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First team report
Tue 28th Mar 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Stotfold 1-0 TAFC First team
WE SUFFER MIDWEEK DEFEAT
After playing on Edgware's 3G pitch on Saturday with its nice smooth surface we had a bit of culture shock on Tuesday night at Stotfold. We had a warm welcome from the home officials and some lovely cakes at half time but the kindest thing that can be said about the pitch was that it was somewhat bumpy.
It was of course the same for both teams but Stotfold adapted to the conditions much better than us particularly during the second half and deservedly ran out 1-0 winners with a goal early in the second half from their most impressive player Ben L'Honore. This was only the second defeat they have inflicted on us in 17 attempts, the other occasion came in September 2005 when we lost 2-0 at the same ground in the FA Vase. It must have been a long time ago because a certain Stuart Stedman played that day!!
As for the game, it was high on energy, commitment and endeavour but low on quality with the ball spending more time in the air than on the deck but bearing in mind the playing surface that was to be expected. We tried to play the ball to feet and did so during the first half to some extent but we lost our way after the break and struggled to threaten their goal.
Stotfold started like a bullet out of a gun with speedy winger Drew Cardines whipping in a couple of dangerous crosses within the first couple of minutes, Jack Hopwood gathered the first and Tommy Twelves confidently chested the second down to Hoppy.
We were trying to play some football with Ryan Sturges and Luke Dunstan at the heart of our best moves. Chris Vardy tried his luck with a well struck shot from well outside the area but the keeper had it covered. The home side were sharp in attack and got players forward in numbers and when we let a long ball bounce near our area we found ourselves in trouble, but fortunately the eventual shot went wide.
A long throw into our area led to a shot being deflected wide and from the corner a Stotfold player got a shot away but Hoppy was well placed to catch it comfortably. The game was scrappy but then Jack Read nicely chested the ball down to Chris Stapleton and although his shot went wide it was a rare moment of quality during the opening half hour.
Luke Dunstan produced some good runs but on a number of occasions was bundled over without the Referee taking too much action apart from awarding free kicks. One such set piece picked out Jack Read in the area but his effort cleared the bar. Then a Chris Stapleton long throw reached Chris Vardy beyond the far post but his shot was blocked.
In the run up to half time Ben L'Honore came to the fore with some great efforts, the first a long range shot that Jack Hopwood tipped over the bar then two bicycle kicks that Hoppy saved and one that was blocked.
An untidy first half came to end with us probably enjoying the better possession but with Hoppy being the more active keeper. HT Score 0-0.
There was an early scare when Hoppy was nearly deceived by a high bouncing ball but the first real move of the half saw George Carbery play in Tommy Twelves down the right but his cross was cleared for a corner. Then a quickly taken free kick gave Jack Read some space and his awkward, bouncing shot forced Matt Fallon into a good diving save.
Stotfold replied with a good move that was halted by Ryan Sturges who did well to intercept a dangerous cross. But the danger was far from over as Ben L'Honore fired home the corner. Its always disappointing to concede from a set piece but it was a fine finish and it put the home side ahead in the 55th minute. Score 1-0.
We then had to endure a difficult 10 minutes as Stotfold went for the jugular and Jack Hopwood had to make a save from L'Honore. Both sides made changes, we brought on Seb Smith and youth team player Max Hercules but despite a lot of effort we were unable to find a break through. FT Score 1-0.
A disappointing night but it was always going to be tough on a surface that suited our hosts more direct style than us. They have now won 5 of their last 6 games so are on a good run and full of confidence.
We remain 5th in the table after Biggleswade United lost at Hoddesdon Town (and they next play champions elect London Colney) and our other main rivals for 4th place Wembley and WGC meet on Saturday.
So we are still in the mix for 4th place and a win at home to Colney Heath on Saturday will get us back on track.
E: 1 Matt Fallon 2 James Smith 3 Michael Simpson 4 Jake Long 5 Luke Rowland 6 Tommy Carroll 7 Drew Cardines 8 Ashley Fitton (Capt) (12 Ben McMullen 79) 9 Dan Bond (14 Tom Oram 66) 10 Ben L'Honore 11 Jordon Stewart (15 Carlos Correia-Dias 62). Subs not used: 16 George Bates 19 Harry Pilsworth.
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Jack Seaton 4 Luke Dunstan 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 George Carbery (14 Seb Smith 67) 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Read (12 Max Hercules 78) 11 Chris Stapleton. Sub not used: 15 Stuart Stedman.