Braintree Sporting vs CFC Shalford

Braintree & North Essex Sunday League Division 1

An extremely wet Sunday morning saw CFC travel to the leisure centre and play our hosts Braintree Sporting. Shalford, still buoyant from our win at Essex Cricketers, were facing a test of character and determination, and if we are going to be taken seriously this season.

The first 10 minutes were a settling period for both teams, neither team taking the reins to control the game until slowly but surely CFC started to raise the bar. With some clinical passing and fluid movement CFC took the game to the hosts. Shalford over the last few weeks have grown around a solid back bone of the team and the spine was prevalent today.

Andy in goal, in my view is one of our stronger players. The domination of his area, for a small man, is impressive to watch. His distribution of the ball easily turns defence into attack; this proving very effective with the link up play with Frosty and Simon on the wings. He is a great shot stopper which was proved during the game with some fine handling.

The back four were as solid as usual, Luther slipping into left back well. It’s never easy to play out of position especially when it’s the final line. Defending in my view, is difficult at this level. You have an array of quality strikers to play against. This was no different today, all be it a little older and wider but Sporting's striker certainly showed Luther he was in a game. Luther sized him up well and restricted the attacks very confidently. The three amigos, Ropey and the Chandler brothers were yet again swift in the movement and strong in the challenge.

The midfield again had a solid performance, both wingers playing well, linking up with the forwards. Simon picked up a knock early on and found it difficult to shake off, this took the edge off slightly, a good performance in the first half. Meady again was in and out of the game, he seemed to struggle with the pace of the game, allowing the ball to run on from him at times and again lacking in a little confidence with his final delivery. I’m sure this is just a blip in a sound start to the season for him.

Half Time: Braintree Sporting 0 CFC Shalford 0

Meady was substituted at half time by Frosty. Pitty and MJ were sitting in the middle, between them bossing the majority of the game. Sharp tackling and some good link up play gave the team a bit of bite. Frosty replacing Meady changed the dimension of the game. Prior to his arrival we started to adopt a route-one game plan but with the pace and width Frosty introduced to the team, we seemed to up the tempo again. With ease he drifted past his defender and delivered some top draw crosses that were a strikers dream.

Both strikers were slightly off form today, their movement was sublime as usual but just lacked the killer instinct in front of goal which would turn out to be the unravelling of a real positive team performance.

With 20 minutes gone in the second half, Frosty latched on to a ball through from Pitt, turned his defender inside out and shot towards goal, keeper was beaten by a fizzer of a shot, only to see the ball deflected away by the hands of the Sporting midfielder.

A life line thrown to the CFC efforts, a penalty given and the desperate midfielder sent to the sideline for the deliberate handball. Bensley stepped to the plate with confidence and coolly slotted past the keeper. CFC seemed to grab this opportunity and go for the throat, the pressure was increasing for Sporting, CFC were playing with a swagger, time and time again chances were put in front of the strikers but it just seemed to be missing that final touch of class.

CFC’s bubble was burst near to full time when a wayward attempt by Sporting, took a massive deflection off of Ropey's back, falling in the path of an unmarked striker who slotted past Smith. Shortly after, the final whistle was blown.

Full Time: Braintree Sporting 1 CFC Shalford 1

This was a real blow to the CFC. Seeing this as 2 points dropped as opposed to a point gained.