Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: London Road
2021-22 Season: Match 25
Attendance: 25 (Est)
Saturday 25 September 2021 – 2pm KO
Rayleigh: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Navy Blue Socks
Ongar: Green Shirts, Green Shorts, White Socks
Ongar put in an excellent display to win well at London Road
Rayleigh Town 1 – 4 Ongar Town
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
This weekend kicked off with a interesting Essex Olympian Premier top-of-the-table clash between Rayleigh Town and visitors Ongar Town. Both sides could not be seperated at the summit prior to this one, and sometimes you just have a ‘gut feeling’ that it’s going be a good match. Rayleigh had regular custodian Mark Brown in goal, with a central defensive three of Will Baldry, Sonny Coutts and Harrison Topliss. Gorge Vile once again took the armband, with the forwards being Liam Oliver, Paul Morris and Jack Long. Ongar fielded Tim Pitman between the posts, with a back four of Paul Cox, Ali Carter and centre-halves Eamon Payne and Jake Chadwick. Central midfielder Mitchell McCabe skippered the side, with a front three of Harry Rawlins, Frankie Goodall and Joe Lilly.
Given these were the top two sides in the division pre-match, it was understandable that the game did have a little bit of a cagey start. But we didn’t have to wait too long for oppurtunities on goal to emerge, as Ongar winger Josh Boxall cut inside from the left flank, and his shot was clawed wide by Blues stopper Mark Brown. Paul Higgins’ side went up field on the counter and broke the deadlock on ten minutes as after a set-piece had flicked off the crossbar and visiting glovesman Tim Pitman had parried away a second effort, Liam Oliver got the telling tap-in.
Rayleigh already had to tackle well to deny their opponents who displayed their rapid, enterprising style of play, as centre-back Sonny Coutts made two good interceptions. However, Ongar were not behind for long as on fourteen minutes a fine strike by Frankie Goodall levelled the match, as his effort powered into the top corner.
Just when the hosts were looking to regain their composure, Ongar competed a swift turnaround by taking the lead only three minutes after they equalised. Goodall this time turned provider and his pass from the right side found fellow forward Harry Rawlins and his low strike found the left corner of the net. A mention has to go to the quick & direct threat posed by Goodall, Rawlins and fellow forward Joe Lilly, and the Rayleigh defence (as many sides have to be fair) found it tough to stifle the visitors’ rhythm. At the half-hour mark, Ongar were certainly having the better of the game, as skipper Mitchell McCabe slid in a good ball from central midfield onto Goodall, only this time the surprise came from the visiting supporters – Goodall had shot wide of Brown’s left-sided post.
The hosts were trying to find their own passing radar but were thwarted for the most part by stout opposition defending and errant passing. A rare glimpse of goal emerged for forward Paul Morris but his 30-yard strike was comfortably gathered by visiting custodian Tim Pitman. You had a feeling that there were more goals afoot, and nine minutes before the interval Ongar nearly extended their lead as a fine turn of pace in the 18-yard box by Joe Lilly allowed him to strike on goal from a narrow angle, only for Brown to make a good reflex save. Rayleigh responded at the other end as forward Oliver did well to get his cross in from the right flank, but advancing full-back Ben Baxter’s deflected effort was denied by Pitman.
The few chances Rayleigh had and couldn’t take were telling as Ongar did grab a third goal on forty minutes. Lilly again made a searing run down the right side, with a terrific cross finding Boxall at the far post who only had to guide his effort in from mere yards out. Understandably buoyant from that goal, Boxall made it four for his side merely two minutes afterward, powering home an unstoppable drive into the top corner from 25 yards, giving the unfortunate Brown no chance and it really hammered home the advantage for the visitors at the interval.
Half-Time: Rayleigh Town 1 – 4 Ongar Town
I also have to be fair to the hosts in that they did have more ball retention after the interval. Seven minutes after the break, with Baxter involved in the build-up on the left flank, midfielder George Vile’s strike had to be gathered by Pitman at his near post. It was fair to say the visitors were focusing on defence in the last half-hour, which was soon after a powerful Jack Long strike drew out a decent save by Pitman. The onus was on the home side to start a comeback of their own, although they found the Ongar backline a worthy opponent, assisted by skipper McCabe in central midfield. After a spell of play mostly consisting of midfield play and foiled promising moves by both sides in the middle of the second half, Ongar were looking for more goals in the latter stages.
Boxall was looking for a memorable hat-trick and sent a free-kick just wide of Brown’s far post with twelve minutes remaining. Unfortunately for the hosts, their fortunes in front of goal did not improve either as with 81 minutes on the watch, a good run by wing-back Charlie Seaden found substitute George Aston, but his effort on goal didn’t unduly trouble Pitman. Richard Ponsford’s side went back into attacking mode, only for replacement Rodney Wilson’s strike to go wide after being played in well by Rawlins. Overall though, the visitors had done enough to claim an impressive win here.
Full-Time: Rayleigh Town 1 – 4 Ongar Town
To summarise, Ongar responded superbly to going a goal down early on and put in an accomplished performance to earn a very good three points. Defensively they looked strong, particularly in the second half although one slight concern might be that they dropped a little deep in the latter stages. Rayleigh couldn’t threaten the visiting goal often enough though and Ongar emerged with a comfortable win.
For stand-out performances here, we’ll start with the victors. Winger Josh Boxall had a terrific game and took his two goals very well but his pace and dribbling was a constant threat to the home defence. Jake Chadwick had a good game at centre-back as well, making several important interceptions, while forward Joe Lilly had a really good game, sending in a terrific cross for his side’s third goal. Finally for Ongar, a mention for left-back Ali Carter who certainly did his bit to stifle the Rayleigh forwards in support of his side with good challenges and good energy levels. For Rayleigh, Jack Long was in good form, with a typically robust display on what was a frustrating day for his side. Centre-backs Harrison Topliss and Sonny Coutts were made to work very hard indeed and I felt they prevented a heavier loss here with good positioning and interceptions from both of them. Lastly, a mention for energetic wing-back Ben Baxter who showed good intent and passing with his side having more of the ball after the break.
Best wishes to both teams for the rest of the campaign.
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins |
Starting XI: 1 Mark Brown (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 3 Ben Baxter, 5 Will Baldry, 6 Sonny Coutts, 4 Harrison Topliss, 10 Alfie Larkin, 8 George Vile (Capt), 9 Liam Oliver, 11 Paul Morris, 16 Jack Long
Goal-scorer: Liam Oliver [10′]
Subs On: 12 George Aston [51′], 14 Patrick Mills [51′], Harry Talbot [51′]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Higgins
Ongar Town | Manager: Richard Ponsford |
Starting XI: 1 Tim Pitman (GK), 2 Paul Cox, 3 Ali Carter, 4 Conner Jones, 5 Eamon Payne, 6 Jake Chadwick, 7 Joshua Boxall, 8 Mitchell McCabe (Capt), 9 Frankie Goodall, 10 Joe Lilly, 11 Harry Rawlins
Goal-scorers: Frankie Goodall [14′], Harry Rawlins [17′], Josh Boxall [40′ & 42′]
Subs On: 12 Freddie Fraser [44′], 16 Rodney Wilson [57′], 14 Connor Bettles [76′], 15 Ayodele Awosika [90′]
Booked: Chadwick | Subs Not Used: Williams
Referee: Matthew Pointer