S20-21 Round-ups: Essex Olympian League & Cups (Wk 11 – Sat 12 Dec) [EOFL 20-21 13.12.20]

EOFL crest [Credit: EOFL/Twitter]

Written by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer

Hello and welcome to the return of the Essex Olympian League round-up, here on my blog, looking at the league action from Saturday 12th December plus a round-up of the Essex Premier Cup action. My thanks to Rob Lilley (Offside Photography) for the photo. Thank you for reading.

EOFL Premier Division

In the only match in the Premier Division this weekend, Hutton got their fifth straight league win with a 3 – 2 success at home to Shenfield AFC. Perry Robinson and Ben Absolon netted for the visitors, but it was their local in-form rivals who got the points thank to Brad Freeman’s double and one from Joshua Seal. Hutton go up to fourth spot and are unbeaten since the opening day of the season, way back in September.


EOFL Division One  – no matches this weekend

EOFL Division Two

We had a solitary match in Division Two as well, with Ryan getting a 3 – 1 at May & Baker ‘A’. Joe Holt, Scout Bown and Lewis Page got the goals for the visitors, with Arminas Gricius scoring for ‘Bakers. The win is their first since the opening match of their league season and sees them rise up to eighth spot. The Bakers’ development side are in 10th, four points clear of bottom side AS Rawreth.

EOFL Division Three

There were five matches in Division Three, with ACD Utd making it seven wins from seven matches after a 6 – 0 triumph over Leigh Town Res at Westlands. Michael Wade and Sam Payne both notched braces here, with Connor Lambert & an OG accounting for the other goals. Player-boss Wade reached 15 league goals for the campaign here & his side remain five points clear at the summit.

Nearest challengers Manford Way Res also garnered their way to a big win, 5 – 1 at home to Buckhurst Hill Ressies in a match moved to the Peter May Sports Centre in Wathamstow. David Hornsby plundered four goals here, to take his league tally up to ten this term, with Dominic Esty-Wilkinson the other goal-scorer. Collier Row also defeated Toby Res 2 – 0 to go up to third spot. Hutton Res also got a fine away win with a 2 – 1 success over Wakebury at Shoebury Park. Jack Shaw and Harry Lane both struck for the visitors, with club stalwart Chris Gore netting for Matt Cardy’s side, who drop to fourth.

Finally, Lakeside Utd got a second successive victory at home, winning 2 – 0 over out-of-form Corinthians Res, with Daniel Stokes and Dayo Kayode the heroes for Ben Crounch’s side.

Essex Premier Cup Round-up

The lack of League action was mainly down to a smorgasbord of ties in the Essex Premier Cup. Despite some matches being postponed due to weather, there were still some great results for Olympian League sides. Harold Wood Athletic got another win on the board , winning 2 – 1 at fellow top-tier side Kelvedon Hatch. Rob Whitnell and Connor Hartwell got the goals for Alex Goldstone’s side as they progressed to the next round. Catholic Utd warded off a very spirited performance by hosts Chingford Athletic before winning 4 – 3 at Town Mead. Goals by Luke Trice, Louis Robinson, Rhys Fatt plus an OG edged Stuart Marshall’s side to the win at the Division One side.

Catholic Utd forward Rhys Fatt celebrates his winning goal at Chingford with fellow ford Brad Rowland [Image Credit: Rob Lilley]

Elsewhere, Old Southendian Res had a day to remember with a 5 – 1 triumph at Essex Senior League Reserve side Walthamstow Res. George Borley struck twice for player-boss Oliver Tatton-Bennett’s side. Jack Pagett, Luke Stillwell and Jared Brand all also netted here as the Division Two side went through. Rayleigh Town were also given a scare before getting past Division Two team Epping Town 5 – 3 at Chigwell Sch 3G. Michael Okafor nabbed a brace, with Bailey Moss, Ollie Hanlon and Harry Talbot also on the score-sheet for Paul Higgins’ side. Finally for our focused matches, Ongar Town notched another fine win with a 4 – 2 success at Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier side White Notley. Joe Lilly grabbed two goals, with Frank Goodall and Aaron Blair also on target, with the latter hitting twenty goals in all competitions.

Other Results (Essex Premier Cup):
Barkingside Res  3 – 1 Herongate Athletic  (AET)

Beacon Hill Rovers  0 – 3  Saffron Walden Town Res

Canning Town  0 – 4  Springfield

Great Bentley  4 – 2  Corinthians

Hutton  H – W Aveley Res

Manford Way  H – W  Holland Res

Old Southendian  2 – 2  Sungate*  (Sungate won 5 – 4 on pens)

Toby  3 – 1  White Ensign Res

Wakering Sports  0 – 2  Buckhurst Hill

Witham Town Res  1 – 2 Old Chelmsfordians

———-

EOFL Division Four Results

Catholic Utd Res  6 – 1  Galleywood Res

Hashtag Utd Dev  4 – 4  Leytonstone Utd

Old Chelmsfordians Res  2 – 2  Canning Town Res

Wakering Sports Res  5 – 4  Chingford Athletic Res

——-

EOFL Division Five  Results

Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Res  5 – 2  Epping Town Res

Runwell Sports Res  4 – 4 Shoebury Town Res

Wakering Sports ‘A’ 2 – 1 Collier Row Res

End

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Catholic Utd [20-21 CIF 1.12.20]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome the seventh and last article in this current series of  ‘Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too.

In this edition, I caught up with Catholic Utd boss Stuart Marshall, who made a welcome return to Non-League in this area in the close season. The ‘Super Hoops’ play in the Essex Olympian League Premier.

SW:  Hello Stuart, firstly can I thank you for your time. We’ll start with your move to the “Super Hoops” in the summer. Local Non-League fans may recall your time at Essex Senior side Southend Manor a few seasons ago. What made you decide to take a new challenge at Catholic Utd?  

SM: Hello Scott thanks for the opportunity. [Re: the move to Catholic Utd] It wasn’t something I was particularly looking for if I’m honest and wasn’t looking to get back involved.  I had a conversation with [Commercial Manager] Leon to start with and he told me about the plans for the club and his plans.  I followed this up with a meeting with Pav [Chairman James Paviour] and it went from there.  In fairness when I was at Manor I got told Catholic were a local rival even though we were in different leagues.  I’ve always kept a watch on results and having played them during my time at Thurrock and coming a poor second.  Catholic seem to gain a lot of attention from other clubs which is somewhat strange but I suppose that’s a compliment.

SW: Before the season began, we heard about the ground move which saw you leave landlords Bowers & Pitsea to play at the Len Forge Centre (artificial pitch) where your Reserve Team played last term. Was this move made out of necessity?

SM: I think our deal come to an end at Bowers and they received a greater offer from Hashtag Utd [the Essex Senior side who made the move across from Tilbury’s Chadfields].  It is a shame as Bowers is a great facility but the Len Forge (Centre) is a good facility and we have to adjust.

SW: As it stands at the season break, Catholic Utd are handily-placed in third spot, seven points off Basildon Town at the summit. Which sides have stood out for you in EOFL Premier in the first two months of this campaign? 

SM: It’s a hard one as we haven’t played all the teams as yet.  I echo other comments and have said this is the past that this league is tough.  I believe many teams could compete in the leagues above.  Look at White Ensign should have won their league [Eastern Senior League South at Step 6] last year but Covid put pay to that.  This year they have started strongly again.  Buckhurst Hill are outstanding in fairness and they beat us this season by a margin.  It was a close game for an hour but silly mistakes and fitness killed us.  Basildon have started strongly so fair play to them, we are 3rd and if I’m honest we’ve not really been consistent.  Leigh Ramblers are very strong and could beat anyone on the day.

Image from Catholic Utd 3 – 1 Rayleigh Town from November 5th [Image: Scott W]

SW: For those that aren’t that familiar with your squad, forward Aaron Baldwin has already amassed three league goals in six league starts. Who are the players that really make the team drive on?

SM: It’s a hard one as we have lots of players that have played at a higher level and should still be. “Balders” (Baldwin) has done alright and should have 6 or 7 goals but that will come, getting in the right places.  Max Kent has been outstanding for us this season in every game, he has quality on the ball and wants to win.  Pat Kearney goes very unnoticed but never allows his performance to drop and has had a great start for us.  In fairness it’s a good group, Harley Kee also adds a lot to us.  Mike Summut is another one who does a great job for the team in a very unselfish way.  Louis Godwin Green is outstanding in goal and lets the players know when he isn’t happy. 

SW: Looking longer-term, what are the club’s plans for the next two to three years or so?

SM: I think the plan is to play as high as possible.  The club have long-term plans in building not just the first team but the actual club, as a whole.  They are pushing girls football and Eastern Junior Alliance [EJA] teams which I’m led to believe will be in place for next season.  We are looking at possibly adding another development team into the Senior set-up as well.  Getting out of this league is very difficult as we are seeing this season.  I would say within three years we want to be playing in a higher division. 

SW: Away from Football, what are your sporting interests?

SM: Golf, I suppose.  I enjoy watching cricket but with football and work you don’t get much spare time.

SW: You’re a big supporter of Non-League Football in the area. How would you rate the Essex Olympian League Premier as a division? And do you think it is under-rated by some observers?

SM: The Olympian League is a strong league and I agree that it is dismissed by teams and people never involved in it.  Look at the players and managers involved in this league, lots could and should be at a higher level.  I’ve mentioned them already but Buckhurst Hill would be in the top five in the Essex Senior League without doubt.  Bishop’s Stortford Swifts have Billy Cove, Allan Fenn and George Young it’s hard to get a much more senior management setup than that.  These have managed at a higher level and properly should be. 

Alex [Goldstone] at Harold Wood has been involved with Romford for years and has lots of connections in local football.  I strongly believe the top 6 in this league would hold their own in step 5.  Teams are in the [Essex] Senior League by default and I believe this should be looked at by the bodies that run football.

SW:  Finally, how do you assess the strength of Non-League Football in Essex?

I believe that Football in Essex is flying.  I’ve been involved at several clubs and believe Essex is one of the strongest (counties). Look at the FA Cup and how the teams performed, (such as) Canvey Island & Concord Rangers.  

Hashtag made it on to the BBC from Step 5!  (v Soham Town Rangers), White Ensign topped step 6, Tilbury are strong this season and Aveley got to the last 8 I believe in the FA Trophy last season.

End

I’d like to thank Stuart for his contribution in this article and I wish him and Catholic Utd well for a good season. That also brings to an end this series of the ‘Club In-Focus’ blogs for November 2020, I appreciate the support and thank you for reading.

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Springfield [20-21 CIF 27.11.20]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome the fifth article in this current series of  ‘Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too.

In this edition, I speak to Springfield manager Dan Williams [DW] who took the post in January 2020 but has been around the EOFL for many years. Springfield play in the EOFL Premier Division and are currently in mid-table.

SW: Hello Dan, firstly can I thank you for your time. You were appointed in January 2020, replacing Glen Wilkinson who moved up to Head of Football Development. How do you assess your time at the club so far? 

DW: “Thanks Scott, and thank you for the opportunity to speak about Springfield FC and my time at such a great club. Yes, I was approached not long after I left Rayleigh Town Reserves, and to be honest it was a no brainer. As soon as I met John Meates (Chairman) and Dave Wareham Snr (Secretary), I knew that this was going to be my next home as it’s an unbelievable club with a great committee backing my every move. I took over from Glen as he stepped into the role of overseeing the development of the club. Glen did an amazing job with the first team before I took over, and he does an even more amazing job now behind-the-scenes and helping me out off-the-pitch.

I was stepping into the unknown, as I did not know any of the players. But that gave me a fresh start in the Olympian Premier where I wanted to be. My time so far has been really good and I’m enjoying every minute of it as the players are a dream to manage and welcomed me with open arms.”

SW:  Before the season began, what was the main goal for the First Team this season? [Springfield finished in sixth spot last term, three points adrift of the top three]

DW: “Before the season began Scott, we knew that this year was going to be tough. There was a lot of new managers coming in, and also these managers were stepping down from Isthmian League and Essex Senior League football. So, we knew we had to build a strong side, and that started with my backroom staff. I bought in Mark Brook who does the coaching with Billericay Town Youth set up, and Neil Robinson, who has a wealth of experience and also is a coach/scout for Tottenham. We sat down through pre-season and said that our aim is to build a structure within the next 2 seasons to take us to the Thurlow Nunn (Eastern Senior League South) and we still believe this is possible, whether it is this year or next season.”

SW: As it stands at the season break, the ‘Field reside in seventh spot with eight points from seven games. Which sides have stood out for you in EOFL Premier Division in the first two months of this campaign? 

DW: “Yes, we are sitting comfortably in seventh, but we are disappointed with the results because our performances have been brilliant, but we have not been getting the ‘rub of the green’ and taking our chances effectively. Buckhurst Hill are by far the best team we have played so far. They are a well-drilled side and the way they play football and their movement on and off the ball is proof that Mark is doing a great job with his players.”

——–

SW:  For those that aren’t that familiar with your squad, you have stalwart Dave Wareham, who is a highly-rated forward. Could you take us through some of the squad that is integral to the spine of the team?

DW: “Yes, We have Dave Wareham Jr, what an unbelievable player he is. Not only is he a great player, but his experience in the game is key with what we want to achieve at the club. He was unlucky last season, as he was sitting top of the goal- scorers table  [with 15 League goals in eighteen games] and I believe he would have stayed there. This season he has struggled through injury and has only played 45 minutes so far. But, with him in and around the changing room and training, the boys love it as he brings a massive boost to the whole squad.

Other than Dave, we have some really good players.  Ryan Batchford, Andy Elgar and Jack Mundy who won the Olympian Premier with Springfield a few seasons ago. We have Josh Bards, Charlie Nichols and Jack Gifford who signed from Hutton FC. Ollie Evans and skipper Nav Arain who stayed on with me from Glen’s team last season. Denzel Adebiyi is on loan from Grays Athletic. And we have two goal keepers, Adam French and Joe Williams (yes, he’s my Brother). We have also secured the signing of Jake Clarke who is a massive signing as he is a proven goal-scorer in the Olympian League with (former club) Sungate FC.”

SW: Looking longer-term, what are the club’s plans for the next two to three years or so?

DW: “The club’s longer-term plans over the next two seasons are to get into the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Senior League South (Step 6) and build from there. The committee are working endlessly behind the scenes and have recently got an under 13 and under 14 side in the Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA) League, which as you know is massive for a club like Springfield. The foundations are there for us now, and as a whole. Its looking great for the future of the club.”

SW: Away from Football, what are your sporting interests?

DW: “Other than Football which takes up a lot of my time, I enjoy my boxing. I used to box as a kid and find it a good way to switch off from football, especially after a bad result. Other than that, I don’t really have enough time to like anything else, I have three kids and run a business, so that takes up most of the time.”

SW: How would you rate the Essex Olympian League Premier as a division? And do you think it is under-rated by some observers?

DW: “The Olympian League this year is the strongest that it has been for a long time. As I said above, there are a lot of players and managers stepping down now because they can’t do the travelling or the commitment because of work issues or family. So, they are stepping down to play. To be honest Scott, I really don’t think that some observers think it’s under-rated. I think managers now are taking notice that the league is very strong.”

SW: Finally, you’ve been around the Olympian divisions for a while now so as a manager – which teams & managers do you particularly enjoy pitting your wits against?

DW: “Yes, I’ve been around the Olympian now for fifteen or sixteen years as a player and manager. Most of them years have been playing at Hutton FC. So, I enjoy going back there. And Shenfield AFC (also a club I managed).”

End

I’d like to thank Dan for his thoughts and insight in this article. Springfield are certainly in a highly-competitive division and I wish them well in their ambitions. Thank you for reading.

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Ongar Town [20-21 CIF 25.11.20]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome the fourth article in this current series of  ‘Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too.


In this blog, I speak to Ongar Town Chairman Simon Boultwood [SB] and manager Richard Ponsford [RP] who have both played a part in the club’s rise in recent seasons. Ongar play in EOFL Division One and are currently leading the division by five points.

SW: Hello Richard and Simon, firstly thank you for your time. We’ll start with developments off-the-pitch, Ongar Town elected to move to the Lakeside Sports Ground artificial pitch in Thurrock, effectively replacing the folded Lakeside First team in playing there. What prompted that move?

RP: “Our move to the Lakeside 3G pitch wasn’t an elected one to be honest, we were actually left without a choice, in fact we were nearly without a pitch, until the chairman (Simon Boultwood) worked miracles by finding not just one, but 2 pitches at Lakeside, for the First team and our Reserve side also.

Our previous home ground at Fyfield was great. We’d turned it into a bit of fortress and the playing surface was fantastic and really suited our style of play, but we were totally unsupported within the immediate community and, when our rental period was up, were told by the local council the agreement wouldn’t be renewed. This left us without a home ground. Similarly, we were also told after the first lockdown that our Reserve side were being kicked out of their home ground at Love Lane in Ongar by Ongar Sports Club, (the charity set up in that area to promote sport in the local community) due to the team not spending enough money behind the bar after games. We were shocked by their decision, thus leaving the entire club scratching around for pitches eight weeks before the season started.

Simon worked incredibly hard in finding a home for us and it has worked out brilliantly in my opinion, the size and quality of the surfaces at Lakeside really suits our game and we’ve really settled in well there. The management of the Lakeside facility have welcomed us with open arms. We even have a following of local residents [Honorary Ongar fans, good to see – Ed]

As a club we are fully aware of how important it is to be playing in our local community, especially now as we are doing so well. We have a lot more local interest in the club. We have two very good sponsors from Ongar’s business community, who supported us last season, with another to follow soon. With Kelly Stone becoming our social media/digital marketing Manager, our profile has increased immensely with a healthy following online, including Olly Murs as we are his local side.”  

SB: “We have so many lads who play for the club that live within the town, in both squads and we are very hopeful that we will be playing our football in Ongar again next season and give the town a football team to be proud of. Our success can continue with the clear abundance of local talent. We as a club have big ambitions and need the support of our town to keep achieving.

Going back to the question though, we literally didn’t have a choice in the move to Lakeside, totally out of our hands as a club and quite a sad situation. But we turned that disappointment into a positive.”

SW: Let’s roll back to September and the start of the season, after finishing third in Division One in the curtailed 2019-20 season, what was the aim for the season before a ball was kicked?

SB: “Our aim this season is promotion. Simple as that. This squad is so talented and this group deserve to be playing at a higher level and have showed their quality over the last two to three seasons with the success achieved from a group considerably younger than most.

Last season, in our opinion we were nailed on to gain promotion and were looking good for another County cup final appearance as well but then the world went a bit wrong and Football took a back seat of course understandably.

Our aim is to be promoted as soon and all involved in the club are focused and driven to achieve this. When the club started the original plan was to be a step 6 [aka the Eastern Senior League South] club in five years. So far, so good.”

RP: “From my point of view as a coach, our pre-season was spot on and we learned so much about ourselves, playing against two teams from Step 5, winning one and losing one. We played a Step 4 club as well, where we were taught a bit of lesson in terms of game management and experience. The rest of the fixtures we were superb and absolutely destroyed a few teams in and around our level within the EOFL divisions, giving us real confidence and belief going into the season start.”

SW: As it stands at the season break, you’re five points clear at the summit of Division One, remaining unbeaten in your seven league games so far. How pleased are you with your start?

RP: “Obviously our start has been really good but as a Coach you’re never happy. There have been games where we have been irresistible, scoring superb goals and dominating games from start to finish and then there have games where we haven’t been quite at it for whatever reason and had to graft through difficult periods.

Our recent spell over the last month of games (in October) we haven’t been quite right. This, off the back of a dominant performance against a seriously good Snaresbrook side, which we won 6 – 0 and could’ve been more, yet the following week we were woeful from the first minute attitude wise and ended up drawing the game [at Toby]. We were quite awful on the day, finding ourselves behind and chasing it for periods because our mentality wasn’t correct going into the game.

This has since been addressed and whilst we still haven’t been at our flowing best, we’ve still out worked the opposition and been strong enough to win games, most notably away at Galleywood, which was our last game before latest lockdown. Awful conditions, one-nil down and not competing properly, then down to ten men and we still had enough fight and quality to come from behind to win the game convincingly.  So all things considered, our start has been good and we’re very pleased with our lead at the top.”

SW: For those that aren’t that familiar with your squad, forward Aaron Blair has already reached 15 league goals this term. Who are the players that really make the team drive on?

RP: “Yes, Aaron Blair is a special talent, born to score superb goals that lad. He’s been sensational since the day I stumbled upon him. A wonderful young man and a superb talent that we hope will go a long way in football and everyone at Ongar has high hopes for him.

But this team isn’t just about one player though. We are blessed with superb young footballers all over the pitch. Our midfield group are all technically superb and full of quality and goals, so much so I can’t name check them all. Don’t want to warn our opposition! [Sound logic, to be fair! – Ed]

Defensively, we are strong. We’ve added Eamon Payne to our squad and got him seriously fit. A well-known player in Non-League Football. He’s flying and really learning his game properly now. Big edition to the squad and has had such a positive impact. I expect big things from him over next season or two.

Connor Jones also joined us in pre-season and has been wonderful. What an attitude this young man has! Impressed me from the first minute and he’s given real impact in whatever role he’s been asked to play in. He has become a massive part of the team very quickly. But there are so many quality players in this squad and they’re a joy to coach and be a part of each week.

As a club we are blessed throughout. I’ve spent a lot of time creating and coaching our recently new (last season) reserve side and we now have some seriously good younger lads coming through the ranks between the ages of 16-20, that will progress into the first team over the next couple of seasons. A new reserve team manager is about to come on board as well. So the club is in a wonderful state and we are so excited as to what we can achieve moving forward with the quality coming through.”

SW: Away from Football, what are your sporting interests?

RP: “Besides cleaning all the kit after the weekend’s games, my interests away from football are watching my sons play their chosen sports. Love my Sundays chilling out watching them both! Also, I am a big Rugby Union fan and enjoy watching autumn internationals and the Six Nations, cannot wait for that!”

SB: “I love sport in general, some more than others. My interest in cricket has risen watching England and I also love basketball. Another sport I played as a youth in the Harlow League. Football is and always will be my first love.”

SW: What isn’t that well known is there are many clubs in Essex Olympian League who are ambitious to progress up the Non-League Pyramid. With that in mind, what are the ambitions of Ongar Town in the next three to five years or so?

SB: “We think it’s clear what our ambitions are for the next three to five years. We want to progress as far as we can. Firstly to move to the Thurlow Nunn [Eastern Senior League South at Step 6], with our next main aim is being a Step four team. There will be unseen obstacles to overcome, like the pandemic and others that are known, like having your own stadium, increased sponsorship, funding etc. But that’s also the challenge. Football is played off the pitch as well as on it. We have the management and the players to begin the journey.”

SW: Finally, how do you think the quality of the Essex Olympian League has progressed in the last two years? And do you think it is under-rated by some observers?

SB: “The Essex Olympian League has in our opinion improved greatly over the last two years. If you look at the County cup winners or finalists, you will always find EOFL clubs. Evidence it is the strongest of the leagues at our level. Some people think the top division might have been stronger in the past, but we doubt it. This is our fourth season and we can see an improvement. If some under-rate the EOFL, they do so at their peril.” 

End

I’d like to thank Simon and Richard for their contributions to this article. It is unfortunate that I haven’t been to see them in person yet but you can see that they are hugely ambitious for the future and that they are well-placed to progress up the Non-League ladder. Thank you for reading.

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Corinthians [20-21 CIF 21.11.20]

Corinthians logo (Image: Corinthians FC/Twitter)

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome the third article in this current series of ‘Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too.

In this article, I speak to Corinthians manager Chris Stoneham [CS]. Chris has continued the rapid progress of the club’s First Team up the Essex Olympian League divisions since they initially joined the EOFL as an Under-21 side in the 2016-17 season. They now play in EOFL Division Two, having been one of many teams there were thwarted from obtaining promotion last term due to the curtailed season.

SW: Hello Chris, firstly thank you for your time. Looking back to September and the start of the season, after finishing fourth in Division Two in the derailed 2019-20 season, what was the aim for this season before a ball was kicked?

CS: “I appreciate the opportunity to speak about Corinthians FC, thank you Scott. To be honest, our aim has never changed, that is to improve the ability of our players and progress the squad so that they compete in all competitions with a push for promotion on a regular basis.” 

SW: As it stands at the season break, Corinthians sit in second spot, two points adrift of Beacon Hill Rovers at the summit of Division One (but with two games in hand on them). How would you assess your start of this campaign?

CS:  “I’m really impressed with our start but not surprised as we had a good pre-season, training went really well and we played against some higher (division) opposition, during those games I was filled with confidence and we more than held our own. We have been disappointed by two serious injuries, one to Alfie Knight (eye injury) and one to Luke Owen (ACL), but other than that it has been really encouraging. As we all know these are testing times and we need to pick up where we left off which will be tough, but we feel we’re ready.  Plans are hopefully for a 5th December restart and we will be at home to Laindon Orient, which is always a competitive game.”  

SW: The sides around you in the table are Beacon Hill Rovers, Leigh Town, Landon Orient and Wakering Sports. Which sides have stood out for you in EOFL Division Two in the first two months of this campaign?  

CS: “The teams you have mentioned, you would expect to be competing for promotion without a doubt.  I will say I have been impressed with every opposition we have played this season so far, whether that is in terms of team or individual performances within the team.  I can certainly see some upsets along the way though and if you’re not on your game, teams will punish you.”

  

Image from Corinthians 2 – 2 Epping Town back in late September 2020 [Image: Scott W]

SW: Much of your squad has stayed together as they moved up the youth sides until the present day, along with a well-known & experienced goal-scorer in Nathan Dewberry, who already has amassed eight league goals this term. In your view, which of your players makes up the ‘spine of the side’ and drives the team on?

CS: “Yes, our squad has hardly changed since youth football and we have had minimal turnaround of players since joining the EOFL as U21 4 years ago. We have strong level of stability and a lot of talent in the squad, some of whom could play at a much higher level. There is no lack of ambition from the players they all have an ambition to progress as a squad, which is refreshing in football. You mention Nathan Dewberry and yes, he is an out and out goal-scorer who can win a game with a bit of individual quality – proven with the goal he scored against Rochford Town just recently.

What I will say about Nathan and another player of ours, Sammy Ayres, is that the experience they bring has been brilliant. You need that in the changing room and on the pitch with a relatively young squad around them. You mentioned the spine of the team, and of course this is a big factor when looking at your side, but as I mentioned earlier injuries can play a part in the season as we experienced last season so it’s important to have a strong squad. The squad we have now is the strongest we have ever had, having cover in every position. The squad always work together and when players are given a chance, they will always give 100%, which makes my team selection a challenge.  We have 21 players signed on and each of these players has different qualities and fully deserve to be in a very good squad.” 

SW: Away from Football, what are your sporting interests?

CS: “I’ve always been interested in martial arts and boxing.  I enjoy the gym and like a game of golf (badly) occasionally.”   

SW: What isn’t that well known is there are many clubs in Essex Olympian League who are ambitious to progress up the Non-League pyramid. With that in mind, what are the club’s plans for the next three to five years or so?

CS: “The Club has come a long way in a short period of time and had great success with various titles and promotions. We have progressed from having two teams to eleven teams within a few years and we have some great people at the club such as Ben Adams (Chairman) and Kayleigh Ayres (Secretary) who both work tirelessly. Also, my match day team of Graham Owen, Trevor Burrell, Ross Hooper and Andy Tapster all work so hard with me every week. We have some fantastic managers from our newly formed U8 right up to our Veterans football teams. I regularly watch U16 games and see some exceptional talent coming through which is always encouraging for the club who have a good junior and youth policy. The Club are looking to add a Ladies Team, we have had great interest and are already building a team to compete in the Essex [County] Women’s League.

We are an ambitious club and our main aim at this present time is to progress to the Premier Division of the  Essex Olympian League. We believe we are more than capable of doing this in the coming seasons. This will allow us to enter teams in the EJA (Eastern Junior Alliance) which will attract a different standard of player at an earlier stage in their progression. There has been massive progress made at our home, The Stambridge Memorial Ground.  The changing rooms are exceptional for this standard and the playing surface is looking better all the time with the hard work of Graham Owen.  Ben Adams has put a plan together for the club, which is progressing well, and we can see good things happening at the ground already.”

SW: And finally, having watched a few Division Two matches myself last season, I would suggest that the quality in the division is under-rated. How would you sum up the division and the two Olympian League divisions above it in the last two seasons or so, has it improved?  

CS: “Our division has certainly improved going by the early matches we have played.  I could certainly see several teams competing at a higher level in due course.  Since we joined the EOFL it is my opinion the Premier Division is stronger and more competitive. Basildon Town have had a great start and remain unbeaten.  Buckhurst Hill who have been a quality side over the past few seasons look to be pushing for promotion once again.  I do not know anyone that would disagree that they do deserve to be able to move the club forward after some very bad luck.  What I will say about that division although I have mentioned only the top 2 teams, any team is capable of having a run of results ,you just have to look at last season as an example. Take Leigh Ramblers and Bishop Stortford Swifts who both had great results and decent performances which pushed them up the league and I fully expect similar this season. 

So, I will be looking out for a few challenges from teams that have not had the best start to the current campaign. I’m always interested in Ongar Town’s progress since our competitive games against their U21 side a few seasons ago, I’m not surprised that they have also started really well again, I expect them to push into the Premier division at the end of this season along with Runwell Sports who impressed me when they beat us in a close game at the start of the season, we fell to a late winner in the league cup.   Once again this looks a competitive league and hopefully one that we will be able to compete in next campaign.”  

End

I’d like to thank Chris for his thoughts on the club and the EOFL as a whole. Corinthians is one example of a club that gives the impression that it is ‘just beginning’ its journey up the divisions, even though they have won several trophies & promotions in the last few seasons already.

It also has to be noted that the people at the club are consistently really welcoming and helpful to the likes of me and my colleagues on match days. Once you factor in that they are an exciting side to watch (one of many in these divisions), you wouldn’t be surprised to see them continue their upward trajectory in the next few seasons.

If your club (at Essex Senior or Essex Olympian level) would be interested in contributing to this blog series then please DM me on Twitter. Thank you. Hope you enjoyed the article.

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Hutton [20-21 CIF 18.11.20]

Hutton FC club crest [Credit: Hutton FC/Twitter]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and welcome to a second of the current mini-series of ‘ Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too.

I’m pleased to continue the new series by welcoming Hutton manager Matt Singh [MS]. Matt was the club’s Reserve Team Manager in EOFL Division Three last season before being promoted to the first team (who play in the EOFL Premier Division) in the summer.

Thanks also to @fitinaflash1 for the match photo.

SW: Hello Matt, firstly thank you for your time. We’ll start with this extraordinary season being your first as Manager of the Hutton First Team. How has the last three months been, dealing with all the uncertainty that Covid has presented at the same time looking to keep Hutton in a really tough division?

MS: “No worries at all Scott, It’s a pleasure considering the amount of time you spend covering our lower leagues. It has been a very difficult season to start with a new side. I know there are a number of other managers in the same position who are in our division and I am sure they will agree. Pre-season was a challenge for many with pitches being unavailable for most sides, players quarantining every time they went on holiday (largely due to Covid-enforced rules) and teams not being able to field a side, but we all got through it. We have some top people running our club and they made mine and Rob’s (Lorkins – assistant manager) job a lot easier. Greg Hall (Secretary), Darren Hall (Chairman) and John Hall (Facilities Manager) along with Kevin Lorkins (Treasurer) have been great and allowed us to focus on the football side of things rather than COVID issues.

In terms of the division – We knew it was at probably the strongest it has been in a number of years. There are some very good managers and players involved, with a lot of experience at other levels and I am sure it will be an interesting one to watch.”

SW: As it stands at the season break, your side sits in a creditable sixth place after wins in your last three games. How do you feel the season has started?

MS: “Considering the side finished in the bottom two last season, we are very happy with the current position with two games in hand. Unfortunately we got off to a slow start against a very well-organised Basildon Town side, who are surprising many this season. Since then we have had so many injuries mixed with Covid interruptions, but that aside I must give a lot of praise to our lads. They have all bought into mine and Rob’s ideas and the results are starting to show. We are now really looking forward to getting back to try and pick up where we left off.”

SW: The EOFL Premier Division is a strong division and arguably getting stronger each season. Which sides have stood out for you in EOFL Premier in the first two months of this campaign?

 MS: “As mentioned already, Basildon Town were a very strong side. I am happy Marcus [Bowers] is doing well there. We have had a few conversations since pre-season, as we were two new faces to the division, taking over two sides that were fighting relegation last season. He has pulled in some experience mixed with talent and they will be a tough side to beat. As everyone knows Buckhurst Hill are always a very strong side. I have watched them a few times over the past few seasons and they have some very talented players. The way they play considering they are in a physical division is a credit to their players and more so their manager! We are really looking forward to two tough games against them this season.”

Will Marlowe (#10) about to strike v Rayleigh Town [Credit: @fitinaflash1]

SW: For those that aren’t that familiar with your squad, forward Will Marlowe has netted three league goals so far this term. Who are the players that really make the team drive on, in your opinion?

MS: “Yes, Marlowe was starting to find some form. We all know what he is capable of, it’s just getting the best out of him. We are hopeful he will score and create many more goals for us. This season we have used all nineteen players on a regular basis. We have had numerous Man of the Match awards and have spread the goals across the whole squad. It will be a real tough call to pick the squad when we finally get everyone fit and available. We have a good mix of young teenagers to experienced Olympian League players. Our two older players – Adrian (Faherty – Goalkeeper) and Vice-Captain Kyle (Linzell) have been excellent characters for the side. Their attitude and hunger to win at training and on match days is right up there for the younger players to see. If we are to achieve our goals this season, every player in our squad will be needed to do so.”

SW: I’ve heard that plans are in progress to advance the facilities for the club’s future, could you tell us a bit more about that and on the same lines, what are the ambitions for the club in the next two-three years?

MS: “You’re correct that the club have plans for a new ground and training facility but this is based at a larger site in Shenfield. It’s a really exciting project which will hopefully include multiple pitches. We are also hoping for a 3/4G artificial pitch (commonly known as “astro turf”) to be placed next to the main grass pitches. This is a long-term plan that will hopefully be completed in the next two to three years. The hope is that the first team can maintain their Essex Olympian Premier Division status or push higher between now and then. We are also in the first season of Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA) Football at Hutton and along with others, I hope this helps to progress our youth players into our first team.

As a club, we are also looking to have a real drive on Girls’ football and Disability football. As one of the largest clubs in South East England, it’s vital we get this facility sorted, to ensure all 67 (!) teams are catered for. We have grown so big that we need somewhere to continue to provide the quality that we do. As someone who coaches the U6’s, multiple youth sides, EJA sides and the Men’s first team on a weekly basis, I get to see just how important it is for us as a club.”

SW: And finally, as you’ve previously headed the Hutton Reserve team, you’re well-placed to gauge the quality further down the EOFL divisions. How do you think the quality of the top-four Essex Olympian League divisions has progressed in the last two to three years? And do you think it is under-rated by some observers?

 MS: “Last season was my first season in management with our reserves. I am really pleased we done it as myself and Rob learnt a hell of a lot. The division was tough and had teams of different abilities. One reason I left academy football was to get a taste of needing to win three points each week. I had it briefly as assistant at Witham Town but it is different being the manager. I can safely say that division three of the Olympian was certainly the place to do that. It took a few weeks to get used to the needs at that level but we ended up in a county cup final and climbing the league before Covid kicked in. One thing that was pleasing to see was how much Reserve sides are looked after by certain clubs.

Like ourselves, reserve sides like Toby, Corinthians and Buckhurst Hill all had talent in their ranks and were well-prepared. That Toby reserve side are now playing for the First Team in Division One and holding their own. We promoted five of our reserve team players from last season and all have had an impact in the Premier . It shows just how much quality there is in the lower divisions. Above that, I was looking at some up and coming sides last season like Chingford and Ongar Town, who were smashing Division One. I know a lot of the young Ongar players and hear good things about their manager. They will make our division even stronger next season which will be exciting for all.

I would confidently say that some sides in the Premier (Division) would give many Step 5 or 6 teams a good game. You see many players switching between those levels now – which demonstrates how close the gap is. There are even players being loaned by Isthmian League teams which I think speaks volumes. Olympian Premier clubs are starting to realise they are in a strong position with the investment into facilities, coaching staff, players and physios too at many clubs.”

End

To close this second article I would like to say a big thank you to Matt for his thoughts here as one of the newest managers to the top division of the Essex Olympian League. Thanks also to Matt for supporting those who do watch and write about this level of the Non-League/Grassroots game.


If your club (at Essex Senior or Essex Olympian level) would be interested in contributing to this blog series then please DM me on Twitter. Thank you. Hope you enjoyed the article.

S20-21 So Far: Club In-Focus – Buckhurst Hill [20-21 CIF 16.11.20]

Buckhurst Hill crest [Credit: Buckhurst Hill FC/Twitter]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer

Hello and welcome to a new mini-series of ‘ Club In-Focus’ blogs where figures in the Grassroots & Non-League game fill us in on their season so far and also recite some chosen moments from recent seasons too. I felt “Lockdown II” was a good time to bring the blog series back after doing a few of these articles after the end of the 2019-20 curtailed campaign.

I’m pleased to begin this new series by welcoming Buckhurst Hill manager Mark Williams [MW]. Mark has been the managerial anchor to the club’s consistent success in recent years and many consider the side to the best team outside of the senior Non-League game and have done for at least the last two seasons.

Thanks also to Pete Dudley (@ped1980) for the match photo.

SW: Hello Mark, firstly thank you for your time. We’ll start with developments off-the-pitch, Buckhurst Hill have been campaigning to improve the facilities at Roding Lane, including floodlights and a small seated stand – to increase the chances of being accepted into higher divisions. How far along have you gotten with that?

MW: “We have been trying to go up for the last couple of years as you know Scott but have always run into trouble in one way or another. Buckhurst Hill’s Roding Lane ground is situated on a flood plain and on green belt land so the local parish has always been reluctant for us to develop the site . We have worked very closely though in the last couple of years with the local Parish Council and Epping Forest Council who they report to, to compromise on what we needed to do to be compliant with the ground blending in with its natural surroundings. 

We want Buckhurst Hill FC to be an integral part of the local community and open up the club to everyone not just the members. Some of the councillors came down to our opening last September 2019 to see the work we had done on switching the pitch round and the new barriers and fencing and were very impressed  .We applied to go up to Step Six and senior football for the first time in the club’s history. The club also applied for a Football Foundation grant towards the cost of the flood lights and stands which was approved so we were all set.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 came about and we went into lockdown, itting 3rdin the league and with 9 games in hand over top of the table we felt confident of achieving our goal. But all football rightly so with the terrible virus that was afflicted on us was declared null and void . We then went to the council for planning permission in July and it was voted unanimously to award us permission with a few stipulations on the stand colours blending in with the natural colours”.

SW: Let’s roll back to September now and the start of the season, after circumstances in the last two seasons had prevented you from getting promoted to Step 6, what was your feeling this term – is promotion & the Essex Olympian League Premier title a must?

MW: “September 2020 the season started and we also started work on the new fencing and car park and also to lay foundations for new stands . Even though we won the first few games having lost four players to higher divisions and a season-long injury to Sam Sollosi in a pre-season game we  struggled to find our form and had to work hard to get the victories. Our normal flowing football wasn’t there. But convincing wins over Catholic United 5 – 0 and Springfield 8 – 3 put us back on track until we lost away at Canning Town. We got back to winning ways with a less than convincing win away at Harold Wood on a dog of a pitch. But that’s the way we have to treat this campaign. Work hard and adapt to every surface we play on and accept as current champions you’re there to be shot at.”

Image from B Hill 5 – 0 Catholic Utd (Credit: Pete Dudley)

SW: From what I’ve seen in my research, you’ve kept the majority of the squad from last season and it appears the team has stayed together for a while. What do you feel are the main reasons for the why the team has stayed together as long as it has?

MW:  “The boys off-the-pitch are a very close group and that helps with the way we play as they all work hard for each other. The ones that went higher were actually reactant to leave as they loved the group and the way we played .  Some of the players have also played for Buckhurst Hill at youth and senior level. They have gone off and come back which shows you that they love the club and want to be part of the future.”

SW: As it stands at the season break, it’s you and Basildon Town locked together on 21 points at the summit. Which sides have stood out for you in EOFL Premier in the first two months of this campaign?  

MW: “Even though we haven’t played Basildon Town yet I’ve been very impressed with the start they have had .Marcus Bowers has built a very good squad with a lot of players who have played at a higher level and they have shown they are the ones to beat having played 7 and won 7. We haven’t had one easy game so far.

Kelvedon Hatch are a brand new team and I know Steve and Mark from their time at Brentwood U23’s and even though they have struggled to start I was really pleased they picked up their 1st win last week. Leigh ramblers away at Belfairs Park has been our toughest away fixture …it’s a really hard place to get a result and they played really well against us especially in the 1st half , so it was great to get a win there. Rayleigh have improved from last year and we are finding teams this year much harder to break down.

We then got two decent home wins putting five past Catholic who were in the game for an hour but tired and we took advantage , then Springfield we beat 8-3 when it was the Suley [Zuhdu] show as he scored five very well-taken goals. Again, Springfield played some good stuff but we were clinical on the day . We then went to Canning Town and I felt we took them for granted . They are a very young honest team and worked very hard. We missed a lot of chances and it was poor management by myself as at 1-1 with ten to go I pushed us up too far and it left gaps and they scored a great goal to win it .

We learnt a bit about ourselves that day and it will help us cut out the complacency going forward . Having not played some other teams yet I would say out of who we had played Leigh Ramblers should be up there at the end of the season . For me Sungate are always a strong team and Basildon Town’s results speak for themselves.”

SW: For those that aren’t that familiar with your squad, forward Suleyman Zuhdu netted ten league goals last term, and has already surpassed that total this term. Who are the players that really make the team drive on?

MW:  “I always believe the spine of a side makes the real difference when it comes to the makings of a good side . For example, My goalkeeper Dan Blockley, I always admired in youth football but despite me driving his Dad mad to join me at Buckhurst Hill for over 10 years I had to wait till four years ago when I took over the First team for him to sign for me. He’s a top top keeper and were lucky to have him. When it looked like I’d lost 90% of our team to Newbury Forest at the beginning of last season he was only 1 of 5 players to commit to stay .

Loyalty means a lot to me and even though I’d never stop a player going higher to better himself he was prepared to stand by me  as he believed we would rebuild and the club could deliver on the promises made of developing the ground and moving into senior football. Henry Day, Alfie Harris, Max Nicholson and Liam Foster are all very versatile and can play anywhere across the back line. Jonah Gregory has played up in League 2 for Hereford but he’s been blighted by injuries but is a born leader and when he plays at centre-back we are a different side. He’s out again now injured and I’m hoping the extended break will give him time to come back to full fitness.

Josh Banfield and Louis Wynter are our “midfield engine room” backed up by the very experienced Ben Cooper who is also my assistant [manager]. Even though I’ve lost the very skilful Sonny Shilling to Bowers and Pitsea we have some really exciting youngsters coming through.

Zach Davidson [ex-Springfield and Sungate] is only 18, Jack Griggs has also come in from Writtle and with Brandon Hubbard who has stepped up from the reserves, they are ones to look out for the future . Tyler Dolan who was an ex-Southend Utd Academy player who also player for Buckhurst Hill at youth level has really come on this season. He was always a very skilful player but has added strength and goals to his repertoire.

Nathan and Sam Sollosi are the two attacking midfielders that no one wants to play against. Both travel so well with the ball and both footed defenders often can’t work out which side the will attack on . Sam ruptured his hamstring badly in a preseason game so has been out so far but is ahead of schedule on his rehab and hopefully back in January where it had looked like he would be out for the season . Reece Tranter is a proven goal scorer at any level and has played many games at Step Four.

And lastly, Suley Zuhdu is an enigma – he can win a game on his own and is the team Captain. A very loyal player who was one of the five that stood by myself and the club and believed the dream our Chairman Simon Cornwell put across to him about the future development of the club.”

SW: Away from Football, what are your sporting interests?

MW: “Away from football is a tough one Scott as it’s 24/7 for me. I also referee mostly on Sunday’s for the Eastern Junior Alliance. The standard is very high and it’s a pleasure to officiate in it. I’m a keen golfer when I get the time, well more of a hacker! I also like Horse Racing and go to the big meetings when they don’t coincide with football.”

SW: And finally, you are a big supporter of Intermediate or Grassroots Football. How do you think the quality of the Essex Olympian League has progressed in the last two to three years? And do you think it is under-rated by some observers?

MW: “Yes I am a big supporter of grassroots football and as much as it’s a competition I believe in helping out other clubs when needed. We are all this together and sometimes need to work together to make the league stronger.

The EOFL I feel was at its strongest about five or six years ago with the likes of Frenford, Harold Wood, Kelvedon Hatch, White Ensign and Hannakins Farm (now defunct) all being top-class teams who were more than capable at the time of playing in the Essex Senior or the like (Frenford & White Ensign are now in Eastern Senior League South at Step 6 – Ed).

I think it was diluted somewhat when they left but they all had older squads so if they had stayed they faced big competition from the likes of Catholic United and ourselves.

The year we won it (EOFL Premier) for the first time in Season 2018/19, we had a very strong squad who only lost two matches the whole league campaign . and one of those was when we had already secured the title . I’m not saying the competition wasn’t as good but we were very good on our day and our young naïve squad the season before had learnt how to handle anything thrown at them .

The following season (Season 2019/20), I felt the competition got much stronger. Sungate emerged as a top team and also the emergence of Leigh Ramblers and of course Catholic united were still in the mix. This season again I think its got stronger again with Basildon Town setting the early pace and what I like about this season is the number of clubs that have taken on young managers and given them a chance. Matt Singh at Hutton, Alex Goldstone at Harold Wood , Connor Lane at Old Southendian have all come in and done well. And other clubs who have gone for experience also.

Marcus Bowers at Basildon, Billy Cove at Bishop’s Stortford Swifts. Both were top players in their day and Marcus still plays. Stuart Marshall has come in at Catholic and tried to blend Catholic’s vastly experienced older players in with some talented youngsters. The EOFL Committee work tirelessly to improve the league and make it in my opinion the best NLS Feeder league in Essex and arguably the surrounding counties. 

The EOFL have won the Essex Premier Cup in the last few years and also through Catholic United’s success the ART Trophy that pits the best of Essex , Middlesex and Hertfordshire together in Intermediate Football.

Kevin Lorkins (League Secretary) is always in contact asking how  as a member club, how we can take the league forward . If we manage to go up this season I will have to say a massive thanks you to him and the EOFL Committee for all their help and advice.”

End

All that is left to say is a big thank you from me to Mark for his thoughts here and also for being one of many people at this level who consistency support likes of myself and many other colleagues in Non-League as we try to ‘do our bit’ in telling the story, it is always appreciated. It may be a different scope from the National League (Step 1) but the stories are no less enthralling at times.

If your club (at Essex Senior or Essex Olympian level) would be interested in contributing to this blog series then please DM me on Twitter. Thank you. Hope you enjoyed the article.

S2020-21 Round-ups: Essex Olympian League (Wk 9 – Sat 31 Oct) [EOFL 20-21 1.11.20]

Written by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Essex Olympian League round-up, here on my blog, looking at the action from Saturday 31st October from the Premier Division all the way to Division Three this week, also including results from Senior Four & Five. Thanks for reading.

EOFL Crest

EOFL Premier Division

Despite the awful weather this week, most of the Olympian League programme went ahead. In the top-tier, Buckhurst Hill temporarily went back to the top of the standings after edging a titanic tussle to win 5 – 4 at Harold Wood Athletic. Harold Wood started the better of the sides with Tom Ward and Connor Hartwell goals giving them a 2 – 1 lead, with Alfie Harris initially responding for Hill. Louis Wynter levelled things up for Mark Williams’ side who then found another gear with Suleyman Zuhdu’s 14th league goal of the season and a brace from Reece Tranter putting the high-flyers 5 – 2 up. But any notion that they would canter to victory soon dissolved as Wynter was dismissed for a strong tackle and in the latter stages, Athletic ensured a nervy ending for the visitors through strikes from substitute Jack Sykes and Robert Whitnell. Hill did hold on for an important win which takes them back top on goals scored. Harold Wood fall to tenth spot.

Elsewhere, Catholic Utd are up to third spot after a hard-fought 3 – 1 win over Rayleigh Town in the match I attended this weekend. An early header from Michael Sammut and a brace from livewire Brad Rowland ensured the ‘Super Hoops’ first home win of the season. Bailey Moss got one back for Rayleigh but they drop to 11th spot. If you’d like more on this match, my report is here: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2020/11/01/s20-21-match-report-catholic-utd-3-1-rayleigh-town-saturday-31st-oct-eofl/

Kelvedon Hatch finally got their first league win this term as they narrow defeated Canning Town 1 – 0 at New Hall. Lewis Young got the crucial goal to ensure his side leaps off the bottom of the table. Canning drop to eighth spot. Leigh Ramblers also got a narrow win, 1 – 0 over Bishop’s Stortford Swifts at Belfairs Park, Matt Brinklow with the crucial goal in that contest to see Ronnie Bridges’ side up to fifth. Swifts’ sixth loss this season means they drop to third-bottom. Finally in this division, Springfield got only their second win this campaign, as they defeated Shenfield AFC 2 – 1 at Arun Close. Andy Elgar and Charlie Nicholls got the strikes for Dan Williams’ side as they rise to seventh spot in a congested bottom half of the table. 

EOFL Division One

In Division One, Ongar Town are five points clear at the summit after a fine 4 – 1 win at rivals Galleywood. Frank Goodall’s hat-trick and one for Aaron Blair secured Town’s third consecutive win and reached thirty goals scored already this term. Harry Bond netted Wood’s reply but they dropped to fourth place. Runwell Sports had a Daniel Okah goal to thank for a 1 – 0 win over Shoebury Town as they went second. Shoebury drop to the bottom of the table as Rayleigh Town Res got a 2 – 2 draw at Herongate Athletic with Pat Mills and Robbie Allen goals helped Dave Gip’ side claim a point at St Clere’s. Herongate drop to ninth place.

Elsewhere, Ramsden Scotia held Chingford Athletic to a 1 – 1 draw at Town Mead, with Jamie Auvache netting for Scotia in this one. Chingford’s tricky start continues as they remain tenth, seven points adrift of the top five. Also, Old Chelmsfordians powered to a 7 – 2 win over Toby at Lawford Lane to go up to third spot, ahead of Galleywood and Snaresbrook on goal difference.

EOFL Division Two

Things are getting tight at the summit in Division Two. Beacon Hill Rovers remain top after a 3 – 2 win over Epping Town. Callum Turner and another goal-scoring cameo from substitute Dave Limber accounted for the Epping goals but Rovers scored three of their own to go two points clear at the summit. With Leigh Town’s match at Ryan postponed, Corinthians had a chance to go into a second spot, which they did after a tough 3 – 1 win at home to May & Baker ‘A’ at Stambridge Memorial Ground. Strikes by John Bolton-Smith, Ollie Brickwood and Sammy Ayres were enough to give Chris Stoneham’s side their fifth win this term.

Also, Laindon Orient are up to fourth spot after a hard-fought 1 – 0 win at Rochford Town. Ashley Blackburn got his sixth league goal this term to help his side to the win which keeps Rochford in 8th spot. Orient went above Wakering Sports as the Shoebury-based side lost 2 – 1 at home to Harold Wood Athletic Res. Del Hawtin and Tommy Harber goals sealed their first win of the league campaign and go level on points with May & Baker ‘A’ and Ryan above them. Ben Rowe netted for Sports in this one. Old Southendian Res also got a big 5 – 1 win over struggling AS Rawreth at Garon Park, which keeps them seventh, five points away from the top four.

EOFL Division Three

Finally this week in the round-up section, in Division Three this weekend the top three sides all won. The leaders are still ACD Utd after their hard-fought 4 – 3 win at Manford Way Res. David Hornsby netted another double to reach ten league goals this term for Manford’s second-side who drop to fifth, who also had an OG to thank for their other goal. But, ACD are known for scoring bundles and they made it 27 goals in just five league games thanks to Michael Wade’s double (he is now on 13 league goals this term) and strikes by Billy Wren and Paul Mangan. Wakebury remain the nearest challengers, two points adrift in second after they won 3 – 1 at Hutton Res. The cast of William Wheeler, Charlie Little and replacement Harry Kateley did the job for Matt Cardy’s side. Hutton’s Reserve side remain third-bottom.

The turnaround at Hullbridge ‘A’ this term continued as they won 3 – 2 at bottom side Leigh Town Res Joe Ives got a brace to make it three matches in a row he’s netted in, with Harry Boswell also scoring to put the Lower Road development side in third and are one of only two sides that are unbeaten in this division, alongside ACD Utd. Collier Row went up to fourth after a hard-fought 2 – 1 win at Toby Res, who remain second from bottom. Lastly, Basildon Town Res got a fine 4 – 2 win at Lakeside Utd to go up to sixth with Michael Clark getting another double here to reach five league goals this term, with Sam Marsh also notching twice here. David Alele and Harry Davison’s 5th league goal this season accounted for Lakeside’s goals, but they slide down to 8th spot.

EOFL Reserve League Cup Result

Ongar Town Res  2 – 3  Wakering Sports Res

EOFL Division Four Results

Catholic Utd Res  5 – 1  Chingford Athletic Res

Leytonstone Utd 0 – 6  Galleywood Res

Shenfield AFC Res  3 – 1  Canning Town Res

EOFL Division Five  Results

Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Res  6 – 4  Herongate Athletic Res

Old Barkabbeyans 0 – 0  Runwell Sports Res

S20-21 Match Report: Catholic Utd 3 – 1 Rayleigh Town (Saturday 31st Oct) [EOFL 20/21 1.11.20]

EOFL Crest

Essex Olympian League – Premier Division

Venue: Len Forge Centre [3G]

Season 2020- 21: Match 18

Saturday 31st October 2020 – 2.30pm KO

Catholic Utd: Green & White Hooped Shirts, Black Shorts, Green & White Socks

Rayleigh Town: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Navy Blue Socks  

Len Forge pitch prior to KO

Strong display sees Catholic Utd to victory over Rayleigh in drenched conditions

Catholic Utd  3 – 1  Rayleigh Town

Match Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)

On an afternoon where you’d be forgiven for thinking the weather clouds were giving a hint as to what was to come, I went for a return trip to the Len Forge Centre to see Catholic Utd’s encounter with another local rival in Rayleigh Town, in the Essex Olympian League Premier Division. The rain had left hthe artificial playing surface somewhat drenched but boss Stuart Marshall named stalwart & skipper Louis Godwin-Green in goal, with John Nutman and Ellis Sands in defence, Harley Kee and Max Kent among the midfield and a front two of Aaron Baldwin and Brad Rowland. Among the options on their bench were midfielders Callum Matthews and Jack Holloway and forward Rhys Fatt. The likes of Alfie Lindfield and Luke Trice were unavailable for this contest.

Rayleigh Town were looking to build on their win the previous week at home to Sungate and named Josh Hudson in goal, with Louis Baucutt and Tom Franks in their defence, with George Vile once again skippering the side. Bailey Moss and Paul Morris were their focal point in attack, with their replacement options including the likes of Ruari McIntyre, Michael Okafor and Dan Regan. 

Both sets of players about to get under-way..

As the match began, it was clear to see that Catholic Utd wanted to start by taking the early advantage on the score-sheet as only two minutes into the contest, a fine centre by attacking right-back Patrick Kearney found brother Tom Kearney but his attempted strike was blocked by covering Rayleigh defender Aaron Clark , only for the rebound to fall to home forward Aaron Baldwin whose strike drew the first save out of Town custodian Josh Hudson. Town needed to regroup but the hosts were giving them little time to so as only minutes later, an errant clearance found Tom Kearney but he could only skew his shot harmlessly wide. Baldwin then fizzed another curling strike wide of goal as Catholic Utd were exacting pressure on their opponents.

They didn’t have to wait too long to break the deadlock as on thirteen minutes, a fine cross in from the right flank by Rowland picked out the advancing Michael Sammut who powered in a header past the helpless Hudson to give the hosts a deserved lead. It sort of stated the situation when Rayleigh made their first real foray forward just after the twenty minute mark as right-back Charlie Seaden bombed forward and his cross was eventually cleared by defender Simon Thomas. Catholic Utd were certainly the aggressors in terms of possession and chances as shown moments after, with Rowland played in Tom Kearney whose placed effort drew another good save out of the acrobatic Hudson.

Rayleigh did have a good spell in the latter third of the first 45 minutes, with midfielder George Vile testing opposition stopper Louis Godwin-Green’s alertness with a strike from 25-yards which the Catholic captain did well to parry round the right-side post. At the other end, Baldwin was still full of running down the channels but a great run down the left flank ended flatly as his centre found ‘nobody home’ in the eighteen-yard box moments before the half-time whistle.

Half-Time: Catholic Utd  Catholic Utd  1 – 0  Rayleigh Town

So the hosts had a slender lead at the interval, though it could have been more and Catholic Utd set out to make the points beyond doubt in the early stages of the second half. Two minutes in, an error by the Town defence allowed Rowland to ping in another dangerous centre, which Rayleigh defender Tom Franks did well to block. Town goalkeeper Josh Hudson only added to his fine afternoon by first denying Tom Kearney’s drive and soon after, a fine speculative strike by Rowland in quick succession. A rare attacking move at this stage of the game for Rayleigh saw left-back Ollie Hanlon and forward Michael Okafor involved in a good move before ultimately being cleared by Catholic Utd defender John Nutman.

Unfortunately for the visitors, a defensive switch-off at the back allowed Rowland to ghost in beyond the backline and defeat Hudson one-on-one to finally double the home side’s lead on 55 minutes. Four minutes later, Rowland turned architect as another searching pass found Baldwin but his curling effort was again well-saved by Hudson. However, the hosts were not to be denied a third goal as a searching run by substitute Rhys Fatt down the left ended with his centre finding Rowland in the six-yard area and the creative forward made no mistake in slotting home to surely seal the win on 64 minutes.

Rayleigh ‘keeper Josh Hudson (Centre) sprawls to make another fine save

To their credit, Rayleigh responded three minutes later as substitute Ben Baxter’s pass found centre forward Bailey Moss who side-footed home past Godwin-Green to vanquish any chance of a clean-sheet to go with the home side’s performance here. As we entered the last thirteen minutes of the match, Okafor did well to play in Moss again, though this time Godwin-Green was equal to his effort. With moments remaining, the duel between Baldwin and Hudson went the way of the goalkeeper as the impressive Hudson again denied the hard-working Catholic Utd forward’s strike.

Full-Time: Catholic Utd  3 – 1 Rayleigh Town

So the ‘Super Hoops’ continued their winning trajectory after the win at Kelvedon Hatch the previous week. This performance pleased manager Stuart Marshall and it was easy to see why – his side created a real big number of opportunities throughout and it wasn’t for some superb goalkeeping by Rayleigh stopper Josh Hudson and determined defending by his compatriots, the score-line could have been much worse for them.

However, Town did have periods of the game where they were a threat and tested the home side’s experienced backline. It made for a good contest, despite the over-reaching clouds and rain that attempted to intervene before and during the match.



In terms of stand-out performances, for Catholic Utd it was a great afternoon for forward Brad Rowland who not only notched twice himself but also sent in a number of challenging crosses for the visiting defence to deal with. Strike partner Aaron Baldwin also had a really good game. Although he didn’t get on the score-sheet, his sheer tireless attitude stretched the opposition and was unfortunate not to add a goal or two. Midfielder Tom Kearney and attacking full-back Michael Samut also did well for the hosts here.

For Rayleigh, as mentioned goalkeeper Josh Hudson made at least five really good saves which kept his side in it here, with centre-back Louis Baucutt also embodying the spirit of his side’s determined defending, even though they had to do a lot of it in this game. Right-back Charlie Seaden also got forward well and replacement Michael Okafor also gave his side a different dimension in attack with his strength and movement. Finally, I’d like to wish both sides well for the rest of what looks to be a different campaign.

Teams

Catholic Utd  | Manager: Stuart Marshall

Starting XI: 1 Louis Godwin-Green (GK & Capt), 2 Patrick Kearney, 3 Michael Sammut, 18 Ellis Sands, 4 John Nutman, 8 6 Tom Kearney, 14 Harley Kee, 8 Max Kent, 9 Aaron Baldwin, 10 Brad Rowland, 15 Simon Thomas

Goal-scorers: Michael Sammut [13’], Brad Rowland [55’ & 64’]

Subs Used: 5 Louis Robinson [42’], 7 Rhys Fatt [60’], 12 Callum Matthews [65’], 16 jack Holloway [75’] and 17 Scott Keys [79’]

Booked: Kent, Fatt   | Subs Not Used: None

—————————————————-

Rayleigh Town    | Manager: Paul Higgins

Starting XI: 1 Josh Hudson (GK), 2 Charlie Seaden, 3 Ollie Hanlon, 4 Louis Baucutt, 5 Tom Franks, 6 Aaron Clark, 7 Harry Talbot, 8 George Vile (Capt), 9 Bailey Moss, 10 Paul Morris, 11 Cameron Glover

Goal-scorers: Bailey Moss [67’]

Subs Used: 16 Michael Okafor [32’], 12 Ruari McIntyre [60’], 15 Ben Baxter [60’] and Dan Regan [75’]

Booked: Okafor | Subs Not Used: None

Referee: Neil Irvine

S2020-21 Round-ups: Essex Olympian League (Wk 8 – Sat 24 Oct) [EOFL 20-21 25.10.20]

Image from Hutton 4 – 0 Bishop’s S Swifts [Credit: @fitinaflash]

Written by Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Essex Olympian League round-up, here on my blog, looking at the action from Saturday 24th October from the Premier Division all the way to Division Three this week, also including results from Senior Four & Five. My thanks to @fitinaflash and Pete Dudley (@ped1980) for the photos. Thanks for reading.

EOFL Premier Division

As ever, we begin in the Premier Division and we have new leaders. Basildon Town kept up their perfect record this term with a narrow 1 – 0 win over highly-rated Leigh Ramblers at Basildon Sports Club. Keith King got the only goal to give player-boss Marcus Bowers’ side a three-point lead at the summit. Buckhurst Hill are in second after a rare loss, 2 – 1 at Canning Town, with strikes by Jack Williamson and Harry Rixon meaning the latter side moving up to seventh after this fine result. Even another goal from Suleyman Zuhdu wasn’t enough for Hill to avoid defeat. Also, in-form Hutton got another win, defeating Bishop’s Stortford Swifts 4 – 0 at Polo Fields, A brace for Stephen Judge plus goals for Will Marlowe and Tony Shaw saw Matt Singh’s side up to fourth, with Swifts down to eleventh.

Elsewhere, Catholic Utd are up to fifth spot following a comfortable 3 – 0 triumph over bottom side Kelvedon Hatch at New Hall. Goals from Brad Rowland, Aaron Baldwin and Harley Kee were enough to see Stuart Marshall’s side to a decent win. Rayleigh Town also got a ‘W’ this week as they narrowly beat Sungate 1 – 0 at London Road, with Dan Regan’s early goal enough for the win for Paul Higgins’ side. The ‘Gate remain third but are still five points adrift of Hill in second. Also among the winners this week were Shenfield AFC who got a very respectable 3 – 0 win over Old Southendian at St Martins Sch [3G]. Perry Robinson, Sam Lock and Liam Snellin were the goal-scorers here at AFC went up to eighth whole OS drop to second-bottom. Finally for the top-tier, Springfield were held 2 – 2 by improving Harold Wood Athletic at Arun Close. George Rose and Jack Browne-Sykes netted for Alex Goldstone’s side who inch up to ninth spot with goals from Jake Clarke and Denzel Adebiyi giving Dan Williams’ side a point – they are in 12th spot.

EOFL Senior League Cup Result

May & Baker ‘A’  6 – 1  Newbury Forest Res

EOFL Division One

In Division One, the leaders are still unbeaten Ongar Town after they negotiated a tough test by winning 3 – 1 at Chingford Athletic. Joe Lilly, Aaron Blair and a cracker from Eamon Payne secured the win for Richard Ponsford’s side, who are now four points clear at the summit. Their nearest challengers are now Galleywood after they edged to a hard-fought 3 – 2 win over Rayleigh Town Res at Clarkes Field. Harry Bond and Lewis Rose were among the scorers for the hosts, with Harry Barham and Kalvin Armstrong responding for Dave Gipp’s side who drop to the foot of the table. That was because Shoebury Town got their first win this term with a 2 – 1 success over high-flyers Snaresbrook at Cupid’s. Ife Ogunbayo’s fourth league goal this term was not enough to prevent the East London side dropping to third on goal difference.

Also, Runwell Sports were held 1 – 1 by fellow top-five side Toby at St Luke’s Park. Joe Olley struck for the hosts, while Rhys Willson got the goal for the visitors. Both sides are well-placed for an assault on the top three at this point. Elsewhere, Ramsden Scotia got a second successive win over Herongate Athletic, winning 3 – 2 at the Nursery Sports Ground. Scotia’s goals came through a brace from Ryan McDonach and one from substitute Max Fernee. Harley Benn and Ben Warren both netted for Ath, but they drop to ninth spot. Finally, Old Chelmsfordians are seventh after a 2 – 1 win at Manford Way, despite Tyrone Scarlett netting for Trevor Grace’s side. 

EOFL Division Two

Into Division Two and Beacon Hill Rovers have taken the top spot after a 4 – 0 success at Harold Wood Athletic Res. Bradley Morgan netted twice here to climb to eight league goals this season, plus Lewis Sherwood and George Davis also struck to complete another splendid afternoon for Steve Bennett’s side. Corinthians rose to third spot after a tough 2 – 1 win at local rivals Rochford Town, with Nathan Dewberry also netting his eighth league goal this term, alongside a John Bolton-Smith goal to see Chris Stoneham’s side to the win.

Also, Leigh Town continue to fight hard for points as they held Old Southendian Res to a 0 – 0 draw at John Burrows Recreation Ground though they drop to second. It’s worth noting that Town haven’t been beaten in the league since April 2019 I believe. Some record that. Epping Town climbed into sixth place after a blistering 6 – 1 win at home to Ryan. Chris Gormley netted twice here, with Michael Moore, Joe Rudkin, Peter Paoletti and Joe Rickett also on target for Stuart Hoskins’ side. Ryan remain tenth. Finally, Laindon Orient got their biggest league win of the season, defeating AS Rawreth 5 – 1 at the Warren. Ashley Blackburn got two goals to reach five in total this season, with Jason Jones, Matthew Gibson and Carlos Dias also contributing to Neil Blackburn’s side remaining fifth, four points off the leaders.

Image from Wakebury 2 – 3 ACD Utd [Credit: Pete Dudley]

EOFL Division Three

We also have new leaders in Division Three as ACD Utd won their top-of-the-table clash, winning 3 – 2 at Wakebury. Player-manager Michael Wade grabbed another treble to make it to eleven league goals already this term for ACD, and while Billy Bonham-Dare and Chris Gore’s late spot-kick gave Matt Cardy’s side hope, it was the visitors who retain their 100% winning record and go top of the standings by two points. Non-League colleague Pete Dudley was at this game & his report is here: https://pedroslocalfootiefix.blogspot.com/2020/10/wakebury-2-acd-united-3.html

Elsewhere, Hutton Res got their first win in the league with a fine 4 – 2 win at fellow strugglers Toby Res in Newbury Park. The Shenfield-based side rose above their opponents into tenth spot. Justin Clarke and Junior Bammeke netted for the hosts in this one but it’s still no wins since their opening match now. Lakeside Utd leapt into mid-table after triumphing over Leigh Town Res 5 – 3 in an entertaining game at the Lakeside Sports Ground [3G]. Aaron Tyler, Christian Seymour and Callum Stone all netted for Rob Hutchings-Spiller’s side but their winless run went on thanks to Harry Davison’s four-goal haul for Lakeside, assisted by Brandon Booty’s strike. 

Hullbridge ‘A’ continued their fine season with a 4 – 2 success over Buckhurst Hill Res at Lower Road. The cast of Joe Ives, George Mole, Harry Mole and replacement Charlie Cox all netted to stay third and are only one of two unbeaten sides in the division. Manford Way Res are behind on goal difference alone in fourth after despatching Corinthians Res 4 – 1 at Stambridge. David Hornsby struck another two goals here to take him on to eight league goals this season, with Shaun Goddard and Jake Muller also on target. Sonny Woodward got the reply for Russell Saggers’ side.

Finally for this division, Collier Row are also on ten points with Hullbridge and Manford after a 3 – 2 win over Basildon Town Res at Robert Clack [3G]. Town fall to eighth.

EOFL Division Four Results

Canning Town Res  1 – 1  Leytonstone Utd

Hashtag Utd Development  4 – 3  Chingford Athletic Res

Laindon Orient Res  1 – 2 Galleywood Res

Old Chelmsfordians Res  1 – 4 Ongar Town Res

Sungate Res  1 – 6  Catholic Utd Res

Wakering Sports Res  8 – 1  Shenfield AFC Res

EOFL Division Five  Results

Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Res  3 – 1  Springfield Res

Collier Row Res  4 – 1  AS Rawreth Res

Herongate Athletic Res  2 – 1  Runwell Sports Res

Leigh Ramblers Res  3 – 4  Old Barkabbeyans

Roydon 3 – 0  Epping Town Res

Match OFF: Shoebury Town Res  P – P  Wakering Sports Dev (Due to Waterlogged pitch)