ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
GREAT BENTLEY FC: 3. CRESSING UNITED FC: 2.
Date: Saturday 10th March 2018. Venue: The Green, Great Bentley.
After the heavy snow during the previous week and the complete postponement of every fixture last Saturday we hoped the league would revert to normal this week and despite heavy overnight rain only two matches failed to get played due to a waterlogged pitch at Wormingford and FC Clacton Reserves being unable to raise a team in Division One. The season is rapidly drawing to a close so where better to go than Great Bentley Green to watch the second placed and unbeaten home team play fifth placed Cressing United FC, I expected a tight game and nobody watching should have been disappointed.
Despite the afore-mentioned bad weather, the pitch, on “the Green” looked soft but definitely playable, today’s match official was Colchester based John Watson, who preceded the kick-off with a minutes silence held in respect of referee Gary Cook who sadly passed away on the pitch whilst refereeing an ESBFL match eleven years ago.
Cressing kicked-off working the ball back into defence before getting forward with Burch forced to hurry a back-pass that went out of play for the first corner of the match and the visitors continued with some neat passing moves with normal defender White, donning the keeper’s gloves this week. On five minutes Great Bentley pushed forward with Evans chasing down Ellis to win a corner on the far side, taken by Bennett whose in-swinging kick forced White to punch clear and the danger passed. Captain, Gooday showed some good ball control on the left side to win a throw-in as Storey looked to find an opening in the home defence and he was heavily involved in his team’s first goal when he linked up with Bearman whose return ball to CRAIG COPAS put him through to run past Brand and the advancing keeper Waltham to score. Great Bentley naturally raised their game forcing a corner, taken again by Bennett which forced Ellis to scuff out for another corner on the other side then when Bennett chased a long through ball, keeper White was out to his feet at the edge of the penalty area only to receive a heavy knock to the head from the knee of Bennett.
Gooday drove a direct free-kick from mid-half just wide of the defensive wall and the left hand upright as Cressing just shaded the home team, with another attack involving Bearman, Copas, Storey then Gooday who laid the ball back to Copas whose rising drive was caught by Waltham. On twenty-one minutes and almost from this last action a long ball forward from the home team saw CALLUM HOLYMAN break free of his marker and with only the advancing keeper to beat, he comfortably slotted home under the body of White who had been left totally exposed with his defenders too far up-field. Weston fouled Holyman on the half-way line but White held the free-kick taken by Evans then Carney chased back to tackle Bennett but concede a foul from which Carney received a caution for dissent against the decision. Once again Evans took the free-kick with defender Stone heading out for a corner, taken by Bennett, but not troubling the Cressing defence who cleared to Ellis who was bundled over by the retreating Burch who was spoken too. On twenty-eight minutes, keeper White was caught out of position as Hurd threatened but Stone was there to cover, then Yarwood got involved with some good control for a big player, picked up a throw-in from Brand to run past Stone and cross into the six-yard box where keeper White gathered safely.
Just on the half hour mark a free-kick taken by Bearman was headed out by Burch to Storey who ran into the penalty area, beating one defender before Dorin stuck out a leg to impede Storey who fell to the ground resulting in a penalty kick, taken by LLOYD GOODAY who beat Waltham, placing the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Some hefty tackles followed on the soft ground, with the match official trying to keep the game flowing until Weston was adjudged to have fouled Holyman just on the half-way line. GARETH EVANS took the free-kick, high into the penalty area so when Yarwood ran across the sight line of keeper White, the ball bounced once before entering the net for a home equaliser. Great Bentley pushed forward again, a long clearance by Waltham found Yarwood who laid the ball off to Holyman who set Hurd up but the snatched shot flew well wide. White, the busier of the two keepers was quickly out to the feet of Hurd, fumbling the bouncing ball but defender Weston hurriedly cleared as Hurd threatened. Stone and Bearman set Storey away but he just over-ran the ball as Hurd defended leading to a throw-in taken by Stone to Bearman who won a corner off Burch and with the corner cleared Thorndyke made three attempts to stop Holyman only to foul him and earn the second caution of this competitive match. Evans took the free-kick, again deep towards the six-yard box but this time, White put a big fist through the ball to clear despite Hurd being caught off-side.
HALF-TIME: 2 – 2.
A pretty even game so far, plenty of commitment from both teams so no surprise as the second half started with chances at both ends, Great Bentley cleared the first from Cressing then Holyman and Hurd were denied by good defending by Ellis and Weston, Southee handled the ball wide on the right side with Gooday placing a low left footed shot straight to Waltham. There then followed a moment of controversy, Great Bentley broke quickly from defence with the ball wide on the left side with Hurd, whose cross, was heading wide at the far post until Evans dived in to handle the ball into the back of the net with a free-kick correctly awarded, but Evans evaded further punishment! Cressing, perhaps rightly, seemed aggrieved, with Stone receiving a stern lecture from the match official for his persistent haranguing of the official over the incident. Perhaps this incident dampened things down as the game went quiet and there was no real pattern of play outside of the midfield battle, but the sun had appeared at last after the threatened rain blew away.
White, the Cressing keeper tipped over a rising shot from Hurd who, in this half, had found some form, this time breaking down the right side and before the corner kick could be taken the home team replaced Evans with Clifton. Burch for the home team continued to dominate his teams defending, no nonsense tackling and apart from a silly challenge in the first half had hardly put a foot wrong. On sixty-five minutes, Great Bentley were awarded a free-kick wide on the left side when Carney was adjudged to have put in an illegal challenge on Clifton, to me it looked a soft and unnecessary challenge, however, Flack took the free-kick which eluded everyone until new defender BRAT DORIN arrived at the far post to stoop and head home. When Yarwood climbed all over Storey inside the centre-circle, no free-kick was given must to the chagrin of the visitors then Burch, up for a corner, pulled back Copas who was looking to break forward from a headed clearance by Stone. Bearman lined up his left-footed shot and Waltham was forced to save at full-stretch at the near post, Thorndyke looked to capitalise on the loose ball but Brand put his body in front of the shot which was finally cleared by Dorin.
With twenty-minutes remaining Yarwood fouled Bearman inside the centre-circle, protesting his innocence with Gooday shooting straight to Waltham standing on his goal-line. Holyman, not for the first time was willing to chase and harass the Cressing defence, gaining possession and holding the ball up until support arrived and with sixteen minutes to go Great Bentley replaced Dorin with Branson, another new defender. Gooday sprayed a fine pass wide to Bearman who controlled the ball which then went out for a corner off of Southee, Bearman took the corner short to Thorndyke whose cross was held by Waltham. A rasping shot from Storey was cleared by Branson with Waltham beaten, leading to a foul on Hurd further up the pitch, keeper White was quickly out to control the bouncing ball on his chest before advancing to the half way line before passing to a team mate, with the home team appealing for handball! The lively Hurd burst through on goal to meet a pass from Bennett but White made a fine save at the near post. Cressing, despite being a goal behind continued to play a patient passing game but the home defence looked solid this half. The persistence of Carney drew a foul by Clifton, taken by Gooday to Waltham whose long clearance found Hurd galloping away but again keeper, White was quickly out to clear and this end-to-end game finished with a vital home win for Great Bentley FC.
FULL TIME: 3 – 2.
For much of this entertaining game the balance of play was even, honours were equal at half-time, Cressing probably felt they deserved at least a point but with just a single goal in the second half this win for Great Bentley pushed them to the top of the table by a single point and with two games in hand on Lawford Lads FC whom they still have to play on “The Green”.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, for Cressing their team ethic of pass and move kept them in this game, epitomised by Gooday, Copas, Storey and Bearman through midfield with keeper White making some timely saves in both halves. For Great Bentley, Dorin and Burch hardly missed a challenge through sheer determination, Evans, Southee and particularly Yarwood won some big challenges in the midfield, Hurd improved in the second half but throughout, up front, the constant threat of Holyman kept the visitors on their toes, scorer of the first goal but a threat throughout by his preparedness to chase and harass whomever had the ball.
GREAT BENTLEY FC: Colours: White & Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Greg Waltham., Adam Brand., Tim Flack., Brat Dorin., Jack Burch., Michael Southee., Gareth Evans., Aran Yarwood (C)., Callum Holyman., Joseph Hurd., Lee Bennett.
Manager: James Meadows.
Used Substitutes: Aaron Clifton., Lee Branson.
Unused Substitutes: Jake Bell., Connor Jones., Grant Lewis.
CRESSING UNITED FC: Colours: Claret & Light Blue Shirts, Claret Shorts and Light Blue Socks.
Samuel White., Redmond Carney., Darren Stone., Matthew Weston., Karl Ellis., Luke Thorndyke., Robert Olding., Lloyd Gooday (C)., Craig Copas., Michael Storey., Luke Bearman.
Joint Manager: Ivan Gooday.
Unused Substitutes: Tom James., Billy Simmonds.
Referee: John Watson (Colchester)
Man of the Match: Callum HOLYMAN. (GREAT BENTLEY FC)
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