Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: London Road
Season 2020- 21: Match 32
Saturday 1st May – 2.30pm KO
Rayleigh Town: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts , Black Socks
Leigh Ramblers: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Ramblers comfortably get the points at misfiring Rayleigh
Rayleigh Town 0 – 2 Leigh Ramblers
Match Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
The second match of my weekend was at London Road as Rayleigh Town entertained Leigh Ramblers in another Essex Olympian League Premier Division encounter. Leigh are chasing a top-four spot in this division while Town were looking for a strong end to what has been a difficult campaign. Rayleigh were kind in their welcome, as they usually are and named Mark Brown as their goalkeeper, centre-back Will Baldry as their captain and forwards Michael Okafor and Bailey Moss. Optiomns from the sidelines included midfielder Ben Baxter, and the attack-minded George Neller and Harry Higgins. Ramblers named a back four of Barv Waiwaiku, Joe Hunter, skipper Ryan Lowe and George Moxon, who replaced Harry Haysom who in recovering from a head injury sustained the previous week. Daniel Williams and Justin Hazell led their forward line, with player-boss Ronnie Bridges on the bench alongside midfielder Mattias Tonking.
The match got underway with midfield dynamo Shaun Gittleson looking to get in possession for the hosts and sprint down the sides of the Ramblers backline. The Rams responded with a purposeful run down the left flank themselves, which saw full-back Joe Hunter angle in a lob from deep which home custodian Mark Brown had to tip over the goal frame, which was an alert piece of goalkeeping. Gittleson continued to make mazy runs, showing a lot of endeavour on ten minutes, until visiting captain Ryan Lowe had to make a crucial interception in his own eighteen-yard area. In general, Ramblers were looking slightly the more confident of the sides, looking to build passing moves and work the home backline hard. That growing confidence did result in the stalemate being broken on eighteen minutes, as Billy Carter pinched the ball off of Town’s Ruari McIntyre down the left on a the halfway line before making a good run down the right flank, and his accurate centre found the run of Daniel Williams who helped himself to a tap-in from close range after evading the Rayleigh defenders.
Rayleigh so nearly levelled things six minutes later as forward Michael Okafor was unfortunate but you have to say it was a combination of committed defending and stopper Andrew Webster who snuffed the opportunity almost as quickly as it appeared. The visitors responded quickly down the other end as firstly, Williams found himself with only Brown to get past but the ‘keeper did well to deny him a quick-fire second goal. And then moments after that, the Rayleigh defence was caught napping as Ramblers forward Justin Hazell sent in a well-hit curling drive with Brown again did well to parry away for a set-piece. The hosts were looking a little devoid of confidence though again the precarious nature of the Ramblers’ advantage was shown twice in three minutes, first on 33 minutes as a Okafor sent in a curling drive which Webster had to parry out of danger and then two minutes later as following a neat move involving McIntyre and Gittleson, Okafor again had a glimpse at goal but he could only slide his effort on goal off-target.
Half-Time: Rayleigh Town 0 – 1 Leigh Ramblers
It would be fair to comment as the second half began that Ramblers had shown a bit more impetus but the game was still finely poised. Both sides continued to trade chances in the early stages of the second period. First, Town forward Bailey Moss managed to find a yard of space before sending his fierce strike at goal which demanded a good save out of Webster. Moments later at the other end, experienced midfielder Matthew Brinklow showed good close control in a congested penalty area before finding Williams who fired over. Ramblers had another let-off to be grateful for as a timid back pass from box-to-box midfielder Sam Mountstephens let in Moss who couldn’t find the finish and blasted over the woodwork.
Mountstephens would atone for that error though on sixty-six minutes as a fine threaded pass from Williams tracked the run of Hazell, who made a clever dummy run, drawing away a defender, allowing Mountstephens a free run at goal and he slotted home well past Brown to give the visitors that second goal they were craving. Rayleigh couldn’t quite find the rhythm or tempo that they needed after that really, and being the neutral I try to be writing these reports, I could feel the anguish of some of the home players as they showed no lack of endeavour, even if the quality wasn’t there overall.
There were more chances of note as we entered the last twenty minutes. After another fine run by the energetic Hunter down the left, Brinklow’s fine strike was again denied by the impressive Brown. Eight minutes later, a good counter-attack by the hosts ended with winger Harry Talbot striking at goal from a narrow angle and it sailed wide. All in all, the visitors deserved to win for the energy and drive they showed in the match but on another day, Rayleigh would’ve been in this game and may have made Ramblers pay for those missed chances.
Full-Time: Rayleigh Town 0 – 2 Leigh Ramblers
So to sum-up what was a decent match, Ramblers looked the more confident side and could’ve won by a bigger margin, but Town goalkeeper Mark Brown’s fine saves and a lack of clinical finishing accounted for that. Ronnie Bridges’ side won their fifth game in their last seven here and rise up to third in the standings, four points adrift of Basildon Town. Rayleigh remain ninth, a point clear of Kelvedon Hatch just behind them.
There were a few notable performances from this match. Firstly, for Ramblers – forward Daniel Williams had a fine afternoon with a typically hard-working display as he linked up the attacking moves, showed good movement and passing in an assured performance. Centre-half Ryan Lowe also led from the back in a characteristic fashion, making good interceptions and stifling the promising attacks that Rayleigh did produce. Sam Mountstephens had a good game, bombing on from midfield and took his goal well, while I also felt left-back Joe Hunter had a very good game here, showing a huge amount of energy down the flank as well a number a good crosses and defensive ability as well.
For Rayleigh, attacking midfielder Shaun Gittleson showed his pace, trickery and energy to keep the visiting backline alert. Centre-back Will Baldry was also switched on at all times to drive his side on and do his best to circumvent the waves of attacks that Ramblers mustered. Goalkeeper Mark Brown had a fine game as well as mentioned earlier, and full-back Charlie Seaden rounds out the mentions for Paul Higgins’ side.
If you’d like to have a look at the rest of the action from the EOFL weekend, here’s the corresponding round-up here: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2021/05/04/s20-21-round-ups-essex-olympian-league-sat-1-may/
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins
Starting XI: 1 Mark Brown (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 12 Alfie Larkin, 4 Will Baldry (Capt), 15 Patrick Mills, 7 Harry Talbot, 3 Ruari McIntyre, 8 Paul Morris, 10 Shaun Gittleson, 6 Michael Okafor, 9 Bailey Moss
Subs On: 16 Ben Baxter [50’ replacing Mills], 14 George Neller [74’ replacing Moss]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Spremull, H Higgins, Franks
Leigh Ramblers | Player-Manager: Ronnie Bridges
Starting XI: 1 Andrew Webster (GK), 2 Barv Waiwaiku, 3 Joe Hunter, 4 Billy Carter, 5 Ryan Lowe (Capt), 6 George Moxon, 7 Patrick Cannon, 8 Sam Mountstephens, 9 Justin Hazell, 10 Daniel Williams, 11 Matt Brinklow
Goal-scorers: Daniel Williams [18’], Sam Mountstephens [66’]
Subs On: 12 Mattias Tonking [61’], 14 Ronnie Bridges [79’]
Booked: Carter | Subs Not Used: Dewberry
Referee: Joe Burgess
Assistant Referees: Alfie Treacher and John Ackred