ANDREAS CARTER ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
LITTLE OAKLEY FC: 1.
HARWICH & PARKESTON FC: 0.
Date: Saturday 25th March 2017. Venue: War Memorial Ground, Little Oakley.
When I arrived at the War Memorial Ground at Little Oakley I was directed to the overflow car-park as a large crowd was expected for this end of season local derby. Whilst walking across to the clubhouse I must say that I was impressed by the standard of the pitch at this late stage of the season, it’s a real credit to the grounds man. In addition, Little Oakley, in their quest for Step 6 football next season, have erected fencing around the pitch perimeter, a concrete hard standing along two sides, new dug-outs, a ticket office and a stand to accommodate fifty people, with plans in the pipeline for floodlights to be erected in the near future.
Back on New Year’s Eve, a very large crowd had witnessed the village side prevail by two goals to nil away at The Royal Oak, so this eagerly awaited contest was going to attract a large crowd as well, as the visitors have put together a five game run of victories, have definitely improved since that last game and they too have designs on Step 6 football in the future. At the start of play Little Oakley FC topped the table by five points from Gas Recreation FC who have a game in hand but after this game the home team have just one league game remaining so a victory would certainly help consolidate their league position whereas the young Harwich team sit in sixth place with only one team able to overhaul them should they lose this derby match.
The Referee for this Premier Division match was Stuart Hannam who on a glorious spring afternoon would be assisted by George Sleigh and Maison Urwin and the “Respect” handshake was carried out as an expectant crowd settled down to watch.
Geen for Harwich started proceeding as his team kicked off towards the clubhouse end and when their first attack down the left side broke down a long ball forward from Kioussis (S) fell to Parkes, a recent transferee from Brantham Athletic, and from his pass to Eldridge (S) the lay-back fell into the path of Kioussis (S) who had got forward to support the attack with his rising shot taking a deflection en-route. Kioussis (J) took the corner-kick curling the ball into the danger area to find the head of Hammond (B) whose header fell into the arms of keeper, Felgate. After six minutes a clever ball inside by Mathurin fell to Palmer who slipped the ball wide of the keeper whose forward momentum took him into a collision course with Palmer. After consulting his Assistant Referee the Referee awarded a penalty kick but the well-struck left footed spot-kick taken by Kioussis (J) was superbly saved by Felgate diving at full-stretch to his left side. Harwich moved forward after this early let-off and a free-kick taken by Gibbons was headed clear by Wood (L) led to another chase down the field by (S) who was tackled by the recovering Westley. Even before the ten minute mark there had been a number of fouls, from both teams, as each tried to gain an advantage with the home team looking marginally the better team when going forward.
A foul by Wood (L) on Geen led to the number nine’s free-kick being fielded by Tynan (L) and play resumed to midfield where much of the early game had been played with Little Oakley trying to spring forward when the ball was played wide. Murray fouled Parkes and from the quickly taken free-kick Eldridge (S), Parkes and Mathurin linked up well across the pitch until Lamb stuck out a leg to stop the final pass reaching Parkes who had found some space. Another corner, from Kioussis (J) found Wood (L) but the header lacked any direction leading to a goal-kick and then from a driven corner by Kioussis (S), Wood (L) headed down towards Felgate and with Harwich losing possession on the half-way line Eldridge (S) chased forward to cross to Kioussis (S) who blasted the ball over the cross-bar from twenty-five yards out. By now, half an hour had elapsed and my notes were somewhat short of describing the action that I would normally report on, such was the lack of positive attacking football and where the relative midfield players had basically cancelled each other out with keeper Tynan (L) having had very little to do so far.
Geen lost out to Kioussis (S) whose forward ball fell to Parkes but Lamb got the better of the smaller player when shielding the ball out for a goal-kick from which Geen controlled the ball on the half-way line, turned and ran towards the Little Oakley goal only to be brought to the ground by a tackle from behind by Polley which saw the first caution of the game issued. Geen took the kick himself, chipping the ball forward to Thompson who turned to shoot goalwards but Kioussis (J) covered the near post and conceded a corner. Kioussis (J) cleared the corner to Parkes who set off at pace with Westley just managing to steer the ball back to Felgate who kicked clear. Another corner from Kioussis (S) found the head of Wood (L) positioned beyond the far post but Hammond (B) only managed to head the return ball over the cross-bar and the final action of the half saw a Geen free-kick put Thompson clear until Kioussis (S) got across to cover. As the players left the field for half-time I noticed that a fair crowd had gathered along the touch-line backing onto the gardens with another stretch behind the goal where the packed looked full, however most people probably thought that despite little goal-mouth action the home team should have been ahead not only from the missed penalty but on the general balance of play so far.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 0
Parkes for the home team started proceeding for the second half, his team need to step up their approach if they are to win this crucial game whilst Harwich needed to improve after being under the most pressure in the first forty-five minutes. A cross from Kioussis (J) was punched clear by Felgate with Mathurin rising to challenge the keeper and Parkes was injured when tackled by Munson and Lamb tackled Mathurin to concede a throw-in. Eldridge (S) was the next to try a shot with Lamb again blocking for a throw-in and a long free-kick from Kioussis (S) was driven too hard for Hammond to capitalise from whilst Munson put in a pass to Gibbons whose return cross was cooly headed back to his keeper, Tynan (L) by Wood (L). Another cross from Gibbons was blocked by Wood (L) with Munson over-hitting the return ball from the left side, Parkes who had returned to the field made a run down the right side to earn a corner off Murray. Kioussis (S) got down the right side to reach a pass from Polley, this from Harmon and his flighted cross fell to Eldridge (S) standing less than six yards out but he failed to control the ball with the goal at his mercy and the best chance of the game so far was missed with Eldridge (B) clearing.
With ten minutes of the second half played the game was still a bit disjointed, certainly there was a lot at stake for both teams if only local bragging rights. Mathurin put Eldridge (S) away down the left side only for his shot to fly straight at Felgate with Lamb, for Harwich, being injured in the build up play, which required lengthy treatment. Geen continued to play almost a lone role up front for Harwich and when he held play up he laid the ball wide to Munson whose cross was headed back by Kioussis (S) to keeper, Tynan (L). Little Oakley also continued to push and Palmer was caught off-side to a ball played in by Polley, Richardson then fouled Palmer and from a break by Westley, Kioussis (S) got back to clear the danger. Best chance so far for Harwich fell to Gibbons from a sideways pass by Barnard, but the shot was snatched and flew well wide despite Gibbons being inside the penalty area. Geen surprised Hammond (B) with his pace down the right side and only the timely advance of Tynan (L) in a one-on-one situation kept the home goal intact.
Both teams made substitutions after sixty-six minutes, Parkes was replaced by Pratt for Little Oakley whilst Harwich brought on Wood (A) for Gibbons, and whether these changes were relevant it was Harwich who had another glorious chance when Westley won a tackle and played the ball inside to Barnard whose forward run and rising shot from the edge of the penalty area clipped the cross-bar and flew over, so close! Polley was injured, was forced to leave the field of play and already the injury time minutes were accumulating but when play continued Geen crossed from the left side with Thompson just thwarted by keeper Tynan (L) who took the ball off the players toes. Kioussis (J) whose passing at times is a joy to watch, played a long ball forward to Mathurin whose forward momentum was checked by Lamb, the immovable defender, and as the ball ran loose Kioussis (S) fouled Westley. A long ball forward from Murray towards Geen forced Tynan (L) to hurry his ball collection but Little Oakley persisted in trying to walk the ball through a stubborn defence with Lamb and Murray well organised both in the air and on the ground.
A close range snap-shot from ten yards out, by Palmer, this from a pass by Harmon, was caught on his goal-line by Felgate and from his long clearance Wood (L) was forced to concede a corner as Geen gave chase. This game still lacked that killer goal, something brilliant or a defensive error and to be fair a draw was looking likely with ten minutes remaining. Mathurin chased a long ball through but Felgate was equal to it, blocking the ball with captain, Murray finalising the clearance and his team had definitely improved as the second half had progressed. Once again, Geen held off his defender to find Barnard but his shot was wide of the goal and at the other end Palmer broke free on the left side but when turning inside he found Richardson blocking his path and the two players had words with Kioussis (J) and Eldridge (B) also standing up to each other forcing the referee to speak to all four players. A long free-kick from Kioussis (S) flew straight to Felgate who launched the ball, long towards Geen but Tynan (L) fielded on the edge of his area and five minutes of normal time remained when a wild shot from Thompson went out for a goal-kick close to the corner flag.
On eighty-eight minutes Hammond (M) replaced Barnard, Polley was fouled by Westley and from the quickly taken free-kick by Eldridge (S) a corner was forced off Murray. Kioussis (S) took the corner and Hammond (M) cleared and when play stopped Palmer was cautioned for persistent fouling after another run in with Richardson. Harmon shot over the cross-bar after being set up by Polley and Thompson just managed to get a foot to the ball before Kioussis (S) got his shot away. Right on normal full-time, Wood (A) won a tackle inside the centre circle driving forward before the proverbial rush of blood to the head saw his shot handsomely clear the crossbar and Palmer sent another drifting effort straight at Felgate. Little Oakley replaced Palmer with Tynan (P) on ninety-three minutes and then came the long awaited breakthrough, Kioussis (J) received the ball back along the by-line from Mathurin and with his cultured left foot he placed a pass right onto the toes of the unmarked SAM ELDRIDGE who had the simplest of tasks to turn and score from three yards out and the stand end erupted. In the ninety-seventh minute Little Oakley replaced Kioussis (S) with Kioussis (N) and he was on the field long enough to commit a foul but with the free-kick taken the referee blew for full-time.
FULL TIME: 1 – 0
Was it was close, yes., were players committed, yes., was there controversy, yes., a penalty, yes, but missed due to a fine save., cautions, yes and both fully deserved., was a draw a fairer result, yes., so for Little Oakley to steal the points in the final minutes was a cruel blow to Harwich & Parkeston FC who had defended well throughout, but one moment is all it takes and Eldridge (S) did not miss when it really counted.
Now for my Man-of-the-Match choice, a difficult one this week, personally only one player stood out and he was on the losing team, defender Oliver Lamb, slightly ungainly but strong and dependable when needed and he hardly put a defensive foot wrong all game.
In closing this week’s report I must show a concern on behalf of the ESBFL, that whilst passions will run high before, during and after local derby games the scenes at the end of this game have no place in football, enough said!
LITTLE OAKLEY FC: Colours: Blue & Black Striped Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Luke Tynan., Shaun Kioussis., Jacob Kioussis., Mark Palmer., Lewis Wood (C)., Ben Hammond., Stephen Polley., Rory Harmon., Harry Parkes., Sean Mathurin., Sam Eldridge.
Manager: Sean Tynan.
Assistant Manager: Paul Sadler.
Used Substitutes: Patrick Tynan., Robert Pratt., Nathan Kioussis.
Unused Substitutes: Tyler Sullivan.
HARWICH & PARKESTON FC: Colours: Black & White Striped Shirts, Red Shorts and Red Socks.
Sam Felgate., Billy Eldridge., Ryan Munson., Jake Richardson., Oliver Lamb., Michael Murray (C)., Sam Thompson., Bradley Westley., Luke Barnard., Matthew Geen., Andrew Gibbons.
Manager: Glen Eldridge.
Used Substitutes: Ashley Wood., Michael Hammond.
Unused Substitutes: Rhys Townend., Curtis Edwards., Ian Kershaw.
Referee: Stuart Hannam (Walton-on-the-Naze)
Assistant Referees: George Sleigh (West Bergholt)
and: Maison Urwin (Harwich)
Men of the Match: Oliver LAMB (HARWICH & PARKESTON 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 ( email@example.com ) especially for evening games and for those matches being played under floodlights etc.
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