ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
GAS RECREATION FC: 0. COGGESHALL UNITED FC: 3.
Date: Saturday 5th May 2018. Venue: Bromley Road, Colchester.
The sun’s out, a big crowd has turned up, where you ask, well Bromley Road, Colchester of course, where the home team, table-toppers, Gas Recreation FC with 69 points were to play second placed Coggeshall United FC who had 66 points but an eight-goal inferior goal-difference, For both teams, two games remained, this one with Coggeshall having to visit Little Oakley FC Reserves on Tuesday whilst Gas Recreation FC have to travel to Hatfield Peverel FC next Saturday. A win or a draw would suffice for the home team but any victory for the visitors could send the title decider into the last week of the Premier Division season and I would have to wait until after the final whistle to see if I could present the respective Premier Division “Winners” and “Runners-Up” Cups. Gas were missing both Craig and Gregory through suspension whilst Coggeshall had Cant, suspended but they had drafted in Davidson for his third match along with Thomas for his first appearance of the season to bolster the visitors defence in the process.
The appointed match official was Stuart Franklin who was ably supported by Richard Oakes and Neil Strachan and in what became a feisty affair I thought they handled every situation extremely well, you might say that I would say that but in the second half when things boiled over and players from both teams got involved in an unnecessary melee, to see players chasing another across the pitch and see substitutes and supporters enter the field of play without authority is totally unacceptable at any level of football, let alone the ESBFL Premier Division.
Coggeshall kicked off but Willoughby gave chase to a forward ball alongside Thomas with keeper Joyce, who was fouled, on hand to collect, but play continued with the keeper rolling the ball out to Thomas who cleared long upfield but Taylor (L) returned the ball with Rowe heading down, but only to the feet of Marangou who drove a shot wide of the right-hand post. Boreham-Knight, back after a fractured leg sent a strong header forward to Cripps whose deft header set Okosi away but home keeper Morrison was quickly out to block and we definitely had, a game to watch. Four minutes in and Coggeshall took the lead, Okosi ran to the goal-line then shimmied his way along it, passing Minter in the process before sending a low cross past Morrison to SAM CRIPPS who had the simplest of tasks to score from just a few yards out. Davidson, for Coggeshall looked fired up for this match and began to give defender Murray a hard time with his direct running and close control sending in a driven cross that Akurang met first time but West blocked the shot, taken on the turn. Another long ball forward from Boreham-Knight set Cripps chasing through but Minter just got his head to the ball and divert it into touch for a throw-in, then a long clearance from Joyce found Rowe with Cripps again centrally placed to hit a cross-cum-shot wide of the goal and at the other end Gas won a throw-in, taken by Firkens with Rowe clearing.
On fifteen minutes West set Firkens away, cutting inside Rowe to force keeper, Joyce to save at the near post at the expense of a corner, taken by Dadds but headed firmly over the cross-bar by Willoughby, and Gas continued to make better progress against a well organised Coggeshall outfit. Taylor (L) and West started another attack with Firkens put through to force Joyce into another save, then Willoughby chased forward but Thomas put his frame in the way and the move faltered mid-half. Even after twenty minutes every decision was to count with both teams calling for every decision to be made in their favour, such was the early commitment, would not have expected anything else! Taylor (L) struck a long and low pass to Hewes but before he could control, keeper Joyce was quickly out to shield the ball out for a goal-kick. A well-timed tackle by Kabashi saw the ball played long to Davidson but keeper Morrison was also quickly out and the danger passed until Davidson got around Murray to cross to Cripps whose downward header fell kindly to MARLEY OKOSI who stepped inside Minter and with the rest of the Gas defence looking on, he beat Morrison at the near post and increase the visitors lead.
Just before the half-hour mark West was cautioned for a foul on Mensah then Minter crashed through the back of Cripps for a free-kick taken by Davidson with Cripps heading wide a break in play which enabled Gas to replace Murray with Dillon. Boreham-Knight put his head to the ball despite a high foot from Marangou and West had to defend as Cripps looked to capitalise on the high headed ball. Coggeshall still held the upper hand with a more controlled footballing display, Okosi and Mensah sent the ball long to Davidson who chested the ball down before shooting left footed, then finding he was, in any case, off-side. Morrison made a great save to deny Cripps whose follow up was blocked by West who was then fouled by Cripps. The pace of Davidson was still causing problems and when the ball found Cripps, West was on hand to clear, Boreham-Knight then found Davidson running clear, no off-side flag was shown but keeper, Morrison saved the day with an outstretched boot. At the other end Marangou took on Boreham-Knight with Dillon taking the resulting free-kick which was cleared by Akurang heading back to his keeper Joyce, again good defending. When Dadds set Willoughby up his first-time shot was cleared over his own cross-bar by Thomas, the corner was taken poorly by Dillon, more good defensive work by Soraf against the running of Willoughby set Okosi running clear across the half-way line until Braddon cynically scythed him down in front of the dug-out area to rightly receive the second caution of the match.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 2.
Gas re-started this match, Kabashi cleared long to Cripps who beat Braddon for pace with Morrison saving low to his right side and within minutes the competitive nature of this match surfaced again. Okosi played a long ball forward to Davidson who was caught off-side, Gas had changed their back four, moving Taylor (L) into a more forward position with Minter, Dadds and West playing with Dillon just in front. Okosi played the ball towards Cripps who fouled Dillon just as he was about to set up the next attack and it was Cripps who set Davidson away down the left side to return the ball to Cripps who stood on the ball when all he had to do was score and the chance went by as West cleared from the six-yard box. Firkens got past Soraf to find Willoughby whose lay off fell to Dillon who fired over but once again when the Gas attacked, the Coggeshall team regrouped to defend stoutly, led by Thomas, who was constantly talking to the younger players in his team. On fifty-five minutes, Boreham-Knight was injured in a heavy collision with Dillon with Dalziel replacing the central defender whilst Cripps was cautioned for an off-the-ball incident with West on the half-way line.
On sixty-minutes Gas replaced Willoughby with Cook and Cripps, perhaps tactically, was withdrawn and was replaced by Adeyemi, probably one of the tallest players in the league. The Gas defence was all over the place when Mensah chased forward to a wide position before delivering the ball into Akurang who having beaten two defenders lost his footing but just managed to toe-poke the ball out to Davidson who let fly with his left foot forcing keeper, Morrison into another flying save to tip the ball over the cross-bar. Undeterred, Gas pushed forward through Firkens who found Cook but this deep cross fell behind the goal, another effort followed when Dadds found Dillon whose long-range effort flew behind. Adeyemi strode through three challenges but when playing he ball too far ahead it allowed keeper, Morrison to thrash the ball into touch, a long ball from keeper, Joyce found Okosi who passed to Adeyemi, then Davidson but Dadds was on hand to block. Firkens was fouled by Akurang just wide of the penalty area, Dillon sent in the free-kick which was headed on by the unmarked Marangou, with Rowe heading out for a corner. From the corner taken by Dadds, Dillon was heavy into the challenge with Dalziel and we reached the last twenty-minutes, when keeper, Joyce miss-handled a cross by Marangou, out for a corner.
Keeper, Joyce again opted for a long clearance towards either Adeyemi or Akurang who found Okosi but keeper Morrison was alert and retrieved the ball to launch it long to Cook who found Hewes whose cross was narrowly too high for Taylor (L) at the far post. Gas had definitely, raised their game, Firkens took on Akurang sending over a cross towards Taylor (L) and when the ball fell at the feet of Marangou, he went over under a soft challenge from Thomas, nothing given but West was spoken too by the referee with captain Taylor (L) in attendance. Following yet another free-kick Dillon and Thomas squared up to each other, not sure what actually happened there but certain unpalatable accusations were made, leading to a stern talking too to both protagonists by the on-the-spot referee. When play resumed Okosi and Minter chased the ball down to the far corner flag, in the tussle that followed Minter was manhandled over the back of Okosi but Minter reacted by running up to Okosi from behind to place his hands around the Coggeshall players head. With the game stopped the referee started to talk to both players but back on the half-way line almost every other player, bar the goal-keepers were now involved in a mass brawl, I’ll use the word brawl because the pitch became more like a bar-room than a football pitch. Whilst I’m not sure who did what to whom, but the sight of a Coggeshall player retreating with three Gas players chasing towards him and with spectators and dug-out personnel getting involved from different quarters of the ground, the incident was a disgrace. That said the referee who would not have seen the start of the major incident was quickly on the spot and with the aid of the senior Assistant Referee made the call to dismiss Thomas of Coggeshall, this for a head-but on Dillon who was perhaps lucky to only be cautioned. With this unseemly incident resolved the referee went back to the Okosi/ Minter incident and issued two more yellow cards, spot-on good, refereeing.
There were still five minutes to play when Hewes, for Gas, was replaced by Taylor (R), Dadds sent a long ball forward towards Taylor (L) but Akurang now in central defence headed out for a corner, taken by Taylor (R) but headed over by Taylor (L). Dalziel sent a long ball forward to Adeyemi who used his long legs to get the better of Braddon but keeper, Morrison averted that late danger, or so we thought as in the ninety-second minute, a terrible mix-up in the Gas back-line left the ball in no-man’s land and a grateful CORREY DAVIDSON strode forward to curl the ball with the outside of his left foot past the advancing Morrison to give Coggeshall a deserved three goals to nil victory. What I was also impressed with was the fact that the Coggeshall Manager, Akurang, insisted on his young players going to shake the hands of their match day opposition, a refreshing change for spectators to witness this action.
FULL TIME: 0 – 3.
Now, how do you pick the bones out of this match, the match day build up was perhaps intense, with Gas winning by ten clear goals last weekend to improve their goal-difference, this was quickly pegged back as Coggeshall scored two first half goals and if I was honest, they could and should have scored more goals. Originally, this match was to be have been the last match, a title decider, but with the English weather getting involved and with Coggeshall winning by three clear goals, the fate of the Premier Division title will not be confirmed until at least Tuesday evening but more probably next Saturday. (12th May). There was some good attacking football, some robust defending by both teams in a match which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons but I re-iterate what I said earlier, I thought the officials did extremely well in trying circumstances and they got most of the crucial decisions right.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match choice, for Gas, keeper Morrison kept the score to three goals with some excellent other saves, as his team were outplayed by a young Coggeshall team, that does not happen very often, so credit to the visitors who had narrowly lost on penalties to the Gas in the Knock-Out Cup. For Coggeshall the defence, marshalled for eighty-five minutes by Thomas, until his fall from grace moment, Boreham-Knight until he got injured looked sharp after his horrible fractured leg, Mensah led the midfield effort with Kabashi and Davidson, Akurang used his experience to fight for every ball upfront alongside Cripps but for me Okosi was a continual thorn in the side of the Gas, yes he picked up a caution but through sheer persistence he laid on the first goal for Cripps and scored the all-important second himself mid-way through the first half.
GAS RECREATION FC: Colours: Red & Black Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Glen Morrison., Craig Minter., Jack Murray., Lee Braddon., Luke Taylor., Dean West., Liam Dadds., Reife Marangou., Harry Hewes., Harry Willoughby., Asten Firkens.
Manager: Simon Hayward.
Used Substitutes: Josh Dillon., Charley Cook., Ryan Taylor.
Unused Substitutes: John Bulmer., Calvin Firkins
COGGESHALL UNITED FC: Colours: Sky-Blue & Black Shirts, Sky-Blue Shorts and Sky-Blue Socks.
Daniel Joyce., Lewis Soraf., Dominic Rowe., Rigers Kabashi., Liam Thomas., Joseph Boreham-Knight., Marley Okosi., Abednego Mensah., Sam Cripps., Cliff Akurang., Correy Davidson.
Manager: Cliff Akurang.
Assistant Manager: Scott Hiskey.
Used Substitutes: Josh Dalziel., Tao Adeyemi.
Unused Substitutes: John Clark., Ricky Loveridge., Ben Madden
Referee: Stuart Franklin (?)
Assistants: Richard Oakes (Colchester)
and Neil Strachan (Witham)
Man of the Match: Marley OKOSI. (COGGESHALL UNITED FC)
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