ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
AFC SUDBURY “A”: 4. MERSEA ISLAND FC: 3.
Date: Saturday 06th October 2018.
Venue: Kings March Stadium, Brundon Lane, Sudbury.
I decided to stay with Division Two again this week, had hoped to see this match played on the 4G pitch where I could shelter in a stand from the steady rain, weather-wise, what a horrible day, fortunately the outside grass pitch has a covered area on one side, so I joined a small band of supporters from both sides.
AFC Sudbury “A” are the Club’s Academy team and consequently are a young team who were placed into Division 2 of the ESBFL having applied to join during the summer months. They are managed by Craig Power and former player Brett Girling, they also have a unique shirt numbering system which, on the day ranged from twenty-nine to fifty-three! Mersea Island FC still have a few familiar faces on the pitch but have a new management team in Malcolm Price and Malcolm Gibbons and already their results this season have been much improved from recent seasons, however, today they needed to sign two players before kick-off with three more, all substitutes, due to arrive back from London.
The referee, who would be assisted by club linesman was Ralph Spooner and generally he did what he is there to do, apply the law of the game, speak to players when required and act accordingly when things get a bit heated.
AFC Sudbury kicked off and after a slow build-up, Mayhew collected the ball to test keeper, Brill who saved low down, and from his clearance Mahon (J) neatly flicked the ball over Langridge to Gibbons (A) who was crowded out by the home defence. Five minutes into the game and Mersea scored the opening goal, a long throw-in from Bethell was played wide across the penalty area to ANDREW GIBBONS who scored with a left footed effort. AFC Sudbury fought back almost immediately to equalise inside two minutes, an attack down the right side, started by Girling (S) saw JACK RENWICK race past defender Atton and beat the advancing keeper with a well-placed, left footed effort. Mersea, Captain, Gibbons (A) tracked back to help out his defence, when AFC Sudbury threatened again, then he sent a fine ball down the left side where Mahon (R) gave chase only for home keeper, Wright, to come charging out and foul the pacey winger inside the penalty area. RYAN MAHON picked himself up to hammer the ball high to the right of the keeper’s dive and restore the visitors early lead and we had only played twelve minutes. King for AFC Sudbury was already covering large areas of the pitch, so it was no surprise when he forged his way through only to be thwarted by keeper, Brill, who dived down at his feet.
A cross from Critchley found the head of Hunt who headed wide with Bethell clearing up-field to Gibbons (D) who skipped past the attempted challenge from keeper, Wright but from an acute angle his rising effort towards an open goal, cannoned back from the cross-bar. A right-wing cross from Tapiwanashe led to a foul by Girling (S) on Gibbons (A) and from the free-kick taken by Bethell, RYAN MAHON drifted in to head home at the near post. This open game continued with keeper, Brill finding Gibbons (D) who ran on with Langridge forced to commit a foul, taken by Bethell but the ball flew narrowly wide from twenty-five yards out. Brill had picked up an injury from his earlier clearance and required treatment and from the restart Mayhew played the ball wide to Girling (E) whose cross fell to King whose lay-off to Tysoe was dragged wide from a promising position. Personally, I thought that the young AFC Sudbury team lacked a bit of confidence and needed more composure on the ball if they were to get anything out of this game and it was defensive errors which had led to them trailing the visitors. Palmer made a fine block from King, then Renwick force Tapiwanashe to block another effort at the expense of a corner, taken by Girling (S) only for the unmarked Renwick to head over the cross-bar.
With half an hour gone another corner from Girling (S) saw Atton rise to head clear only to fall to the ground with a bloodied head which needed lengthy treatment both on and off the pitch. AFC Sudbury stepped up their attacking effort with three shots in succession from Renwick, King and Hunt being charged down by the keeper and then defenders until the ball fell to Tysoe who snatched at his first time shot and missed the target. A run and cross from King down the right side fell to Renwick but keeper, Brill, made a great save to deny the forward with Palmer completing the clearance from the six-yard line. Bethell fouled Mayhew on the half-way line, taken quickly and short as AFC Sudbury tried to get a goal back before half-time but Mersea continued to defend well. A throw-in from Critchley found King who forced a corner off Tapiwanashe, taken by Girling (S) but keeper, Brill caught the ball off the head of Mayhew inside the six-yard box. Girling (S) fouled Rutter and received a word of warning from the referee with captain, Langridge in attendance, Gibbons (A) took the free-kick and Mahon (R) was inches away from connecting in front of goal and the half ended with the visitors ahead but not necessarily in control.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 3.
Mersea kick-off the second half playing against the wind and rain and hopefully a home team that had to get back on terms as quickly as possible. An early AFC Sudbury corner was cleared by Bethell to Mahon (R) who ran away down the left side, crossing first time to Mahon (J) whose first-time effort was saved at the second attempt by keeper, Wright. A long chase by Gibbons (D) against Langridge led to both players going to ground, no foul, no penalty, so play-on and when the ball ran loose to Gibbons (A) his rising shot flew straight to keeper, Wright. Critchley forced a corner off Tapiwanashe who was replaced by Passfield on fifty minutes, and when play continued Rutter fouled Tysoe. Mersea made another change with Mahon (J) being replaced by Akinola and just as I’d written that down AFC Sudbury scored through JACK RENWICK, who sent a half-volley over keeper, Brill, now that goal could make this game interesting!
Just as we approached the hour mark, AFC Sudbury put together one of the best passing movements I have seen this season, ten or more passes found their intended player and it was left to FRED KING to complete the move with a fine goal which brought the scores level. Mersea made their third and final substitution bringing on Ayton for Palmer, a straight defensive swap but AFC Sudbury had clearly improved and taken their chances. Critchley, despite being flagged off-side, kept going and when the advancing keeper, Brill went to ground the home player collided with the keeper to earn the first caution of the match. Akinola for Mersea was cautioned following a tangle, literally not letting the player go, with Girling (S) over by the touch-line on the far side. AFC Sudbury replaced the injured Critchley with Hughes and home keeper, Wright, surprised by a first-time volley from Gibbons (D), cleared with his feet.
With fifteen minutes to go, AFC Sudbury exchanged Tysoe for Horlock, who set the next attack going with Girling (E) and Girling (S) saw his shot drift wide, Mersea substitute Passfield dived recklessly into a challenge a fair distance from the player with the ball and was justly cautioned. Mersea then committed defensive suicide, a poor back-pass by Ayton to his keeper, Brill, left the keeper stranded and when he missed his attempt to clear JACK RENWICK only had to run forward and score, thus completing a hat-trick and putting his team ahead for the first time. With ten minutes remaining Renwick was replaced by Mills, Ayton, for Mersea was cautioned for dissent when a decision went against him, and with King being the last player of four to try a shot at goal, after a pin-ball scramble inside the penalty area it remained for keeper, Brill to make another fine save. AFC Sudbury wanted more and another flowing move from Girling (S), Mayhew then Girling (S) again led to a corner, Rutter was cautioned for a foul, in fact for persistent fouling, King stepped up to hammer a fine goal-bound shot which keeper, Brill expertly helped over the cross-bar at the expense of a corner. The final action was at the other end where keeper, Wright saved from Ayton who had stayed forward to earn a corner, comfortably cleared by Langridge and the final whistle blew.
FULL TIME: 4 – 3.
End-to-end it certainly was, both teams had played some decent football in awful conditions, Mersea Island, maybe, as so often happens, might have thought the game was won at half-time, but credit to AFC Sudbury who came out for the second half and on that performance alone just about deserved the narrow victory.
Now for my Player-of-the-Match choice, for Mersea Island, keeper, Brill made some excellent saves, maybe made an error for the winning goal, defenders Atton, he with the bandaged head and Palmer has stood firm until the hour mark, the early promise of Bethell faded in the second half but in Rutter, Mahon (R) and Gibbons (A) they always looked to have another goal in them. For AFC Sudbury, this was the first time I had seen them play, I’d heard good reports and I have to say these were accurate about the teams potential. Defensively in the first half they were out of sorts as Mersea capitalised on mistakes but going forward they are a threat, with Renwick scoring a hat-trick and this would normally be enough however with one goal and a non-stop display from defence through to attack King stood out, strong in the tackle, strong in the air, taking tackles on him in his stride and just getting on with the game and providing the platform for many of his teams attacks.
AFC SUDBURY “A”: Colours: Yellow Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Samuel Wright., Fred King., Reece Langridge (C)., Ellis Girling., Dylan Hunt., Jack Renwick., Ethan Mayhew., Joshua Tysoe., Joe Osborn., Samuel Girling., Harry Critchley.
Manager: Craig Power and Brett Girling.
Used Substitutes: Jake Horlock., Ethan Mills., Joshua Hughes.
MERSEA ISLAND FC: Colours: Black & White Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Connor Brill., Harrison Westbrook., Mabugu Tapiwanashe., Sean Palmer., Matt Atton., Sebastian Bethell., Dan Gibbons., James Rutter., Jack Mahon., Andy Gibbons, Ryan Mahon.
Managers: Malcolm Price and Malcolm Gibbons
Used Substitutes: Lewis Ayton., Alex Akinola. Adam Passfield.
Unused Substitutes: Malcolm Price.
Referee: Ralph Spooner (Braintree)
Player-of-the-Match: Fred KING (AFC SUDBURY “A”)
Additional Reporting – FACEBOOK (x2) & TWITTER
This season the ESBFL is widening its match-day reporting coverage, in addition to a full report written by Brian Reed, the league has enlisted the help of a young volunteer, Spencer Hume, who will also attend games using Facebook and Twitter to communicate up-to-date information and replicate other match reports, please make him welcome.
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” ( http://full-time.thefa.com ) but would all Club / Fixture Secretaries please advise any agreed changes, as required, to Alison Willmore ( email@example.com ) especially for evening games and for those matches being played under floodlights etc.
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