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First team report
Tue 20th Dec 2016
Dudley Latham Memorial (Premier Division) Cup - Quarter Final
Sponsored by TUAM Celtic AFC TAFC First team 3-2 Holmer Green TAFC goals: Christopher Vardy, Sam Jolliffe (pen), George Brinkman
WE EARN OURSELVES A SEMI-FINAL SPOT
After losing our last two games it was good to get back to winning ways again with a victory over Holmer Green to book ourselves a semi-final place in the Premier Division Cup a competition we won back in 2009.
It was an entertaining and open game and the score line was closer than we would have liked considering the opportunities we spurned, with a tendency to try and walk the ball into the net Arsenal style rather than being ruthless in from of goal.
We started well and within 77 seconds Chris Stapleton was forcing a good save from keeper Sam Butcher following a good piece of play from Chris Vardy and Kieran Turner. Green responded when a corner was played back to Curtis Stone who struck a well hit shot that Jack Hopwood gathered at the second attempt.
We were looking a lot livelier than we did against Biggleswade on Saturday and a fine pass from George Brinkman sent Chris Vardy away and his cheeky lob forced the keeper to retreat and catch the ball under the bar. Vards was in the thick of the action and his super cross to the far post reached Lee Stobbs who struck a terrific volley that may have been goal bound (it was hard to judge from my position in the stands) but it struck a defender and deflected just over the bar, to which the officials awarded a goal kick!
We went even closer in the 7th minute when Kieran Turner got to the bye line and crossed accurately to Chris Vardy whose flying header hit the bar. But Vards was not to be denied and three minutes later Chris Stapleton flicked on George Brinkman's corner and he headed home from close range. After a barren spell Vards has now scored in his last three South Midland games and its great to have him back in scoring form again. Score 1-0.
Further chances followed with Green centre back Ben Booker producing a terrific block to stop Kieran Turner from getting a shot on target and following a corner Luke Dunstan and Chris Vardy's attempts ended up in the side netting. Green were playing some lovely football and they went mighty close to getting an equaliser in the 23rd minute when a fine move sent Tom Gant through and he shot just wide of the post.
This encouraged the visitors and the game became more evenly balanced. A few minutes before half time Greg Deer (who spent two seasons with us making 53 appearances and scoring 9 goals) was played through and was only denied by a superb saving challenge from Dan Steadman. But the danger was not over as from the corner the ball was whipped back into the area and Tom Gant equalised with a super finish. Thus despite enjoying fewer scoring opportunities Green had come back well and were very much back in the tie. HT Score 1-1.
We started the second half on the front foot and created some early chances with Kieran Turner going close, Chris Vardy hitting the side netting and Luke Dunstan somehow failing to finish from within the 6 yard box. Just past the hour Tom Gant showed great awareness with a superb long range lob that had Jack Hopwood frantically back peddling, just managing to prevent the ball from falling into the net.
We needed a second goal and in the 64th minute it came via a penalty when Luke Dunstan's fine run into the box was according to the Referee illegally halted. Sam Joliffe smacked home the spot kick for his 13th goal of the season equaling his total number of First Team goals over the previous 5 years. Score 2-1.
Soon afterwards Kieran Turner was denied by a very good save by the keeper after being given the opportunity by George Brinkman's tackle and Chris Stapleton pass. But we nearly gave Green a way back into the game when some sloppy play presented the dangerous Tom Gant with the ball and only the outstretched leg of Jack Hopwood prevented an equaliser with Greg Deer firing the loose ball over the bar.
We clearly needed a third goal and George Brinkman duly obliged in the 75th minute. Receiving a square pass from Chris Stapleton he crashed a terrific shot from the edge of the area that struck the underside of the bar and bounced down. With shades of 1966 the Assistant Referee flagged for a goal although we don't think he was from Russia! The goal line technology, ie our supporters behind the goal, supported the official and of course they were completely unbiased! Whatever the rights and wrongs of the decision it cannot be argued that we didn't deserve it. Score 3-1.
We made some substitutions bringing on three youngsters, namely Ben Johnson and Jordan Gilbert, who was making his First Team debut, as well as the returning Ben Seaton, home from the USA for Xmas. Ben may only be 18 but he was a regular feature in the First Team before he went abroad and it will be good to have him around over the festive period.
That should have been it but Green kept battling away and were rewarded deep into injury time when we decided to make things interesting by giving away a penalty which Greg Deer converted to take his season tally to 6 goals. But there was no time for Green to force a late dramatic equaliser as the Referee blew his whistle soon after the restart. FT Score 3-2.
It was good to bounce back after some recent poor results but it is disappointing that after having one of the best defensive records in the Premier Division we have conceded 8 goals in our last three games. We can point to the absence of some key defenders for this game (ie Dave O'Connor, Jack Seaton and Tommy Twelves) but we need to get back to being solid and organised all round the park especially with some big games coming up.
We will be seeing Holmer Green again soon as this game will be reprised in just under 2 weeks time when they visit for a league fixture on the 2nd January but in the meantime we have a local derby at Berkhamsted on 27th December to get through first.
In the semi-final we will visit either Hoddesdon Town or Hertford Town who are due to meet on 24/1/2017.
Finally we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Xmas.
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Ollie Butler (15 Ben Johnson 71) 3 Jamie Warne 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 George Brinkman (14 Ben Seaton 78) 7 Lee Stobbs 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 Kieran Turner 11 Chris Stapleton (12 Jordan Gilbert 78). Subs not used: 16 Lessa Boka 17 Chris Mason
HG: 1 Sam Butcher 2 Jonty Summerell 3 Ben Bradley (14 Jamie Britnell 42) 4 Curtis Stone (12 Anthony Tyson 78) 5 Ben Booker 6 Ryan Tackley 7 Tom Gant 8 Gary Lines (Capt) 9 Greg Deer 10 Ben Hodges (16 Olly White 83) 11 Matt Wooster. Subs not used: 15 Martin Lancaster GK George Russell.
TA: Chris Vardy (10), Sam Joliffe Pen (64), George Brinkman (75)
Midweek trek to east Hertfordshire avoided
By John Anderson
Young Green's team push Athletic all the way
Still without the long-term injured Dean Powles, the recently cynically crocked Joe Collins, and the unavailable Eliot Derby; The Greens fielded a very young team and substitutes that pushed a good Athletic side all the way. Since overcoming Tring in this competition on penalties 26 months ago, the Holmer side only retains Gary Lines and Curtis Stone from that former squad.
Kicking up the slope it was Tring who looked not surprisingly to be the more settled side; considering their loftier league position and the fact that they are still in the FA Vase. They took the lead on nine minutes when Sam Butcher, effectively blocked off by the centre-forward, couldn’t get to the ball. Slack marking from other defenders allowed the ball to be headed on towards the far post, where it was easily nodded in. Score 1-0
On 23 minutes Tom Gant was played in after intricate Holmer play, but the home ‘keeper came out well to thwart the attempt. Ben Bradley was so shaken up after a dangerous challenge, which earned a caution for the aforementioned Tring forward, he had to be replaced by Jamie Britnell five minutes before the break. The Greens reached the interval on level terms. After Greg Deer had been denied at the expense of a corner, the third phase of the set-piece paid dividends. Joint Summerell’s fierce shot was diverted even more aggressively on the volley into the Tring net by Tom Gant from twelve yards. HT 1-1