DERBY DAY DISMAY AS LIGERS LOSE TOP SPOT
By Neil SINCLAIR
Three-goal Hobday secures Teddington boasting rights for TAFC
It may not have merited its top of the table status, but this was certainly a full-blooded derby. Wolves, with a large and mellifluous support, worked hard for their victory, recovering from an early two-goal deficit, to go top of the league for the first time this term. There remains just one league game before the Christmas re-appraisal, and Wolves will face another stiff test at home to Marlow to secure promotion. Ligers, on this showing, might be quite relieved to face another four months in this section.
With a fairly stiff breeze assisting Ligers in the first half, the home side raced into a two-goal lead. They had seemingly found Wolves’ Achilles heel as Daniel’s first corner was bungled by the defence for an own goal after just 50 seconds, followed up 6 minutes later by John, who lacerated the defence with a good finish from another Daniel corner. John continued to have an outstanding half, showing great vision and movement.
For the first quarter, Ligers bombarded the Wolves goal but, after his early aberration, keeper William Brown was equal to everything that was hurled at him, helped somewhat by George Lee’s unusual profligacy in front of goal. He had managed six shots before Matt had a second shot to save at the other end, and it really looked as though Wolves could be swamped by the pressure. But then the balance changed. With the game entering its second quarter, Wolves discovered that they had the pace to outstrip Ligers’ back four. As the attacking pair found more and more space beyond the Ligers over-stretched defence, so midfielder Aidan Hobday had more and more time on the ball and he certainly made Ligers pay. A first half hat-trick over-turned Ligers great start and parity was only maintained when Dylan squeezed home another excellent corner from Daniel.
The second-half arrived with Sam, who had had an excellent first start at right full-back, being replaced by Zak and George PM dropping back into a four-man midfield in an attempt to bolster the defence and cut down the space that Aidan had made his own. Overall, the half was as even as the first but Wolves were playing the more fluid football as well as securing almost every second ball. The Ligers midfield was guilty of far too many flicks straight into the feet of their opponents, and Ilyas and George L struggled to ensure a good first and second touch. Rufus, who had a useful first half on the left-side of midfield now saw much of the game pass him by and it looked as though John may have given up on the hope of ever receiving a pass from Dylan. Wolves were growing in stature as they realised that Ligers weren’t very keen on challenging for the 50-50 balls or even the 60-40 ones and Archie Twigg really made the defensive third his own. With Wolves’ two Olivers finding more time and opportunity to attack Matt’s goal, it was only scrambling defence and Matt’s sure-handedness that kept the scores level. On 65 minutes a lovely through ball from Harvey Hutchison eviscerated the Ligers defence, and Finley Brooks turned the ball beyond Matt’s despairing dive to secure three points.
Ligers attempted to throw the kitchen sink at William Brown’s goal, but there was little method in it and only Zak managed a speculative shot from outside the box. The match finished with Wolves once again deep in the Ligers half, and the home team could have no complaints at the result.
It’s conceivable that Ligers may have had more success if they had been at full-strength but Wolves had successfully unpicked some of Ligers most consistent performers and to keep George L off the score sheet has been beyond most defences this season. Ligers will need to put Ashridge to the sword in the final game of the term, but Ashridge will be conscious that the Ligers defence does struggle against pace, as the last two games have demonstrated. Elsewhere, Woodley Saints Panthers prepared well for next week’s Cup quarter-final, putting 5 unanswered goals past Ashridge.