“It show's how far we've come that we're disappointed with a point away at a side as good as Cressing.”
Saturday saw the return meeting of 2 of the division's stronger sides with Cressing having only lost once at home in 2 seasons. Kelvedon on the other hand have enjoyed a fantastic start to 2017 winning 5 of their 6 games so far this year. Matthams and Canavan oversaw a 4-1 home win over Cressing a month ago at The Chase and despite the emphatic scoreline they were taking nothing for granted due to the strength Cressing possessed throughout their squad.
Dawson continued his fine season in goal with Kye Brown and Jordan Johnson starting at the 2 fullbacks. Matthams and Burton continued their incredible partnership in central defence only conceding 1 goal in 5 games as a pairing; a penalty against Cressing in the first meeting between the 2 sides. Captain Pete Gilbert started in the midfield diamond with the in-form Ross Catchpole and Ben Turner in front of him with the pairing contributing 12 goals between them from midfield this season. Dan Fisher, with 7 goals and a sensational 15 assists started in the hole, with Kelvedon's top scorers Luke Thurston and Martin Young starting in the forward positions. Troy Pitkin and Matt Canavan started on the bench with Pitkin continuing his comeback from injury and Canavan trying to avoid injury by playing as few minutes as possible.
The opening 10 minutes set the tone for the entire match with the wind playing havoc with attempted passes and the uneven surface curtailing any attempts to try and get the ball on the deck. Kelvedon dominated the proceedings in the first half with multiple chances to find a ball through the defence to Young but conditions made it hard to play with any real quality. Young did find space inside the left channel 25 minutes in with Catchpole free in the centre but Young cut inside and went for goal with his shot whistling wide when it was probably the better option to pass.
Shortly after a searching ball forward found it's way to Fisher who nodded down for Thurston 30 yards out in a bit of role reversal. Thurston took an audacious first time shot connecting with a looping half volley which dropped just over the bar with the Cressing keeper scrambling. Ben Turner was next to go close with a brilliantly improvised header from 15 yards out with the ball slightly behind him. His header missed the top corner by a foot as he raised his hands to his head.
Burton rifled a left foot volley over the bar from 18 yards out after a corner was headed out by a Cressing player with the 2 sides going in at the break 0-0. Kelvedon could have been a goal to the good but their chances that came their way were by no means clear cut. Matthams and Canavan were fairly happy with the performance so far and asked for much more of the same in the second half.
In a game very much of 2 halves, Cressing made use of the windy conditions to pen Kelvedon back much like the visitors had done for the first half. Kelvedon tried to mix up their play attempting to shorten things up but the pitch just didn't allow any possession football to be played and it was just putting unnecessary pressure on the Kelvedon backline who were performing superbly again. Matthams and Burton were handling the tricky Copas well up front with Matthams winning a crucial header at the near post an hour in and taking a boot to the head for his troubles. That boot to the head certainly didn't affect his judgement as a wicked low ball was driven across the face of the goal shortly after which Matthams judged perfectly to allow it to whizz through the corridor of uncertainty and out the other side when any touch could have ended in tears.
Dawson was dominating his area like he had done all season despite the tricky conditions and kept his concentration to save at his near post as Cressing started to pin Kelvedon back. Jordan Johnson was having a superb game at full back dominating his opposite number whilst Brown was equally as strong on the other side. Turner, Catchpole and Fisher were finding it almost impossible to play in a congested midfield with Thurston and Young starved of the ball for long periods of a turgid second half. Gilbert was again dominating the midfield battle almost on his own and despite Cressing's pressure Kelvedon were comfortable.
Fisher was replaced by Pitkin with 25 to go with Turner making way for Canavan 10 minutes later. Kelvedon changed shape with 15 to go to push for the win and a massive chance fell to Young who found himself 20 yards out on the angle with the keeper charging out. Young lifted the ball over him and most of the Kelvedon lads started to celebrate but his shot evaded the goal by going over. Young and his teammates knew that was the chance to win the game and his miss summed up the game which, albeit was a game with plenty of endeavour and character, any real quality was sparse with a 0-0 probably being a fair result as each side controlled a half each.
Gilbert was again superb in midfield winning battles all over the park. Matthams' defensive work was impeccable once again with the help of Burton alongside him at the back whilst Johnson was voted MOM for an outstanding performance at full back.
Updated 21:14 - 20 Mar 2017 by Jay Matthams