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19/02/2019 – REPORT – Little Oakley FC Reserves versus Brantham Athletic FC Reserves







Date:   Tuesday 19th February 2019.             Venue:             War Memorial Ground, Little Oakley.


Being unable to attend a match last Saturday there was a handy mid-week match at Little Oakley where fourteenth placed LOFC Reserves were to play rock bottom Brantham Athletic FC Reserves, already sixteen points adrift and with only five games to play its now a matter of trying to be positive and play with pride for the remainder of the season, as relegation is almost a certainty. Both these teams have opted to blood youngsters again this season and at least two of the home team squad (average age of 23 years) were just sixteen whereas the visitors squad had an average age of just 20 years, perhaps that inexperience of youth is the reason they languish bottom of the table!


On a calm but chilly evening the appointed match officials were Steven Tovey who would be assisted by Richard Oakes and Rhys Collins, I thought they collectively had a good game, couple of issues but handled well after due consideration.


Brantham kicked-off and play switched from end to end aided by the driven long ball that took the odd unpredictable bounce on a pitch that has already seen much use again this season, but the club facilities are a definite positive for the progressive home club. The first real chance fell to Cole of Brantham who shanked a decent effort high and wide, more composure required there, Palmer for the home team tried a left sided break to gain a throw-in deep in the opponent’s half. The first foul of the match, by Palmer, after four minutes was on the lively Lee (Jo) just inside the centre-circle but the home team dealt with the free-kick taken by Riley. Brazitis made a determined attack against Spencer who used his experience to make a solid challenge and shepherd the ball into touch, then a long clearance from keeper, Mutimer found Lee (Jo) and from his lay-off Sykes drove the ball left-footed over the cross-bar. In these early stages, Brantham were playing the ball around quite confidently and forced the home team to defend and sending the ball, twice into neighbouring gardens. Spencer ventured forward down the left side and after two throw-ins from the same player a cross from Riley was cleared by Roots for a corner, taken by Riley to the head of the unmarked Cole whose header found the safe arms of home keeper, Sims, standing on his goal-line. On ten minutes a free-kick taken by Palmer, hit the Brantham defensive wall and when it rebounded to Palmer his effort was blocked by Brown. Lee (Jo) had a pot-shot at goal from outside the penalty area and thus far the visitors had been the better team.

On fifteen minutes, Palmer and Brazitis linked up to gain a corner off Spencer, taken by Brazitis but hit far too long for a throw-in on the other side, and as play moved forward Brantham were awarded a free-kick mid-half, but whomever took it failed to communicate the intended pass which went straight to Palmer who broke forward with the Brantham defence stranded up-field, unfortunately the home team could not capitalise. Brazitis and Sullivan linked up to force a corner off Watkins and Brantham were now the team under pressure, a throw-in from Roots was headed out for a corner by Lee (Ja), taken by Stratton to Cole whose misplaced header landed back with Stratton and from his driven cross Lee (Ja) chested the ball away, a close call for handball but I thought the referee called it right. Keeper, Mutimer made a great save at the feet of Brazitis and from his clearance Lee (Jo) skipped past Roots, but home keeper, Sims made a fine save with his feet and he reacted quickly to make another almost point-blank save, again from Lee (Jo) this time from outside the penalty area. With twenty minutes gone this game was never going to be goalless, as both teams pushed forward, it was a case of who could make use of the chances created, keeper, Sims was almost caught out by a cross from Watkins that looked to be going wide before veering goal-wards. Roots fouled Riley just level with the centre-circle, Riley pumped the ball forward to Lee (Jo) but he missed his kick when well placed, but he was off-side anyway and at the other end Stratton was guilty of a foul on Lee (Ja) just on the penalty spot. A clash of heads between Sullivan and Riley led to treatment to both players and a drop ball re-start from the half-way line.

With half-an-hour gone a free-kick from Palmer forced Mann to head clear for a corner, taken once again by Stratton but well defended by Brantham leading to Riley running clear and force keeper, Sims to save low to his right side. Palmer, drew a foul from Brown over by the corner flag, again cleared up-field to Lee (Jo) who set Kilbourn up for a shot that was cleared by Windred for a corner, taken by Riley but Stanford headed clear and the danger passed. On thirty-eight minutes a foul by Roots on Lee (Jo) right in front of the dug-outs led to Little Oakley cheaply gaining possession and working the ball forward to Smith whose pass inside Spencer found Wright over-lapping and when his low cross came in there was CHRISTOPHER STRATTON to turn the ball into the net and at last we had a break through with five minutes to half-time. Brantham continued to chase and hassle every home player on or near the ball and had not shown any signs of capitulating, in fact Roots was warned for another untimely challenge on Lee (Jo) this time pulling the player back as he tried to pass. This half had now passed fairly quickly, and it was then that I noticed the decent mid-week crowd that had gathered down the stand side and behind the clubhouse end goal.


HALF-TIME:    1 – 0.


There were no player changes at half-time and Little Oakley kicked-off forcing Brantham to defend at the expense of a corner, taken by Stratton into the path of player-manager GARY STANFORD who headed home from close range. Home keeper Sims was quickly out to help Stanford out when Lee (Jo) threatened and Brantham defender Watkins was spoken too for a rash challenge from behind as the home team threatened to break away. Following this second home goal the game appeared to die, Brantham seemed to have lost their way a bit but Little Oakley were equally guilty of sitting back and then rely on a break. Brown for Brantham defended well with a couple of strong and timely challenges inside his own penalty area, then from a pass from Cole, Lee (Jo) sent in a rising shot that keeper, Sims had to dive and palm away for a corner.

Right on sixty minutes Little Oakley scored their third goal, a mis-hit ball forward from half-way should have been cleared by the Brantham defence, keeper, Mutimer ran out to collect but was beaten to the ball by OLIVER WRIGHT whose chipped effort found the back of the net and this effectively sealed a home victory. A free-kick from Riley found the head of Lee (Jo) but keeper, Sims was impeded as he came to collect leading to a free-kick whereupon on sixty-one minutes Little Oakley replaced Brazitis with Geen, Sykes fouled Roots to earn the first caution of the match. Once again, the experienced, Palmer was pulling the attacking strings for Little Oakley through midfield and he was also guilty on the odd occasion of covering for his defence! Brantham had not given up and the presence of Lee (Jo) inside the penalty area from a free-kick, taken by Riley, led to the ball falling loose at the feet of SAM COLE who scored. When Cole retrieved the ball from the back of the net he was checked by Stanford leading to both players being cautioned and things got a bit heated! Lee (Jo) fouled Farthing, then Spence fouled Stratton in a central position just outside the “D” but the kick taken by Palmer struck the defensive wall finding Geen whose cross was behind the goal.

With fifteen minutes remaining Brantham replaced Spencer with Davies and Little Oakley replaced Smith with Caudill and when play re-started Sullivan sent Geen away but his cross was fielded by keeper, Mutimer. A foray forward by Stanford led to a cross that found Stratton, but he failed to connect properly and scuffed a decent chance which was cleared by Lee (Ja). With ten minutes remaining keeper, Mutimer excelled with a fine save from Stratton who latched onto a cross from Geen, two more substitutions followed, James replaced Stratton for Little Oakley and Rand replaced Mann for Brantham. Keeper, Mutimer made two more excellent saves to deny teenager, Wright who showed up well despite his slight stature, this was the last action of the match.


FULL TIME:     3 – 1.


I suppose you could say this was the proverbial bottom of the table clash, fourteenth against sixteenth at the start of play, far from it, both teams showed youthful promise for the future, the fate of Brantham is sealed but Little Oakley still have ten matches to play and are looking for a mid-table finish.


Now for my Player-of-the-Match choice visiting keeper Mutimer made some timely saves to keep the score down to three, his defence were somewhat over-worked at times but Brown and Lee (Ja) stood out, Riley and Cole worked hard in midfield as did Lee (Jo) up-front but the service was sporadic and inconsistent but take nothing away from this young team they tried their hardest. Turning to Little Oakley, keeper Sims is improving and looked a safe pair of hands, defensively they were tested but not troubled until late on. Mid-field is where the game was won, Sullivan, Smith, Wright, Brazitis and especially Palmer dominated and gave good service to Stratton who scored one and assisted with the second.





Colours:            Blue & Black striped Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.


Sam Sims., Daniel Roots (C)., Tom Farthing., Harry Windred., Gary Stanford., Mark Palmer., Tyler Sullivan., Harvey Smith., Christopher Stratton., Oliver Wright., Ross Brazitis.


Player Manager:             Gary Stanford.

Assistant Manager:       Matthew Windred.

Used Substitutes:          Matthew Geen., Josh Caudill., Jack James




Colours:            White Shirts., Blue Shorts and Blue Socks.


George Mutimer., Thomas Watkin., Ben Spencer., James Lee., Simon Mann, Sam Cole., Liam Riley., Oliver Brown., Jonathan Lee., George Sykes., Samuel Kilbourn.


Manager:                      James Long.

Used Substitutes:          Justin Davies., Lee Rand.


Referee:                       Steven Tovey.               (Colchester)

Assistant Referees:       Richard Oakes.              (Colchester)

and                              Rhys Collins.                 (Clacton-On-Sea)


Player-of-the-Match:    Mark PALMER          (LITTLE OAKLEY 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


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” ( ) but would all Club / Fixture Secretaries please advise any agreed changes, as required, to Alison Willmore ( ) especially for evening games and for those matches being played under floodlights etc.


KO is 2:30pm in:              February

KO is 3:00pm from:         March to end of season


Cup Matches:

Kick-Off times for ESBFL cup matches, are generally 30 minutes earlier than those shown above but check competition rules beforehand.


Kick-Off times for Essex County Football Association cup matches are published on the ECFA web-site.

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ESBFL “web-site”


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Clubs are reminded that the following documents are all available on this website under Clubs / Documents etc:


ESBFL Handbook,

Player Registration Sheet,

Player “Signed-On-Match-Day” Form,

Player Transfer Form,

Match Postponement Form,

Referee – Low Mark Form                                          Please report via “FA Full-Time”

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