Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: Belfairs Park
Attendance: 40 (Est)
2022-23 Season: Match 47
Saturday 18th March 2022 – 1pm KO
Leigh Rams: Navy Blue & Black Shirts, Black Shorts & Socks
Springfield: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Springfield show grit to edge to vital win at Belfairs
Leigh Ramblers 1 – 2 Springfield
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
This weekend’s foray into Non-League was a rare pair of matches with the focus of the day being an well-poised battle between top-five side Leigh Ramblers and relegation-battlers Springfield in the Essex Olympian League’s Premier Division. The visitors have have started to gain important points under the new management team of Matt Cardy & Daniel Blewett and they knew that a win here could well take them out of the bottom two. The Rams were also seeking to fortify their position in the top five to crown off a fine season for Mark Hunter’s team. The hosts were somewhat depleted but fielded Oscar Baines in goal, with a defence comprised of centre-backs George Moxon and Owen Reynolds, with the full-backs being Kevin Mustali & Patrick Cannon. The midfield had stalwart Ole Hunter, Chido Mutsvairo & Abraham Eze in a hard-working three. The forward line featured Kevin Matthew, Charlie Batchelor and captain Matt Brinklow. Springfield named a strong starting team, with Joshua Woodrow as their goalkeeper, with a backline of full-backs Lewis Chapman & Joe Gurie plus centre-backs Ben Perry and skipper Reece Latimer. Robbie Norris, Yaw Danso & Ben Morley were the experienced central midfield, with the forward line led by promising forward Finlay Dorrell, Harry Kateley and Will Wheeler.
Both teams needed time in the early stages to gauge the opposition threat and the slippery conditions, not helped by further rain showers which began shortly before kick-off. There were a few chances in the first half hour, as the visitors showed their neat forward play, with Will Wheeler’s effort on 15 minutes not being powerful enough to bypass home custodian Oscar Baines, who gathered. At the other end, Leigh Ramblers were a threat from set-pieces and midfielder Abraham Eze made good runs from deep, but his strike was comfortably stopped by visiting stopper Joshua Woodrow. The visitors responded almost immediately as a good turn by forward Harry Kateley ended with a well-struck effort which narrowly went over the woodwork. The Rams were finding it tricky to breach the visitors’ solid central midfield, but tricky midfielder Chido Mutsviaro did well to create space to have two chances at goal, which were off-target.
The crucial period in the half came right on the half-hour mark as from a good set-piece by Robbie Norris, forward Finlay Dorrell was found at the far post and the in-form Dorrell headed in from about four yards, with Baines beaten. Matt Cardy’s side then really made the most of this period by doubling their lead only two minutes later, with Dorrell’s fine, low strike sailing into the left corner, giving Baines little chance to deny him. The frustration of the hosts were starting to show, given they were conceding possession too often, though enterprising forward Kevin Matthew also had a decent chance denied by the visiting backline.
Half-Time: Leigh Rams 0 – 2 Springfield
After the break, the tempo was raised as the hosts commendably sought to get back on terms, having brought on forward Tony Da Silva shortly before half-time. Matthew was in the action again after doing well to find an angle to get his strike away, but the ball cannoned off a post and away. At the other end, Springfield were still looking lively, from a set-piece the ball arrowed in to find centre-back Reece Latimer and his decent header needed the intervention of Baines, who pushed the ball away well, under pressure in a congested penalty area. The hosts brought on their substitutes in the last 25 minutes, with the direct running of Scott Clark adding a different threat for the visiting defence to deal with.
One of Clark’s good runs into the 18-yard area was abruptly halted with sixteen minutes left, and referee Stuart Nixon pointed to the penalty spot. Ole Hunter duly stepped up and blasted the ball home past Woodrow, to add to the nerves of the Springfield side as they knew how important this potential win was. Ramblers gave it their all in the latter stages, with replacement Harry DaCosta’s strike only finding the side-netting and then Clark headed not far over in added-time. When the final whistle came, the relief was palpable for Springfield, but they came here and performed well in tough conditions.
Full-Time: Leigh Ramblers 1 – 2 Springfield
To sum up then, Springfield showed their desire to get out of their precarious situation well, showcasing their skill going forward and being tough in midfield and defence. It was scrappy at times in the first half, but the Rams couldn’t find the final ball as much as they would’ve liked and two quick-fire goals altered the momentum in the favour of Matt Cardy’s team. Despite the hosts finding more rhythm after the break & making it a nervy last ten minutes for Springfield, they held on well to claim the points which sends them out of the bottom two.
We start the stand-out mentions with victors Springfield. Forward Finlay Dorrell got both goals and linked-up well with forward partners Wheeler & Kateley, as well as showing good pace and work rate. Full-back Joe Gurie also made a good contribution, making good runs down the channel & put in a number of good passes too. Central midfielder Robbie Norris also put in a good shift and was a threat with his set-pieces too. Lastly, a mention for commanding defender Reece Latimer, who led his defence well & made several important clearances too.
For the Rams, George Moxon did very well playing in central defence here, showing good positioning & tackling throughout. Forward Kevin Matthew contributed well after being drafted into the starting side late on, and Matthew got into good positions, passing well & had a few decent chances. Midfielder Chido Mutsvairo also worked very hard and competed well with a fired-up visiting midfield, showing good movement and passing. Finally, full-back Kevin Mustali deserves a mention for in a hard-working shift, in defence and supporting the attack, also showing good alertness.
Before we end this report, the second game of this double saw the Leigh Ramblers Ressie side defeat Wakering Sports A 4 – 0, with Luis Bracci, Cameron Jarvis, Taylor Stewart & Jacob Mead goals sealing a fine second-half showing to keep them in the promotion reeckoning in Division Four. Thanks for reading.
Leigh Ramblers | Manager: Mark Hunter | Assistants: Nathan Dewberry & Josh Snell
Starting XI: 1 Oscar Baines (GK), 2 Patrick Cannon, 4 Owen Reynolds, 5 George Moxon, 3 Kevin Mustali, 6 Ole Hunter, 7 Chido Mutsviaro, 10 Charlie Batchelor, 8 Abraham Eze, 12 Kevin Matthew, 11 Matt Brinklow (Capt)
Goal-scorer: Ole Hunter [pen 74′]
Subs On (Time): 9 Tony Da Silva [37′, replaced Batchelor], 20 Scott Clark [62′, replaced Eze], 14 George Unwin [64′, replaced Cannon], 16 Harry DaCosta [69′, replaced Matthew], 15 Thomas Franks [79′, replaced Brinklow]
Booked: Mutsviaro | Subs Not Used: None
Springfield | Manager: Matt Cardy | Assistant: Dan Blewett
Starting XI: 1 Joshua Woodrow (GK), 2 Lewis Chapman, 5 Reece Latimer (Capt), 6 Ben Perry, 3 Joe Gurie, 4 Robbie Norris, 7 Yaw Danso, 8 Ben Morley, 9 Finlay Dorrell, 10 Harry Kateley, 11 Will Wheeler
Goal-scorers: Finlay Dorrell [30′ & 32′]
Subs On (Time): 14 Jonnie Gurie [62′, replaced Wheeler], 17 Elliott Hutchinson-Khupe [76′, replaced Joe Gurie], 15 Sam Loomes [85′, replaced Jonnie Gurie]
Booked: Kateley | Subs Not Used: Kassanda, Denyer
Referee: Stuart Nixon