ANDREAS CARTER ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
KNOCK-OUT CUP SEMI-FINAL (AET)
HATFIELD PEVEREL FC: 0. (1).
WORMINGFORD WANDERERS FC: 0. (0).
Date: Saturday 01st April 2017. Venue: Keith Bigden Memorial Ground, Hatfield Peverel.
We have reached that time in the season when the focus turns to the ESBFL cup matches, today I chose the Knock-Out Cup, semi-final tie between Premier Division, Hatfield Peverel FC and First Division, Wormingford Wanderers FC. This side of the cup draw certainly looks to have been the easier one to negotiate to reach a semi-final place but these teams have had to win through three previous rounds against opposition from lower divisions who no doubt would have raised their game. With this information in mind I had calculated, if that is possible, in football, that a close game might be played out on the much improved pitch at Hatfield Peverel.
Being a cup semi-final the ESBFL had appointed three neutral officials, the match Referee was Phil Molloy and his Assistant Referees were Ricky Johnson and Pedro Ferreira and before kick-off a large crowd, of approximately one hundred people, was gathering as the “Respect” handshake was accomplished. With leagues rules stating that the away team change shirt colours I was a bit concerned that the visitors had arrived with purple shirts which when placed next to the blue and black of the home team did, to me, confuse matters but kick-off we did.
Long started proceedings but the forward ball from Lapwood was too strong and a goal-kick followed then a cross from Hill was headed clear by Dobson (L) leading to a foul on Norfolk, taken by Dobson (L) towards Close who headed down but wide. Curtis for Wormingford, from a lay-off by Stoneman, had the first shot at goal, albeit from thirty yards but the safe hands of Hirst gathered the ball. Wormingford had started brightly and worked the ball well down the right side, winning three throw-ins in succession leading to a corner off Hale (D), taken long, by Dobson (R) to reach Dobson (L) beyond the far post but his header flew wide. The early running and pace of Long for Hatfield would put the visitors, defence of Parker, Pringle and Dobson (L) under pressure throughout forcing long and hurried clearances. From one deep ball forward a defensive mix-up by Lapwood and Roll almost led to Stoneman capitalising with Hirst reacting quickest to clear up-field where Long sent over a cross which Hunt returned to Hull who evaded a tackle from Pringle before curling the ball just too wide of the goal. Dobson (L) drove another long free kick over the cross-bar from inside his own half, a wasted effort given that his tall team-mates had all gone forward in numbers!
On ten minutes Dobson (R) was caught offside from a forward pass by Dobson (L) and from the free-kick Long ran at the Wormingford defence and with Pringle and Dobson (L) hesitating the bouncing ball looked destined for the arms of keeper Lynn, that was until Long continued the chase and try an audacious overhead kick on the loose ball which Pringle watched bounce before clearing almost off the goal-line. Five minutes later and Curtis cut in from the left side to cross into the penalty area where Dobson (R) stooped to head goalwards forcing Hirst to save by diving to his left side. A long clearance from Hirst found Hill on the left side and after controlling the ball ran into the midfield area before passing through the defensive gap for Long to chase but Lynn was quickly out to collect. Mid-fielder Norfolk was already the attacking instigator for the visitors, putting in several robust challenges and winning several high balls against taller opposition and from his prompting Stoneman had two chances before Roll got in the way to concede a throw-ins. Dobson (L) so often the long ball outlet for Wormingford found Norfolk and then Curtis took up the attack to force Hale (D) to concede a throw-in. Norfolk chested the ball down to Parker and Haynes got forward to force a corner off the retreating Leeder, again taken by Dobson (R) with Close heading just wide, another decent chance from the aerial threat of the visitors and at the other end Hill and Long combined on a long chase forward with Parker screwing his clearance out for a corner.
With twenty-five minutes gone, Hunt dived hard into a tackle on Norfolk inside the visitors half, Dobson (L) took the free-kick finding the head of defender Roll with Dobson (R) shooting wide then Hirst was forced to save at the feet of Stoneman. Lapwood went through the back of Close to concede a free-kick and earn a talking too, with the kick from Dobson (L) once again finding the arms of Hirst. On thirty minutes Hatfield got their second corner off Haynes which was well defended by Wormingford and Hunt briefly threatened before Close and Norfolk closed ranks to stop any further progress with Norfolk setting Stoneman through on goal but upon reaching the edge of the penalty area his shot was wide of the target and a decent chance had been wasted. With Wormingford being in the ascendency, a brief change saw Long, running forward but finding the tall defenders in fine form despite not having the pace to match the home forwards. Both teams had been committed to their task so far but there had been very few obvious goal-scoring chances and in the next attack a ball from Willis found Hill on the right side only for the Assistant Referees flag to be raised for off-side.
Tackles were warming up, Pringle on Long and Whybrow (B) on Hunt went unpunished as play continued with the home team in possession until Parker intervened to clear the ball forward to Whybrow (B) but Hirst was quickly out to smother the loose ball right on the edge of his penalty area, any further advancement would have meant he handled the ball outside his area! Lapwood put in a great tackle on Norfolk who was on a marauding run forward and at the other end Long did the same to find Hull who first time shot cannoned off the head of Dobson (L) and into the arms of keeper, Lynn. Norfolk instigated anther attack for Wormingford, finding Haynes racing down the right wing but his cross found keeper Hirst and when play reverted to the other end Long thought he had won a corner off Parker but a goal-kick was correctly awarded. A long clearance by Lynn found Norfolk who fed Dobson (R) and when switching the ball from his left side to his right the eventual shot forced a save from Hirst, perhaps an indication that a goal was imminent as the visitors were well drilled and found their colleagues normally with ease. Willis played a decent ball out of defence to find Hunt whose cross was cut out for a corner by Dobson (L) with Hatfield failing to trouble the visitors who cleared with ease to Dobson (R) and Stoneman and once again the home team had to be alert to the danger.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 0
Immediately at the restart we found that Hatfield Peverel had changed into their red & white striped shirts, a wise move, with hindsight but that move certainly improved the visibility for everyone watching, let alone playing! With the visitors having had the better of the first half, Hatfield started the second half on the attack, once again it was Long who crossed with Dobson (L) heading away and Close conceding a corner taken by Hunt with Close clearing to Norfolk who set Stoneman running forward with Leeder covering and winning a throw-in off Stoneman. A free-kick taken by Curtis was headed wide by Stoneman at the far post as the visitors pressed forward and Stoneman chased back to defend when a decent move started by Hale (D) then, Lapwood and Long, threatened. Another Norfolk, Stoneman combination saw the midfielder’s effort curl onto the roof of the net with Hirst back-pedalling then Norfolk won a midfield header finding Dobson (R) whose pass to Stoneman saw an overhead kick follow with Hirst catching comfortably.
Five minutes into the half, Whybrow (B), fouled Long, Lapwood took the free-kick with Close heading clear to Stoneman who had got back to help his defence finding Norfolk free on the right side and mid-half but once again good defending by Willis for Hatfield cleared the danger. Stoneman set Curtis up for a run against Hale (D) but his clever back-heel to Haynes led to Lapwood conceding a throw-in from which Wormingford worked the ball forward to gain a corner, taken by Dobson (R) and headed clear by Lapwood to Pringle who blasted the ball well wide. On fifty-five minutes Hatfield started to raise their game, Willis found Hull who was baulked by the outstretched leg of Parker who was promptly cautioned, the free-kick from Lapwood hit Hale (L) and went out for a goal-kick. First substitution was for Hatfield when they replaced Hill with Smart, a Reserve team player I saw score four goals a few weeks ago. Norfolk for Wormingford was still putting in a big shift for his team and when he was forced off the ball illegally the free-kick from Dobson (L) flew straight at Hirst. Just past the hour mark keeper Lynn was hesitant when a ball from Hunt deceived his defence who rushed their clearance only to see Long upended by Whybrow (B) about twenty-two yards from goal, Long stepped up to drive a rising shot which crashed against the underside of the cross-bar and bounce to safety with the on-the-spot Assistant Referee able to confirm that the ball had not crossed the goal-line.
Wormingford, through Stoneman pushed forward again and from his flick on Dobson (R) curled the ball just wide when the return ball to Stoneman was perhaps the better option but there was no denying that both teams were having a go at winning this close contest. Norfolk embarked on another run forward this time down the right side but his cross was too close to keeper, Hirst who fielded unchallenged. With twenty-five minutes remaining Lapwood found Smart whose ball inside fell at the feet of Hale (L) who shot wide and the home team kept up their renewed intent, getting to grips with the midfield. A long ball from Roll found Smart who took a touch before screwing the ball wide from a decent position then Long chased a ball from Hunt, with Pringle making a timely block on the edge of the penalty area. From a clearance from Lynn, the visitors broke forward with Norfolk, who else, feeding Dobson (R) and on to Stoneman who chanced his arm from thirty yards but his attempted lob was well wide.
Hale (L) was guilty of a high foot towards Norfolk inside the centre-circle and with play stopped Hatfield replaced Hunt with Dawson then Hale (L) was guilty of the miss of the game so far when a careless pass from Dobson (L) fell his way and the home team kept going with Hull striding through but blazing wide as Lynn advanced. Hale (D) sent in a cross to Hale (L) whose return to Long saw the forward head narrowly wide then a run and cross from Roll saw Pringle head back to his keeper just as Long challenged. Ten minutes remained when Close put Norfolk in possession only for him to be fouled by Leeder but the free-kick from Dobson (R) failed to get beyond the defensive wall! When Long chased a forward ball he forced a good save from Lynn who just managed to recover and touch the loose ball out for a corner and Hatfield made their last player change with Irvine replacing Willis and a minute later Wormingford made their only change with the exhausted Norfolk deserving a rest with Poole taking his place. A feature of this game so far from Wormingford had been the use of the ball from free-kick’s, they were always long and often over-hit so whilst their tall players went forward these kicks failed to reach their target and the Hatfield defence cleared with ease. Long for the home team continued his lone forward role chasing anything played remotely close to him and he pressurised the visitors defence on regular occasions. As we reached the final minute Roll and Whybrow (B) went head to head with the referee advising them to get away and get on with the game which they did and the last action in normal time was a foul by Hull on Poole.
FULL TIME: 0 – 0
Now, as this was a cup game we entered a period of two halves of fifteen minutes extra time with Wormingford commencing the first period forcing Hale (D) to concede an early corner, taken by Dobson (R) whose curling corner kick was somehow missed by Close with Lapwood clearing. Stoneman teased defender Irvine to put in a cross to Dobson (L) but Long was on hand, to clear then Haynes sent over a deep cross for Curtis to chase but the pace of the ball was too much for the winger to reach. Wormingford were enjoying a bright spell when a corner from Dobson (R) was headed back across goal by Dobson (L) only for Close to totally miss the goal with his free header. Poole tried his luck with a speculative shot from thirty yards out which Hirst collected with ease and Roll found Smart who took on Parker with Pringle clearing his lines with Lynn struggling to reach the bouncing ball.
A corner taken by Smart was hit too long and at the other end Roll headed clear from Stoneman then Roll broke forward to find Smart who found tall frame of Pringle in his way and to be honest some players looked like they had started to tire in what was a fast paced, end-to-end match and we still had twenty minutes remaining. Dobson (R) chased a stray ball and won a corner off Roll and Lapwood put in a huge challenge on Close just as he was about to shoot and from a long punt forward from Lynn, Poole was grounded by Roll who was cautioned, not quite the last man but a close call for the referee with Dobson (L) driving the free kick high and wide again much to his own annoyance. Another caution followed, this time for Pringle when he pulled back Long, who else, in the visitors midfield area however the free-kick from Lapwood was easily cleared and the first period of extra-time ended.
EXTRA-TIME – HALF-TIME: 0 – 0
Right, it’s time to find a hero who can end this deadlocked game, Hull lost the ball to Stoneman who broke up-field only to be dispossessed by Hale (D) with Whybrow (B) handling the ball. A long clearance from Lynn found Dobson (R) who turned to shoot goalwards but the ball drifted wide, perhaps not the best option to have taken! Two minutes into the last period Hale (L) burst between two defenders only to be tripped from behind by Parker and the referee had little hesitation to award a penalty, no argument, definitely a foul inside the penalty area. Captain LAWRENCE HALE stepped up to hammer home the ball with Lynn just getting a hand to the ball but failing to keep it out of the net, queue big celebrations, was this the breakthrough we needed! Next question, would Wormingford manage to find enough to equalise, they were clearly tiring but then both sets of players were, a corner followed from Dobson (R) but the ball drifted out to land on the roof of the net.
Poole fouled Irvine with a hefty barge, Close played the ball wide to Dobson (L) whose forward ball found Dobson (R) then on to Stoneman who headed wide from a decent position then Dobson (L) challenged inside the penalty area with Roll clearing over his own cross-bar from inside the six yard box with Hirst failing to reach the loose ball. The corner from Dobson (R) skimmed off the head of Close and Parker headed wide from close range. Roll blocked a cross from Dobson (L), Dobson (R) tackled back on Hale (L) and Whybrow (B) drove a rising shot wide of the goal from twenty-five yards. Hatfield just had defend the last five minutes with Wormingford pressing again just as they had from the very start, Stoneman had a shot turned away for a corner and when the ball from Dobson (R) reached the six yard box, Hirst gathered fell to the ground and the final whistle was blown.
EXTRA-TIME – FULL-TIME: 1 – 0
This was a really good cup tie which neither side really deserved to loose, Wormingford, the First Division promotion hopefuls had given a good account of themselves and Hatfield had to defend for long periods especially in the first half, whereas in the second half they competed much better but could not break down the stubborn defence of the visitors. Extra-time was always going to be crucial as players tired, there was no spark of genius, instead a penalty eventually decided the fate of this tie where both teams should take credit for having a go.
Now for my Man-of-the-Match choice, numerous players had solid games, the Wormingford defence stood firm in front of their goalkeeper, Dobson (R) and Stoneman were a constant menace and Norfolk was outstanding in midfield. For Hatfield, the home team, Hirst made crucial saves, Roll and Willis were required to work hard in central defence, Lapwood won crucial balls in midfield but for me the non-stop running and chasing of Ross Long gets my vote this week, always a danger going forward and helping out in defence when the visitors threatened, and they did consistently.
At the end a few phone calls established that Hatfield Peverel FC will play Little Oakley FC, also extra-time winners, in the KOC final to be played on Wednesday 19th April 2017 at Brantham Athletic FC, Kick-Off is 19:45pm.
In closing, the ESBFL wish Wormingford Wanderers FC good luck on Wednesday evening (5th April 2017) when they play against May & Baker Eastbrook Community FC Reserves in the final of the Essex Saturday Junior Cup, a match being played at Bowers & Pitsea FC.
HATFIELD PEVEREL FC: 1st Half Colours: Blue & Black Striped Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
2nd Half Colours: Red & White Striped Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Graham Hirst., John Leeder., Douglas Hale., Sam Willis., Anthony Roll., Danny Hunt., Christopher Hill., Ben Lapwood., Ben Hull., Lawrence Hale (C)., Ross Long.
Manager: Steve Pretty.
Used Substitutes: Louis Smart., James Dawson., James Irvine.
Unused Substitutes: Elliot Mouser., Michael Brewster.
WORMINGFORD WANDERERS FC: Colours: Purple Shirts, White Shorts and White Socks.
Danny Lynn., Tom Haynes., Steven Parker., Jamie Pringle., Liam Dobson., Liam Close., Ben Whybrow (C)., Ross Norfolk., Ross Dobson., Ash Stoneman., Martin Curtis.
Manager: Lee Whybrow.
Used Substitutes: Bruce Poole.
Unused Substitutes: Ben Bracey., Jake Westerman.
Referee: Philip Molloy (Colchester)
Assistant Referees: Ricky Johnson (Colne Engaine)
and: Pedro Ferreira (Braintree)
Men of the Match: Ross LONG (HATFIELD PEVEREL FC)