Brian Reed Match Report - BRFC Reserves
Reserves win thriller 5-3 against local rivals
A Division One local derby took my fancy this week, second placed, Brightlingsea Regent FC Reserves against fourth placed, Alresford Colne Rangers FC Reserves, a game played at Strangers Corner, Brightlingsea, a venue, I had not visited since a Clacton Sunday League game more than twenty-five years ago and the clubhouse now in use was not even built in those days. One thing had not changed though and that was the wind which comes off the River Colne to chill the bones as the late October weather changed once again as the teams walked out to the pitch furthest away from the changing rooms.
The match official was Connor Hodgkins who would be assisted by respective Club linesman and after a quiet first half he certainly had plenty to deal with in the second half, but more of that later!
Alresford were to kick-off but had been hampered by an apparent shortage of goalkeepers having to sign on club stalwart, Cook before the match commenced, a wise move, perhaps not after this result, but needs must I suppose and there were ten others on the field for his team! Brightlingsea opened brightly and a deep cross from Sauka was comfortably held by Cook inside the six yard box, then Doig forced the first corner off Marchant but in only the second minute a mix-up between home keeper Eles and defender Bradley enabled recent transferee SHANE GOODYEAR to open the scoring on his debut. The robust and direct running of Goodyear saw him chase and hassle Bradley down by the corner flag to come away with the ball but the cross flew out on the other side. Even after five minutes, both teams were trying to press forward and make chances with the next chance falling to the visitors when Ayling back-headed the ball to Goodyear who laid the ball off the Collins but his shot was weak and failed to trouble Eles. Brightlingsea needed to get back into this game and on eight minutes they equalised when Bradley set Pawsey away down the left side from where his cross was controlled by RICHARD MEADOWS before being rifled into the back off the net off the under-side of the cross-bar.
When play resumed Alresford forced a corner, taken by Marshall, keeper Eles missed his punched attempt allowing Linnane to head goalwards only for Auger to head clear off the goal-line to Doig who cleared up-field. On ten minutes Marchant was guilty of a poor challenge on Sauka to earn the first caution of the match, however the free-kick from Doig was cleared leading to a foul by Hart on Goodyear just by the centre-circle however the free-kick taken by Marshall went straight to Eles, but already this game was competitive and vociferous as both benches encouraged their teams. A free-kick from Marshall again went straight to Eles who threw the ball out to Bradley who was brushed aside by Goodyear, as was Doig allowing Goodyear to cross low and hard into the six-yard box where ROBERT CZAPLA swept the ball home. As I had already mentioned this game was competitive, as witnessed by a decent crowd, but there were too many free-kicks being conceded by both teams, the next by Linnane with Marshall helping out his defence. Another chase by Pawsey after twenty minutes saw his cross met by Doig whose left foot shot was blocked by Marchant for a corner, hit too long by Meadows.
The next goal came on twenty-five minutes and it was for Alresford, as a long throw-in from Marshall was allowed to bounce inside the penalty area where SHANE GOODYEAR controlled with his back to goal and when he turned to his right his left footed effort took a slight deflection off a defender to cross the goal-line and I made a note that this could become a high-scoring game, what do I know you say! Brightlingsea probably didn’t deserve to be two goals behind but Alresford had been quicker into the tackle and looked more dangerous going forward with Goodyear and Czapla linking up well with Marshall dictating from midfield, supported by Linnane and Ayling whose delicate chip landed on the top of the goal with Eles still back-pedalling. Marshall was forced off the pitch with a cut lip as Eles played the ball out to Bradley who broke forward with Marchant stopping Meadows with a timely challenge, two corners to the home side followed with neither reaching the danger area with the second going straight behind, bit wasteful when your tall defenders have gone up to challenge. Ten minutes before half-time and a free-kick from Baker (C) put Sauka through but Marangou chased back to concede a corner, again wasted but Alresford were defending well as the home team looked to reduce the deficit before the break. Goodyear chased a long clearance forward, this from Wightman, Auger was out-muscled by Goodyear, with the ball falling to the feet of Czapla who forced keeper Eles to make a fine save. Bradley once again set Pawsey away to cut the ball back to Meadows who leaned back to sky the ball over the cross-bar then, from a Bradley free-kick, Ayling failed to put in a proper headed clearance but Marshall did the rest and the half ended.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 3.
Brightlingsea rang the changes at the second half restart with Baker (K) replacing defender Hart and the home team kicked-off looking to get back into this game. A strong run down the right side by Meadows onto the first pass made by Baker (K) led to Doig being foiled by Marchant who cleared towards Goodyear. Sauka was fouled by Collins and the free-kick from Doig found Baker (K) but Marchant cleared and Brightlingsea kept their momentum going and suddenly this game looked like the proverbial game of two halves! In fact it looked like Alresford had started to panic whilst Brightlingsea injected some more urgency into their game by introducing Oughton for Pawsey with five minutes of the half elapsed. Sauka fed Baker (K) who in turn played the ball forward to Meadows who was caught marginally off-side and Auger needed to leave the field of play to tape up a split boot. On fifty-five minutes, when Sauka sped away from Collins, whose persistence at trying to stop the winger led to a foul wide on the left side and a caution for the Alresford player. DANIEL BRADLEY stepped up to take the free-kick, but with the wind increasing the ball hung in the air then took a wicked swerve straight into the back of the net with keeper Cook floundering to recover his position having expected the ball to reach the far post and not closer to the near post!
Five minutes later and Brightlingsea equalised, Sauka chased a long ball forward from Bradley who received the ball back before curling a cross towards the far post where the unmarked GEORGE HUTCHINGS stooped low to head home and the great comeback had continued. During the time that this goal was scored defender Marchant had fallen awkwardly and clearly could not continue with his ankle swelling up as he was helped from the pitch allowing Harrison to enter the fray and keeper Cook talked his way into the referee’s notebook for dissent with Ayling taking the captains armband from Marchant. With their tails up, Brightlingsea sough another goal and within three minutes they scored again, Baker (K) played the ball wide to Ashley Sauka who raced past McCrae to beat Cook at his near post to queue wild scenes over on the touchline as that was three goals scored in just eight minutes. Linnane, who had dropped into the Alresford defence when Marchant departed, dived into a full frontal challenge on Meadows whose knee landed on the thigh of Linnane who was clearly unable to continue due to a dead-leg meaning Manager, Purchase had to replace him. Such was the dominance of the home team inside the first fifteen minutes of the second half that the visitors had hardly got into the home half.
Sauka sent Hutchings on a long run forward and when finding Sauka in support the cross found both Hutchings and Meadows attacking the same cross leading to a tight tussle between Baker (K) and Harrison wide on the right side which led to a free-kick being awarded to the home team. Auger and Goodyear were spoken too after contesting a high bouncing ball but from the long free-kick taken by Baker (K), Sauka was cautioned for a deliberate handball inside the Alresford penalty area and I had to ask myself why did he do that, a waste of a tenner! With fifteen minutes remaining Hutchings was replaced by Holyman and a good passing movement followed from right to left then back again only for Meadows to be caught off-side. Three minutes later we witnessed one of those moments when a totally stupid act leads to a mass confrontation, ironically right in front of the technical areas, Meadows evaded a first challenge from Collins but it was Ayling who ran across to make a cynical challenge on Meadows, no question he deliberately fouled the player rather than make any attempt to get the ball. Foolishly Meadows squared up to Ayling who fell theatrically to the floor whilst most other players in the vicinity raced to get involved. When things calmed down Meadows received his caution for the retaliation, Purchase was cautioned for disputing the decision and Ayling was eventually cautioned, when to me, and other spectators, he should have been dismissed for his crude attempt at a tackle, perhaps he was frustrated about the turn of second half events but that instigative action has no place in football!
Midfielder Doig saw his shot fly wide and Cook made a fine save to deny a thirty yard shot from Baker (K) whose second half introduction had been decisive in his teams come-back, whereas Wightman for Alresford found Ayling just on the edge of the penalty area and when he chested the ball down Goodyear stroked the ball high and wide of Eles who had been a spectator for most of the second half. Another foul by Ayling, again on Meadows led to a free-kick taken by Holyman, Baker (K) rose to attempt a header but Bradley standing wide of the far post retrieved the ball and played in another cross which Cook saved at point blank range from Baker (K) only for MATTHEW SIMMONS to steer the loose ball home from almost on the goal-line and we still had five minutes of added time to play. Deep into that added on time Doig persisted in trying to stop Wightman to complete the tally of cautions, this despite appeals from his colleagues not to do anything stupid!
FULL TIME: 5 – 3.
A remarkable game, oh yes, definitely a game of two halves, Alresford were good value for their first half performance which saw them ahead by three goals to one against a team that had lost only once this season. That all changed from the second half restart, Baker (K) stamped his authority on midfield, Baker (C), Doig, Sauka and then Oughton played their part in the recovery whilst Alresford completely lost their way forward, lost two defenders to injury and their heads too when picking up five cautions to the three of Brightlingsea, and if I’m honest the referee got all of them right.
Now, for my Man-of-the-Match selection, for Alresford, on their first half showing Marchant, Linnane, Marshall and Goodyear played well, the later a constant threat with two goals and an assist for Czapla. For Brightlingsea, Meadows was also a constant thorn, scoring the first half equaliser, their defence grew more confident in the second half, Sauka, found his running boots and a change of gear to score a typical individual goal. Baker (K) was a game changer but defender Bradley, who had an initial torrid first half against Goodyear, set the ball rolling towards the first equaliser for Meadows. Bradley then scored the second goal himself and crossed for the second equaliser whilst laying on the fifth and generally he pushed forward whenever he had the space, and there was plenty, in which to do so.