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THFC V LAINDON ORIENT : ESSEX JUNIOR CUP : 6/1/2018
SQUAD : P HAWKINS T TURNER C BRIGGS L THURSTON J TOLLHURST J CHESTER J CHESNEY C GREEN R JONES M HAWKINS C TURNER R SPELLER C WARD J NEWMAN
FULL TIME : THFC 3 – 4 LAINDON ORIENT
Before the game I spoke to the Laindon manager and a team member to get an idea of what Laindon Orient were about. For one thing the team took it upon themselves to stay in a hotel overnight. That in itself would suggest that that they are a well run and organized outfit with a certain mentality. On first impressions they looked a decent outfit with players of a certain maturity and ability.
Once the the game started it was clear that we had a game on our hands. I was told that they played in a ‘bit of a rough and tumble league ‘ which soon became apparent that that was the case. From the off Laindon we’re constantly barking at the ref at every given moment to try and get the decision their way. When it didn’t go their way they were up in arms about it.
As both teams sized each other up in the early stages Laindon gained an early corner on ten minutes and the ball was well delivered into the danger area where the ball fell into the six yard box, was subsequently pinged around by a melee of players with Heath desperately trying to clear. It was a manic scramble but Laindon nudged the ball just over the line for 0-1.
Heath had a penalty appeal before Chesney put a trademark defence splitting ball into Hazel only for it to be snuffed out quickly by a stern Laindon defence.
Heath were working hard in every department and both teams were cancelling each other out at times. The midfield area was highly contested and Heath worked hard with fine interplay to get the ball into the last third which they did on numerous occasions. The constant pressure though from Laindon would see the final pass go astray or be overhit in that final third.
Around the half hour mark it was Laindon that gathered the ball midway in the Heath half, left side of goal where a player charged along the face of the box searching for an opening and before overrunning he did well to angle a strong shot in on goal where it was parried by P Hawkins that a Laindon player picked up the rebound and put it away for 0-2.
I was entirely miffed at that goal as when the ball was picked up by the player I saw a handball which the ref did not see as the player had his back to him. Ho hum. Me Biased. Never.
Heath did what they do best and kept at it, they contested every ball and fought tooth and nail whilst Laindon moaned and groaned at the ref, and to such an extent that the ref was heard to say to several Laindon players to shut up and play their football whilst he would make the decisions.
One stage of play saw Harry Hazel put in a cross from wide right that was cleared off the line, then on 40 minutes Green was rested with Cam Ward coming on. Laindon finally got a yellow card then soon after it was admittedly a fine effort from wide right that saw them go 3 nil up.
Their winger (whose legs I’m sure he borrowed from a certain Zaha of Crystal Palace, long fast ……and yes black or ethic to be PC about it ) strode along the wing and I’d have to say it was a shot as opposed to a cross but he seemed to place what was a fine long and lofted chip from out wide that sailed neatly in under the crossbar leaving Paddy Hawkins no chance for 0-3.
Again Heath pressed, they gained a corner which was cleared with Toby Turner hitting a fine effort but for the keeper to save. Heath pressure and determination then brought them the reward of a penalty (for holding I believe) and Jack Tollhurst stepped up to expertly bury it for 1-3 almost on half time.
At the restart Heath were buoyed by another excellent half time briefing from the gaffer and it wasn’t long before a fine move saw Cam Ward bang one in early doors for 2-3, a thoroughly deserved goal that raised spirits for all of the Heath. Were Laindon shell shocked ? …… if they weren’t then they were when that man Cam Ward showed his strength and skill by turning his man as a ball was delivered in to him just inside the box, he executed a turn and sprint toward goal to slip the ball past the keeper for 3-3.
What a start to the second half with it barely being 50 minutes gone. Now was the time to push on and gain the upper hand. If I thought that Laindon might be shell shocked and crumble I was wrong. They were no doubt an experienced side and though Heath had leveled after being three goals down Laindon were not fazed, in fact the kept their heads and went about their game in the same manner and it seemed like we didn’t get another look in. Laindon cleared their lines at every opportunity hitting it long and trying to gain a throw in deep in the Heath half. As both teams slogged it out it was Laindon who gained the upper hand again with another fine effort. A bullet of a shot that flew in the left hand corner from about 25 yards out. 3-4
After that the game seemed to fall into a lull. I was certainly doing my bit to lift the players for the leveler from the side line, whilst there was enough time to do it the minutes ticked by without the reward. I’d say both teams had played their part in what seemed like a war of attrition. And though neither team made any headway it was Cam Ward who almost did it when heading a ball against the crossbar from a corner late on.
But that’s how it stayed and as the whistle blew Laindon were ecstatic whilst Heath were despondent. In the end it was a fine goal from Laindon that made the difference. I’m sure they will progress well in the cup