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Langford 2 v 4 Hadley
Baptistie, Dombaxe, Petrucci, Okirie
Hadley v Stotfold
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The first team moved into the Quarter Final of the Challenge Trophy with a 4-2 win at Langford, who play in Division One of the Spartan South Midlands League. The home side took a very early lead through striker Matt Kenneford before Jamal Baptiste brought the scores level after about half an hour played. Bapsiste was then involved in the next goal as it was his cross that set up Laste Dombaxe to give us a 2-1 lead just before half time. We were enjoying good spells of possession and passing the ball well, but didn't really create a huge amount of chances. We did get the third goal in the second half when Dom Petrucci found space to turn on the edge of the box and finish past the Langford keeper. Our hosts did not give up though and Kenneford scored his second of the game to reduce the deficit to 3-2 and give Langford a chance to try and take the game into Extra Time. However, we managed to restore our two goal lead when substitute Jeff Okirie, this season's top scorer for the reserves, finished well inside the box to score his first goal for the 1st team and to seal a 4-2 win and our place in the Quarter Final.
The first team travelled to Hertford Town who are having their best season for a number of years and are beginning to mount a serious title challenge. We were dealt an early blow when top scorer Dave Pigden pulled up with a hamstring injury early on, Pigden replaced by Kieran Smith who scored the goal when we beat Hertford 1-0 at home earlier in the season. The first half was a fairly even affair until Hertford were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box after Shay Khosrowshahi was judged to have handballed it, although this looked a bit harsh from the sidelines. Charlie Mann saved the direct free kick but ex-Hadley player Jordan Watson pounced on the rebound to tap the ball home and give Hertford the lead. We responded well and within minutes Laste Dombaxe found himself clear of the Hertford defence. Dombaxe cooly rounded the Hertford keeper and finished to make it 1-1 at half time in what was probably a fair result. However, the second half was a different affair and from the restart Hertford applied pressure to our back line. They had upped their work rate, intensity and desire, and we did not match it. They took the lead through their striker Tommy Wade, before Wade scored his second to make it 3-1. We put on Jamal Baptiste and Ivan Machedo from the bench but even their introduction did not have the desired effect as Hertford continued to dominate and saw the game out to win 3-1. A below par second half performance from us that we will look to put right in the Challenge Trophy at Langford on Tuesday.
The reserves had no game today. The 3rd team had a good win, beating Kings Sports 3-1 in the Watford Peace Memorial Shield thanks to goals from Danny Gruar, Abel Tekleab and Jeff Okirie.
The first team drew for the first time in the league this season, sharing the points with Colney Heath in a game that ended 1-1. We started well and could have taken the lead through Laste Dombaxe, but his effort was kept out by the Colney Heath goalkeeper. We were passing the ball well in the first half and making our visitors work hard to gain possession. We broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when Dom Petrucci created some space for himself outside the area and drove a low shot home into the corner to make it 1-0. As half time approached, Colney Heath got into the game for the first time and equalised not long before the interval, Jamie Smith making it 1-1 at the break. In a similar fashion to our performance at Holmer Green last Saturday, an excellent first half was followed by a below par second half as Colney Heath started to get on top and test our backline. Mid way through the half we introduced Kieran Smith from the bench, and his arrival was shortly followed by Ivan Machedo and then Jamal Baptiste also coming on. The fresh legs made a difference as we then got back into the game towards the end of the half. Neither side really created any clear cut chances during the half, although substitute Baptiste probably had the best chance to get the winner with literally the last kick of the game but he did not connect with his close range shot and the game finished 1-1 in what was probably a fair result overall.
Elsewhere, the reserves had another good win, beating Welwyn Garden City reserves 2-1. After going 1-0 down, top scorer Jeff Okirie equalised to make it 1-1 at half time before Fergus Morgan scored the winner in the second half to make the final score 2-1. The 3rd team drew 3-3 with Abbotts Langley. After taking a 3-0 lead through Eric Johnstone, George Mabey and Ian Kirkwood, our visitors, who had missed two first half penalties, came back and scored three to make it 3-3.