ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
HOLLAND FC RESERVES: 1. TIPTREE PARK FC: 6.
Date: Saturday 31st March 2018. Venue: Eastcliff Stadium, Holland-on-sea.
To coin a phrase from an old “Supertramp” song, “It’s raining again”, but let’s spare a thought for the ESBFL Fixture Secretary, who having lost all fixtures on two recent Saturdays in March due to the snow was now faced with another decimated weekend without many matches due to the persistent rain. Although I had previously decided to travel down to the coast to watch this match I kept my options open during the morning as matches were postponed at regular intervals with only half, eight, of the scheduled matches, sixteen, actually played, of which, two were postponed because clubs could not raise a team, so who is up for a mid-week match in April!
For this Division One match the appointed official was Paul Beard and I felt he had a very good match dealing with dissent as all referees should, seems that week-on-week players do not learn to curb their tongues, so more pounds to the bulging coffers of ECFA. Holland FC Reserves have had a topsy-turvy season, the club, dropped its “A” team early on but gained a number of experienced players when Weeley Athletic FC folded however player availability and commitment, like for many clubs, has been a problem. The home club under the supervision of Manager, Calvin Allen had forked the pitch on the morning of this match thus ensuring a match got played, so well done, I wonder if that happened everywhere else! Tiptree Park FC under the management of player, Michael Runicles have been in the top four all season and have put together a competitive squad although for this match they had regular players missing as evidenced with their usual keeper playing on the field.
Holland kicked off and in an open start McLean tried to worm his way through the visitors defence only to be fouled by Quinney with Lacey striking the free-kick high and wide, then Rogers fouled Lacey just as he was about to make ground through midfield. A long and high ball from Reynolds gave Goodyear a chance to chase and harass the home defence with his deft header hitting the side netting with keeper Allen covering his near post, then a driven cross from Runicles was parried by a flying save by Allen with Lacey clearing the loose ball. McLean chased a long ball out of defence for Holland with Rogers (T) conceding a corner, a corner which Tiptree defended before setting Runicles away but his eventual cross fell behind both Rogers (C) and Goodyear, allowing last defender Holloway (A) to clear. Twelve minutes in and the verbal noise level was raised as decisions were not forthcoming for the visitors who were also getting frustrated as their attacking play broke down with that final pass. Mclean, the lone home forward chased another long ball with Findlay up in support to gain a corner off McKay, taken by Taylor but straight behind for a goal-kick, then a mistake by Reynolds almost let in Hartley who shot over the cross-bar from outside the penalty area. Goodyear was caught off-side from a pass from midfield by Quinney then Runicles gave chase to another ball pumped forward, keeper Allen elected to advance outside his penalty area to head clear, catching Runicles in his follow through, and with no free-kick awarded nor warranted as the keeper played the ball, both Runicles and captain Rogers (C) being cautioned for dissent.
On twenty minutes Rogers (C) and Runicles chased a ball from Preece leading to a corner off Findlay, taken by Reynolds towards Goodyear whose firm goalwards header was thwarted by an excellent save by Allen. Goodyear then played a ball forward for Reynolds to chase, just failing to reach the ball as it crossed the goal-line for a goal-kick. Henshaw for Holland drove forward against McKay to cross into the penalty area where Preece headed clear for a throw-in take by Mallett to Hartley who shot wide at the near post. Defender, Keep made a fine block against Rogers (C) and on twenty-five minutes Tiptree replaced McKay with Driver but kept up their attacking momentum with Runicles finding Firth who on two occasions failed to make decent contact with the ball inside the six-yard box allowing Lacey to clear for a corner. Reynolds took the corner and keeper, Allen punched clear despite the imposing presence of Goodyear with Westley completing the clearance with Rogers (T) cautioned for some un-necessary remarks towards the match official!
With two-thirds of the first half completed, Driver found Runicles but keeper, Allen saved smartly and clear to Henshaw who was eventually tackled by Aves, chasing back to defend, then McLean out-smarted Quinney only to find Hartley in an off-side position. A direct free-kick, taken by Rogers (C) only found the safe arms of Allen but the visitor’s pressure remained with Holland having to defend for long spells. A shot from Firth was punched clear by Allen and Reynolds and Quinney combined to stop McLean just as he was about to burst through with Westley defending well against the lively Goodyear, who seemed to be troubled by an injury. When a ball from Mallett was intercepted by Driver the forward pass found Goodyear in space but keeper, Allen was equal to the shot making another fine save and the visitor’s frustration continued when Driver found Reynolds only for Allen to save on his goal-line.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 0.
At the second-half restart, Holland replaced defender Holloway (A) with Aldred and Tiptree replaced the injured Goodyear with Gregory and it was the visitors who kicked-off but Quinney conceded a corner, taken by Taylor to Findlay with Driver clearing just as Hartley was about to back-heel the ball goal-wards. Holland were, so far, sticking to their task, mainly defending but perhaps it would be only a matter of time before a goal was scored. Westley fed Henshaw but Rogers (T) cleared for a throw-in, taken by Mallett to Hartley who forced keeper Seeley to save, in fact this was Holland’s first shot on target. At the other end keeper, Allen advanced to stop Runicles who then thought he should have had a penalty kick awarded when Lacey challenged but the forward was adjudged to have gone to ground too easily, tough call for an official but I thought he got it right. A long throw-in by Reynolds was headed clear by Findlay, however, the next throw-in taken by Gregory found the unmarked CALLUM ROGERS who ran through to open the scoring for the visitors. Rogers (C) was then rather fortunate not to receive a second yellow card when he fairly took out the keeper with a rash challenge inside the penalty area, a verbal lecture was given instead.
Ten minutes into this half and keeper, Allen was again running outside his penalty area to chest down a forward ball with Runicles in attendance, Tiptree thought it was handball and voiced their opinions once again, yes, it was a close call but no deliberate intent to handle the ball outside the penalty area by the over-worked custodian. On the hour mark Holland replaced Taylor with Holloway (H) and the rain which started just before half-time still falling, the pitch was becoming very slippery with players losing their feet. A minute later and Allen denied Driver saving his low drive angled towards the right hand post and when Holland got forward Preece showed some nice touches for a big player, a piece of action that was followed by a careless challenge by Reynolds on Holloway (H). From my angle I thought, penalty, rash and higher than necessary, no ball contact either however, the referee, from a different and more important angle judged the home player to have pre-empted the challenge and hurdled the defending player despite minimal contact. When Driver found space on the right side, his driven cross was met on the full by Runicles whose effort cannoned off Lacey but Allen excelled once again with a reflex save on the goal-line.
Tiptree Park kept up the pressure and Reynolds cut in from the left side to cross, or was it a shot, in any case the ball flew harmlessly over the cross-bar, and then at the other end McLean ran through a dithering Tiptree defence but keeper Seeley made a fine save to deny the home team an equaliser, then when play switched quickly, Allen advanced to retrieve the ball off the feet of Driver. With twenty minutes remaining Holland scored an equaliser, a good move as well for when Findlay laid the ball forward to McLean he eluded a heavy tackle to find BENJAMIN HARTLEY who scored, firing past the keeper. Holland replaced substitute Aldred with Gilbert whose shock of curly hair is reminiscent of his father whom I played against many times back in the seventies! A run and cross from Rogers (C) was headed goalwards by Runicles until Allen produced another fantastic save with the parried ball cleared for a corner which Findlay headed clear. A rare shot from Quinney was saved by Allen but somehow Rogers (C) failed to capitalise on the loose ball and missed the open goal, and when Holland broke forward Reynolds dived into another rash challenge, no contact was made, just as well as A&E might have had a visitor, queue more verbal’s but a deserved caution for Reynolds.
As is fairly obvious so far, Tiptree Park had failed to capitalise from their numerous chances and had also been thwarted by a fine goal-keeping exhibition by Allen, however when he made his only error of judgement in the game, running out to kick the ball clear he missed the ball completely allowing CALLUM ROGERS the easiest of goal scoring chances. Did Holland heads drop, possibly, as from the next free-kick, awarded for a foul by Lacey on Runicles, just beyond the edge of the penalty area, TYLER ROGERS stroked home a fine left-footed free-kick over the defensive wall and before the home defence could get organised. Another goal followed when Rogers (C) played in CARL DRIVER who fairly relished smashing the ball home and MICHAEL RUNICLES scored his team’s fifth when running through a static defence to beat the advancing goal-keeper. Tiptree Park were not finished and despite Lacey cutting out a fine pass from Rogers (T) towards Aves it was left to BENJY FIRTH to score the final goal running through a retreating defence, making it five goals in the last twenty minutes.
FULL TIME: 1 – 6.
If its goals you want then it appears that if you follow me to my matches then you won’t be disappointed, eleven goals last week and seven this week, a manager’s nightmare perhaps as the art of defending is forgotten or is there a real gulf between some teams. In this match Tiptree Park always looked likely to score but Holland’s relatively young team defended well for long periods before seemingly capitulating, if I have a gripe its player dissent towards the match official, please cut it out, remember this pitch is on a public playing field and but for the foul weather on a Bank Holiday Saturday might well have been full of children!
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, no question, no debate, I’m not even going to mention anybody else except Harry Allen the seventeen year old goal-keeper for Holland FC Reserves who despite being beaten six times made save after save to keep his team in this match.
HOLLAND FC RESERVES: Colours: Orange Shirts, Orange Shorts and Orange Socks.
Harry Allen., Jordan Mallett., Adam Keep., Ashley Lacey., Alfie Holloway., Daniel Findlay (C)., Ben Westley., Alfie Taylor., Russell McLean., Benjamin Hartley., Liam Henshaw.
Manager: Calvin Allen.
Assistant Manager: Richard Downes.
Used Substitutes: Harry Holloway., Kenny Aldred., Danny Gilbert.
TIPTREE PARK FC: Colours: Green & White Shirts, White Shorts and White Socks.
Ryan Seeley., Ben Reynolds., Cailan McKay., Tyler Rogers., Jamie Preece., David Quinney., Benjy Firth., Callum Rogers (C)., Michael Runicles., Shane Goodyear., Elliot Aves.
Player Manager: Michael Runicles
Used Substitutes: Matthew Gregory., Carl Driver.
Unused Substitutes: Ryan Higgleton.
Referee: Paul Beard (Elmstead Market)
Man of the Match: Harry ALLEN (HOLLAND FC RESERVES)
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