Essex Senior League – Premier Division
Venue: Burroughs Park
2021-22 Season: Match 65
Saturday 26th March 2022 – 3pm KO
Ensign: Red & Navy Blue Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Clacton: White & Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Ensign edge to comeback win in terrific contest at Burroughs Park
White Ensign 4 – 3 FC Clacton
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
The match on this year’s “Non-League Day” was a local trip to Burroughs Park for White Ensign’s last home game of the Essex Senior campaign as they welcomed FC Clacton. Both sides are seeking to claim a top-ten finish to round a throughly good campaign for both teams. Ensign had Louis Hawes in goal once again, with a back four of Thando Moyo, Charlie Adams, Carl Conway and skipper Jake McWee. Their forward line was led by George O’Connor and Luke Woodward, with support from Teddy Henderson and Jason Reynolds-Blanche. On the bench were good options in forwards Shemarie Perkins, Jake Chaplin and Emanuel Abudiore plus Courtney Justin and midfielder Reece Sayers. Clacton had Luke Avenell between the posts here, with a backline comprised of Kyle Ferguson, Teddy Collis plus centre-backs Michael Okafor and Adam Tilson. Jett Hogan and Jamie Bennett were in central midfield, with Mekhi McKenzie leading the forward line for Tom Austin’s side. Options from the sidelines included full- back Jenson Mulqueen and forward Elias Ahmed.
This game really sprung into life early on as Clacton forward Charlie Collis’effort was well parried over the woodwork by Ensign custodian Louis Hawes in the first minute. That was a let-off for the home side but they really punished their opposition as they took the lead on four minutes. From a set-piece, the ball was fed into midfielder Ethan Evison’s crisp strike beat visiting goalkeeper Luke Avenell at his near post.
Collis was proving a thorn in the home defence’s side with fine energetic runs and on thirteen minutes, home co-boss Jack Maleary in the dugout wouldve been glad to see another effort from the forward deflected, thus giving Hawes a chance to get across and gather. At the other end, forwards Luke Woodward and Teddy Henderson were utilising their pace and strength to keep Clacton central defenders Michael Okafor and Adam Tilson alert, with Okafor a towering presence in the air. Indeed, Clacton did get a deserved leveller on 21 minutes through a fine rapid move which ended with captain Billy Wales sweeping home a lofted finish into the net, giving Hawes little oppurtunity to deny him.
Clacton were continuing to look efficent and fast going forward, but they were also prone to the occasional moment of poor concentration in defence. One such moment happened allowed Henderson to get in on goal but his strike lacked the power to beat Avenell, who was relieved to claim the ball. The hosts also had a bit of fortune just past the half-hour as midfielder Jett Hogan stole in at the back post but his strike wasn’t enough to bypass Hawes.
Tom Austin’s team finished the half well and made it count as Collis finished a flowing move with a precise finish low into the right corner. They had edged the matxh at that point but the manner and timing of the goal would have delighted Austin and his assistant Ryan Salter, who are clear in the standards they seek to maintain in their team.
Half-Time: Ensign 1 – 2 Clacton
The second half was delayed in getting underway by a half-hour while attending paramedics dealt with a medical emergency after a spectator was taken ill. I would like to wish them a swift recovery.
Back to the match, and crikey it really was worth waiting for. The visitors again looked to use their guile to create chances and a quickly-taken goal kick up field by Avenell caught the home defence cold, allowing the onrushing Wales in on goal though Hawes again did well to deny him. Ensign got themselves back level as a fine centre from the right side by Jason Reynolds-Blanche found substitute Emanuel Abudiore who evaded the Clacton backline and slotted home calmly.
White Ensign were arguably having their best spell of the match at this point, with forward George O’Connor showing desire, strength and good pace as well and that was evident as he outpaced Okafor but with only Avenell to get past, his low strike sailed agonizingly wide of the right-side post. The home side did wrestle the lead back on 69 minutes from the penalty spot, with another Reynolds-Blanche cross causing problems, and referee Benjamin Horne adjudged the ball struck a hand. Reynolds-Blanche stepped up to duly convert the kick from twelve yards.
It has to be said that both teams were really going for the win, with forward Jordan Lartey heading narrowly over the woodwork, from a good cross from Wales on the left flank. Both teams were also understandably tiring, but Clacton crucially get a dramatic leveller in added-time. From another set-piece, centre-back Adam Tilson swept home with all the poise of a striker from about 15 yards out in a congested penalty area.
You could be forgiven for thinking ‘that was it’ but although both teams did not deserve to lose the match really, it was Ensign who were smiling at the final whistle. There was another foul seen in the 18-yard box which saw full-back Teddy Collis sent off for his second yellow card. Replacement Reece Sayers stood up to take the penalty and it was confidently dispatched, much to the delight of his team-mates.
Full-Time: White Ensign 4 – 3 FC Clacton
This is a hard match to summarise. Clacton edged the first half and their forward line was more efficent and more likely to score but they switched off as a unit in defence too often in the second half though Ensign still needed to show their famed spirit to get back in the game. Even with that, it was a tough result for the Seasiders to take as no-one deserved to lose it. Both teams deserve to be commended for the enthralling game they put on here.
There were terrific performances by many players in this game. For Ensign, I thought George O’Connor had a terrific match today. The forward showed strength, pace and desire and really gave the visiting defence a hard afternoon as the natch went on, also linking up well with Luke Woodward in attack. Jason Reynolds-Blanche also had a fine game, providing good crosses from the flanks and got a decent assist too. Lastly, Carl Conway put in a good shift at centre-back, making several important clearances and goalkeeper Louis Hawes also made some important saves earlier in the game to keep his side in it earlier in the match.
For Clacton, forward Charlie Collis had a great match here, showing work rate, pace and good passing as well as taking his goal very well. Fellow forward Mekhi McKenzie led the line very well also, showing good hold-up play, good awareness and movement. Centre-back Michael Okafor barely lost a challenge in the air all game and aided his defence well with good awareness too. Finally, midfielder Jett Hogan put in string display, making several important interceptions and passing in both halves on the pitch.
I’d just like to wish both sides good final weeks of the campaign.
White Ensign | Joint-Managers: Jack Maleary & Carl Conway | Assistant: Steve Thomson
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Louis Hawes (GK), 3 Thando Moyo, 6 Jake McWee (Capt), 14 Carl Conway, 12 Charlie Adams, 5 Ethan Evison, 8 Ben Austin (4 Reece Sayers 50′), 2 Teddy Henderson (17 Emanuel Abudiore 50′), 9 George O’Connor, 19 Luke Woodward, 11 Jason Reynolds-Blanche
Goal-scorers: Ethan Evison [4′], Emanuel Abudiore [58′], Jason Reynolds-Blanche [pen 69′], Reece Sayers [pen 90’+4]
Booked: Sayers, Woodward | Sub Not Used: Perkins, Chaplin
FC Clacton | Manager: Tom Austin | Assistant: Ryan Salter
Starting XI: 1 Luke Avenell (GK), 2 Kyle Ferguson (14 Jenson Mulqueen 27′), 3 Teddy Collis, 5 Adam Tilson, 6 Michael Okafor, 4 Jett Hogan, 8 Jamie Bennett (12 Elias Ahmed 75′), 7 Billy Wales (Capt), 9 Mekhi McKenzie, 10 Charlie Collis, 11 Jordan Lartey
Goal-scorers: Billy Wales [21′], Charlie Collis [45′], Adam Tilson [90’+2]
Booked: Okafor | Sent Off: T Collis (Two yellow cards) | Subs Not Used: Austin
Referee: Benjamin Horne