Dragons Rock The Robins
Wivenhoe Town 4 Ely City 1
Wivenhoe Town: 1) Jake Long 2) Tom Moore (Michael Schofield 36) 3) Tola Odedoyin 4) Ben Lampon 5) Tom Cutts 6) Bryan Turner 7) TJ Amass 8) Ryan Brown 9) Markel Greenidge 10 ) Ben Connell (Jamie Lee Smith 84) 11) Ray Catchpole (Tim Dennis 75). Unused Subs: 12) Aaron Peck 17) Lewis Ayton
Ely City: 1) Lee Pacey 2) Kenny Smith (Lewis McDonald 46) 3) Sam Parkinson 4) Adam Murray 5) Brady Stone 6) David Wilson 7) Chris Sterecki (Tom Beech 79) 8) Josh Bridgeman 9) Richard Chadwick 10) Taz Chizango 11) Luke Parkinson. Unused Sub: 14) Jacob Bendtsen
It was a fine end to the season for Wivenhoe with a comprehensive and fully deserved victory over the league runners-up. It was a mostly bright afternoon, but with plenty of cloud about, which produced a heavy April shower early in the first half to further soften up what was nevertheless a bumpy pitch in places.
The Dragons kicked off towards the tennis courts but it was a scrappy opening ten minutes. Wivenhoe had the first shot on goal after four minutes when Ben Connell turned after receiving a knock down from Tom Cutts after a TJ Amass long throw. Two minutes later Wivenhoe won their first corner, before Ely had their first shot on goal; this being a 20 yard effort from the quick and beautifully named Taz Chizango. A minute later Ely ‘keeper Pacey provoked the biggest cheer of the afternoon so far with a magnificently sliced clearance. TJ Amass then had a shot from a position on the right before Smith sent in a low cross from the Ely right which Chadwick lunged at unsuccessfully.
The Dragons now began to gain the upper hand, with Robins’ ‘keeper Pacey forced to dive at the feet of Markel Greenidge to keep the scores level on twelve minutes. Pacey’s save earned the Dragons a second corner but this was easily cleared. Five minutes later a TJ Amass free-kick was met well by Tom Cutts, but his fine header just cleared the cross bar to land on the roof of the net. At the other end a TJ Amass clearance only went as far as Wilson on the edge of the box, who hit a first time shot way over the stand in an act of sheer bravado. Within two minutes TJ sent in another deep free kick which this time was met by Markel Greenidge with a powerful header which went over the bar. Ely quickly returned up field and Bridgemen, who sounds as though there should be more than one of him, hit a bobbling shot at Jake Long, which Jake saved at the second attempt. Ely won their first corner on twenty five minutes from which Parkinson sent a header straight at Jake Long. Three minutes later Chadwick shot over from inside the box and a minute after that Smith produced the finest ‘hoof’ of the afternoon with a long punt from close to the half way line, which had Jake Long back pedalling before it bounced over the cross bar. Smith looked slightly embarrassed so it was likely not an intentional shot.
On the half hour Wivenhoe won a throw level with the penalty area on the right. TJ Amass sent in a long throw towards the near post which Ben Connell shielded well and laid back in to the centre of the box from where Tom Moore lashed in a shot which deflected off Bridgemen and into the corner of the net to put the Dragons a goal up. The goal inspired the Dragons and they dominated the remainder of the half, creating a string of half decent chances. Three minutes after the goal Markel Greenidge was put clean through in to the box by Ben Connell, but Pacey saved well at his feet. Four minutes later TJ Amass did some good work on the right and beat the full-back before sending in a cross which went just beyond Michael Schofield at the far post, who had just come on for Tom Moore after he had fallen awkwardly on his ankle and could not carry on.
Wilson hit a shot into the side netting for Ely on thirty-nine minutes and a minute later Ben Connell did the same, but for Wivenhoe of course. The move involved a string of passes across the pitch before TJ Amass and Ray Catchpole finally exchanged passes on the left and TJ had miss hit his shot before it ran to Ben. Within a minute Ben’s became the first name to enter referee Mr West’s notebook after he was adjudged to have gone into a tackle on the ginger-haired Stone with his foot up. Ely’s Sterecki produced one of the most off target shots of the season on forty two minutes before Wivenhoe won their third corner of the half, which ended with Markel Greenidge sending another powerful twisting header past the far post. In injury time Ben Lampon was booked for bringing down Chizango in full flight and from the resultant free-kick Murray headed past the post for what was the last action of the half.
The second half began with Wivenhoe on the attack in the opening minute as a superb cross-field pass from Markel Greenidge sent Ray Catchpole away on the right. Ray’s cross was cut out at the near post for a corner from which Ryan Brown sent Bryan Tuner’s deep kick beyond the far post with a nevertheless controlled header. On forty nine minutes the Dragons produced another nugget of beautiful passing football as Bryan Turner fed Markel Greenidge who in turn played in Michael Schofield; sadly nothing came of it, but it was just a good bit of football.
As the half wore on Ely came back in to the game much more and Wivenhoe attacks became less the result of good possession play. On fifty one minutes Chadwick forced Jake Long into a save at his near post with a low shot but five minutes later the same player equalised on when he headed in a deep free kick from the right. The old Dragons’ problem of marking at set pieces had raised its head again. It was worry ten minutes later therefore when Ely won another corner after Jake Long failed to gather a cross. Happily the defence passed the test this time.
Within three minutes Wivenhoe had won a corner of their own however, after a good passing move, which ended with Sterecki cutting out a cross from the right. Wivenhoe retained possession from the corner and Ben Connell produced some excellent close control and hold up play on the edge of the box before playing in Ray Catchpole but his cross was well taken by Pacey. On sixty seven minutes Ben turned and shot after collecting a long throw from TJ Amass but his effort was blocked almost as soon as it left his boot.
Play returned now to the other end for a spell on sixty-nine minutes as first Chizango sent an exquisite curling shot against the inside of a post with Jake Long motionless and then Ben Lampon conceded a corner. Chizango then had a shot cleared off the line by Ben Lampon who was having a strong game at the back. The threats on goal from The Robins perhaps stirred Wivenhoe and on seventy four minutes Ben Lampon made an at the back and fed Ray Catchpole who released Markel Greenidge into oceans of space in the Ely half and Markel ran possibly forty yards before sending the ball past Pacey to restore the Dragons’ lead. The goal quashed Ely’s resistance and they had just one more goal attempt of note when Murray headed just past the post on eighty three minutes. Wivenhoe made the game safe with just two minutes to go. Markel Greenidge worked his way in to the box on the right and fired a firm shot at Pacey who could only parry the ball. Although Pacey dropped quickly to try and smother the ball it squirmed away from him and Tim Dennis was on hand to make a yard of space before slamming the ball into the net off the underside of the cross bar from about five yards.
The game was won, but in the third minute of injury time Markel Greenidge added a fourth goal as he exchanged passes with Michael Schofield on the left before receiving the ball back and stylishly stroking the ball beyond Pacey to make the final score 4-1.
This was a fabulous win which left supporters and players alike in a state of near euphoria. Ely had looked a tough proposition, being second in the league table and made up of strong physical looking players; the type who so often knock the Dragons out of their stride. But Wivenhoe out passed them and ran out clear winners. Markel Greenidge had a particularly good game up front and deserved his two goals, but all over the field there were good performances from Wivenhoe players.
The second half of the season has shown that the current team can compete at this level and that they can play some of the best passing football in the Eastern Counties League. This win gives the Dragons 39 points for the season, their best tally since dropping in to the Eastern Counties League four years ago. If the Dragons can keep this squad together and get off to a decent start next season then hopefully they will not be troubled by having to fight relegation yet again.