ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
KNOCK-OUT CUP FINAL.
GAS RECREATION FC: 3. WEST BERGHOLT FC. 1.
Date: Tuesday 15h May 2018.
Venue: Brantham Athletic FC., Brantham Leisure Centre.
Two of the top teams in the ESBFL had battled their way through to this seasons Knock-Out Cup final, Gas Recreation FC courtesy of victories over Boxted Lodgers FC, Coggeshall United FC (AET-Penalties), Belle Vue Social FC and Tiptree Heath FC whilst West Bergholt FC had defeated Bures United FC (AET-Penalties), Great Bentley FC, Cressing United FC and Harwich & Parkeston FC. Gas had secured their twelfth league title last Saturday so were looking to complete the unique double, mind you West Bergholt may have started the season poorly but a good string of results had pushed them up to third place and perhaps had a psychological edge having beaten Gas in the league only a few weeks ago.
On a bright, sunny and warm evening a big crowd had assembled, good to see players, old and new from both clubs in attendance and a decent sprinkling of County Referees were also in the crowd for what should be a competitive match, given that the players know each other so well. The match official was Nathan Oakes who ensured the “Respect” handshake was undertaken and on the evening, he would be assisted by Richard Baker, Martin Weavers with Matthew Jarvis as the Fourth Official.
West Bergholt kick off playing down the Brantham slope, Morrison was quickly out to kick the ball clear then Taylor (L) was also back to clear, Bethell (J) showed some good footwork approaching the penalty area but was crowded out as West, Braddon and Taylor (L) got close. For Gas, Marangou found Dillon only for Carvey to make a fine tackle and West Bergholt broke forward through Bloomfield whose left-wing cross was caught by keeper, Morrison after one bounce, but really both teams needed to settle down and play controlled football. Stoneman fouled Price and from the free-kick taken by Springett found the head of Farthing at the far post, then Harrington set the ball up for Carvey whose header glanced against the outside of the left-hand post for a goal-kick. Braddon fouled Harrington, taken quickly by Gaisford but hit too long to trouble the Gas defence, and after ten minutes Dillon set Minter away to gain a corner off Kiley and before the kick could be taken the referee had cause to speak to Dillon and Gaisford. The corner from Dadds was headed clear by West to Taylor (L) who tried a speculative right-footed shot from distance which keeper, Bethell (L) held above his head. Dillon fouled Bloomfield, Gaisford cleared towards Harrington who was fouled by Minter, twenty-five yards out on the left side, Springett took the free-kick curling the ball over the defensive wall where keeper, Morrison saved at the expense of a corner. Taylor (L) got past Carvey to find Dillon running wide to rifle a shot just past the post and safety.
On fifteen minutes, Webb was cautioned for a foul on Gregory but already too many free-kicks, had been seen, as both teams tried to gain the initiative, Taylor (L) played the ball wide to Firkens and from his cross Price was back to concede the corner, taken by Dadds, blocked by Webb and finally Dadds sent the ball to keeper, Bethell (L) as the play switched from one end to the other. Harrington attacked down the right side and when his pass found Bloomfield he struck a great left footed shot that was turned away by an equally fine save from keeper, Morrison for a corner. Springett took the corner with Farthing heading over the cross-bar and at this point West Bergholt were slightly the better team going forward. Minter hit a long ball forward to Firkens with Farthing covering to find Kiley who was fouled by Marangou. On twenty-three minutes a fine tackle by Carvey on Dillon inside the penalty area set Harrington through, looked off-side but play continued with West Bergholt unable to capitalise on the numerical advantage. Stoneman was spoken too for a poor challenge on Price but Springett over-hit the free-kick, Harrington almost set Bethell (J) away but he was standing off-side however when Harrington did break clear only a fine save by Morrison kept the score-line level.
That changed in the twenty-seventh minute and slightly against the run of play, Minter played the ball forward, Gaisford dithered and REIFE MARANGOU kept running to roll the ball past the advancing keeper however, West Bergholt hit back immediately, a strong run and cross by Webb found JACK HARRINGTON who headed home at the near post to bring the scores level again. Minter was cautioned for a foul on Gaisford with Firkens clearing the ball off his goal-line from the free-kick taken by Springett. Five minutes to half-time and Dillon was brought down by Bloomfield, back helping his defence, for a penalty kick, however, despite what was said in the Match Day Programme, Braddon stepped up to place the ball to the right side of keeper, Bethell (L) who made a fine save to keep the scores level with Springett completing the clearance from the parried save, only to be fouled by Marangou. Carvey found Harrington whose back-heel went towards Price who was still coming back from an off-side position, Bloomfield got back to tackle Minter for a throw-in followed by a foul by Firkens on Bloomfield, Springett taking the kick towards Harrington who had little chance to control the long ball. A neat reverse ball by Taylor (L) found Firkens who used his pace to find space and unleash a shot-cum-cross that flew wide, but West Bergholt through Webb and Harrington had looked comfortable. A long ball out from Morrison found Firkens who used his skill to get past Carvey and Kiley for a corner, to be taken by Dadds, but before that the referee had to speak again to Dillon and this time Carvey, with defender West heading over once the corner was taken. A we approached half-time a foul by Stoneman on Harrington led to another free-kick taken by Springett finding Gaisford with Taylor (L) clearing only for Springett to pump the ball forward again with West clearing with a strong header.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 1.
By the time the second half started the floodlights had been switched on and with Gas attacking, they felt they should have had another penalty as keeper, Bethell (L) and Kiley sandwiched Marangou inside the penalty area, I thought the Gas player, probably like the referee, went over too easily. West Bergholt, when in possession played the ball around well, a curling cross from Springett found Harrington who headed wide, a long clearance from Morrison set Firkens away but keeper, Bethell (L) was quickly out to the edge of his penalty area to fly-kick clear. The second half, had, so far been a slow burner, Carvey found Springett whose long ball found Price with Stoneman clearing, a goal-kick taken by Dadds was sent long to Firkens but Kiley stuck to his defensive task to concede a corner. Price was caught off-side chasing a pumped ball forward from Bloomfield and when play resumed Taylor (L) waltzed through three defenders only to be fouled by Carvey. Carvey was late arriving to a challenge on Gregory to earn his caution and Gregory needed treatment for an injury, the free-kick from Dadds was cleared by Webb to Dillon whose first effort was headed clear by Farthing who followed that block, with another clearance, this time off the goal-line and again from Dillon. A quickly taken throw-in by Minter set Taylor (L) away to shoot from thirty-five yards with the ball dipping just over the cross-bar, whilst at the same end Firkens broke forward only to be denied by Bethell (L) who took a great first touch outside his penalty area before clearing downfield.
We had now reached the hour mark, Gas replaced the injured Dadds with Taylor (R), a defender for a forward, A free-kick from Springett found Harrington on the right side, finding Price with a low cross which Minter turned away for a corner. A break by Harrington, often alone up front, forced a corner off West, Springett took the kick, only for Gaisford to commit a foul, then Springett fouled Marangou, Dillon took the kick from the left-hand side but Springett headed clear. On sixty-three minutes Carvey was replaced by Brown and clearly this game needed another goal but where was this likely to come from as the second half had been a stale-mate so far. A challenge by Dillon on Webb went unpunished with West Bergholt in possession, Gas regained possession and when Firkens cut inside he played the ball to JOSH DILLON who ran onto the flicked pass to beat two defenders before crashing the ball into the back of the net. A long ball forward by Bloomfield saw Minter defend stoutly and the young West Bergholt player was then replaced by Mucaj and Taylor (R) chased a long ball forward with Farthing for a goal-kick which was followed by some good defending by Minter on Price who looked lively chasing a pass from Mucaj. For Gas, when Dadds was replaced, this saw the return to defence by Taylor (L) who showed much quality when defending, tackling back, kicking and heading clear when required but also setting up the long ball chase for Firkens and Taylor (R), I heard the shout “let Cussy do everything” and to a point he was, doing just that!
Taylor (R) was cautioned for a stupid and late challenge on Springett, no free-kick was given but when Mucaj fouled Firkens the referee cautioned the Gas player and when play resumed, Gaisford was cautioned for a foul on Firkens. Taylor (L) took the free-kick but drove the ball high and wide and Gas had gained the upper hand, not just by scoring a second goal but they were now competing all over the pitch. In the absence of Dadds, Dillon took a corner, then when the ball was cleared Dillon beat Kiley to find Firkens whose return ball to Dillon went out for a corner off Gaisford and Firkens hit a long ball forward after dispossessing Farthing for pace. On eighty minutes Marangou was replaced by Cook and West Bergholt replaced Webb with Bethell (D), with Mucaj taking on Minter to gain a corner, taken by Springett but over-hit once again, so annoying for the tall defenders who had run forward for the set piece! When Braddon fouled Harrington, Dillon dribbled the ball away, much to the annoyance of the West Bergholt team, bit of time -wasting perhaps with Mucaj spoken too for over-stating is views about that incident. Springett defended well against Cook for a corner and we entered the last five minutes of normal time, with Harrington earning a caution for delaying the re-start following a foul. A last chance ball forward from Springett found Farthing who headed narrowly wide for a goal-kick, keeper Morrison launched an extremely long goal-kick which fell kindly at the feet of ASTEN FIRKENS who took the ball in his stride to race past Kiley and comfortably beat keeper, Bethell (L) for a match winning third goal for the Gas. Dillon was cautioned for time-wasting at a corner and Gas replaced the injured Gregory with Willoughby who immediately drew a foul from Gaisford and almost the last action saw Bethell (D) go literally “head-to-head” with Minter after the pair squared up after Bethell (D) had raised a high boot to the Gas defender, and after a stern lecture play resumed, but only for a few moments as the referee brought this hard-fought match to a close.
FULL TIME: 3 – 1.
Just as expected, an extremely hard-fought match by these two teams who know each other so well, West Bergholt might rue not having scored a couple of goals early on and did well to get back on level terms after Gas went ahead. The Gas penalty miss was quickly forgotten and during the second half the Gas improved to create chances and score two goals, I’d like to think that those spectators who turned up watched a good competitive game, Gas obviously went home the happier of the two teams having completed the unique League and Cup double.
ESBFL Chairman, Brian Tatum then gave a short speech before asking ESBFL, Vice Chairman, John Campany, to present medals and trophies to the match officials, who I thought had good games, West Bergholt FC as “Runners-Up” and Gas Recreations FC as “Winners” with Captain, Glen Morrison accepting the trophy before being mobbed by his team-mates, in the customary Gas tradition.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match choice, West Bergholt keeper, Bethell (L) despite playing through a neck injury, made a fine penalty save at a crucial time, Farthing rarely missed a header or challenge, Carvey, Bethell (J) and Webb clearly had to compete throughout in midfield with Harrington and Price chasing upfront. Now turning to Gas, where defenders Dadds and West looked comfortable throughout, Gregory, Marangou and Dillon bossed that midfield with Taylor (L) playing in several positions, always to good effect with Firkens always a positive outlet in wide positions however, I might not have given keeper, Morrison the Man-of-the-Match against Hatfield Peverel FC last Saturday but with two class saves in the first period and a fine “assist” for the third goal he gets my nod in this match.
GAS RECREATION FC: Colours: Red & Black Shirts, Black Shorts and Red Socks.
Glen Morrison (C)., Craig Minter., Jack Stoneman., Lee Braddon., Liam Dadds., Dean West., Jack Gregory., Reife Marangou., Josh Dillon., Luke Taylor., Asten Firkens.
Manager: Simon Hayward.
Assistant Manager: Calvin Firkens.
Used Substitutes: Ryan Taylor., Harry Willoughby., Charley Cook.,
Unused Substitutes: Jack Murray., Harry Hewes.,
WEST BERGHOLT FC: Colours: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.
Luke Bethell., Liam Springett (C)., Jack Kiley., Mark Gaisford., Nicholas Farthing., Ryan Carvey., Jake Bethell., Kieron Webb., Jack Harrington., Daniel Price., Luke Bloomfield.
Manager: Chris Tracey.
Assistant Manager: Anthony White.
Used Substitutes: Darren Bethell., Ryan Brown., Ermal Mucaj.
Unused Substitutes: Andrew Mitson., Perry Newman.
Referee: Nathan Oakes (Colchester)
Assistants: Richard Baker (Colchester)
and Martin Weavers (Witham)
4th Official: Matthew Jarvis (Maldon)
Man of the Match: Glen MORRISON (GAS RECREATION FC)