A Game of Two Halves - Alton FC 2-2 TCFC
The old footballing cliche ‘A game of two halves’ could not have been more prevelant today at The Exclusive Newtorks Stadium in Alton as the home side and visitors Tadley-Calleva played out a two-two draw in the Combined Counties Premier League South.
Changes to the Tadley-Calleva line-up saw captain Tom Walsh come back into the side while Chris Horton and Alex Miller found themselves rewarded with starts after impressive performances from the bench.
The opening stages of the first half went by without a real highlight. Tadley-Calleva started brighter, playing with confidence and flair, controlling the tempo of the game.
It wasn’t until past the twenty minute mark when the first real opportunity came. A fantastic passage of play between French in the middle, Alex Miller on the left hand side and Alex Fragata allowed the play to open up infront of Tadley but the show was not enough to trouble the Alton goalkeeper who held the ball well to regain possesion.
Tadlet kept pushing however, and with twenty seven minutes on the clock, the ball was played over the top of the Alton defence, Fragata ran to latch onto the ball and in doing so was taken out by the outrushing goalkeeper. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot.
Dead ball specialist Ben Wright made absolutely no mistake from the spot as he put his powerful penalty into the roof of the net.
The visitors continued to press, looking to add a second to their goal tally. Miller and Fragata caused the Alton defence all sorts of problems, closing them down and winning balls back deep into te home sides half.
A chance before half time came from the same source as Miller won the ball back well, beat his opponent, cut inside onto his right foot and forced a good save from the goalkeeper.
Tadley went into the half very worthy of their slender one nil lead.
The second half started as the first one finished and within ten minutes of the restart, Tadley doubled their lead. A free kick was awarded twenty-five yards from goal and up stepped Ben Wright once again. He hit the ball over the wall, cannoned the ball off the post and past the helpless goal keeper.
Tadley should have been comfortable here from here in on in, but the hosts had other plans.
Alton started commiting, pushing more men forward and into the middle of the park. Tadley went flat and as a consquence, for the first time in the match, lost control of central areas and were pushed onto the back foot.
A breakaway from the home side resulted in them winning a corner. The ball was cleared but only as far as their midfield, it was put back into the box where a great touch allowed the ball to drop down for Perkins who took his opportunity well & slotted the ball past Atkinson.
Alton had their tails up now and were well on the front foot. Tadley could not get hold of the ball and were forced to defend valiantly.
Tadley thought they may had won the game with twenty minutes to go as some great work by Fragata saw a jack French effort cleared off the line.
The final ten minutes were nervvy. Tadley had their backs against the wall as wave after wave of Alton attacks came forward. Two great saves by the feet of Atkinson kept the home side at bay. That was until the nintey third minute. A cross in from the left hand side seemingly looked dealt with as Scott Kinge and Alton number ten Trevor Caborn both went for the ball. Kinge got there first and the ball was cleared however the referee witnessed a foul and a penalty was awarded t the home side in the dying seconds of the game.
Alton skipper Matt Graham stepped up and slotted the ball past Atkinson and into the bottom left corner. The home side salvaged a draw, and on balance you could argue it was deserved despite the contentious decision to award a final minute spot kick.
Tadley will dust themselves off and go again Tuesday night as they face AFC Bournemouth in the Hampshire Senior Cup.