Essex Senior League – Premier Division
Venue: Burroughs Park
2022-23 Season: Match 3
Saturday 30 July 2022 – 3pm KO
Ensign: Red Shirts, Red Shorts & Red Socks
Oakley: Blue & Black Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks
Oakley put in hard-working display to grab the points at new-look Ensign
White Ensign 0 – 2 Little Oakley
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
The new season (my seventh) quickly came into fruition with the opening day’s encounter in the Essex Senior League seeing me travel to Great Wakering as Little Oakley were the visitors to Burroughs Park to face a White Ensign team entirely rebuilt by new boss Aaron Bloxham. By contrast, Oakley’s side are pretty settled with few changes from the end of May. Assistant boss James Good led the team in the dug-out here. Ensign’s team had a big impetus of youth with a defence of Jack Davies, Alex Jenkins, Oliver Jenkins in front of goalkeeper Adam Seal. The sole survivor from last term’s squad – Ethan Evison lined up alongside Charlie Sullivan in central midfield. Charlie Portway was paired with Billy Bonham-Dare in attack, supported by Izaih Antoine and Luc Harpon on the flanks.
Oakley fielded new custodian Ryan Bedingfield here, both the defence was a known presence, comprising of full-backs Rory Harman and Mason Lumley and centre-backs Jack Sibbons & skipper Lewis Wood. The front three were goal-hungry striker Harry Mann, Nathan Rowe and Elliott Johnson, with support from Daniel Rowe. The match found its rhythm early as Ensign forward Billy Bonham-Dare fizzed a strike wide of Bedingfield’s left-sided post, from a good ball in by winger Luc Harpon.
Oakley responded with some vigour and took the lead after only six minutes. A floating set-piece from the left found the rising Harry Mann who guided a fine header into the right corner, past the grasp of Seal and open his account for the League campaign. Seal was in action soon afterward, as he denied a decent effort from tricky winger Elliott Johnson. With the quarter-hour approaching, Mann made a fine run down the left and his cross was only just out if reach for Daniel Rowe to fire home at the far post.
At the other end, Evison powered a great ball forward tracking the run of winger Izaih Antoine, but he was deemed off-side before his strike was well-denied by Bedingfield. Oakley were looking the more settled of the two sides as the half wore on, but the visitors were stifled by their inability to put a pristine final ball in to the forwards. Ensign were slowly building their passes and went direct, looking for the pace of Bonham-Dare and the hold-up play of Portway but the Oakley backline were characteristically giving little away.
With the interval approaching, the Acorns did get that telling second goal. A firm strike by Elliott Johnson was blocked by Seal but unfortunately a deflection saw it trickle over the goalline. Either way, Johnson will claim it and it made Ensign gaffer Aaron Bloxham’s team-talk more interesting.
Half-Time: White Ensign 0 – 2 Little Oakley
Although there were no goals after the break, there was a good array of action as Ensign showed a fair degree of character to stay in the contest and avoid a painful result. On 56 minutes, a super curling pass by Johnson took the Ensign backline out of the game, allowing Daniel Rowe to run in behind and after the quick forward had rounded Ensign goalkeeper Seal, it took another fine interception on the goal-line by Ensign full-back Jack Davies to deny Rowe a certain goal.
The hosts couldn’t really create much in the way of the chances as they conceded possession but one glimmer of a chance came on the hour as a set-piece was knocked on by substitute Jacob Cleaver but it was just beyond Portway as the ball trickled away.
In the latter stages, Oakley created quite a few chances as Mann was thwarted from adding to his tally, as well as Rory Harman having two headers narrowly off-target and Daniel Rowe also fizzing a strike narrowly over the crossbar.
All in all though, it was a good three points for Oakley here as they seek to match or improve on a very good campaign last term. Ensign’s journey will be a interesting one this term I believe, if long as will look to remain determined and be competitive to stay in this division.
Full-Time: White Ensign 0 – 2 Little Oakley
There were some good performances from both sides here. For victors Oakley, striker Harry Mann was a threat all afternoon, down the middle and in the channels, sending in piercing crosses from the left flank. Mann took his goal well early on in the second half, he could well have had two more from the half-chances he had. Don’t be surprised if Mann scores 20 goals again this term, a big player for the Acorns. Also, fleet-footed winger Elliott Johnson had a good game, turning defenders well with his trickery and pace. He instigated the second goal, even if a deflection took it iver the goal-line. Also, Jack Sibbons was the anchor at the back for James Good’s team today, with several important interceptions. Finally, a word too for energetic full-back Rory Harman who really added good passes & dynamism to his team in both boxes, plus did a decent role in a more advanced midfield role after the interval.
For Ensign, midfielder Ethan Evison put in a good display with several searching passes forward keeping the visiting defence earnest. Full-back Jack Davies also put in an eye-catching display, preventing a certain third goal and making several other important defensive clearances. Custodian Adam Seal made two or three decent saves too, to assist his side in this match while defender Oliver Jenkins also added to his side’s character with a good defensive display which helped his team stay in the game when they could well have been over-run.
My thanks to both teams & I wish them both well for another tough campaign in League & Cups.
White Ensign | Manager: Aaron Bloxham | Assistant: Damon Keane
Starting XI (Subs): 21 Adam Seal (GK), 17 Oliver Jenkins, 6 Alex Jenkins, 4 Mitchell Stuart-Evans (Capt) (5 Max Drury 61′), 3 Jack Davies, 10 Charlie Sullivan (18 Teddy Rumsey 74′), 8 Ethan Evison, 11 Iziah Antoine (16 Owen Dixie 46′), 7 Luc Harpon (2 Dillon White 72′), 19 Charlie Portway, 9 Billy Bonham-Dare (14 Jacob Cleaver 45′)
Subs Not Used: None
Little Oakley | Interim Manager: James Good | Player-Coach: Michael Brothers
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Ryan Bedingfield (GK), 2 Rory Harman, 3 Mason Ridgway-Lumley, 5 Lewis Wood (Capt), 6 Jack Sibbons, 4 Bradley James (14 Edward Nobbs 54′), 8 Tyler Sullivan (12 Hayden Dutch 74′), 7 Daniel Rowe, 9 Harry Mann (17 Sam Cooke 80′), 10 Nathan Rowe (15 Danny Garrad 62′), 11 Elliott Johnson
Goal-scorers: Harry Mann [6′], Elliott Johnson [45’+1]
Subs Not Used: Brothers
Referee: Benjamin Horne
Assistants: Ray Parmenter & Mark Bradshaw