Long Melford 1 Seasiders 3

Saturday 6th January 2018

Thurlow Nunn League

Premier Division

         

30 games gone, 16 to go, nine at The Goldstar and seven on the road… I think currently every game is a semi-final for us and come February, every one will be a cup final as the intensity grows.

We should not ask, nor expect any assistance in our endeavours, and in fact we face ever growing competition as each club raises their game just that little bit more, to genuinely try and get one over us, and why not - we certainly would, in a reverse position.

I would think that opening paragraph could easily be placed in Coggeshalls or Stowmarket’s notes, with just a quick name change. it’s how we all deal with the next couple of months, both Stow’ and Coggeshall gained promotion last season so both are seasoned at it, but we have been knocking on the door for a couple of seasons now, so there is experience in our ranks too!

It does genuinely start to look like a three way race for the top, although Brantham might well feel they are definitely not out of it if they can put a run together. With no disrespect to anyone below fourth, I think they would find it very difficult to get into the running as it would mean at least two of the top three would have to blow up, and I can’t see that happening.

We will all lose some more games on the run in, we just hope we will lose the fewest!

The game, (excellently reported by Phil Barber) was another stiff test - the Villagers have some decent players in their squad and are well organised and although they complain of a long injury list (I won’t complain about ours) they still had a competitive team on the pitch at the start.

The game was just two minutes old when the Seasiders got the perfect start - a move starting with Rhys Barber at the back, involving new signing Regan Pelling and Sheridan Driver, culminated in Miles Powell turning and shooting low past stand in keeper in the absence of Darren Moyes, Assistant Manager Josh Shepherd, from 12 yards. The Seasiders should have made more of their opening dominance when another decent move ended with Jordy Matthews firing over the Melford bar from 10 yards when well placed, perhaps showing a bit of rustiness from his injury lay off. Rhys Barber also squandered a chance after a driving run, and shot from 20 yards but his effort was well wide of the target.

The Seasiders were well on top at this stage without creating too many openings as they found it difficult to retain the ball in the final third, and in the 21st minute Stuart Boardley gave the ball away, letting in David Lopez who drew a save from Danny Crump but without really testing him. The momentum of the game was beginning to switch and in the 23rd minute, Sheridan Driver was caught out of position and the dangerous Hassan Ally skipped past Dan Davis before crossing low and hard for Callum Henson to score from close range.

The home side had the better of the exchanges from that point up to half time - Lopez’s effort from the edge of the area failed to test Crump, Ally continued to pose problems down the left and again crossed for goalscorer Henson, but this time he slid the ball wide from 8 yards.

Jake Jackson drew a save from Crump at the far post but the half closed with both sides having had a good spell but unable to take advantage of their periods on top.

Odd moments in football, the ref halted the half at 44mins 45 seconds, according to our timekeeper, although he didn’t have the ref’s watch on, when there had been at least a three minute stoppage for an injury to Ally Hassan: mind you, it was cold and the thought of a hot cup of tea was fairly attractive.

Both sides made changes at the break, with Sam Bayliss replacing the injured Ally, while Kye Rule made way for Josh Kerridge and from the restart the visitors took a much firmer grip on the game.

Powell headed Boardley’s free kick wide when unmarked 6 yards out, and Kerridge’s shot from 12 yards was blocked by Ross Waugh before Shepherd pulled off an excellent save from Barber’s header, from Ethan Clarke’s cross.

Pelling’s cross found Barber just after the hour, whose header floated on to the bar, but was only cleared to the edge of the area where Powell was on the spot to thunder home into the roof of the Melford net.  

The match went through a quiet period during which the Seasiders lost Matthews through injury, to be replaced by Stuart Ainsley and then debutant Regan Pelling who had shown some good skills had to leave the field injured, to be replaced by Taylor Hastings.

Referee Rick Bloy had a quiet afternoon and profuced his yellow card just once against Ben Judge for a late challenge on Rhys Barber, and Powell should have completed his hat-trick with ten minutes left but side footed Ainsley’s cross the wrong side of the upright.

It was all still close before Scott Chaplin eased the nerves, finishing well from 12 yards after Kerridge and Powell had combined well to set up the opening.