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First team report
Fri 12th May 2017
St Mary's Challenge Cup Final
Kings Langley 0-1 TAFC First team TAFC goals: Jack Read
WE RETAIN CUP FOLLOWING READIE'S GOAL
(Played at Hemel Hempstead)
We overcame our underdog status by beating Southern League Premier Division side Kings Langley to lift the prestigious St Marys Cup for the second year running.
A superbly taken goal by Jack Read proved to be enough to continue our impressive record in this 130 year old competition, having won it now on 7 occasions and appeared in 6 of the last 9 finals.
The platform for this win was laid down in the first half when we produced a fine attacking performance which earned us a slim 1-0 lead by the break. As expected Kings raised their game in the second half but we defended superbly to hold onto our advantage and claim a merited victory.
We knew we were in for a tough game against opposition playing at 2 levels above us but there were early promising signs that we were not going to be overawed by our more senior opponents, who included in the squad 2 former Athletic favourites in Kieran Turner and Lee Stobbs, who ironically picked up winners medals in this competition with us last season.
Jack Read fired a shot over, although he was subsequently flagged offside, and Chris Vardy was twice just beaten to searching through balls by the alert Kings keeper Ross Hampton (who was in goal for Sun Sports last year when they lost 2-0 to us in this same final). The keeper was again called into action in the 10th minute making a great save from a Chris Vardy cross to foil the waiting Jack Read.
Kings showed their class with some fine possession football and Jack Waldren won the first corner of the game when his well struck shot was deflected wide. Then Matt Bateman tried his luck with a low shot which Jack Hopwood was equal to. Moments later Hoppy again showed a safe pair of hands to collect a well struck effort from the dangerous Jerry Amoo.
The game was flowing nicely and was fairly evenly balanced but as it entered the final 20 minutes of the first half we started to look the more threatening side. Ollie Butler sent a curling shot just over and young right back Ben Johnson thumped a 30 yarder that the keeper fumbled over the bar. From the corner Jack Seaton headed a great chance at the far post into the side netting.
We sensed an opportunity and Tommy Twelves saw his deflected shot spilled by the keeper who managed to quickly grab it before any damage could be done. Kings were still dangerous on the break and following a fine move Bateman was released down the right but under pressure from James Butler he shot well wide.
Chris Vardy headed a fine cross from Jack Read just over but with 9 minutes to go to the interval we got the break through our enterprising display merited. It started with a pile driver of a shot from Tommy Twelves (who was moved into an unfamiliar midfield role but performed superbly and was later rightly given the Man of the Match Award) which the keeper did well to get a hand to. With players and spectators probably expecting the outcome to be a corner Jack Read had other ideas by keeping the ball in play then cutting inside and thumping a terrific left foot shot past the keeper and defenders. It was a fine piece of play and finishing from our centre forward to add to the 4 goals he scored in the previous rounds against Bovingdon and Leverstock Green and it set the game up nicely for an interesting second half. HT Score 1-0.
Jack Read had an early chance following the restart when Ryan Sturges cross picked him out in the area, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. Kings realised they would have to raise their performance to get back into the game and they started to dominate possession and territory.
From a short Kings corner the ball was played out to sub Ollie Cox and his low skidding shot was safely gathered by Jack Hopwood, who played with calm assurance throughout. From another corner the ball reached Amoo at the far post, but the former West Ham graduate appeared to be caught by surprise and he meekly chested the ball down to Hoppy.
We were solid and organised and worked hard to restrict our opponents to few clear cut chances. Kings were pushing forward searching for an equaliser and in the 70th minute they had and opportunity when the ball was pulled back to Amoo whose shot went straight at Jack Hopwood who beat the ball away. Follow up shots were blocked by our defence who were in no mood to give our opponents time and space around the area.
With 10 minutes to go Captain Jorell Johnson headed a corner over and after that we hung on fairly comfortably for a fine win to cap an equally fine season. FT Score 1-0.
Afterwards a jubilant Ian Richardson spoke fondly and admiringly about his team's performances over the season "What a great way to finish the season, over 60 games played, furthest we have ever been in the FA Vase, top five finish in the league and two cup finals - not bad! I though we fully deserved our win over a good Kings Langley team.
Vardy and Read ran their socks off up front, Tommy Twelves was outstanding in midfield alongside Sturge, Ollie Butler and Luke Dunstan and our back 5 of Hoppy, Ben Johnson, Jack Seaton, Steady and James Butler were immense in defence and our subs of Stapes, Carbs and Seb also did their bit as well as part of an overall great team performance. We will now have a well earned break in the summer and then look forward to building for next season".
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Tommy Twelves 3 Jack Seaton 4 Ollie Butler (14 Seb Smith 89) 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 James Butler 7 Ryan Sturges 8 Luke Dunstan 9 Chris Vardy (12 George Carbery 80) 10 Jack Read (17 Chris Stapleton 62) 11 Ben Johnson. Subs not used: 15 Dave O'Connor 16 Max Hercules.
KL: 1 Ross Hampton 2 Gary Connolly 3 Sam Tring 4 Jorell Johnson (Capt) 5 Dean Hitchcock (12 Ollie Cox 41) 6 Mason Bush 7 Chris Gosling 8 Jack Waldren (14 Lewis Toomey 75) 9 Matt Bateman 10 Kieran Turner (15 Lee Stobbs 55) 11 Jerry Amoo. Subs not used: Mayo Balogun 17 Steve Ward.