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First team report  

Thu 13th Apr 2017
Spartan South Midlands Premier Division
Hadley 1-2 TAFC First team

TAFC goals: Tommy Twelves, Christopher Vardy

Hadley spent 8 years ground sharing at Potters Bar Town and it was a pleasure to visit their newly refurbished ground in Brickfield Lane, Arkley near Barnet. After spending considerable time and money putting in floodlights and updating the facilities Hadley were clearly pleased to be back at their spiritual home and they can feel rightly proud of what they have achieved. Having been through the process ourselves at Pendley we know what hard work it is.

This was our first competitive First Team game at the Brickfield Lane ground and it is worth noting that it was our first ever away win against Hadley (our previous record shows just one draw from 7 games) and league double over them having beaten them 4-1 at home back in February.

This was our 3rd game in 5 days and the injuries are starting to mount up with a list of crocked players that would keep Holby City going for another series! Reserve Team Captain James Butler came in alongside Sam Joliffe and they formed a superb partnership in the centre of defence. James is still only 24 and seems to have been at the Club forever (well since 2008/09 actually) and it is startling that for a player of his capability this was only his 25th outing for the First Team.

The same could be said for his younger brother Ollie who is 20 and started in the Youth side and worked his way through all our teams to the First Eleven where he has now made 68 appearances. Ollie is also more than capable of stepping up to the First Team (although his Vinnie Jones type tackle in the first half left much to be desired!) and hopefully we will see the Butler brothers pushing for First Team places in the future.

We also gave another start to highly promising Youth Team player Max Hercules and the 17 year old played really well and can claim an assist for our opening goal. Our bench was a bit sparse with just Skipper Dan Steadman who was unwell and coach Stuart Stedman keeping it warm.

We won the first corner and Hadley's leading scorer Ivan Machedo had the first shot on target which was an easy save for Jack Hopwood. Chris Mason slipped a lovely pass inside the full back for Chris Vardy and Max Hercules was just unable to get on the end of the resulting cross. We were looking quite lively in the early stages and Chris Vardy did well to beat the defender to a long pass but his shot went wide of the far post. Hadley retaliated with Machedo heading Harry Sedgley fine cross well wide.

With 18 minutes on the clock Tommy Twelves and Max Hercules combined superbly down the right wing and Max showed maturity beyond his years to pick out Tommy whose shot went in off the post for his debut goal for the First Team. Since joining this season Tommy has been a key member of the team and it was a just reward for his consistently good performances. Score 0-1.

After our good start Hadley raised their game and dominated possession for the remainder of the half. They have some gifted individuals and their attacks were pacey and dangerous and there were periods where they exerted some pressure on us with their best effort coming from a fierce shot from Ibrahim Lukulay just before half time that went just over the bar. But we defended superbly with every player doing his bit and we gave Jack Hopwood plenty of protection to the extent that he was not forced into making any serious saves.

After a good start we had to dig in but we went into the break with our noses in front. HT Score 0-1.

All our good work during the first half was nearly undone within 43 seconds of the restart when speedy winger Justin Thompson got to the bye line and pulled the ball back to Machedo but Jack Hopwood made a great save to keep our lead intact. Soon afterwards Machedo was away again but from a tight angle he shot weakly wide.

After that early let off we started to probe the opposition defence down both flanks with Max Hercules and Ryan Sturges twice getting to the bye line but on both occasions the keeper Dan McAteer cut out the potentially dangerous crosses at the near post. Later Ollie Butler and Chris Vardy produced a similar move down the other flank with Vards cross cleared for a corner.

Hadley were still a threat but were not so dominant as in the latter part of the first half but we had a scare when Jack Hopwood was unable to hold onto a free kick but the follow up shot was blocked. Ryan Sturges and George Carbery nearly played Chris Vardy through and in the 76th minute we should have doubled our lead when a corner reached James Butler but from close range he stabbed the ball wide.

A rare poor clearance fell to the impressive left back Connor Bolton but he shot straight at Jack Hopwood. Jack Read headed a ball to Chris Vardy who volleyed wide but 3 minutes into added time Readie again set up Vards but this time he made sure by placing an accurate shot wide of the keeper and into the far corner. It was a fine piece of finishing by our leading scorer which took his total for the season to 20 goals.

But the drama was not over when the Referee awarded Hadley a penalty in the 95th minute (where do Referee's keep finding all this added time from? It was the same on Tuesday night when an extra 7 minutes was played). It was a ridiculous decision as the player was hardly touched and went down far too easily but it was suggested afterwards that the official was atoning for the more obvious foul on Machedo 5 minutes earlier which would have made the last few moments of the game more difficult for us. In any event even Dombaxe scored but there was no time left for a comeback from Hadley. FT Score 1-2.

In the circumstances with so many players missing this was a very good performance against a good Hadley side who are surprisingly in a relegation dogfight with London Tigers (one point behind but having played 2 games more) and possibly Holmer Green (4 points ahead with 2 games in hand). With Broxbourne Boro already relegated the remaining place will fall to one of these 3 teams. Hadley are a very good team as evidenced by their 3-0 demolition of Sun Sports, who beat us twice, and you would expect them to stay up but their last 5 games include matches against Cockfosters, Wembley and Welwyn Garden City so they face a tough end to the season. We wish them all the best as it would be a shame to see them relegated.

Thanks to the South Midlands League we have a 2 day break before facing Berkhamsted who were given a nice peaceful week off. Hopefully we will have some players back for that game but in any event based on our last two performances we will be up for the challenge.


H: 1 Dan McAteer 2 Justin Thompson 3 Connor Bolton 4 Tom Milton (Capt) 5 Sean Beesley 6 Tyrone Mulholland 7 Laste Dombaxe 8 Harry Sedgley 9 Ivan Machedo 10 Zaine Gangadeen 11 Ibrahim Lukulay (15 Dan Gage 76). Subs not used: 12 Tony Sabag 13 Adam Robinson 14 Jonathan Devite 17 Sandro Fernandes.

TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Chris Mason 4 Ollie Butler 5 Max Hercules 6 James Butler 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Sam Joliffe 9 Chris Vardy 10 Jack Read 11 George Carbery. Subs not used: 12 Dan Steadman 14 Stuart Stedman.


H: Laste Dombaxe Pen (90+5)

TA: Tommy Twelves (18), Chris Vardy (90+3)

Crowd: 60


(No photos on file)