ESSEX & SUFFOLK BORDER FOOTBALL LEAGUE
TOLLESBURY FC: 2. FC CLACTON RESERVES: 3.
Date: Saturday 24th November 2018.
Venue: The Victory Recreational Ground, Elysian Gardens, Tollesbury.
It might be Division 2 again for me, but third placed Tollesbury FC were due to play second placed FC Clacton Reserves, so I, like many watching were expecting a close fought game. I had watched the hosts against Ramsey & Mistley FC back in September when they were convincing winners, today their opponents, who are having a better season so far, this after relegation last term, would be a sterner test and so it proved, despite their two named substitutes failing to arrive due to a flat car battery!
On a cold, grey autumn afternoon, the referee, who would be assisted by club linesman was Richard Oakes, a couple of tricky situations were dealt with competently as the visitors deservedly scored a late, late, winner.
Tollesbury kicked off, defender Lewis finding Longdon then Collins took over to fire over the cross-bar and the home team pushed forward with some decent passing from defence to attack whilst the visitors soaked up that early pressure. Butcher, another Tollesbury youngster almost set Collins through again but Raine used his experience to shield the player and the ball away from the goal area then a throw-in from McMillan almost found Butcher but Shillingford headed away for a corner which was cleared by Raine to Thompson who set Simon away towards the Tollesbury goal where Gregory got back to defend having been in the goal area for the cleared home corner. This break seemed to give FCC some confidence with a long throw-in from Townend reaching home keeper Coates, not a normal keeper, I might add, as the usual incumbent had broken his arm. Tiffin and Collins linked up with support from Gregory whose deep cross was comfortably held by FCC keeper, Woods. On ten minutes, Hill fouled Bramhall, the first free-kick off the game, taken by Pile into the six-yard box where keeper, Coates failed to catch and had to chase the ball away as Simon threatened however the clearance from McMillan found Longdon but from his pass Collins was correctly adjudged to be off-side. There was only eleven minutes on the clock when FCC scored, Townend sent a long ball forward, Thompson gave chase beating Hill for pace before placing a pass into the path of the unmarked BRADLEY PILE who had a simple task to score from ten yards out.
FCC followed up the goal attack with another similar approach, long ball forward, then a chase but this time Thompson fired into the side netting off the finger tips, of keeper, Coates, and Richardson shot wide from a throw-in from Townend as FCC started to dominate. Gregory, such a gifted and tricky player for Tollesbury collected the ball wide on the left side but delivered a poor cross that failed to reach either Tiffin or Collins. At the other end Thompson set off towards goal with Lewis giving chase only for the eventual cross to fly just wide of the right hand upright. A deep ball forward from Lewis was handled by Shillingford just inside the FCC half, Hill took the free-kick which drifted just wide as Lewis and Collins ran in at the far post then the first moment of controversy, Shillingford and Collins tussled for the ball on the edge of the six-yard box, Collins fell to the ground, no foul, no penalty, I like the referee thought that the home player had gone to ground far too easily, that said, I’ve seen them given in the professional game! Gregory skipped past Eldridge and Raine before Richardson blocked the first shot and Townend did the same for the second, good defending though. The long throw-ins from Townend were to cause numerous problems for the Tollesbury defence and Lewis and Hill had to be strong to clear these away, in fact the home defence was now under constant threat as the visitors put together more telling attacks being particularly dangerous on the break.
After twenty-two minutes another free-kick taken by Hill was clutched on his goal line by keeper, Woods, any slight touch by another player, during the balls flight would almost certainly have led to a goal, a free-kick taken by McMillan found Tiffin who was fouled by Raine about twenty-five yards out however, the free-kick taken by Gregory was hit far too long for a goal-kick. At the mid-point of the half Tollesbury put together their best move so far, Coates cleared to Tiffin who found Collins with Gregory being released forward to gain a corner, taken by Collins and when the low driven ball reached Lewis he hit a fine shot, only for keeper, Woods to make an excellent one-handed save low to his left with Raine clearing the loose ball out for a throw-in. The danger signs for Tollesbury was the pace of the FCC attacks, all their forwards were mobile and got forward quickly looking for that break from which another goal might come. On twenty-eight minutes Lewis and Longdon set up Tiffin who had found space but despite going to his left, then his right, he was still foiled by keeper, Woods who made another telling save. Butcher tried to deliver another pass to Collins, but he was caught offside, Raine fouled Longdon leading to another free-kick from Hill just inches too high for the heads of Tiffin, Collins and Gregory who stood below the balls trajectory towards goal. A clash of heads between Butcher and Foresythe momentarily stopped the game and once restarted Raine put in a desperate challenge on Gregory after an error from Eldridge.
A long clearance from keeper, Woods almost found Pile who was clearly pushed from behind by Lewis, but the free-kick taken by Richardson was cleared to Longdon and then Gregory who beat Eldridge to send in a teasing cross which was headed away by Raine for a corner. Gregory took the corner, short to Collins and when he received the return ball his shot was charged down by Eldridge for throw-in taken long by Wright to Tiffin with Collins trying an overhead kick which keeper, Woods saved on his goal-line. This half had been fairly, lively, with both teams pressing forward, the visitors slightly better placed with a single goal advantage, Richardson fouled Longdon and Gregory sent in aright footed curling free-kick that just missed the target, but his shooting was improving! Both Tiffin and Collins were caught off-side when Keeble slotted the ball through but from the free-kick taken by Woods the ball reached Thompson who raced away towards goal and when he shot from the edge of the penalty area it beat keeper, Coates but not defender Hill who connected to score an OWN GOAL. This goal was right on half time, with less than a minute of added time remaining, but straight from the kick-off Tiffin fed the ball into the feet of ASHLEY COLLINS who stroked the ball home from six yards to nicely set up the second half.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 2.
FCC restarted the second half, the light had started to fade and the temperature was dropping as well, Longdon found Keeble and Wright made ground down the left side to cross towards Collins who forced a corner off Raine. Tiffin was guilty of a high foot towards Raine who had already ducked into heading the bouncing ball away and from the free-kick Thompson raced away with Hill covering to force the winger wide before shooting at goal. Seven minutes into the half and the second controversial talking point occurred, a through ball from midfield fell to Pile running through for FCC, Lewis ran over to cover but despite getting a nick on the ball his momentum from slightly behind the player brought Pile crashing to the ground, as the last defender he was deemed to have denied a goal-scoring opportunity and the unfortunate Lewis received his marching orders. When action resumed the free-kick from Thompson was heading towards the top corner until keeper, Coates managed to palm the ball over for a corner kick and minutes later a rash challenge on Thompson by McMillan saw the yellow cared brandished. With one defender now missing Tollesbury now had to shuffle their players and play with a single striker however, Longdon set Tiffin up against Raine with keeper Woods conceding a corner from the shot on the turn from Tiffin. Gregory took the corner, finding the head of Butcher at the far post but the ball ballooned away for a goal-kick.
Gregory set Butcher up for a shot which keeper, Woods held and from his long clearance Hill fouled Bramhall with Butcher getting his body in the way on two occasions when FCC threatened from outside the penalty area. With FCC player, Simon laying injured deep in the Tollesbury half, a run through by Thompson saw the home defence calling for off-side but he was clearly not interfering with play however, the pace of the attack led to Thompson almost running into the stricken colleague, the move stalled and Tollesbury cleared. For Tollesbury, Collins ran behind Eldridge, crossing to Tiffin whose shot flew wide, but it was FCC who were still playing the more constructive football whilst Tollesbury were having to defend in numbers. On seventy-three minutes Tollesbury replaced Longdon with Smith, Collins was fouled by Richardson, Hill took the free-kick finding the head of the unmarked Collins who headed over the cross-bar with his blushes saved by an off-side flag. More niggly fouls crept in as we approached the last ten minutes and the third moment of controversy happened when Thompson burst through, keeper Coates dashed outside his penalty area and despite fouling Thompson the FCC player ran on to cross to Pile who slotted the ball into the back of the empty net. The referee initially awarded the goal until he was directed towards the club linesman whose flag had been raised and following a lengthy discussion the referee deemed that Pile had been offside. To me, if the ball had then played backwards then Pile would not have been offside, if the ball was played forward to Pile then the one defender scenario, not two, kicks in, that said the goal was disallowed much to the annoyance of the visitors.
On eighty-one minutes Tollesbury replaced Tiffin with Jones and when Tollesbury got forward it was Jones who slipped the ball wide to TOM GREGORY who hit an absolute cracker of a shot from thirty yards out, which crashed against the right hand upright before bouncing across the goal to hit the inside of the net on the other side of the goal, I don’t think any goal-keeper was going to save that, it levelled up the scores and set up a frantic last few minutes. Wright played in Collins who was shackled once again by veteran Raine, who made a great tackle inside the penalty area, then when Collins was fouled by Eldridge his free-kick flew straight to keeper, Woods. A strong run forward by young Smith again set up Collins with Woods saving and from his long clearance FCC gained a corner in the ninetieth minute, Pile drove in the corner towards the near post where SAMUEL THOMPSON connected to smash the ball home for the winning goal.
FULL TIME: 2 – 3.
As I expected a close game unravelled down in Tollesbury on Saturday, the eventual and deserved winners were FC Clacton Reserves who had, at one point, thought that three points might only have been one after that spectacular equaliser from Tollesbury, especially after having a goal disallowed. There was some good attacking football seen, some poor defending as well and three talking points, all of which I believe got the right decision from the experienced match official. FC Clacton Reserves stay in second place with Tollesbury third, eight points behind with three games in hand, but, even at this early stage of the season, I can’t see either of these teams, nor fourth placed AFC Sudbury “A” catching run-away leaders Stanway Pegasus FC.
Now for my Player-of-the-Match choice, Tollesbury FC took time to get started, as the game wore on they looked like they could and would score goals, defender Lewis was strong in central defence until his second half dismissal, but his defensive colleagues always struggled with the pace of the FCC players. Upfront, Tiffin, Collins and Gregory will cause problems, unfortunately they needed better service today which may be because FC Clacton stifled the efforts of the home midfield. For FC Clacton Reserves, I was impressed with keeper Woods, several fine saves and some competent handling throughout, but he had no chance with either goal. Veteran captain, Raine showed that if you keep yourself fit and use your head then the game can be made simple, hopefully his young colleagues will learn from his example. The FCC midfield was crucial to their success, stopping the home attacks early and distributing the ball to areas of strength and despite several useful contributions Thompson was their best player, setting up the first goal for Pile, forcing the own goal from his cross-cum-shot and scoring the winner in the dying seconds but generally he was a nuisance, in the right sense of the word, all afternoon.
TOLLESBURY FC: Colours: Red & Black Shirts, Black Shorts and Black Socks.
Edward Coates., David McMillan., Mitchell Wright., Scott Keeble., John Hill., Scott Lewis (C)., Lewis Longdon., Will Butcher., Jonathan Tiffin., Ashley Collins., Tommy Gregory.
Manager: John Hill.
Used Substitutes: Matthew Smith., Nathan Jones.
Unused Substitutes: Jamie Moore., Tom Braddy., Jamie Baker.
FC CLACTON RESERVES FC: Colours: White Shirts., Blue Shorts and Blue Socks
Thomas Woods., Billy-Lee Eldridge., Darren Raine (C)., Tyler Shillingford., Jake Richardson., Rhys Townend., Alex Foresythe., Anthony Simon., Bradley Pile., Lyndon Bramhall., Samuel Thompson.
Manager: Russell Mead.
Unused Substitutes: Russell Mead., Charlie McDougall., Steven Bruff.
Referee: Richard Oakes (Colchester)
Player-of-the-Match: Samuel THOMPSON (FC CLACTON RESERES)
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