ANDREAS CARTER ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
CONNAUGHT RED STAR FC: 2.
BELLE VUE SOCIAL FC: 2.
Date: Saturday 11th February 2017. Venue: Fords Lane, Mile End, Colchester
Another cold afternoon in prospect as I made my way over to Langham, only to find the car park and playing area corralled by The Caravan Clubs camping weekend, a couple of phone calls later and I was on my way back to Mile End to watch the top of table Division Three clash between Connaught Red Star FC and Belle Vue Social FC. Both teams had progressed through from the Colchester and East Essex Football League and have acquitted themselves well in the ESBFL. With both teams knowing each other well from past seasons I was expecting a close game and in the end I wasn’t disappointed as they fought out a competitive draw.
The match official for this Division Three game would be Neil Strachan, an official I had not met before and with my late arrival I had little chance to talk to him before kick-off other than to pass pleasantries and wish him well during the game.
Belle Vue kicked off and a foul by Isom on Oughton stopped a smart start by the away team, Weir earned and took the first corner for Belle Vue with home keeper Smith punching clear for a throw-in and Weir followed up with the first shot at goal which Smith held low down. Connaught stirred themselves, to get two corners in quick succession themselves, the first off Hazlewood from a shot by Isom but the game was already seeing too many free-kicks being awarded for petty fouls as each team looked to dominate proceedings. On fifteen minutes a poor kicked clearance from Smith fell at the feet of Weir whose immediate goal-bound shot was pushed wide by Smith with Taylor completing the clearance. A minute later and Connaught took the lead when Belle Vue failed to clear a corner kick and CRAIG ISOM standing right on the edge of the penalty area lifted the ball over everyone in front of him and into the roof of the net. Within another minute the home team were two goals ahead when Hazlewood fouled Howe inside the penalty area with DANIEL TROY scoring with ease past Eles who had committed himself to diving the other way to where the ball finished.
A poor challenge by Isom on Hazlewood raised the tempo of the game but Weir for Belle Vue showed his defender a clean pair of heels to cross to Oughton who blasted the cross over the cross-bar, and a decent chance goes begging! Lewis (M)(BV) dived unfairly into a tackle on Howe just as he was about to run towards goal and was perhaps lucky not to be cautioned but tackles remained fierce and competitive giving the match official plenty to deal with. A short corner taken by Weir to Ennew, then played back to Weir led to a poor cross and with twenty-five minutes gone Isom set Hammond through on goal with Debenham diverting the ball away, with Eles having to dive backwards to scoop the ball away before it crossed the goal-line, a close call from desperate defending as Connaught pushed forward. Russell dived into a needless challenge on Hammond blaming the pitch conditions with Brand blasting the free-kick over the cross-bar but conditions were not good for flowing football.
Smith advanced to stop Oughton then Russell ran through two midfield challenges to set Sowden away but having drawn Smith off his goal-line ran the ball out of play for a goal-kick. Belle Vue had picked up the pace themselves and Oughton fed Sowden who was stopped by the huge frame of Smith who came racing out to smother the ball. When Weir played Sowden through he clipped the heels of defender Troy who fell over allowing Sowden to run past Smith and score, or so he thought, as the referee had already blown for the earlier infringement. Another direct run by Weir saw him beat two defenders before forcing Smith into a fine save, parrying the ball, with the attempted clearance by Lewis (M)(CRS) ricocheting off the back of Hughes to his keeper. As we approached half-time the count of fouls for and against each team was mounting steadily, the sleet was still falling and Eles kept his hands warm when making a fine save to deny Howe as Connaught finished strongly
HALF-TIME: 2 – 0
I was not totally sure whose team the occupants of the car that parked itself near to the pitch were supporting suffice to say that the Groundsman has the registration number as at no time should vehicles be allowed near a pitch or between pitches where matches were taking place, so be warned. Connaught restarted the second half with Cole looking more dangerous than during the first period of play, his robust demeanour and direct running could give Belle Vue a few things to think about and from his first, second half chance he hit the side netting. Belle Vue reduced the deficit on fifty two minutes when the persistence of Ennew, wide on the right wing saw his low cross turned home by STUART RUSSELL. With their tails up Belle Vue pushed forward again through Weir and from his low cross Oughton forced a decent save on the goal-line by Smith then Belle Vue had another chance when Connaught failed to properly clear the ball from inside the penalty area.
Cole was holding the ball up well for Connaught waiting for support from his team mates but Belle Vue bided their time to regain possession and push the ball forward to Weir who narrowly avoided a pincher movement involving Thurston and Cole, only his nimble feet saw him avoid a potentially dangerous tackle and whilst keeping possession he swung the ball wide to Lewis (M)(BV) whose cross was met by the head of Sainsbury with Smith catching. Belle Vue sensed a chance to equalise during this spell and sure enough it arrived on the hour mark, when JAMIE ENNEW turned the ball home from a cross by Sowden, no more than Belle Vue deserved at this stage with half an hour to go. Belle Vue replaced Sowden with Woods and Weir continued his direct running at a retreating Connaught defence who continued to concede free-kicks. Talking of free-kicks, the one given against Hazlewood for putting Cole in a head-lock as they ran down the left wing takes some beating, a certain caution followed though!
On sixty-seven minutes Thorndike replaced Sowden and in his first piece of action he dived one footed into a challenge with Hazlewood, both players appeared to get up and shake hands but other players got themselves involved with Russell receiving his marching orders for a blatant kick on a Connaught player and perhaps another Connaught player was lucky not to join him on the touch-line but the referee had to make a judgement call on what he and only he saw evolve. Weir continued his one man crusade in attack getting the ball wide to Martyr whose pass inside to Hazlewood but his deep cross was just a fraction too high for Ennew to reach. On seventy minutes Connaught thought they had been awarded a penalty, the referee did appear to point to the spot as when Hazlewood shaped to tackle Cole, his shot cannoned off Hazlewood to hit Cole and go out of play with Cole falling to the ground having been felled by the follow through momentum of Hazlewood, but after a short delay to treat the injured player, the referee took advice from the club linesman who, like me, saw it as a goal-kick.
Connaught replaced Hammond with Turnbull with twelve minutes remaining, Isom saw his drifting effort land on top of the goal net after an error by Hazlewood who had tried to dribble out of his own area, beating two players but not Isom who collected the ball, looked up and watched in agony as his effort just crept over the goal. Both teams kept up the yo-yo pattern of play towards each end, Weir had been central to most Belle Vue attacks and until a late handball by Lewis (M)(BV) on the edge of the penalty area which was cleared for a corner with Eles excelling to tip over the effort from Cole from the final corner taken by Turnbull.
FULL TIME: 2 – 2
Overall a very competitive game, both teams, who clearly know each other well, strived to get the better of the other, Connaught, two quick goals ahead failed to capitalise on further first half chances and the longer the game carried on then Belle Vue would seek goals themselves and they fully deserved a point. It was also refreshing to see the dismissed Belle Vue player apologise to the referee after the game, nice touch, but a three match ban will still follow!
Now for my Man-of-the-Match choice, the midfield was a very busy area, defences seemed to cope with any pressure apart from the goals and both keepers made telling saves in both halves. For Connaught, Hughes played well as did Isom, Howe and Cole whereas for Belle Vue, Hazlewood never shirked a challenge by fair or foul means, Ennew prompted as usual with Oughton and Sowden prominent later in the game but for me Weir was the catalyst, good feet and pace to worry most defence and most attacks stemmed from his ability to spread the ball around to colleagues.
CONNAUGHT RED STAR FC: Colours: Red Shirts, Black Shorts and Red & White Hooped Socks.
Robert Smith., Nathan Taylor., Alex Brand., Craig Isom., Wayne Hughes., Michael Lewis., Jack Thurston., Daniel Troy., Will Howe., Keith Hammond., Steven Cole.
Managers: Craig Isom & Michael Lewis.
Used Substitutes: Dominic Turnbull.
Unused Substitutes: Sam Walker., Andrew Broome.
BELLE VUE SOCIAL FC: Colours: Blue & White Striped Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Kane Eles., Will Sainsbury., Michael Lewis., Ryan Debenham (C)., Shaun Hazlewood., Ryan Martyr., Jamie Ennew., Stuart Russell., Connor Oughton., David Weir., Jason Sowden.
Manager: Jamie Ennew & Jack Thorndike.
Used Substitutes: Daniel Woods., Jack Thorndike.
Unused Substitutes: Jack Mitchell., Wesley Henry.
Referee: Neil Strachan (Witham)
Man of the Match: David WEIR (BELLE VUE SOCIAL FC)
Request to Club / Fixture Secretaries
This season the fixtures, results, referees and “kick-off” times will be shown automatically on “The FA Full-Time / The Whole Game System” ( http://full-time.thefa.com ) but would all Club / Fixture Secretaries please advice any agreed changes, as required, to Alison Willmore ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) especially for evening games and for those matches being played under floodlights etc.
KO is 2:30pm in: February
KO is 3:00pm from: March to end of season
Kick-Off times for ESBFL cup matches, are generally 30 minutes earlier than those shown above but check competition rules beforehand.
Kick-Off times for Essex County Football Association cup matches are published on the ECFA web-site.
The web-site for the Essex & Suffolk Border Football League is: www.esblfootball.com