Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: Len Forge Centre [3G]
Season 2020- 21: Match 18
Saturday 31st October 2020 – 2.30pm KO
Catholic Utd: Green & White Hooped Shirts, Black Shorts, Green & White Socks
Rayleigh Town: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Navy Blue Socks
Strong display sees Catholic Utd to victory over Rayleigh in drenched conditions
Catholic Utd 3 – 1 Rayleigh Town
Match Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
On an afternoon where you’d be forgiven for thinking the weather clouds were giving a hint as to what was to come, I went for a return trip to the Len Forge Centre to see Catholic Utd’s encounter with another local rival in Rayleigh Town, in the Essex Olympian League Premier Division. The rain had left hthe artificial playing surface somewhat drenched but boss Stuart Marshall named stalwart & skipper Louis Godwin-Green in goal, with John Nutman and Ellis Sands in defence, Harley Kee and Max Kent among the midfield and a front two of Aaron Baldwin and Brad Rowland. Among the options on their bench were midfielders Callum Matthews and Jack Holloway and forward Rhys Fatt. The likes of Alfie Lindfield and Luke Trice were unavailable for this contest.
Rayleigh Town were looking to build on their win the previous week at home to Sungate and named Josh Hudson in goal, with Louis Baucutt and Tom Franks in their defence, with George Vile once again skippering the side. Bailey Moss and Paul Morris were their focal point in attack, with their replacement options including the likes of Ruari McIntyre, Michael Okafor and Dan Regan.
As the match began, it was clear to see that Catholic Utd wanted to start by taking the early advantage on the score-sheet as only two minutes into the contest, a fine centre by attacking right-back Patrick Kearney found brother Tom Kearney but his attempted strike was blocked by covering Rayleigh defender Aaron Clark , only for the rebound to fall to home forward Aaron Baldwin whose strike drew the first save out of Town custodian Josh Hudson. Town needed to regroup but the hosts were giving them little time to so as only minutes later, an errant clearance found Tom Kearney but he could only skew his shot harmlessly wide. Baldwin then fizzed another curling strike wide of goal as Catholic Utd were exacting pressure on their opponents.
They didn’t have to wait too long to break the deadlock as on thirteen minutes, a fine cross in from the right flank by Rowland picked out the advancing Michael Sammut who powered in a header past the helpless Hudson to give the hosts a deserved lead. It sort of stated the situation when Rayleigh made their first real foray forward just after the twenty minute mark as right-back Charlie Seaden bombed forward and his cross was eventually cleared by defender Simon Thomas. Catholic Utd were certainly the aggressors in terms of possession and chances as shown moments after, with Rowland played in Tom Kearney whose placed effort drew another good save out of the acrobatic Hudson.
Rayleigh did have a good spell in the latter third of the first 45 minutes, with midfielder George Vile testing opposition stopper Louis Godwin-Green’s alertness with a strike from 25-yards which the Catholic captain did well to parry round the right-side post. At the other end, Baldwin was still full of running down the channels but a great run down the left flank ended flatly as his centre found ‘nobody home’ in the eighteen-yard box moments before the half-time whistle.
Half-Time: Catholic Utd Catholic Utd 1 – 0 Rayleigh Town
So the hosts had a slender lead at the interval, though it could have been more and Catholic Utd set out to make the points beyond doubt in the early stages of the second half. Two minutes in, an error by the Town defence allowed Rowland to ping in another dangerous centre, which Rayleigh defender Tom Franks did well to block. Town goalkeeper Josh Hudson only added to his fine afternoon by first denying Tom Kearney’s drive and soon after, a fine speculative strike by Rowland in quick succession. A rare attacking move at this stage of the game for Rayleigh saw left-back Ollie Hanlon and forward Michael Okafor involved in a good move before ultimately being cleared by Catholic Utd defender John Nutman.
Unfortunately for the visitors, a defensive switch-off at the back allowed Rowland to ghost in beyond the backline and defeat Hudson one-on-one to finally double the home side’s lead on 55 minutes. Four minutes later, Rowland turned architect as another searching pass found Baldwin but his curling effort was again well-saved by Hudson. However, the hosts were not to be denied a third goal as a searching run by substitute Rhys Fatt down the left ended with his centre finding Rowland in the six-yard area and the creative forward made no mistake in slotting home to surely seal the win on 64 minutes.
To their credit, Rayleigh responded three minutes later as substitute Ben Baxter’s pass found centre forward Bailey Moss who side-footed home past Godwin-Green to vanquish any chance of a clean-sheet to go with the home side’s performance here. As we entered the last thirteen minutes of the match, Okafor did well to play in Moss again, though this time Godwin-Green was equal to his effort. With moments remaining, the duel between Baldwin and Hudson went the way of the goalkeeper as the impressive Hudson again denied the hard-working Catholic Utd forward’s strike.
Full-Time: Catholic Utd 3 – 1 Rayleigh Town
So the ‘Super Hoops’ continued their winning trajectory after the win at Kelvedon Hatch the previous week. This performance pleased manager Stuart Marshall and it was easy to see why – his side created a real big number of opportunities throughout and it wasn’t for some superb goalkeeping by Rayleigh stopper Josh Hudson and determined defending by his compatriots, the score-line could have been much worse for them.
However, Town did have periods of the game where they were a threat and tested the home side’s experienced backline. It made for a good contest, despite the over-reaching clouds and rain that attempted to intervene before and during the match.
In terms of stand-out performances, for Catholic Utd it was a great afternoon for forward Brad Rowland who not only notched twice himself but also sent in a number of challenging crosses for the visiting defence to deal with. Strike partner Aaron Baldwin also had a really good game. Although he didn’t get on the score-sheet, his sheer tireless attitude stretched the opposition and was unfortunate not to add a goal or two. Midfielder Tom Kearney and attacking full-back Michael Samut also did well for the hosts here.
For Rayleigh, as mentioned goalkeeper Josh Hudson made at least five really good saves which kept his side in it here, with centre-back Louis Baucutt also embodying the spirit of his side’s determined defending, even though they had to do a lot of it in this game. Right-back Charlie Seaden also got forward well and replacement Michael Okafor also gave his side a different dimension in attack with his strength and movement. Finally, I’d like to wish both sides well for the rest of what looks to be a different campaign.
Catholic Utd | Manager: Stuart Marshall
Starting XI: 1 Louis Godwin-Green (GK & Capt), 2 Patrick Kearney, 3 Michael Sammut, 18 Ellis Sands, 4 John Nutman, 8 6 Tom Kearney, 14 Harley Kee, 8 Max Kent, 9 Aaron Baldwin, 10 Brad Rowland, 15 Simon Thomas
Goal-scorers: Michael Sammut [13’], Brad Rowland [55’ & 64’]
Subs Used: 5 Louis Robinson [42’], 7 Rhys Fatt [60’], 12 Callum Matthews [65’], 16 jack Holloway [75’] and 17 Scott Keys [79’]
Booked: Kent, Fatt | Subs Not Used: None
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins
Starting XI: 1 Josh Hudson (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 3 Ollie Hanlon, 4 Louis Baucutt, 5 Tom Franks, 6 Aaron Clark, 7 Harry Talbot, 8 George Vile (Capt), 9 Bailey Moss, 10 Paul Morris, 11 Cameron Glover
Goal-scorers: Bailey Moss [67’]
Subs Used: 16 Michael Okafor [32’], 12 Ruari McIntyre [60’], 15 Ben Baxter [60’] and Dan Regan [75’]
Booked: Okafor | Subs Not Used: None
Referee: Neil Irvine