ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
FLITCH UNITED FC: 5. ALRESFORD COLNE RANGERS FC: 2.
Date: Saturday 17th November 2018. Venue: Allcotts Playing filed, Stebbing.
I chose last Saturday to venture over to Stebbing, a little village, just north of Braintree and just off the A120 where the seventh placed home team, Flitch United FC were to entertain top of the table Alresford Colne Rangers FC Reserves. I had watched Flitch United FC back in September when they inflicted a first defeat of the season, away, over Tiptree Engaine FC so this fixture threw up another challenge for both these teams, Flitch to play catch up, they have four games in hand over the visitors who had beaten them by a solitary goal the week after I had watched them at Colne Engaine.
On a bright, sunny but, cold afternoon the designated match official was Ricky Johnson who was ably assisted by two club linesmen and he made a point of mentioning how honest these gentlemen had been throughout the match, well done and I concurred with his observations!
Flitch kicked off and built an early attack down the left side with Morgan chasing a forward ball which he crossed into the six-yard box where startled keeper Spencer parried the ball off the toes of Coopersmith who had ventured forward from defence. Sauka, making his debut for Alresford used his pace to get down the left side chasing a ball from Linnane, however, home keeper, Taylor was quickly off his line to block, with Coopersmith conceding a corner which was cleared by Buckland. O’Brien fouled Linnane mid-half, again Flitch defended well and broke forward with O’Brien finding Pyne whose left footed cross was met first time by Burton, keeper Spencer reacted to parry the ball back towards Burton whose firm header was then turned away for a corner by keeper, Spencer. We certainly had witnessed a lively start and once again O’Brien and Pyne created a crossing opportunity which defender, Findlay headed out for a corner. Morgan took the corner, curling the ball into the six-yard box where the unmarked Buckland just failed to connect, a golden opportunity to score! Central defender, Coopersmith threaded the ball through to Wickham who strode away towards goal, but Findlay chased back to concede another corner, taken by O’Brien but again Findlay headed out for a throw-in. Morgan was late into a challenge on Angell and was rightly spoken too, and the match continued to be end-to-end with the home team more threatening.
On fifteen minutes Nash fouled Coopersmith, and on twenty-one minutes it was Nash who had drifted wide to the left before playing the ball into the path of ASHLEY SAUKA, and with the home defence failing to pick up his run, he managed to squeeze the ball past the dive of keeper, Taylor, the ball glancing off the inside of the far post before nestling in the back of the net, a goal scored, definitely, against the run of play. Flitch picked up where they had left off, on the attack, and within four minutes had drawn level, a cross from Sykes on the right was headed out by Findlay to JAKE BUCKLAND who smashed the ball home from outside the penalty area, a great strike and a goal certainly deserved by the home team. Findlay was on hand to defend again as Wickham threatened and was confident to keep running forward into the Flitch half, in fact, I think he was the furthest forward for his team when he was eventually tackled! Buckland found Wickham who set off on a long chase just losing out to some dogged defending by Collins for Alresford. Flitch remained the dominant team, when McLean fouled Morgan, the referee allowing play to continue before bring play back, O’Brien floated in a delightful free-kick which caused confusion at the foot of the right hand upright, Spencer failed to gather and could only parry the ball against ADAM BURTON to sweep the ball home from about a yard out.
How would Alresford respond, well Sauka burst through onto a pass from Linnane, keeper Taylor advanced, and the two players collided, purely, two players going for a fifty-fifty ball just inside the penalty area, but both were injured and required treatment. Once he had recovered, keeper Taylor launched a huge clearance which defender Angel attempted to guide back to his keeper, Spencer, however Burton had read his intentions, intercepting to find Buckland who just failed to connect with the ball and relieved Spencer saved. A long throw-in by Morgan found the head of Burton but Findlay was well placed to head out for a corner kick, then another long throw-in from Morgan bounced across the penalty area towards the far post where nobody was standing! A long ball forward by Findlay fell at the feet of Sauka and from his shot on the turn, keeper, Taylor saved after the first bounce of the ball and then at the other end Flitch thought they deserved a penalty when Findlay tussled with Wickham who had gone to ground, nothing there in neither mine, nor the referee’s opinion. Flitch kept plugging away, on forty minutes, Pyne chased through past Angel but cleared the advancing keeper and the goal with his lobbed effort, Featherstone found Sykes down the right side and just when Wickham was about to turn and shoot Price defended for a corner. DAN O’BRIEN played the corner short and when he received the ball back he sent a fine left-footed strike past the diving keeper, Spencer from just outside the penalty area, another fine strike. A minute later and right on half-time SHANE PYNE was allowed, to run through onto a pass from O’Brien beating the advancing keeper with the ball striking the far upright before entering the net, what an end to an entertaining half, well if was for a neutral observer and no doubt the home team and its management.
HALF-TIME: 4 – 1.
With no player changes at half-time it was Alresford who kicked off, but what could they do this half as they had been outplayed during the first forty-five minutes, a early cross from Pyne fell to Buckland who handled the ball before forcing keeper, Spencer, to save with a free-kick awarded. The direct running of Wickham saw the ball played into the space behind the visitor’s defence but Pyne even with his pace was never going to reach that ball! Flitch kept up the pressure, Collins fouled Wickham, O’Brien struck the free-kick goal-wards, Findlay headed out, to Morgan whose shot was turned away by Findlay with Morgan following up to force keeper, Spencer into another point-blank save. Findlay, the visitors over-worked central defender and captain then produced a fine bit of defensive work when Morgan threatened, I’m still trying to work out what he actually did, and the home supporters standing near me were equally amazed as he managed to bring the ball away, great, never-say-die defending! On fifty minutes Alresford gained a corner, after the persistence of Linnane, taken by Sauka, keeper, Taylor saved at the near post and cleared to Pyne who, in space, controlled the ball and set off towards goal until Marchant blocked his progress and Morgan was denied when Findlay intercepted his intended through ball. A long chase by Sauka gained a throw-in, taken by Linnane to Sauka whose cross found the unmarked Nash, but his firm header flew straight at keeper, Taylor. Another cross from Learoyd-Tuckwell also found Nash but Coopersmith nicked the ball off his feet to set Morgan away with the cross from Pyne caught by keeper, Spencer, then good defensive work by Featherstone stopped Sauka.
A long clearance from Spencer fell to Nash who laid the ball off the Price who forced keeper, Taylor to save low to his left side and from this Flitch moved forward with Pyne, Morgan an Pyne again reaching the six-yard box before Marchant cleared. On the hour mark Alresford replaced Linnane with Smith, but it was Flitch who played some good approach football and lined up a couple of shots from outside the penalty area from Wickham and Buckland, bit gung-ho perhaps but the chances were there as the visitors stood off. Substitute Smith was played through by McLean, but some alert goalkeeping and good positioning saw keeper, Taylor take the ball off the toes of Smith as he dived in, whilst Findlay put in a heavy challenge on Pyne just outside the penalty area. With twenty minutes remaining Flitch replaced Buckland with Oates and a long ball from keeper, Taylor, found the unmarked MATTHEW WICKHAM whose control was good and when he turned he stroked the ball home past a motionless goal-keeper who had been left totally exposed. Alresford replaced Learoyd-Tuckwell with Harrison, but the home onslaught continued with keeper, Spencer denying Pyne who chased down a ball from Sykes. Smith tackled O’Brien to concede a free-kick just outside the penalty area and with the game stopped Flitch replaced both Burton and Morgan with Rivett and Monk on the pitch for the last fifteen minutes.
Pyne, was almost unstoppable when in possession and from his pass Wickham drove forward to lay the ball off to Oates whose rising volley just drifted wide of the goal with keeper, Spencer making a fine effort to cover the directory of the ball. Oates was then in action at the other end defending well when Smith threatened, and Alresford made their last change with Angel being replaced by Marshall. Solid defending by Coopersmith set Sykes away down the right side and when Wickham nutmegged Marshall the resulting cross was poor by his standards. On eighty-three minutes Alresford pulled one goal back, McLean ran forward from the half-way line and played in DANIEL FINDLAY who rolled back the ears to give chase and firmly blast the ball past keeper, Taylor, but clearly time was running out for any chance of a point now! Keeper, Taylor, again with an excellent clearance found Rivett, instant control, a flick over Marshall and cross towards Wickham whose header was saved by keeper, Spencer. When, Marshall was beaten by Pyne, the tackle from behind was only ever going to lead to a penalty kick however, keeper Spencer, guessed right, literally, to make a fine save from O’Brien. In the last two minutes keeper, Spencer denied both Oates and Wickham with two more excellent saves to keep the score down to just five goals against.
FULL TIME: 5 – 2.
Another excellent game of football, let us be clear here, Alresford Reserves were clearly out-of-sorts today, why, I know not, but that was not a top of the table performance, however, Flitch United FC who move up to third, were clinical all afternoon, solid in defence apart from two goals conceded but when going forward they were always a threat, five goals scored but it could have been double that on the number of chances created, all this through honest team work, nice to see one clean sheet though, no cautions, for either team.
Now for my Player-of-the-Match choice, Flitch United FC players all played their part, with five different goal-scorers and quite frankly I would be hard pushed to single out one above another, this win would allow then to catch the top teams if the games in hand are won. Now, whilst Alresford Colne Rangers FC Rangers would probably look back on this game as a bad day at the office, if it had not been for some fine saves, including a penalty by keeper Spencer and some dogged defending throughout and a goal to his name as well then Findlay is my selection this week.
FLITCH UNITED FC:
Colours: Royal Blue Shirts, Royal Blue Shorts and Royal Blue Socks.
Andrew Taylor., Troy Featherstone., Dan O’Brien., Nicholas Butler., Matthew Wickham., Jake Buckland., Shane Pyne., Billy Sykes (C)., Matthew Coopersmith., Adam Burton., Michael Morgan.
Manager: Peter Monk.
Used Substitutes: Neil Rivett., James Oates., Peter Monk.
ALRESFORD COLNE RANGERS FC RESERVES:
Colours: Red Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Peter Spencer., Brett Angell., Chris Collins., Andrew Marchant., Daniel Findlay (C)., Christopher Price., Russell McLean., Glen Linnane., Ross Nash., Kye Learoyd-Tuckwell., Ashley Sauka.
Manager: Lee Purchase.
Assistant Manager: Gary Wright.
Used Substitutes: Luke Harrison., Chris Marshall., Roger Smith.
Unused Substitute: Lee Purchase.
Referee: Ricky Johnson (Colne Engaine)
Player-of-the-Match: Daniel FINDLAY (ALRESFORD COLNE RANGERS 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.
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