ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
ROWHEDGE FC: 2. LONG MELFORD FC RESERVES: 3.
Date: Saturday 08th December 2018. Venue: Recreation Ground, Rowhedge.
After a few days away it was back to my normal Saturday routine, well it would have been if my intended match had not been cancelled, no matter, lets attempt to get to Rowhedge from Wivenhoe, not far you might say but traffic down Clingoe Hill and around Greenstead Roundabout in Colchester has been horrendous recently, today nothing and I sailed through almost literally as despite the usual flood, the tide must have been in, in Haven Road.
On a damp and overcast afternoon, with a heavy but playable pitch the match official was Alex Greenacre, a new referee in his first season in the ESBFL, I trust he enjoyed his run-out during this match which was played in a good spirit, nothing too contentious and only one caution for dissent.
Rowhedge FC, a mixed team of experience and more so youth, kicked-off up the slope, but Long Melford FC Reserves gained the early initiative to gain a corner, taken by Newman and punched clear by keeper, Payne with Gosling clearing upfield. Another corner taken by Newman found the head of Roy with Gosling blocking for another corner taken on the other side by Newman who received the ball back from Howe before Massey charged the next effort down. When Sloots was fouled he took the free-kick himself, driving his shot into the defensive wall which allowed Ashurst (S) to clear upfield, defender Lee tried to back-head the ball to his keeper, Bett, but Noble was quickly onto the loose ball but lobbed the ball agonisingly wide. Hughes fouled Carter, and Rowhedge defended well then Watson took a free-kick with Sloots heading clear then chasing downfield to send Howe through but keeper, Payne was quickly out to save with his feet, the first real chance of the match. Newman showed some neat skill to elude the attentions of Riley and Hughes, but his driven cross went out for a throw-in on the other side and slightly against the run of play Rowhedge took the lead. On thirteen minutes Hughes robbed Barnes, passing in field to Ashurst (S) who played the ball back into the space behind the beaten defender and THOMAS HUGHES running wide, ran on to score past the advancing keeper, Bett.
This goal seemed to settle the home team down and they pressed forward again soon after, then Melford keeper, Bett launched a long ball forward to Howe who ran on to pass towards Newman whose outstretched leg caught the keeper just as he gathered the ball low to the ground, a free-kick being awarded. With young Hughes as the wide runner for Rowhedge, Noble was clearly the target player up front, whether he would last the whole game might turn out to be crucial, similarly for Watson in defence and Ashurst (S), short of match practice, in midfield! Within five minutes of the home sides opening goal, Melford grabbed an equaliser, Howe set ADDY ROY away and despite being blocked by a strong tackle from Lyness he ran on to score, and it started to rain. At the mid-half point this game was evenly poised, both teams had put together attacking moves that needed defensive intervention with Sloots finding space from which to shoot but his high effort only found the space behind the goal for a goal-kick. In the twenty-seventh minute Rowhedge went ahead, Ashurst (S) chased down a long ball forward on the right side and from his cross Noble rose with defender Lee, the ball bounced down in front of keeper, Bett, but ELLIOT GOSLING reacted quickest to score from close range.
Sheppard, another youngster for Rowhedge chased down the right side to find Massey who flicked the ball agonisingly wide, then a free-kick from Sloots tested keeper, Payne who was fouled in the process by Roy, a free-kick from Watson fell to Hughes who won a corner off Barnes, taken by Sheppard himself with McNicholas clearing. Watson and Lyness doubled up to win the ball off Howe and set Noble away but he blasted wide from outside the penalty area. A poor clearance by keeper, Bett fell to Massey who worked the ball wide to Sheppard who sent in a low driven cross that eluded everyone as it flashed across the penalty area. Ashurst (S) caught Sloots with a mistimed challenge, Sloots took the free-kick himself but home keeper, Payne excelled in advancing to take the ball cleanly near the edge of his penalty area. A throw-in from Riley fell to Gosling who hit a rising volley into the midriff off Sloots who cleared but only to Sheppard who worked the ball to Ashurst (S) then Noble took over before Lee made a timey tackle which allowed Massey to fire high and wide and the half closed.
HALF-TIME: 2 – 1.
The light rain had abated, and another closely fought forty-five minutes was expected, at least from both management teams, Long Melford restarted the second half, the ball went forward then back and further back until they conceded a corner, poor passing all the way with an eventual back-pass that was nowhere near the keeper! Not a good start then when you are a goal behind and Rowhedge had yet to touch the ball! Once the ball was cleared from the corner, Roy gave chase with Watson to earn a throw-in then a corner followed, taken by Newton but held high under the cross-bar by keeper, Payne after Howe had headed goal-wards. Another corner followed in quick succession, Newton finding Addy who beat keeper, Payne to the ball but as the ball rolled towards goal Watson cleared from two yards out. Melford had picked up the pace this half despite a poor start to the half, a free-kick from Sloots following a foul by Gosling on Sloots, drifted narrowly wide of the right side upright. A fine run and cross from Hughes almost fell at the feet of Ashurst (S) whose scuffed effort rebounded off Lee to Gosling who lifted the ball up and over the keeper and cross-bar. Rowhedge then won a corner, taken left-footed by Hughes, in-swinging, forcing keeper, Bett to punch clear and from the break Newton persisted against Lyness to get in a cross which keeper, Payne caught and cleared downfield to Hughes whose shot on the run forced keeper, Bett to make a fine save at the expense of a corner, taken this time by Ashurst (S) with the ball once again eluding everyone packed inside the six-yard box. Another free-kick from Sloots was comfortably fielded by keeper, Payne and you could sense some frustration building in the visitors ranks as chances were spurned.
On sixty minutes a double substitution for Long Melford, off went wing backs, Carter and Barnes and on went Cole and Boulter, Ashurst (S) fouled Lee, Hughes was fouled by Newman and when Cole tried to hold the ball up he was tackled unfairly from behind by Birch. Newman took this free-kick towards the far post where Newton, unmarked headed wide, a clear chance for an equaliser! Another quick break from Hughes was just too long for the tiring Noble and when Melford attacked keeper, Payne was quickly out at the feet of Howe, trying to reach a pass from Newton. A high, up and under from Lyness was attacked on the edge of the penalty area by Noble and keeper, Bett with Noble adjudged to have impeded the keeper in the process and when showing clear dissent received the only caution of the match. Melford had been the more positive team in attack this half as Rowhedge started to tire, or so it seemed, Howe played the ball wide to Newman whose return ball found Roy who set up the unmarked, Howe, who guided the ball past the post, only it was on the wrong side! A corner from Newton fell to Addy whose shot cannoned back off the cross-bar and when the ball ran loose in a scramble Newman fired high over the cross-bar with keeper, Payne receiving treatment for an injury sustained in that scramble.
A left footed cross from Sloots saw a weak header from Willings find keeper, Payne, Newman shot over, a rush of blood to the head moment for him as Melford kept up their renewed momentum. McNicholas found Roy to gain a corner off Lyness, taken by Newman to the head of Newton whose header went out for a throw-in, Boulter linked up with Sloots and from his pass Willings shot wide, but you could sense an equaliser was imminent with Rowhedge running out of idea’s past the half-way line. With ten minutes remaining Rowhedge replaced Noble with Ashurst (B) and Melford replaced Willings with Denson and the visitors pushed forward again with Sloots finding Roy whose shot was turned aside by the dive of keeper, Payne, now the busier of the two custodians, but he was helpless with five minutes remaining, when WILL HOWE fired home after a good passing movement through midfield by Long Melford. A corner from Newman was cleared by Watson but Cole struck a fine first time shot which keeper, Payne saved with his feet and two more corners were successfully negotiated by the Rowhedge defence. In the last minute Long Melford stole the points, several shots rained in, keeper, Payne punched clear but collided with his own defender and with three Rowhedge players prone on the ground PERRY NEWMAN struck the ball home for what was the winning goal.
FULL TIME: 2 – 3.
So for the third week in a row I witnessed a three goals to two victory for the away team, that’s entertainment I suppose, Rowhedge after a bright start and ahead at half-time, tired in the second half and allowed Long Melford Reserves the chance to get back into the game then steal the points right on full-time. It was good to see that both teams had young players on show, they all showed promise but in fairly heavy conditions fitness might have been a key factor in this match. With this result, Rowhedge FC drop two places to twelfth whilst Long Melford FC Reserves rise from sixth to fourth, but a long season remains ahead.
Now for my Player-of-the-Match choice, Payne, a tall, young keeper played his part but stood no chance with the three goals conceded, Watson rolled back the years in defence alongside Lyness back after several months out, youngsters, Birch, Riley, Gosling, Hughes, Sheppard and Massey were encouraged by captain Ashurst (S) who keeps going year after year. Turning to Long Melford FC Reserves, keeper, Bett, another youngster made some decent saves, central defenders Lee and McNicholas improved as the game progressed, Newman, Willings and Newton provided service for Roy and Howe who both scored but squandered other chances which leaves Ashley Sloots, always composed on the ball, breaking forward from a midfield roll in front of his defence but instrumental in many of the visitors attacks.
ROWHEDGE FC: Colours: Claret Shirts, Claret Shorts and Claret Socks.
Luke Payne., Sebastian Birch., Aaron Riley., Steve Watson., James Lyness., Elliot Gosling., Jack Sheppard., Antoine Massey., Tom Noble., Simon Ashurst., Thomas Hughes.
Manager: Keith Hughes.
Coach: David Riley.
Used Substitutes: Ben Ashurst.
Unused Substitutes: David Wood., Max Foley.
LONG MELFORD FC RESERVES: Colours: Black & White Shirts., Black Shorts and Black Socks
Michael Bett., Ryan Carter., Scott Barnes., Ryan McNicholas., Craig Lee., Ashley Sloots., Perry Newman., Cory Willings., Addy Roy., Will Howe., Sam Newton.
Manager: Stuart Malseed.
Unused Substitutes: Steven Cole., Max Boulter., Callum Denson.
Unused Substitutes: Stuart Tricker.
Referee: Alex Greenacre (Braintree)
Player-of-the-Match: Ashley SLOOTS (LONG MELFORD FC RESERVES)
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
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