Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: London Road (Back pitch)
2021-22 Season: Match 20
Saturday 4th September 2021 – 3pm KO
Rayleigh Town: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Navy Blue Socks
Leigh Ramblers: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Rayleigh defeat Ramblers with a good display at London Road
Rayleigh Town 2 – 1 Leigh Ramblers
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
The second match of this weekend’s double-header was hosts Rayleigh Town welcoming a new-look Leigh Ramblers side who are looking to rebuild after losing key players in the summer. Rayleigh got their first win last weekend at Bishop’s Stortford Swifts and named Mark Brown in goal with a defence of full-backs Charlie Seaden amd Harry Higgins with Harrison Topliss and Patrick Mills in central defence. Their forward line was led by Liam Oliver with Ben Baxter and Shaun Gittleson the chief support. On the hosts’ bench were Jack Leach, midfielder Matt Oaten and centre-back Will Baldry. For Mark Hunter’s new side, James Baker was their goalkeeper, with stalwart Ryan Lowe marshalling a three-man central defence than included Thomas Franks and Paul Hayes. The Rams had Dan Williams leading the line, with Justin Hazell and Barv Waiwaiku supporting him. Options from the sidelines included midfielders Sammie Scates and Ryan Saggers and forward Andrew Webster.
The match got underway wth Rayleigh really looking to make their mark, particularly in terms of ball rentention, though found the visiting backline also in a very determined mindset, looking to soak up the pressure with their full-backs Will Hayes and Patrick Cannon tracking back, it was a five-man defence. The first key chance for the hosts came on thirteen minutes as the tricky Shaun Gittleson did well to get his strike away but visiting custodian James Baker did well to block, with centre forward Liam Oliver unable to convert the rebound from close range at the far post.
The visitors found if difficult to keep possession for any considerable period of time as the relentless Town side, led as ever by George Vile kept trying to break through the resilent Ramblers defensive unit. Rayleigh had plenty of strikes on goal, with Gittleson twice unable to bypass Baker and break the deadlock. You had to respect such a determined effort by the visitors but with Oliver also not having fortune going his way by striking wide when well-placed and midfielders Jack Long and Sonny Coutts also having half-chances during the opening half, the Rams were pretty relieved to get into the interval at nil-nil.
Half-Time: Rayleigh Town 0 – 0 Leigh Ramblers
After the break, the visitors did have more of the ball, with Justin Hazell having a decent strike defleted for a set-piece three minutes after the restart. It was another indication that the Town bacline had to remain alert despite looking the stronger side at this point. The difference was at this point, they didn’t have to wait long to finally get on the score-sheet. On 51 minutes, a fine cross from the right flank by Charlie Seaden managed to evade Oliver but it did come to Gittleson, who turned his marker well before firing a low strike past Baker, straight into the far corner.
Rayleigh did step it up a notch after that and nearly doubled their lead six minutes later as a good counter-attack saw the ball played in to Oliver as he struck a fine curling drive towards the top corner of the goal, only to be denied by a superb save by Baker, who clawed it away for another corner.
Ramblers forward Justin Hazell was having to drop a little deeper to grab possession in what was a congested midfield battle, though on 62 minutes it was the Ramblers who went on the counter, with midfielder Jack Gardner’s shot being claimed well by home stopper Mark Brown. Mark Hunter’s side were having a decent spell at this point and had a decent chance created by Ole Hunter’s long throw from the right side of the penalty area which was narrowly headed wide by skipper Ryan Lowe. This only endorsed the fragile lead that Rayleigh had, though with Ramblers looking forward to grab a leveller, a counter for the hosts saw they double their advantage.
A fine ball through by Jack Long found the advancing Seaden who managed to evade the covering defender and slot home low past Baker to finally secure the points on 84 minutes. It was a nervy last five minutes though of added-time for Paul Higgins’ team though as Dan Williams struck a good effort to take something from a frustrating afternoon for him and his side. All in all though, Rayleigh were the stronger side and could’ve had three or four goals quite comfortably here, they deserved the three points. There are encouraging signs as well for Leigh Ramblers though after two heavy losses at Basildon Town and Ongar Town in their first two matches.
Full-Time: Rayleigh Town 2 – 1 Leigh Ramblers
In summary, Rayleigh had more than enough chances in the match but couldn’t convert them thanks to a mix of poor finishing and determined defending by a good Ramblers unit. However, the Rams had to put so much energy into defending, they didn’t create a lot in attack until the latter stages of the match.
There were a number of good performances today. For Rayleigh, tricky forward Shaun Gittleson had a really good match, took his goal well and had a few other strong chances but his pace and movement added to the opposition backline’s headache. Midfielder Jack Long had a very strong game too, winning a lot in the air and assisting his team going forward. Also, full-back Charlie Seaden showed good energy, and added a good assist and a goal late on. Finally, skipper George Vile also did well, with his trademark set-pieces keeping the Ramblers defence alert and also pushing his team on when they were bring frustrated, particularly in the first half.
For Leigh Ramblers, Ryan Lowe again marshalled his defence well and was again commanding in the air, clearing several crosses & making good interceptions. Forward Justin Hazell also showed high work rate, particularly dropping deep to win possession and doing a fine job defensively. Centre-back Thomas Franks had a good match too, dealing with wave after wave of forward moves by the hosts. A word too for returning ‘keeper James Baker who pulled off at least three good saves to keep his team in this match.
I’d like to thank both teams for their help today & wish them a good rest of the season.
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins
Starting XI: 1 Mark Brown (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 3 Harry Higgins, 4 Harrison Topliss, 5 Patrick Mills, 6 Sonny Coutts, 16 Jack Long, 8 George Vile (Capt), 10 Ben Baxter, 7 Shaun Gittleson, 9 Liam Oliver
Goal-scorers: Shaun Gittleson [51′], Charlie Seaden [90’+4]
Subs On: 12 Jack Leach [71′], Matt Oaten [78′]
Booked: H Higgins | Sub Not Used: Baldry
Leigh Ramblers | Manager: Mark Hunter |
Starting XI: 1 James Baker (GK), 2 Patrick Cannon, 3 Will Hayes, 4 Thomas Franks, 5 Ryan Lowe (Capt), 6 Paul Hayes, 7 Jack Gardner, 16 Ole Hunter, 9 Justin Hazell, 10 Dan Williams, 11 Barv Waiwaiku
Goal-scorer: Dan Williams [90′ +4]
Subs On: 12 Andrew Webster [52′], 8 Sammie Scates [78′], 15 Ryan Saggers [78′]
Booked: Cannon, Webster | Subs Not Used: Keys (GK), Allum
Referee: Karl Dunnage
Assistants: Zara Wickert & Daniel Mann