Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: Rayleigh Sports Club, London Road
2019 – 20 Season: Match 16
Saturday 24th August 2019 – 2.30pm KO
Rayleigh: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Navy Blue Socks
Leigh R: Red & Black Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Rayleigh battle hard to defeat Ramblers at London Road
Rayleigh Town 3 – 1 Leigh Ramblers
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] with additional photos by Andy Wilkins [Twitter: @wilkins_media]
A nice detour from regular Essex Senior League action saw me make the relatively short trip to London Road to see Rayleigh Town take on Leigh Ramblers in the Essex Olympian League Premier Division (Step 7). Yes, it was FA Cup weekend though on occasion I feel it is important to watch some clubs further down the ‘pyramid’ too. Anyway, onto the teams and Paul Higgins’ home side were strong with former Great Wakering pair Charlie Seaden and Danny Hurford lining up at right-back and left-wing respectively. Paul Morris and Jamie Blewitt were the front two with Jack Long skippering the side. Bailey Moss, Connor Bridger and Jake Chaplin comprised the bench for the hosts. For Ramblers, Dylan Skinner once again donned the gloves, with Rhys Fatt and Ola James on the flanks, centre-back Ryan Lowe captaining the side and Acer Wake, Rick Alabaster and Joe Hunter among the options on the bench for Wayne Seal’s team.
So as the match got underway on a baking hot day in South Essex, both sides traded early blows. With two minutes on the watch, a good ball in from the right flank found winger Danny Hurford though his header back across goal flew wide of visiting custodian Dylan Skinner. Moments later, Ramblers winger Rhys Fatt saw his strike fizz wide of the target. Town raised it a gear in response as forward Jamie Blewitt’s 20-yard drive fizzed wide of the left-side post.
The hosts broke the deadlock on 26 minutes as after a good run and turning past his marker, Hurford sent a cool low finish beyond Skinner into the far corner. The visitors so nearly responded four minutes later as a powerful free-kick from forward Sam Mountstephens was heading for the top corner, but home ‘keeper Mark Brown did brilliantly to tip it onto the crossbar and out. The hosts kept going well despite the heat and held their lead going into the break. Ramblers couldn’t quite find their rhythm and get past a tough home defence often enough.
Half-Time: Rayleigh Town 1 – 0 Leigh Ramblers
The second half beckoned and once underway, we had a dramatic opening third of it. Firstly, three minutes after the restart, midfielder Pat Cannon made a good turn before sending a tame effort which Brown gathered comfortably. Minutes later, Rayleigh forward Bailey Moss had a sight of goal though his effort was denied by Skinner. With 56 minutes played, the visitors were awarded a penalty for handball in the area, and Fatt stepped up to take it. However, goalkeeper Brown guessed the way and saved the resulting spot-kick. Right on the hour mark, the hosts added to the opposition’s pain as casual defending on the edge of the Ramblers own 18-yard area saw midfielder Henry Sims nick the ball before slotting home well past Skinner to double their advantage.
Although Ramblers were starting to find their prowess going forward after that second goal, chances were quite rare and from a promising free-kick, Fatt blazed over the bar. As we entered the last seven minutes of the contest, Leigh did pull one back as substitute Joe Hunter powered in a crisp curling strike past Brown to knacker the home side’s idea of a clean sheet. That wasn’t the final word though as with the visitors piling forward in search of an leveller, Town countered with a right-wing cross by Blewitt finding Moss in space and the substitute did the rest, coolly slotting past Skinner to seal the points for Paul Higgins’ side and retain their 100% start to the league campaign.
Full-Time: Rayleigh Town 3 – 1 Leigh Ramblers
As the full-time whistle sounded, my thoughts are that Town deserved to win this match, as their forward line was a bigger headache to the visitors than the Ramblers attackers, who did cause the hosts’ nervous moments, ultimately they were not at their best today, in my opinion.
Finally, I’d like to first say a big thank you to Rayleigh Town FC for their kind hospitality today, which is much appreciated. Second, it was great to talk to former Clapton & Southend Manor boss Wayne Seal today too. I wish both sides well for the long season ahead.
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins
Starting XI: Mark Brown (GK), Charlie Seaden, Harry Higgins, Jack Long (Capt), Tom Franks, Cameron Glover, Connor Peralta, Henry Sims, Paul Morris, Jamie Blewitt, Danny Hurford
Goal-scorers: Danny Hurford [26’] , Henry Sims [60’], Bailey Moss [88’]
Booked: Hurford | Subs Named**: Bailey Moss, Connor Bridger, Jake Chaplin
Leigh Ramblers | Manager: Wayne Seal
Starting XI: Dylan Skinner (GK), Lewis Kelsey, Jack Davies, Montana Stewart, Ryan Lowe (Capt), Harry Haysom, Rhys Fatt, Pat Cannon, Dan Williams, Sam Mountstephens, Ola James
Goal-scorers: Joe Hunter [84’]
Booked: Alabaster | Subs Named**: Acer Wake, Rick Alabaster, Bobby Brocklebank, Joe Hunter
Referee: Stuart Nixon
** – as the EOFL uses the ‘rolling substitutes’ system, the substitutes are not listed as replacements by name as they are in Essex Senior League/Eastern Senior League. They in all likelihood would have played at least some part of the match. Apologies.