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First team report  

Tue 28th Feb 2017
Dudley Latham Memorial (Premier Division) Cup - Semi Final
Hoddesdon 6-3 TAFC First team

TAFC goals: Christopher Vardy (2), Chris Mason
WE SUFFER DEFENSIVE MELTDOWN AT HODDESDON

Our hopes of booking our second cup final appearance of the season went down the pan following an error ridden performance that presented our hosts with some easy opportunities that they eagerly accepted to run out convincing 6-3 winners.

The last time we conceded six goals was back in January 2013 when AFC Dunstable beat us 6-2 but despite this heavy defeat we could have won this tie as we took the lead on three occasions. But due to some dreadful defending we allowed our opponents back in the game each time within a few minutes of us scoring. We then hit the depths in the last quarter when we leaked three goals in 11 minutes.

We were still on the M25 for the first dozen minutes of the game, frequently giving the ball away to our hosts in dangerous positions and we were fortunate to escape punishment due to some last ditched defending, a free kick from Charlie Edwards that went just wide of our post and a super save from Jack Hopwood from Joss Lillis. Later Hoppy tipped a dangerous cross away and then had a rather easier task to catch an overhead kick from Tom Cowell that never-the-less was well executed.

The offside flag also came to our rescue on a few occasions and then we started to play a bit starting with a marauding run from Tommy Twelves that had possibilities but came to nothing. Then we were awarded a free kick in a good position just outside the opposition's area and then Tommy Twelves headed a cross from Chris Stapleton wide, again they didn't produce anything tangible but it was an indication that we were at last getting into the game.

We still had to be alert at the back as the Lilywhites were dangerous going forward and their skipper Louis Rose connected with a super cross from Tom Cowell but sent his header well wide. The home side had made a good start to the game but we stunned them by opening the scoring in the 21st minute. Following some pressure down our left Chris Mason picked up the ball and produced a lovely dribble to get past a couple of defenders then crack a shot from a tight angle into the far corner.

It was a super finish from Mase who is turning into a goal scoring full back having bagged the winner at Welwyn Garden City a few weeks ago. Having played 78 first team games without scoring he has now bagged two in his last six so we look forward to seeing his name on the score sheet again soon. Score 0-1.

Having broken the ice we were caught out by a sucker punch two minutes later when the Lilywhites equalised from a corner. It is always disappointing to concede from a set piece but we failed to clear our lines as the ball bounced around in our area and paid the price when Jordan Watson converted from close range. Score 1-1.

But we were playing much better now and the game was far more evenly balanced. Chris Vardy and Chris Stapleton were a thorn in the home side's defence and the two linked up nicely in the 32nd minute with the former flicking a nice pass through to his strike partner whose shot was tipped round the post by keeper Harry Smart.

But we were not to be denied and three minutes later we took the lead again much to the chagrin of the home management. A long pass was played into the opposition half with Chris Vardy in an offside position. But Vards didn't go for the ball instead Lee Stobbs picked it up, ran through then crossed to Vards to score. The home bench felt Vards was offside but the person standing next to me disagreed saying there was a second phase and the officials were right to allow the goal. The person concerned was Mark Halsey who refereed in the Premier Division for many years and should know what he is talking about! He is also the brother of Hoddesdon's two managers. Score 1-2.

With half time looming we could feel satisfied at bouncing back so well after a very poor start and go in with a one goal lead but then we made a real blunder. Instead clearing the ball to safety we made a short 5 yard pass back to Jack Hopwood who was very quickly shut down by Jordan Watson who blocked the clearance which could have gone anywhere but unluckily for us bounced in to the net.

So at half time we were still very much in the tie but it should have been better. HT Score 2-2.

We started the second half better than we did the first and Lee Stobbs shot wide as did Watson for the home side. Ten minutes after the restart we took the lead again for the third time from a nicely worked move.

Sam Joliffe played a nice ball out to Chris Mason on the left whose super first time cross picked out Chris Stapleton who chested the ball down for Chris Vardy to fire home. Score 2-3.

Soon afterwards Chris Vardy came close to latching onto a headed back pass but after being in a good position we again let ourselves down with some naive defending which for the third time allowed our hosts to quickly get back in the game. This time our lead lasted four minutes when we gave away a silly penalty and captain Louis Rose converted the spot kick. Score 3-3.

The game was still up for grabs but between the 67th and 78th minutes we went to pieces conceding three goals (Leigh Rose 67, Tom Cowell 70,78) and that was that. The only action of note for us came into added time when Chris Vardy was denied another goal by the keeper. It wouldn't have affected the score but at least it would have given him a hat trick. FT Score 6-3.

Well done to Hoddesdon who will play Wembley in the final and we wish them all the best. For us it was a major disappointment and symbolises the Jekyll and Hyde performances we have put in lately with terrific wins at high riding Welwyn Garden City and London Colney as well as a convincing victory over bogey side Hadley mixed in with two defeats against Sun Sports.

We have not become a bad side over night and despite this heavy defeat we still have the fourth best defensive record in the Premier Division (only bettered by the top two of London Colney and Hertford Town and 4th placed Biggleswade United). We have the Herts Charity Cup Final to look forward to and we could still realistically claim fourth spot in the league so we have plenty to play for.

We need to learn from our mistakes by improving our passing especially around our area and minimise the risks we take in defence. We have a good opportunity to put the record straight on Saturday when we visit fourth placed Wembley who are the second highest scorer in the Premier Division with 89 goals from 29 games. It would be a great time to keep a clean sheet.

Teams:

HT: 1 Harry Smart 2 Tom Cowell 3 Joe Russell 4 Charlie Edwards 5 Louis Bowen 6 Ross Clemo 7 Joss Lillis (14 Kieran Asamudu-Sakyi 82) 8 Louis Rose (Capt) 9 Leigh Rose (16 Kieran Campbell 79) 10 Jordan Watson (12 Matt Turpin 84) 11 Dom Njoya. Sub not used: 15 Reece Hackney.

TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Chris Mason 4 Jack Seaton (12 Luke Dunstan 74) 5 Seb Smith 6 Dave O'Conner (14 Dan Steadman 66) 7 Ryan Sturges (15 Max Hercules 74) 8 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 9 Chris Vardy 10 Lee Stobbs 11 Chris Stapleton.

Scorers:

HT: Watson (23, 43), Lo Rose Pen (59), Le Rose (67), Cowell (70, 78)

TA: Chris Vardy (35, 55), Chris Mason (21)

Crowd: 85

(No photos on file)