CFC Shalford vs Woodham Athletic

Essex County Junior Cup, 1st Round

The first home game of the season for CFC was one not to disappoint. On a bizarrely hot October morning, Shalford were hosting the first round of the Essex Junior Cup. Our guests today, having travelled from South Woodham Ferrers, came with some pedigree. Winners of numerous cups over recent seasons, they currently sit top of their league with an absolute hatful of goals to their credit. You could say a team with positivity running throughout the ranks.

The game started well, CFC were confident with their formation. With previous games not always going their way, they had a point to prove and what better time to do it than on their debut home game of the term.

Shalford knocked the ball around crisply and swiftly amongst the three ranks with ease, and at times the opposition appeared to be chasing shadows as CFC grew with confidence with every move around the pitch.

The positive play was to pay off, with gentle exchanges by each team to keep both keepers amused. Shalford placed a play together that breezed through the Woodham defence. Bensley picking the ball up on the wing, passing his defenders with ease, delivering an inch perfect cross to the back post, finding an eagerly awaiting Roberts to slot home.

This appeared to have the effect Shalford wanted, the Woodham defence were now on panic stations, calling on their midfielders to assist with the holes leaking in most places around their goal. This gave the Shalford wingers licence to print money………. At every possible turn they exposed a very edgy back four. Continually being penetrated down the wings and by near perfect deliveries from the hands of keeper Andy Smith, shortly after, a little lack in concentration gave the visitors crumbs to feed on and as is like most of the games this season so far, Shalford conceded a weak goal with Andy fumbling a simple cross to see the visitors even the match.

On the re-start, Bensley conjured up another trick from his book of 'How To Score Goals The Easy Way', dribbles around three players then shooting low and hard, beating the out stretched keeper to return the lead to the CFC.  A 'relieved' Andy using one of his get out of jail free cards to good effect.

Shalford consolidated and started to pile on the ever so crumpling pressure that Woodham were now under, any attack the visitors posed was quickly slapped down and turning defence into attack quickly, CFC over whelmed yet again the struggling defence. Butcher, with the ball at his feet calmly cut inside his marker and from just outside the box, hit the top corner of the net. A sublime goal that even Bensley acknowledged with a nod.

Tails were up and now Shalford were playing with confidence that was so lacking over previous seasons. CFC had numerous chances in front of goal, continually bombarding the penalty box with crosses and shots that any team would dream about. Our guests today were in despair, not knowing their proverbial 'arse from elbow' prior to the conclusion of the first half CFC stuck the knife in a little deeper with releasing Roberts, with explosive pace he became one on one with the keeper, coolly skipping around him and slotting home for his second of the game, firmly burying the horror show he experienced last week.

Half Time: CFC Shalford 4 Woodham Athletic 1

Now CFC were experiencing a new scenario, a lead that they could have only dreamed of with only half of the game complete. It was whether they had the strength in character to work through these or completely reject them and allow the injured Woodham back in the game. Woodham were no mugs and showed in small doses that they were still a decent outfit.

On the start of the second half, CFC started a little sluggish, still reminiscing about the fortunes of the first half. It was clear to see on there start that Woodham had been injected with some grit, as their start was quick and agile, they moved with a purpose and were slowly gaining

A bit of a foot in the door, the two midfielders that were camped in the heart of the defence of Woodham in the first half were now playing in their rightful positions, closing any space that was dominated by Simon and Frosty who were now both duelling with their opposite numbers.

Woodham changed their game plan to route one football and were continually turning the CFC defence and in doing so, increasing the pressure on what had been a rock solid performance from the ever present Ropey, Alex and Ross. With only a few minutes gone in the second half, Luther sustained an injury that meant a change in personnel was needed, with one of our recent signings Rob Playle came on in the centre of the defence moving Ropey to left back.

This unsettled the back four and they were now looking a bit disjointed. It is never easy coming into a high tempo game when all the opposition want to do is stick the ball over the midfield and we seemed to lose a little dominance in the middle, having marshalled everything in the first half now seemed a little more difficult for some reason. Nobody seemed to want to put their foot on the ball and slow the game down. CFC coped with the pressure well and continued to attack at every occasion open to them, this half however, Woodham seemed to have stemmed the flow that was raging, and were attacking more as apposed to their first half shambles. Leon, Bensley and Frosty looked to increase the lead again and take the pressure off but to no effect.

The game drifted ever closer to full time and with the pressure Woodham were putting on CFC, something had to give. With ten minutes to go a header from the Woodham striker a set piece found the back of the net, this was the scenario we knew might have come but were unsure of how to deal with. Wave after wave of attack on the CFC goal was by luck or judgement cleared away, brave defending and even braver goal keeping managed to keep the wolves from the door.

With a few minutes to go, a strange decision by the referee gave the visitors a free kick on the edge of the box, with accuracy the ball struck firmly into the far corner of the net. Desperate times now for the CFC who had to now dig deep if they wanted this game. Continually the goal was attacked with menace but with the bravery and sheer skill of Andy Smith in goal, kept the looming equaliser from bay.

A deserved result for the CFC, certainly a game of two halves. This time being sharp in front of goal was with out doubt the boost Shalford needed. The team performance was fantastic, and Woodham certainly had some time on their way home to consider their beating.

Full Time: CFC Shalford 4 Woodham Athletic 3