Essex Cricketers vs CFC Shalford

Braintree & North Essex Sunday League Division 1

Having had a wake up call from our visit to Exiles last week, CFC travelled to Essex Cricketers with an air of last season still looming over them like a big black cloud. With 10 minutes gone, you could see that it had all the makings of a real stuffing. The hosts were very well organised in midfield, moving the ball around comfortably, utilising the poor marking and lack of general awareness of the ball and the opposition CFC were showing them. The only thing the cricketers couldn't do was put the ball in the back of the net.

This was the one thing CFC could take as a positive. As the game grew, so did CFC. They seemed to just appear into the game, the passing was more accurate the tackle was more positive and the attitude was now of an adult and not that of a spoilt teenager.

With a real swagger CFC bossed the game. The management decision to change the formation seemed to give the team some structure. The back four stood tall and completely dominated any hint of an attack bursting through the steely midfield. The three musketeers of Livermore and the Chandler brothers, that have been such a rock for the team to date, were boosted by the joining of Holroyd at left back, his strength and ability shone threw, matched by his enthusiasm to play the ball sensibly out of defensive positions and turn them into an attacking opportunity. This gave Butcher the freedom down the left that he has so craved for during his time at Shalford. His confidence grew with every CFC attack; it seemed at times that all positive play had, at some point, gone through him, his fitness starting to now show through.

Meady seemed to have the same wand waved over him, as his wish to move forward was also granted, although at times it appeared that he had ‘done a deal’ with his tinker bell, as he seemed to have, at times, traded his touch and ability to cross the ball, for his advancing freedom.

None the less, we attacked well and in numbers, a through ball to Mead gave him the opportunity to shoot at goal, the keeper saving well but pushing the ball out to the still advancing Meady who had deserved the second bite of the cherry, slotting confidently past the keeper.

CFC maintained there shape but more importantly their confidence; it was a weird position to be in, we had started poorly and now completely dominating the game with a goal in the bank. Our attitude stayed focused and we now pushed for the second goal, the two central midfielders, Pitty and Newlove co-ordinating between themselves the chaperoning needed for the two tricksters the cricketers had controlling matters in the middle. Occasionally they slipped through the midfielder’s fingers only to be brick walled by the CFC defence. At every opportunity the door was slammed firmly in their face, only allowing them to shoot from distance.

The second goal was deserved just before half time, a well worked move from back to front brought in the combination of Roberts and Bensley, it ended with Roberts squeezing the ball with ease passed the desperate keeper.

Half Time: Essex Cricketers 0 CFC Shalford 2

The second half started where CFC had left off, attacking! Only minutes from the re-start, what should have been a keepers ball near to his own bye line, an opportunist Roberts closed the keeper down who appeared to have not noticed, had the ball taken from him like a seasoned poacher and from the most ridiculous angle, Roberts placed the ball in the back of the net for his second.

This was a real sucker punch to the hosts who until then had shown potential in staying in this game. The heads of the attacking formation of the cricketers were down, in unusual fashion CFC pounced on this like seasoned pro’s. They were moving the ball around swiftly, exposing a very tired opposing defence, and with the trickery of Butcher on the left started to show the glitter that CFC possessed under that tarnished exterior.

The Cricketers keeper was now to have his hands warmed, with every attack there seemed to be 3 or 4 outlets for the buoyant CFC, and the keeper was now experiencing some serious shooting practice.

Gavin Bensley prowled like a tiger during the first half, getting involved in a few of the moves, but used himself more as a decoy for the fresh faced Roberts, however showed his predatory skills in the second half with being involved in every attack. For his trouble he got a deserved hat-trick, exposing that bit of class in front of goal that CFC has seemed to have been missing.

Our hosts did manage to find the net twice, two slight drops in concentration allowing them to feed off of crumbs.

Our keeper Smith losing his head slightly for the second goal, forgetting what position he was playing appeared to burst forward through his defence and midfield, waiting only until he almost reached the half way line to then offer the ball to the opposition who in turn floated the ball into the now keeperless net. Over all, smith had a solid game with some inspirational saves assisting in keeping the forward momentum CFC so rightly deserved.

In conclusion the whole team seemed to sing off the same song sheet, a seamless performance for the rock solid back four, some real positives taken from the four spread across the midfield, especially the two wingers. The front two netting a tasty 5 goals between them should take us nicely into next weeks game against Stebbing.

Not forgetting our substitutes who filled positions very well. A pleasant position to be in, knowing you have some quality on the bench to utilise when required.

Full Time: Essex Cricketers 2 CFC Shalford 6