THE FA INTER-LEAGUE CUP – ROUND 2
ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE: 5.
GUERNSEY COUNTY SENIOR LEAGUE: 0.
Date: Saturday 02nd December 2017. Venue: “The Crops”, Coggeshall Town FC.
At last, the long awaited FA Inter-League, Second Round cup tie against Guernsey County Senior League had arrived, I say long awaited as it was only a week after the victory against the “Somerset County League” on 30th September 2017 that the ESBFL learned of their next opponents. The first call was to Guernsey to ascertain if they would be flying over the day before or whether they would chance the weather and fly in and out on the same day, the later decision was made and on the day they arrived in plenty of time to acclimatise to the facilities at “The Crops” home of Coggeshall Town FC.
To host these matches is no mean feat and a co-ordinated effort swung into action almost immediately with Team Manager, Tony Armstrong suggesting at least three friendlies in order to access some new players that have become available this season. So a succession of friendlies against potentially testing opposition were arranged, with success coming against an FC Clacton XI., a Coggeshall Town FC XI and a Witham Town FC XI which culminated in a squad of twenty players up for consideration and given the way they had all performed in those friendlies probably gave the manager and his assistants plenty to think about for a final sixteen player squad for match day. Thanks to all those clubs who provided players or facilities for these matches and to the opposition clubs who hosted the later two evening games.
As this is a “Football Association” competition it is the FA who make the appointments of the match officials and after an initial hic-cup of having an assistant official appointed from near Gretna Green, a round trip of 618 miles, we settled on match referee, Jordan Marin (L4) who would be assisted by Nick Foster (L5) and Simon Dawson (L5) who were all affiliated to the Cambridgeshire County FA. Again, with the weather being unpredictable, with snow flurries on Thursday evening and a frost forecast these officials were likewise kept updated on any eventuality before kick-off.
Once again, the ESBFL team stepped out sporting their brand new playing kit, blue shirts with a white trim, Blue Shorts and Blue & White hooped socks with the goal-keepers both sporting a fluorescent orange kit and it was also pleasing to report that once again it was all returned after the match which was preceded by an exchange of pennants and the “Respect” handshake. Guernsey kicked off playing towards the clubhouse end, the skies were clear, the sun was warm and bright but low with the visitor’s keeper electing to wear a cap. The ESBFL put some early pressure on Guernsey leading to the first free-kick when Dobrowolski was fouled, Cant, took the free-kick finding the head of Soraf who found Dobrowolski whose shot flew safely to keeper, Riley. Guernsey struck back encouraged by a vociferous technical area which was soon matched by that of the ESBFL management as Bartosz pushed the ball forward to Loveridge who played in Fennell whose shot flew straight to Riley. On nine minutes the ESBFL took the lead, Bartosz fed Fennell who used his pace to skip round Graham and cross into the six yard box where SAM CRIPPS slotted home on the turn, a great start for the home team. For this game the ESBFL had the guile and pace of both Dobrowolski and Fennell down the wings, with both Loveridge and Cripps down the middle looking to capitalise on crosses so the first goal was a text book move. Defender Larkin fouled Lodge with Loveridge chasing down the Guernsey defence to earn a throw-in off Strawbridge, from which Fennell won a corner which was cleared but only as far as the ESBL midfield who set the next move rolling forward.
A feature of this latest ESBFL team is their team spirit and willingness to support whenever defending or attacking so Fennell tracked back to concede a throw-in down by the corner flag which Lodge cleared from near the penalty spot. On seventeen minutes another Guernsey throw-in taken by Whitmore was headed clear by Soraf but only to Hall who drove a decent chance wide of the goal. Gregory tracked back to defend a break down the right by McKane with Soraf sweeping up the loose ball finding Loveridge who forward pass dissected the Guernsey defence to set Fennell through on goal but keeper Riley was quickly out to save with his feet. Guernsey had adopted a high defensive line which caught the ESBFL forwards off-side on two occasions after the earlier chance for Fennell. On twenty-four minutes Lodge found Bartosz in a forward right sided position but as soon as the ball left his foot the player keeled over in considerable pain, early diagnosis is a pulled hamstring but he could take no further part with Clarke an instant like-for-like replacement at full-back. Kabashi kept up the chasing of defenders trying to latch on to another cross from Fennell but a break from Whitmore saw his cross ricochet off Cant and loop into the air where Lodge and Whitmore vied for the ball leading to a stoppage due to an accidental head injury to Whitmore. On twenty eight minutes a throw-in on the half-way line from Clarke was headed on by Cripps and when the ball dropped behind the defensive line Loveridge scampered away to push the ball wide to KANE DOBROWOLSKI who steered the ball home from ten yards out, another clinical finish.
With their tails up, Fennell, for ESBFL stood over the ball, eyed up the gap between two defenders before cheekily threading the ball between them and racing round to reach the ball and send in a cross which was defended for a corner by Graham. On thirty-three minutes Guernsey pushed forward from the clearance and a shot from Hall was firstly parried by Felgate before the keeper recovered to snatch the ball away from Murray. A minute later and the ESBFL scored again, Fennell sped away down the right side and Cripps controlled the cross whilst playing the ball back towards RIGERS KABASHI who volleyed home with his right foot. Guernsey may have been guilty of trying to overplay the ball, losing possession too easily perhaps, whereas the ESBFL kept possession and looked very confident at this stage of the match. Cant recovered to make a fine tackle, this after Whitmore had got round him the first time but good defending, then Felgate launched a long ball towards Cripps who headed on towards Loveridge, however, when Fennell also moved towards the ball he became active from an off-side position and the chance was lost.
Loveridge kept up the chasing down of defenders who had to be alert when trying to play the ball out of defence, Lodge found Cripps who looked for Loveridge but he fouled Strawbridge just as the defender cleared the ball. On forty-three minutes Loveridge chased down the forward ball from Cant who over-lapped to receive the return ball and cross into the six-yard box where defender Graham just managed to wildly scoop the ball over his own cross-bar from three yards out. From the corner taken by Fennell, Soraf got his head to the ball, keeper Riley dived amongst a group of players to stop the ball on the goal-line with McKane completing the clearance, kicking the ball away from the keeper’s outstretched hands. The ESBFL kept up the pressure when Kabashi stroked the ball wide to Fennell whose cross found Cripps but the shot on the turn was blocked by Marsh. The ESBL made it four goals after forty-four minutes, Clarke once again set Fennell away down the right side and from his driven cross SAM CRIPPS smashed the ball home from six yards out. At the other end Felgate advanced and called for the ball, took his eye off of it, and just managed to regain possession as Mollett approached, clearing downfield to Cripps who set Dobrowolski away with McKane making a timely challenge just the half-time whistle was blown.
HALF-TIME: 4 – 0
Well what I half the ESBFL had played, four goals to the good and still eager to impress and perhaps Guernsey were looking at some sort of consolation or at least an improved team performance having been largely outplayed y a slick ESBFL outfit. Straight from the kick-off Cripps set Loveridge through forcing keeper Riley to palm the ball over the cross-bar, Gregory fouled Murray, Graham took the free-kick and although Murray ran clear he could not stop the ball going out for a goal-kick. Five minutes into the half and more pressure from ESBFL led to a free-kick, taken by Kabashi to Soraf whose firm header only found keeper, Riley. Guernsey were again having to defend being unable to forge any positive attacks with the ESBFL defence in robust form and Fennell set off on another penetrating run down the right side. Keeper, Felgate was injured when clearing the ball and required some treatment after tweaking his back, from the ESBFL Physio before being able to continue with Cant sending a left footed cross towards Cripps and Lodge who both went for the same ball which was slightly too high and in the next move Cripps held the ball up well before turning to shoot over the cross-bar.
On fifty-seven minutes Guernsey made a double change replacing Mahieu and Whitmore with Hunt and Falla respectively and when play resumed Cripps stormed forward to beat three players before passing to Kabashi whose first time shot found Riley standing on his goal-line. The ESBFL wanted to win every challenge and competed throughput with a high tempo that Guernsey could not match but they had not given up that’s for sure! On sixty minutes Strawbridge was guilty of a very heavy challenge on Cripps who was about to break clear after good approach play from Loveridge and Kabashi with the Guernsey defender earning the only caution of the game which had been played in an excellent spirit. Kabashi took the free-kick, short to Dobrowolski on the left side and after the winger got round McKane his left foot shot was saved by Riley, for a corner, taken by Fennel but cleared by Strawbridge to Hunt whose progress was stopped by Lodge, once again leading from defence. From the corner taken by Hall to Hunt the left footed shot was comfortably saved by keeper, Felgate, a foul on Cant by Falla followed, close to the six-yard line and from the downfield ball from Felgate, Loveridge and Kabashi hunted down the Guernsey defence to win a throw-in.
On sixty-seven minutes Guernsey replaced McKane with Smeed and his team pushed forward in numbers only to find no way through an organised defensive line, however a free-kick from Hall was headed down by Soraf with Lodge covering to concede a corner which found eh unmarked Marsh whose snap shot was straight at Felgate. With eighteen minutes remaining a poor goal-kick from Riley fell at the feet of RIGERS KABASHI, standing just outside the penalty area and he ran forward past the advancing keeper to score with ease, bit of a gift but willingly accepted. The ESBFL introduce Hale for Cripps and he was immediately in action chasing a through ball from Gregory and at the other end Clarke shielded a cross from Hunt, out of play for a throw0in, whereupon Bethell replaced Kabashi in central midfield. Cant defended well against Graham, Lodge did likewise against Falla to set Cant away to find Hale and then Fennell whose cross was cut out by Larkin who set Marsh away to find Hunt whose speculative shot flew well wide of the goal. As we entered the last minutes Hunt was again close with a long range effort but good defending throughout by Lodge and Soraf had kept the chances down, Felgate saved a poor back-header from Soraf after the pass from Lodge almost caught him wrong-footed, but the keeper had remained alert despite being the less active of the two goal-keepers. After almost five minutes of time added on, the efficient referee brought proceedings to a close, an excellent and clinical performance from the ESBFL team.
FULL-TIME: 5 – 0
What a brilliant result, the ESBFL move on to the Quarter Finals, only three of the eight Round Two games have been played so far, the other five are scheduled over the next two Saturdays as Round 2 of this FA Inter-League Cup is not due to be completed until Saturday 23rd December 2017. The Quarter Final opponents are unlikely to be known until after that date, no doubt many of the ESBFL Management will be monitoring other results closely for potential opponents and once known these will be posted to the ESBFL web-site (www.esblfootball.com). Also, up to now, the ties have been on a regional basis but could from now on, mean being drawn against opposition from the north of England or ironically our good friends in Jersey, assuming they overcome the Kent County League in two weeks time. (See below)
This game was played in a very good spirit, just one caution throughout in a competitive and compelling game from an ESBFL perspective and a word of praise for referee, Marin, and his Assistants, Foster and Dawson who handled every decision competently and without any fuss, but the players played their part in making their job easier than perhaps is usual!
A few words of thanks are due, to the ESBFL Team management, great job, well done, to the players, once ahead they never looked like being beaten, to those League Management Committee members who supported their team on Saturday. Of course a big thank you to Graeme Smith and his team at Coggeshall Town FC, excellent pitch, excellent facilities and hospitality.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, normally I’d pick a player from each team so for Guernsey I’m going for their Captain, defender, River Marsh, who led his team with passion despite them being under the cosh for most of the game, however, for the ESBFL, after such an excellent team performance, its a hard call to pick out an individual so a Team award then.
ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Colours: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue & White hooped Socks.
1) Sam Felgate. Brantham Athletic FC Reserves,
2) Bartosz Pater. White Notley FC, (Off 24m)
3) Adrian Cant. Coggeshall United FC,
4) Scott Lodge. White Notley FC, Captain
5) Lewis Soraf. Coggeshall United FC,
6) Rigers Kabashi. Coggeshall United FC, (Off 74m)
7) Andrew Fennell. Coggeshall United FC,
8) Jack Gregory. Gas Recreation FC,
9) Sam Cripps. West Bergholt FC, (Off 72m)
10) Ricky Loveridge. Coggeshall United FC,
11) Kane Dobrowolski. White Notley FC,
12) Lawrence Hale. Hatfield Peverel FC, (On 72m)
14) Jake Bethell. West Bergholt FC, (On 74m)
15) John Clarke. Coggeshall United FC, (On 24m)
13) Laurence Whymark. (G/K) Coggeshall United FC.
Manager: Tony Armstrong. Harwich & Parkeston FC,
Assistant Manager: Lloyd Pentney.
Coaches: Anthony White. West Bergholt FC,
Cliff Akurang. Coggeshall United FC,
Physio / First Aid: Mark Newell. Harwich & Parkeston FC.
GUERNSEY COUNTY SENIOR LEAGUE: Colours: Green Shirts, White Shorts and Green Socks.
1) Leroi Riley Manzur FC,
2) Tyler McKane. Guernsey Rovers AC, (Off 67m)
3) Louis Graham. Guernsey Rovers AC,
4) Damian Larkin. Vale Recreation FC,
5) Tom Strawbridge. Guernsey Rovers AC, (Yellow)
6) River Marsh. Northeners AC, Captain
7) Sam Hall. Guernsey Rovers AC,
8) Aaron Mahieu. Northeners AC, (Off 57m)
9) Sam Murray. Northeners AC,
10) Luke Mollett. Northeners AC,
11) Finlay Whitmore. Guernsey Rovers AC, (Off 57m)
12) John Hunt. Manzur FC, (On 57m)
15) Louis Falla. Guernsey Rovers AC, (On 67m)
17) Sebastian Smeed. Sylvan SC, (On 57m)
14) Blair Howitt. Guernsey Rovers AC,
16) Stuart Roussel. Northeners AC.
Manager: Stephen Sharman,
Assistant Manager: Christopher Tardif,
Goalkeeping Coach: Jason Martin,
Physio / First Aid: Mark Suttie.
Referee: Jordan Marin (Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire).
Assistant Referee’s: Mick Foster (Bottisham, Cambridgeshire).
and Simon Dawson (Swavesey, Cambridgeshire).
Man of the Match: Essex & Suffolk Border Football League: “THE WHOLE TEAM”
Man of the Match: Guernsey Senior County League: River MARSH
FA INTER-LEAGUE CUP – SECOND ROUND TIES (To be completed by Saturday 23rd December 2017)
18/11/2017 Isle of Man League (7) v (4)(AET) Liverpool County Premier League
09/12/2017 Lincolnshire League v Staffordshire County League
16/12/2017 Humber Premier League v Cumberland County League
09/12/2017 Chester & Wirral League v York Football League
25/11/2017 Bedfordshire County League (4) v (5)(AET) Amateur Football Combination
16/12/2017 Jersey Football Combination v Kent County League
02/12/2017 Essex & Suffolk Border League (5) v (0) Guernsey County Senior League
16/12/2017 Cambridgeshire County League v Thames Valley Premier League