ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
WHITE NOTLEY FC: 2 BRANTHAM ATHLETIC FC RESERVES: 1
Date: Saturday 16th September 2017. Venue: Oak Farm, White Notley
After a Division Three match last week I fancied another long trip, this time to Oak Farm, home of White Notley FC who were scheduled to play Brantham Athletic FC Reserves who like me were slightly delayed due to a road closure in Witham town centre. Parking spaces were at a premium owing to the home teams Veterans having a run out against their counterparts from Silver End and also in part due to a recent invasion of travellers which had forced the club to seal off access to further off-road parking.
As usual a warm welcome was afforded from Neil the Chairman, Jack, the Vice-Chairman and Scott the slightly subdued Manager. Why, subdued, well two players had been approached in mid-week to play elsewhere, yes it happens but there is a proper process to follow and I’m sure that more will be heard on that front. The Brantham team, under new Manager Paul Bertram, was a young outfit and two new players were signed on the day to add to those who followed him from Little Oakley and those who had moved across from Harwich & Parkeston at the start of the season.
The match officials were David Tregaskes, Keith Mitchell and Anthony Darke, the first two officials I had not seen officiate before, or at least so I thought until I realised that I was at Boarding School with Keith at the end of the 1960’s and we all had time to reminisce over a drink in the clubhouse afterwards.
And so to kick-off, White Notley would start proceedings playing up the slight slope and away from the clubhouse with Brantham defending to gain the first goal-kick and after a bright morning I was suddenly having to shelter due to the rain, Palmer was caught off-side from a pass from Dobrowolski and the home team pressed forward again soon after with young Brown (O) playing a poor back-pass that led to a corner. The pace of the game was fairly quick with both teams forwards prepared to chase down defenders looking to work the ball out of defence and Wood for Brantham tried his luck from outside the penalty area. White Notley were keen to play the ball wide to either Dobrowolski or Carter seeking to use their pace before delivering crosses into the penalty area and from one attack the cross from Dobrowolski was scuffed wide by Falco. Gregory fouled Pater and then Carter with Palmer catching Gregory soon after to earn a rebuke from the match official. In the meantime Brantham had gained confidence and after a three player exchange of passes a twenty-five shot from Cole (S) was comfortably held by keeper, Burton.
Twelve minutes into the match and Brantham were awarded a penalty kick, a cross from the right by Wood was seemingly clearing everybody, Dobrowolski stuck out a leg and Cole (S) was upended as they turned to chase after the ball, a decisive whistle was heard, penalty kick awarded and not one player complained! I’ve seen them given and I’ve seen them waved on, nevertheless JOSEPH KNIGHT stepped up to hammer the kick to the left of the keeper who made a decent effort to save, choosing the right direction but was beaten by the pace of the ball. Three minutes later and defender Cullen was guilty of an under-it back-pass which went out for a corner, taken short by Wood to Crissell whose first time curling effort was goal-bound until Cullen redeemed the situation with a headed clearance almost off the goal-line. Brantham were now playing some good football, buoyed by their one goal advantage and White Notley continued with their attempts to use the width of the pitch but invariably over-hitting the long or cross-field pass. A long clearance from Felgate was chased down by Cole (S) with Duckworth defending well but his long ball forward towards Dobrowolski left the winger too much to do and he gave up the chase with a goal-kick following.
As we reached the mid-way point of the first half, a feature of this game, at least to me was that the referee was always talking to the players from goal-kicks, free-kicks and corners where challenges can be difficult if poorly timed. A shot from Wood flew wide, Lodge for the home team almost over-played the ball out of defence, losing the ball and conceding a free-kick inside the centre-circle and from the free-kick taken by Knight, Gregory was climbing all over Cullen for another free-kick. Pater linked up with Dobrowolski who crossed from the right side but Felgate held the high cross on the six yard line, another move involving Duckworth, Pater and Palmer led to a foul on Knight just outside his own penalty area, whilst Brown (O) put in a great tackle on Dobrowolski, just as he was going to race away down the left wing. Cullen, for a tall defender showed some nifty footwork after being given a poor pass by Cole (R) but came away with the ball until he lost out to Crissell on the half-way line.
With thirty minutes gone, Duckworth was left standing as Smith raced past him to find Sykes with a pass inside the defensive line but the Brantham player failed to control the ball and a decent chance slipped away leading to a home attack through Carter whose cross was held by Felgate but from his poor clearance Falco almost pounced with the keeper atoning for his error by parrying he low shot with Baxter clearing up-field. A shot from Dobrowolski failed to trouble Felgate whose team were holding the ball up well and at this point looked comfortable as well as being one goal ahead. Palmer sprayed the ball wide to Carter with Brown (O) making another excellent tackle and Felgate cleared to Crissell who was buzzing round in mid-field and driving his team forward. The final action of the half saw a cross from Carter hit Palmer who was clearly not expecting the ball to reach him and by the time he reacted the danger had been cleared by Baxter.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 1
With the rain having left its mark, the sun was out for the second half restart with Brantham kicking off and continuing with their first half game plan, however, when Cullen found Dobrowolski down the right side he cut inside to play the ball to Palmer whose shot was saved at the expense of a corner by Felgate. Carter took the corner, floated into the six yard box, Felgate rose under a challenge attempting to palm the ball away but LEE CULLEN stole in to head home from close range with the visitors asking for, but not getting a foul on the keeper. Brantham replaced Howard with Selwyn who almost got into the action running onto a pass from Crissell but placing the ball wide of the goal. Keeper Burton made a fine stop at his near post from a corner and then produced another excellent save from Sykes whose shot on the turn was goal-bound until the keeper dived to his left to push the ball away, a ball he must have seen late in proceedings! Palmer, who had already been spoken too in the first half, was lucky not to receive a caution for a needless foul on Crissell and his team again tried to release either winger without success. A break by Dobrowolski should have ended with a pass inside where Palmer and Falco waited but he chose to go it alone and blazed wide of the goal. Cullen won a big challenge against Cole (S) and got the ball forward to Carter whose cross was met by the head of Pater but he steered the ball just over the cross-bar.
By the hour mark, I thought the game had lost a bit of impetus, neither team was creating as before but surely it was too soon to play for a draw which at this point would have been a affair result, both teams having cancelled each other out. Lodge rolled back the years with some close control and footwork to bring the ball out of defence but the final ball forward failed to reach a colleague and when play stopped White Notley replaced Botting with Collier. Another floated corner from Carter caused problems, the ball struck a defenders hand, too close to be deliberate and play continued, with the next corner being fielded by Felgate, again under pressure from Cullen. Smith fed Cole (S) who won a corner off Pater who had tracked back to just nick the ball off the toes of Sykes who probably would have scored, good defending though. Defender Brown (O) chased back to deny any chance of a cross by Carter and suddenly more decisions were being contested if it was felt they had been awarded to the wrong team.
With fifteen minutes remaining Burton made another fine save, diving full length to his left, to deny Sykes and a great run by Crissell was stopped by a fine tackle by Lodge whereupon White Notley replaced Palmer with Chinery and Cullen fouled Crissell on the edge of the penalty area allowing a chance for Selwyn whose left footed free-kick cleared the defensive wall and cross-bar. With ten minutes remaining White Notley took the lead, a missed opportunity to clear by Knight, up to that point he had not put a foot wrong, saw the ball reach Chinery who passed inside to Collier who with the goal at his mercy, crashed the ball, left-footed against the cross-bar, from where KANE DOBROWOLSKI swept the ball home despite the attempt by Wood to block the ball. Brantham continued to press forward with Wood getting a corner off Lodge but White Notley strung another five man move together to reach the other end with Collier flashing the ball just wide. Brantham replaced Sykes with Brown (D) and Cullen was adjudged to have handled the ball at the feet of Crissell as he fell to the ground, another free-kick, this time taken by Cole (S) with Cullen diverting the shot for a corner. Keeper Burton, confidently caught the ball from the corner and from his clearance Brantham played the ball into the penalty area, a big shout for handball went out, neither the unsighted referee nor his assistant saw anything and play was waved on until Knight persisted and was duly cautioned for dissent, a shame really as he had played well in defence.
FULL TIME: 2 – 1.
So another entertaining game which was a close affair, a draw probably would have been the fairest result with Brantham being the better team in the first half with White Notley getting back on terms soon after the second half restart and only a defensive error opened the door for the winning goal, it’s all about margins, margins of error will be punished whereas margins of luck will be accepted and so the home team capitalised.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, this was a young Brantham team, Wood played his part covering much of the pitch, Brown (O) for a sixteen year old looks a good prospect, skipper Knight played well, one mistake and a caution spoilt his day perhaps, Gregory and Crissell worked tirelessly in midfield and Sykes was twice denied by excellent saves. For White Notley, keeper Burton made three outstanding saves, Cullen and Lodge looked solid in defence, Pater and Dobrowolski linked up well and Falco, Palmer and Carter worked hard but will soon have to find the net with those other players having moved on! Anyway, I agreed with Manager Scott Hiskey that Lee Cullen was the Player of the Match, some excellent defensive work a goal-line clearance and the headed equaliser was enough to sway my choice.
WHITE NOTLEY FC: Colours: Amber Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Anthony Burton., Robert Cole., James Duckworth (C)., Lee Cullen, Scott Lodge., Bartosz Pater., Kane Dobrowolski., Jonathan Botting., Charles Palmer., Peter Falco., Corey Carter.
Manager: Scott Hiskey.
Used Substitutes: Aaron Chinery., Aaron Collier.
Unused Substitutes: Scott Hiskey., Matthew Mayes., Dylan Murphy.
BRANTHAM ATHLETIC FC RESERVES: Colours: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Sam Felgate., Ashley Wood., Oliver Brown., Joseph Knight (C)., Jamie Baxter., Alfred Smith., James Gregory., James Crissell., George Sykes., Kieran Howard., Samuel Cole.
Manager: Paul Bertram.
Used Substitutes: Daniel Brown., Franky Selwyn.
Unused Substitutes: Andrew Brown., Jay Eggerichs.
Referee: David Tregaskes (Chelmsford).
Assistant Referee’s: Keith Mitchell (Cold Norton).
and Anthony Darke (Bicknacre).
Man of the Match: Lee CULLEN (WHITE NOTLEY FC)
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