Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: Thames Road
2021-22 Season: Match 15
Attendance: 30 (Est)
Saturday 17 September 2022 – 2pm KO
Rayleigh: Navy Blue Shirts, Shorts & Socks
Leigh Rams: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Late winner gives Town the points over impressive Leigh Ramblers in epic battle
Rayleigh Town 4 – 3 Leigh Ramblers
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
The Saturday outing this week was a return to the Essex Olympian League and this well-poised derby between old rivals Rayleigh Town and Leigh Ramblers in the Premier Division. Albeit played at Concord Rangers’ Thames Road ground, which really added something good into the mix. Rayleigh have started their season strongly as their aspirations would demand and Paul Higgins named Mark Brown in goal, with a three-man central defence of Jack Long, Will Baldry and Sonny Coutts. Skipper George Vile was in central midfield as ever, along with Frank Hession-Harris while the forward line was comprised of hot-shot Harry Talbot, Sonny Woodward and Alfie Larkin. Ramblers also had a strong side with Dylan Skinner in goal, a defensive four of Patrick Cannon, Thomas Franks, skipper Ryan Lowe and Scott Keys. Jack Gardner was their hard-working central midfielder alongside George Moxon and Ole Hunter, with Andrew Webster leading their front line with support from Scott Clark and Callum Morris.
There was an entertaining start to this match, as Town set their stall out early to grab the initative, with midfielder Frank Hession-Harris sending a lob over the goal frame after an errant clearance from Rams custodian Dylan Skinner and soon after Skinner did well to deny goal-hungry Rayleigh forward Harry Tabot when he only had the goalie to beat. However, the concerns for the hosts were uncharacteristically in defence as they could not clear their lines with much haste. The visitors took full advantage of this as forward Andrew Webster got some space between defenders and snuck in a low drive at the near post despite defender Jack Long’s attempted clearance. Town responded quickly but Talbot’s day wasn’t starting so well as first his decent curling strike fizzed narrowly wide and then on 18 minutes fellow forward Sonny Woodward’s crisp strike was blocked by his own player (Talbot)!
The pain got worse for Rayleigh as Ramblers took advantage of another defensive error on 24 minutes as Webster got in front of advancing stopper Mark Brown before lobbing him superbly and too quickly for the retreating Town defence to get back to have a chance to clear. Midfielder Ole Hunter sent a strike from about 10 yards out as Town’s defensive struggles continued. The frantic pace of this game continued just after the half-hour as Town defender Will Baldry powered a header against the crossbar from a well-directed set-piece.
Still, Town would be back level minutes later thanks to two goals in three minutes. Firstly on 37 minutes, a good run in the penalty area by Hession-Harris ended with a good low finish and then just two minutes later, Baldry got in the action again from a corner and this time his header was not able to be stopped by the Rams defenders on the goal-line.
Soon afterward, Woodward’s opportunistic effort caught Skinner unaware initially but Town’s claims that Skinner had pawed it over the goal-line fell on deaf ears. There was still time just before the break for a superb goal which saw Rams re-take the lead. Town thought they had cleared their lines well enough but they didn’t bank on forward Scott Clark receiving the ball and firing home an unstoppable curling drive from at least 25 yards out, right in the top corner. Credit where it is due for a fabulous strike and it also might have had an influence of the comparative team-talks at the interval.
Half-Time: Rayleigh 2 – 3 Leigh Rams
After a much-needed break for me to draw breath after such an entertaining first half, you may have thought there’d be a prolonged lull in the second half. I cannot really subscribe to that theory in this game, as Rayleigh poured forward in search of another equaliser. Ramblers did well to reduce the chances which Town’s enterprising play had created though half-time substitute William Vile’s low drive brought a good save out of Skinner before skipper George Vile and Ben Baxter had efforts which were off-target.
That man Talbot was still a threat as well as he finally got his goal with 14 minutes to play. Skinner had done well to get low down to deny his initial shot on goal but Talbot was alert to the rebound and slotted home coolly. Unsurprisingly, this encouraged Paul Higgins’ team as they maintained the pressure on a tiring Leigh Ramblers backline.
As the minutes ebbed away, Clark was denied on the goal-line which would have given Rams another slender lead, and at the other end, another well-directed Baldry header found the woodwork for Town and you would not have begrudged both sides taking a point from this enthralling match. But there was a winner – four minutes into added time, the chorus of pressure Rayleigh put on finally told and substitute Philip Anunwa was played in, stayed on-side on the shoulder of the last defender before firing home a fine low finish past Skinner, much to the delight of the home dug-out.
The final whistle blew soon after but alongside a papable sense of relief from the Rayleigh players, I think there was a respect of how hard they had been pushed by their opponents, who were understandably disconsolate. Either way, it was another really good spectatcle for Step 7, which I would encourage readers to watch a few games of during the season if you have not already.
Full-Time: Rayleigh Town 4 – 3 Leigh Ramblers
To summarise this epic match of drama, goals, defensive errors and missed chances, the Rams were clinical in the way they punished the hosts’ stuttering defence early on to give them that two-goal advantage. However, the torrent of chances before & just after the break saw their lead get pegged back and having expended so much energy in defending well, Rayleigh did showgood finishing of their own to pinch it deep into added-time. And you have to mention Scott Clark’s stunning 25-yarder for Mark Hunter’s Leigh Ramblers side just before half-time which altered the team-talk for Paul Higgins’ team.
The stand-out performances here were hard to choose. For victors Rayleigh, forward Harry Talbot was a constant threat throughout to the visiting backline and whilst fortune was not on his side in first half, the perseverance on display was there and he took his goal well after Skinner’s initial save. George Vile is the heartbeat of the Town side and despite being frustrated for large periods of the match, the work rate he shows is commendable. Frank Hession-Harris also had a good game in midfield and made good runs from deep as well as taking his goal well while defender Will Baldry was the pick of the Town backline, making several important aerial interceptions.
For Rams, Andrew Webster shone with his well-taken two goals and once again was an important physical presence leading their attack. Callum Morris was also a good outlet down the channels to stretch the Town defence as well as making good passes. Scott Clark had a strong game also and continued his good start to the season, with a stunning goal and good movement and pace too. Finally, a word for skipper Ryan Lowe who put in another high-level defensive showing, making a number of good clearances and showing good positional play.
Rayleigh Town | Manager: Paul Higgins | Assistant: Del Lamon
Starting XI: 1 Mark Brown (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 12 Ben Baxter, 5 Will Baldry, 6 Sonny Coutts, 16 Jack Long, 8 George Vile (Capt), 17 Frank Hession-Harris, 4 Alfie Larkin, 10 Sonny Woodward, 7 Harry Talbot
Goal-scorers: Frank Hession-Harris [37′], Will Baldry [39′], Harry Talbot [76′], Philip Anunwa [90’+4]
Subs On (Time): 11 William Vile [46′ replaced Coutts], 15 George Aston [57′ replaced Woodward], 9 Philip Anunwa [81′ replaced Larkin]
Booked: None | Sub Not Used: Chatterway
Leigh Ramblers | Manager: Mark Hunter | Assistants: Nathan Dewberry & Paul Cannon
Starting XI: 1 Dylan Skinner (GK), 2 Patrick Cannon, 3 Thomas Franks, 5 Ryan Lowe (Capt), 6 Scott Keys, 8 Jack Gardner, 7 George Moxon, 17 Ole Hunter, 9 Andrew Webster, 10 Scott Clark, 11 Callum Morris
Goal-scorers: Andrew Webster [12′ & 24′], Scott Clark [45’+3]
Subs On (Time): 12 Matt Allum [46′], 14 Barv Waiwaiku [57′], 4 Jamie Skinner [67′ replaced Franks]
Booked: Moxon | Sent Off: Keys (two yellows) | Subs Not Used: None
Referee: Kevin Nicholson
Assistants: Nnaemeka Ukah & Adam Miller