowd: 50