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Date:   Saturday 03rd February 2018.                      Venue: Brantham Leisure Centre, Brantham.


So it’s February and we revert back to two-thirty kick-off’s, at least for league games, cup games remain as thirty minutes earlier, so a more leisurely trip over to Brantham, seventh versus eighth at the start of play. Both teams have undergone changes in players, since I last watched them play, with the vastly experienced Chris Tracey joining the West Bergholt Management Team, as both team’s sported young players getting their first taste of Premier Division football.


The match officials were Steven Connor, another new official on the ESBFL this season and he was supported by Neil Strachan and Ralph Spooner with the pitch looking in remarkable good condition considering the recent weather and it’s perhaps, more than regular usage, so well done to the Brantham grounds man.


West Bergholt kicked-off down the slight slope and won a quick corner from an Eldridge clearance, I checked my notes from last week and yes he had played for Little Oakley FC Reserves before a mid-week transfer to Brantham Athletic FC Reserves. Bethell (J) took the corner with defender Farthing heading wide when well placed perhaps a touch of not having played for several months after a lengthy injury lay-off! Price was caught off-side from a driven forward pass by Gibbons and at the other end Lehain was late into a challenge on Kiley then Harrington intercepted a cross-field pass to drive forward himself before finding Gibbons who was forced wide by defender Windred. With the visitors holding the early possession and territory it fell to Wood who had the first shot of the match which keeper Bethell (L) pushed wide towards Lehain whose return cross was headed clear by Farthing. It had taken only five minutes for the game to open up, Lehain won a corner off White (H) , taken by Cole with Bethell (L) opting to punch away from six yards and do likewise from the cross from the right, which followed. On ten minutes a cross from Hannah was caught by Felgate and players were questioning the match ball which sounded soft but was it the pitch that was masking the problem! A long throw-in from Farthing found Gibbons and his deft pass between Windred and Gregory almost found Harrington but Felgate was quickest to react and gather.

Young defender Kiley found Bethell (J) who swept the ball wide to Gibbons who shot at goal from twenty-five yards but keeper Felgate did not have to move to catch on his goal-line, and I suppose this early part of the game looked a bit disjointed. A foul by Harrington on Eldridge led to the ball being passed to Johnson to found Selwyn who only managed to foul White (H), and from the re-start Price raced away down the right side to cross to Gibbons who had to chest the ball down before shooting at goal with a few more comments being made about the match ball which did get changed on seventeen minutes. When Johnson fouled Harrington mid-half the free-kick taken by Bethell (J) was over-hit but Harrington, a willing chaser gained possession and forced keeper Felgate to concede a corner which was cleared towards Lehain who fouled Hannah wide on the left side. Gregory dived into a challenge on Price again mid-half but the free-kick taken by Bethell (J) cleared the cross-bar, and when the same player lost possession to Selwyn the home team pushed forward with Lehain on the ball until keeper Bethell (L) intervened on the edge of his penalty area.

After thirty minutes this game was clearly not a classic, too many mistakes, some poor passing and few clear cut chances, a mid-table stalemate if there is such a thing, Brantham having had more defending to do as West Bergholt pushed forward. A neat dribble by Rowe for Brantham led to a foul by Galliford but the free-kick was short and cleared up-field where Price gave chase to send in another telling cross behind the retreating Brantham defence but the unmarked Gibbons could only scuff a decent chance wide. Again, this game lacked adventure, long balls were easily dealt with and any passing move involving more than three players were at a premium. Price found Bethell (J) who got the ball wide to Gibbons whose first time shot from outside the penalty area failed to trouble Felgate, however, at this point of the game Bethell (J) had seen more of the ball and was more constructive when using the ball. A fine run from Hannah saw him get through two block tackles, the ball running kindly for him but when over-running the ball towards keeper Felgate the keepers parry deflected off Hannah for a goal-kick.

An attack from Brantham through Mathurin down the left side saw the cross headed away by Farthing to Selwyn whose return cross was just met by the head of White (H) as Lehain looked to pounce, good defending but the ball had still not been cleared as Lehain crossed again with Bethell (L) collecting this time. On forty-one minutes a goal was scored, Price, not for the first time, chased a hopeful ball out of defence, defender Gregory dithered and keeper Felgate left his line to run out-side his penalty area, hoping to clear, but DANIEL PRICE avoided both to reach the ball first and steer the ball goalwards and into the unguarded net. Keeper, Felgate was again in action to the feet of Price, this time after Harrington had got past Johnson who had slipped over and with the ball still in the Brantham half, Price crossed from the right, Gibbons, again unmarked, headed back across goal and past Felgate only for Wood to make a fine goal-line clearance and the half-time whistle blew.


HALF-TIME:       0 – 1


No changes to personnel so Brantham kicked-off, down the slight slope through Mathurin who showed a touch of pace to get past Kiley but the eventual right-footed cross was too long and went out for a goal-kick. A well worked moved between Hannah and Harrington saw the ball reach Price but Wood was back defending to concede at corner, taken by Bethell (J) but Galliford had his arms all over both Gregory and Eldridge much to his annoyance, me ref, you sure! Webb clattered Rowe from behind, he might have got the ball but the rule says, surely, I don’t need to read the rule, but basically you cannot tackle from behind, seen many of them be seen as cautionable, not today though. It was Webb who headed clear the taken free-kick, with Hannah fouled by Cole and this disjointed game progressed. Galliford shoved Lehain in the back, quite obvious from the stand, Selwyn took the free-kick finding the head of the unmarked Cole but no danger as the ball flew wide. Webb for West Bergholt was now more involved and his combination play with Bethell (J) was going to be a telling contribution for the visitors especially when setting up Gibbons who found Price but keeper, Felgate saved on his goal-line.

Cole set up Windred for a shot at goal but the ball cleared the goal by some distance as the home team looked to get something from the sporadic attacks that lacked a bit of real penetration! Bethell (J) chased a long forward ball crossing towards Gibbons with Wood once again well placed to head out for a corner. Eldridge found Lehain with a decent pass and when Galliford miss-timed his challenge was grateful for his keeper Bethell (L) who was alert and collected the loose ball. West Bergholt had raised the tempo of their game, with lots of encouragement, from the sidelines, Bethell (J) was heavily involved, as usual, with support from Webb with Price, Gibbons and Harrington giving chase when required. When Brantham threatened through Mathurin, then Rowe, it was left to keeper Bethell (L) to make a fine save, probably the home team’s best chance so far. On sixty-five minutes Mathurin fouled Harrington, running onto a pass from Farthing but the free-kick from Price was poor and Brantham cleared up-field towards Selwyn who was disposed by Bethell (J) once again covering for his defence.

Selwyn found time to find Johnson who ran into trouble as the visitors defended in numbers and with twenty-two minutes remaining a flurry of substitutions, Eldridge and Lehain were replaced by Brown and Sykes for Brantham whilst Price and Gibbons were replaced by Murrells and Bethell (D). A corner from Murrells was headed wide by Webb then Galliford chanced his arm once again when unfairly tackling Sykes to receive a spoken rebuke from the on-the-spot referee. Selwyn took the free-kick, mid-half with Galliford heading clear to Bethell (J) who set another attack moving. Fifteen minutes remained when Brantham pieced together a decent attack, leading to a throw-in which Mathurin failed to control. Three minutes later and the visitors increased their lead, Harrington headed a clearance onwards, Bethell (D), gave chase to cross low and hard from the left side to JONNY MURRELLS who slotted home from close range. Harrington was injured in a hefty but fair challenge leading to him being replaced by White (A) who slotted into left side defence allowing Hannah a chance to play up-front. Selwyn was late arriving into a challenge on White (H) and Hannah upended Gregory forcing the home captain to receive treatment and then leave the field of play, only to return.

A long clearance from Felgate fell to Selwyn who was fouled by White (H), Selwyn took the kick himself, left-footed but Farthing rose to clear as far as Johnson who controlled the ball, ran forward only to shoot wide. Some intelligent running across the pitch by Bethell (D) saw his cross reach Hannah but with a rush of blood to his head fired well over the cross-bar. With five minutes remaining the visitors ran in their third and final goal, Murrells set Hannah away down the right side and when his cross arrived in the six-yard box there was DARREN BETHELL to sweep the ball home, game over! Another strong run by Mathurin, again past Kiley, faltered when keeper, Bethell (L) picked up the weak shot. West Bergholt had mastered a stubborn Brantham team, poor passing and decision making leading to their young sides downfall, the visitors had the more experienced players on show as evidenced by the goal-scorers and the final attack came from the visitors with Murrells and Bethell (D) setting the ball up for Hannah who fired over, however their team finished with a clean sheet and moved above Brantham in the league table.


FULL TIME:        0 – 3.


A dour gritty game, which at the end, the team that put the better attacks together won by three clear goals, albeit two came in the final fifteen minutes, this after two substitutions. It is clear that both teams had players absent and numerous young players were being brought in for a taste of Premier Division football, which is commendable and with seemingly safe league positions this is the time to experiment.


Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, for Brantham, midfielder Johnson tried hard to construct meaningful attacks aided by the dependable Wood however any chance of their forwards scoring were nullified by a stubborn West Bergholt defence, led by the returning Farthing. For the visitors, both wing backs, Kiley and Hannah, look to be good prospects, White (H) is still learning and Galliford, a player I had not seen before was definitely committed in any challenge. Harrington persevered in holding the ball up for either Gibbons or Price, scorer of the first goal, but midfielders Webb and particularly Bethell (J), perhaps back to his best with an all round contribution is my choice this week.





BRANTHAM ATHLETIC FC RESERVES:                             Colours: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.

Samuel Felgate., Harry Windred., Sean Mathurin., James Gregory (C)., Adam Eldridge., Elliot Johnson., Sam Cole., Dan Rowe., Aaron Lehain., Franky Selwyn., Ashley Wood.


Manager:                        Paul Bertram.,

Assistant Manager:           Andrew Brown.

Used Substitutes:             Oliver Brown., George Sykes

Unused Substitutes:         Jamie Baxter., Simon Mann., Andrew Brown



WEST BERGHOLT FC:                                                     Colours: Yellow Shirts, Black Shorts and Yellow Socks.

Luke Bethell., Jack Kiley., Gavin Hannah., Nicholas Farthing (C)., Harry White., Mark Galliford., Jake Bethell., Keiron Webb., Jack Harrington., Dan Price., Andrew Gibbons


Joint Manager:                Anthony White.

Joint Manager:                Chris Tracey.

Assistant Manager:           Malcolm Price.

Used Substitutes:             Johnny Murrells., Darren Bethell., Anthony White.




Referee:                        Steven Connor                (Braintree)

Assistant Referee’s:          Neil Strachan                   (Witham)

and       Ralph Spooner                 (Braintree)


Man of the Match:          Jake BETHELL.                (WEST BERGHOLT FC)






Reminder to Club / Fixture Secretaries


Once again this season the fixtures, results, referees and “kick-off” times will be shown automatically on “The FA Full-Time / The Whole Game System” ( ) but would all Club / Fixture Secretaries please advice any agreed changes, as required, to Alison Willmore ( ) 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


Cup Matches:

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.

( )




ESBFL “web-site”


The web-site for the Essex & Suffolk Border Football League is:    


Clubs are reminded that the following documents are all available on this website under Clubs / Documents etc :


ESBFL Handbook,

Player Registration Form,

Player Transfer Form,

Match Postponement Form,

Referee – Low Mark Form

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