Essex Olympian League – Division One
Venue: Harold Wood Park
Attendance: 60 (Est)
2022-23 Season: Match 64
Saturday 13th May 2023 – 1pm KO
Harold Wood: Sky Blue Shirts, Claret Shorts & Socks
ACD: White Shirts, Black Shorts & White Socks
Harold Wood claim promotion with gritty win over decent ACD Utd
Harold Wood Athletic 1 – 0 ACD Utd
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
The final match for me in the Essex Olympian this season saw a nice return to Harold Wood Park, for this EOFL Division One match between promotion-chasing Harold Wood Athletic and mid-table ACD Utd, who also played their last game this season here. ‘Wood Manager John Field has done a fine job in keeping his team in the running for the top-two & his team have led the table for large parts of the campaign. Here, they had Jack Moore as their goalkeeper, a defence of Perry Robinson, skipper Zach Holding, Daniel Spittle and Jack Baines. Louis Bazely, Ben Woolven and Connor Sheehan were in midfield and Leroy Griffiths led the attack, supported by Tyrone Scarlett and Max Shepherd. ACD have had another decent season and boss Jack Munns named Tyler Richards as their goalkeeper, with a backline of captain Jamie Alexandrou, Alex Bessent, James Bell and Ollie Williams. Their midfield featured Jake Noble, Shaun Farrow and Billy Wren, with the forward line being comprised of Jacob Dingli, Samuel Payne and Scott Perkins.
In the early-going here, it was the visitors who settled slightly better and they certainly were up for the battle. Moments later, an early drive by Wood forward Tyrone Scarlett was comfortably gathered by ACD stopper Tyler Richards and Jack Munns’ team soon pushed on again. Ollie Williams was making the most of some space down the left flank, and his cross was half-blocked by Wood’s Ben Woolven but the ball eventually found Billy Wren & his strike needed the intervention of Wood goalkeeper Jack Moore to tip it over although there was an ACD player off-side in the same move. The visitors were certainly competing well and Harold Wood did not find it easy to retain possession in midfield, with Louis Bazely and Connor Sheehan having to work hard to restrict the flowing ACD forward moves.
Harold Wood did have a goal chalked off for off-side, as Shepherd’s low effort didn’t count while ACD defender Alex Bessent headed off-target. At this stage, it was looking more likely that the visitors would break the deadlock but one piece of oppurtunistic quality altered that perception. Three minutes before the break, as a defensive clearance went awry for ACD but just outside the 18-yard area, Wood forward Leroy Griffiths judged the ball coming out of the air superbly and his fine first-time strike sailed over Richards and high into the net. Certainly a goal to savour that one was.
Half-Time: Harold Wood 1 – 0 ACD Utd
As we resumed after the break, the visitors brought on Billy Rungay and Shaun Goddard. Again, ACD were a threat down the channels four minutes into the half as another good run & cross by Williams found Rungay at the back post and he headed narrowly wide, under pressure. As we approached the hour mark, Harold Wood Athletic were starting to have more ball time and were testing the visiting defence a bit more readily. A good ball in from Griffiths found defender Perry Robinson but his header couldn’t test Richards. As they often did, ACD responded well moments later, as first Samuel Payne’s strike was cleared off the goal-line by a covering defender and seconds later, Rungay’s shot was gathered by the well-positioned Moore.
The tension was growing somewhat here as we went into the last twenty minutes of this one, as Utd substitute Warren Taylor fired over the woodwork from a decent position. Quick forward Max Shepherd was finding more space down the right flank as the game went on & his strike was narrowly wide. ACD certainly didn’t back off as we entered the last five minutes of normal time, as another good strike by Billy Rungay needed the intervention of Moore as he pulled off another good save, before Bessent’s decent strike required another good save from the Harold Wood custodian.
The four minutes of added time may well have seemed longer to the Harold Wood players but soon enough, referee Richard Wilsher blew his whistle for the last time today & the celebrations could begin for a understandably chuffed home side.
Full-Time: Harold Wood Athletic 1 – 0 ACD Utd
Given the significance of the match for the hosts, this was going to be a nervy one but their second half display made it harder for ACD to create chances, after Jack Munns’ side had put in a good first-half display to not only stifle the hosts but also in creating several chances themselves. Wood had to grind it out towards the end, assisted by a tough backline & a few good saves by young custodian Jack Moore. Congratulations again to all at Harold Wood, as they join champions Old Chelmsfordians in getting promoted to the Premier Division next term.
The stand-out mentions start with victors Harold Wood. Centre forward Leroy Griffiths led the line well and his physical presence was tough for a resolute ACD side to deal with, and his goal was a super piece of technique. Max Shepherd made a number of good runs down the right flank & made some neat passes as well as tested the visiting defence, also getting back to defend well when needed. Powerful central midfielder Connor Sheehan also put in a hard shift for his team, was good aerially & also made some good interceptions. Lastly, a mention for goalkeeper Jack Moore who made some criticial saves in the latter moments of the game to thwart a talented ACD forward line. Congrats to him.
For ACD, I felt defender Alex Bessent had a very good game and made it tough for the hosts to get into any particular rhythm in the first half-hour, making good tackles & showing good defensive awareness. Ollie Williams also gave it everything & put in a number of good crosses from the left side, stretching the Harold Wood backline well. Midfielder Billy Wren also put in a good shift as Jack Munns’ side put in a good display going forward & retained the ball for good parts of the game. Finally, forward Scott Perkins contributed well, making several good runs and had a few chances to really make it a different game as well as putting in some good passes too.
Harold Wood Athletic | Manager: John Field | Assistant: Rod Edwards
Starting XI: 1 Jack Moore (GK), 2 Perry Robinson, 11 Zach Holding (Capt), 8 Daniel Spittle, 3 Jack Baines, 6 Louis Bazely, 17 Ben Woolven, 18 Connor Sheehan, 9 Tyrone Scarlett, 10 Leroy Griffiths, 7 Max Shepherd
Goal-scorer: Leroy Griffiths [42′]
Subs ON [Time]: 12 Thomas Butler [68′, replaced Robinson], 5 Jacob Roberts [77′], 16 Freddy Shepherd [89′, replaced Sheehan]
Booked: Griffiths, Butler, Moore | Subs Not Used: Harris & Sykes
ACD Utd | Manager: Jack Munns |
Starting XI: 1 Tyler Richards (GK), 23 Jamie Alexandrou (Capt), 5 Alex Bessent, 40 James Ball, 3 Ollie Williams, 36 Jake Noble, 15 Shaun Farrow, 47 Billy Wren, 32 Samuel Payne, 9 Jacob Dingli, 20 Scott Perkins
Sub ON (Time): 2 Billy Rungay [46′], 14 Shaun Goddard [46′], 19 Warren Taylor [68′]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: None
Referee: Richard Wilsher