ANDREAS CARTER ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
TOMMY THOMPSON CUP – FINAL
CONNAUGHT RED STAR FC: 0.
TIPTREE PARK FC: 1.
Date: Monday 1st May 2017. Venue: Coggeshall Town FC
The last match of the ESBFL season saw the final of the Tommy Thompson Cup, this season for teams that play in Division Two and Division Three, played out at Coggeshall Town FC on Bank Holiday Monday where a slightly larger crowd than usual had gathered to watch Division Three newcomers, Connaught Red Star FC play Division Two team, Tiptree Park FC. Congratulations also go to both these teams for not only reaching this Cup Final but for finishing as “runners-up” in their respective divisions.
En-route Connaught Red Star FC had overcome: Barnston AFC Reserves., Dedham Old Boys FC Reserves & Colne Engaine FC whereas Tiptree Park FC had defeated: Mersea Island FC., Weeley Athletic FC Reserves., Little Oakley FC “A” and Belle Vue Social FC and given the competitive manner in which both teams had played when I watched them earlier this season, I was expecting a close fought match.
On a cold, damp morning the referee for this Tommy Thompson Cup Final was Lewis Farthing who was assisted by Jack Willmore and Nathan Oakes, all three of whom had officiated in Essex County Cup Finals and have all gained promotion this season, with Matthew Webb acting as the Fourth Official and after the “Respect” handshake we looked to commence the game with a hint of rain to come soon after kick-off.
Connaught kicked-off with Brand sending a cross-field ball to Thurston whose attempted cross drifted onto the roof of the net and there followed the first free-kick awarded when Rayner fouled Cole a kick that was comfortably cleared allowing Tiptree Park to move up-field where a cross from Galvin was comfortably caught by Smith. A left footed shot from Isom was caught one-handed by goalkeeper Ward on his goal-line and the first five minutes had gone by. A goal-kick taken by Ward fell to Taylor whose return volley forced Reynolds to back pedal and try to head back to his own keeper who had failed to read the danger and his rushed clearance flew out for a throw-in. Cole and Quinney (D) then had the first of several tussles through midfield with the Connaught forward always looking dangerous on the ball whereas Quinney (D) was already proving himself in midfield. Cole played a cross-field pass towards Hughes but Ward read the danger to clear and Lewis led his team by chasing back to stop Tuddenham who had ventured forward. From a Cole corner Reynolds headed clear at the near post leading to a thundering tackle by Taylor on Hoggarth the first of some thunderous tackling that followed on occasions.
On ten minutes Galvin used his feet well to slip past Walker but his eventual cross was blocked by Taylor then Driver was caught offside from Galvin’s flicked header, this from an astute pass out of defence from Tuddenham. On fifteen minutes a flurry of activity in the covered stand, it had started to rain and anybody sitting in the front two rows was going to get wet and whilst this happened Isom drifted down the right side for Connaught driving the ball left-footed into the penalty area where Hughes fired the ball across the face of the goal. A lobbed ball forward by the experienced Driver to Hoggarth was punched clear by Smith and was then clattered by the incoming Hoggarth on the penalty spot. Brand fired over for Connaught, again following good movement from Isom and Lewis was adjudged to have raised a high foot towards Quinney to concede a free-kick. Driver took the kick with McMillan clearing first time, left footed but into touch for a throw-in and a good passing move started by Reynolds, to Galvin, to Hoggarth and back to Galvin who just failed to make contact with the forward ball.
At the first half mid-point we had seen an evenly contested match, both teams had attacked but defences were holding firm and very little action for the goalkeepers so far probably because that final ball syndrome was evident already. The prompting of Quinney (D) led to a long throw-in from Galvin and when the header from McMillan failed to clear outside his own penalty area, Quinney (D) controlled, looked up and volleyed wide. A foul-throw-in by Galvin led to Driver and Reynolds doubling up on Cole who ran on to foul young Reynolds. Quinney (D) was prepared to play the ball out of his own defence when he stopped a Connaught attack, showing good footwork for such a tall player, “Row Z” was probably what his manager wanted but if you have confidence then why not try it. Tiptree Park kept up their attacking approach with Driver finding Hoggarth with Smith advancing to clear. With ten minutes to half-time Connaught pushed forward but Rayner stood firm in a challenge by Howe who was chasing a forward ball from Cole, then keeper Ward had to move quickly forward to a ball just reaching the edge of the penalty area and from his clearance Hoggarth dived hard into a challenge with Taylor, that is going to hurt I thought, but with the free-kick given both players got up, shook hands and took up their positions for the Connaught free-kick.
A long ball from keeper Ward cleared the Connaught defence with Galvin galloping through and despite the Assistant Referees flag being raised, keeper Smith still made an impressive save low down to his left side. Hoggarth received the first caution of the match for a rash challenge on Thurston on the half-way line and defender Taylor, leading from the back for Connaught shielded the ball out of play with Hoggarth breathing down his neck this from a strong blocked challenge by Reynolds on Cole, Taylor seemed to get his own back on Hoggarth with another blocked challenge, no foul was given and play continued with Driver setting Galvin through, keeper Smith fumbled this time, but Galvin had already been ruled as being off-side. Tiptree Park were finishing the half the stronger team and when Coppin sent a ball forward, Driver gave chase getting a corner off Thurston with Driver taking the kick himself but only into the side-netting. Coppin then defended to cut out a cross from Cole and from a long cross by Thurston, Cole headed straight at keeper Ward who cleared downfield. Final action of the half was with Walker who played the ball to Cole and onto Isom whose cross towards Thurston fell at the feet of Lewis whose rising shot failed to trouble anybody.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 0
Tiptree Park restarted the match, Ward advanced to clear the long ball forward but failed to connect properly as Howe bore down on him but fortunately Rayner got back to clear but this game definitely needs a goal, but who from! McMillan cleared as Galvin threatened but much of this game was still being played through midfield, Coppin cleared forward to Kelliher whose long ball forwards towards Galvin was once again snuffed out by McMillan, Isom fouled Reynolds, Quinney (D) took the free-kick to Coppin whose forward ball cleared Taylor, falling to Driver who rose to head over keeper, Smith, but the direction was off and a goal-kick followed. An error by Tuddenham when tackling Howe led to a corner which was headed clear by Hoggarth to Newcombe and he sent Galvin away only for the forward to overrun the ball. Quinney (D) continued to prove he was the immovable object in central midfield, winning numerous headers at both ends, tackles were strong and fair and rarely lost and his overall distribution was excellent and was probably matched by Connaught defender Taylor who never shirked a challenge either.
Newcombe led with a high foot against Taylor and from his free-kick Thurston, Cole, Howe and Cole again worked the ball up-field for a throw-in, collected by Rayner who ran forward beating three retreating Connaught players before play was brought back for an earlier infringement by Brand. A long cross from Thurston was held just under the cross-bar by keeper Ward, a free-kick from Reynolds found Galvin whose header failed to trouble keeper, Smith. Ten minutes into the second half and a big talking point followed when Smith came to collect a high bouncing ball and realising that his momentum after catching the ball would take him outside the penalty area he released the ball before landing then diving back to collect the ball inside his area, close call for the Assistant Referee who might have been unsighted with so many players converging at that point. A Thurston cross was headed clear by the industrious Kelliher and Connaught raised their game with Thurston finding Howe whose left-footed curling shot drifted just wide, a closer call but we were no nearer a goal.
When we reached the hour mark Rayner fouled Howe with Hughes being substituted by Johnson-Pooley whose first action was to take the free-kick awarded on the far half-way line, this led to a corner where Tuddenham cleared, injuring himself in the process. Another left side move started by Coppin led to Galvin pushing the ball wide to Driver, who had strayed off-side but keeper Smith again foiled the goal-bound shot getting his big frame in the way. On sixty-three minutes Tiptree Park replaced Coppin with Aves who had not even touched the ball when he was fouled inside the centre-circle, Reynolds took the free-kick but it was obvious the wind had increased as the ball was held up as it entered the penalty area and was cleared. Defender Taylor continued to encourage his Connaught team-mates, although having had to defend for long periods they were by no means out of this contest. With defender Coppin, having gone off, Tuddenham switched from central defence to left back with captain, Quinney (D) slotting into the back line. A chance fell to Connaught when Brand played a quick ball into Howe but he lobbed the ball just wide of the empty net as Ward advanced. Reynolds got forward for Tiptree Park finding Driver and from his looping cross Galvin challenged Smith with the ball bouncing wide at the far post with neither player getting a touch.
A long ball forward from Smith was headed on by Isom to Brand who had strayed off-side and Ward replayed the move by finding Galvin but he fouled Taylor. Tiptree Park opened up the Connaught defence almost by chance when Hoggarth pushed the ball wide, towards Aves whose run took him wide of keeper, Smith, but far enough wide that the effort from Aves lacked any power and would not have reached the goal with McMillan eventually clearing. With twenty minutes remaining Isom was replaced by Hull but Driver and Galvin had shots blocked at one end whilst Quinney (D) strode out of his own defence with the ball to find Galvin but McMillan cleared that danger. Cole replied by driving forward to find Howe but Rayner blocked the shot from twenty yards out and Tiptree Park made another substitution with Pomphrett replacing Galvin. Keeper Ward fumbled a shot from Thurston with Tuddenham blocking the rebounded shot, having made the initial error to set up Thurston. Cole chased a long forward ball that keeper Ward was undecided about, whether to catch the ball right on the edge of his area or risk handling outside the penalty area, eventually doing neither with Rayner clearing from six yards out.
On eighty minutes I wrote myself a note “this game has one nil written all over it” and hey presto a goal is scored, Tuddenham played a deft ball from the left side, into the six yard box and towards the far post, keeper Smith, who initially looked like he had been baulked, lunged at the ball only managing to palm the ball into the path of CARL DRIVER who guided the ball into the net off his upper chest and shoulder, scrappy it, was but a crucial breakthrough. Kelliher was replaced by Quinney (B) and Cole went down holding his ribs but then he like several others had put their bodies on the line in some heavy but fair challenges. With five minutes remaining the drizzle had returned and Connaught replaced Lewis with Hammond but it was Tiptree Park who had another chance when Hoggarth played in Driver but rather than put his foot through the ball he opted to lob the ball wide. Defender Taylor was caught off-side, challenging keeper Ward, this from a pass by Hammond then a frustrated Walker lost the plot with a cynical flick-out at Reynolds to earn a late caution. Reynolds took the free-kick, Smith gathered and launched it towards Howe whose control at this late stage was somewhat lacking and when Brand threatened, Quinney (D) was on hand to complete the clearance.
FULL TIME: 0 – 1
This was not a classic final, too much at stake perhaps, easy for me to say from the sidelines but both teams pretty much cancelled each other out from the very start, real goal-scoring chances were at a premium as defences and midfield played ruled and a scrappy goal eventually led to a victory for Tiptree Park FC.
For my Man-of-the-Match choice there were several candidates, for Connaught Red Star FC, Isom, McMillan and Lewis worked hard as did Thurston who supplied numerous crosses for Howe, Hughes and Cole who threatened especially when coming in from the right side but defender Taylor stood out for the losers, confident, encouraging, robust in every tackle and header, took a few knocks, and gave them out as well, a no-nonsense but fair approach that was a refreshing change.
Now over to Tiptree Park FC, young full-back Reynolds looks a fine prospect, strong into any challenge, good ball distribution and taker of numerous free-kicks, Tuddenham and Rayner were solid in defence, Galvin ran his heart out upfront, Hoggarth, also showed some nice touches supported by veteran player and goal-scorer, Driver. However, midfield was where the game was predominantly played with Newcombe and Kelliher putting in a big shift but alongside them was David Quinney who set a fine captains example, hardly putting a foot wrong, skilful for such a big man, good feet, good header of the ball and when he switched into defence, there was almost a certainty that nothing was going past him from that point on.
After a short introductory speech from Peter Whent, ESBFL, Vice Chairman the assembled company were introduced to Alec Berry, ECFA Representative and FA Council Member who was present to award ESBFL, President, Lt Col Peter Andrews OBE with a Certificate, medal and badge to commemorate Fifty Years service to football, a fine achievement indeed.
After a brief response to his award, Lt Col Peter Andrews OBE presented mementoes, firstly to the four match officials, then to Connaught Red Star, the losing finalists, and finally to Cup-Winners, Tiptree Park FC.
Finally, a big thank you to the management and staff of Coggeshall Town FC, for allowing the ESBFL to use their facilities for this final cup match of the season.
CONNAUGHT RED STAR FC: Colours: Red & White Shirts, Black Shorts and Red & White Socks.
Robert Smith., Nathan Taylor., Sam Walker., Craig Isom (C)., David McMillan., Michael Lewis., Jack Thurston., Alex Brand., William Howe., Wayne Hughes., Steven Cole.
Manager: Daniel Troy.
Coach: Nigel Walker.
Used Substitutes: Luke Pooley-Johnson., Keith Hammond., Josh Hull.
Unused Substitutes: Danny Sharp., Andrew Broome.
TIPTREE PARK FC: Colours: Green & White Shirts, White Shorts and White Socks.
Christopher Ward., Ben Reynolds., Matthew Coppin., Ricky Tuddenham., Ben Rayner., David Quinney (C)., Robert Kelliher., Gavin Newcombe., Jason Hoggarth., Leighton Galvin., Carl Driver.
Manager: Richard Katanach.
Used Substitutes: David Pomphrett., Elliot Aves., Ben Quinney.
Unused Substitutes: Peter Wilson., Toby Fox-Hammond (G/K).
Referee: Lewis Farthing (West Bergholt)
Assistant Referees: Jack Willmore (Clacton-on-sea)
and : Nathan Oakes (Colchester)
4th Official: Matthew Webb (Topplesfield)
Men of the Match: David QUINNEY (TIPTREE PARK FC)