A match report that for 75 minutes I was dreading having to construct turned into a super escape after being reduced to 10 men. A game that every season is of vast importance at the foot of the table reverted into a much more comfortable mid table clash for both teams.
The game started in a strong wind towards the Esh goal, Esh also kicking uphill, a freezing cold day despite the blinding winters sun. The first chance falling to Liam Anderson who finds the ball heading towards him at the break down some 30 yards out, he curls an effort that looks destined for Mark Fish’ top left hand corner, before he out stretches a hand and glances the ball over.
With RACA starting the stronger and using the advantage of the wind, Martyn Hepple beats the offside trap to find himself one on one with Fish, with Fish standing tall Hepple attempts to slide it past him. Fish making a dangerous attempt look comparatively easy to deal with and a let off for the Stags
16′ Goal Ryton & Crawcrook 1 (Hepple) – 0 Esh Winning
With it only looking a matter of time before RACA took the lead it was a long hopeful ball to a clearly offside Martyn Hepple who was a good yard ahead of the defender, unfortunately for Esh the assistant Mr Brampton was some yards behind play deemed it onside. Matty Soulsby at the heart of the Esh Defence makes an error and misses his kick leaving Hepple one on one with Fish. This time Hepple gets the better of Fish and slots the ball home for a deserved, if controversial, opener.
The game fell into a dour affair due to the difficulties of the conditions. Esh having the next chance some 20 minutes later, a long ball evaded the RACA defender allowing Kai Hewitson a run at the goal. Just as he is about to pull the trigger the defender gets back at him and puts a superb block in, the ball looping over the keeper and a yard over the bar for a corner.
The only other chance of a disappointing first half falling to Hepple, who hits a long range effort toward the Esh goal, the ball deflecting off Soulsby and leaving Fish helpless. Fortunately for Esh it drifted just wide of the goal and concluded the first half.
HT: Ryton & Crawcrook 1 – 0 Esh Winning
48′ Goal – Ryton and Crawcrook Albion 2 (Hepple) – 0 Esh Winning
The second half kicked off in the same manner as the majority of the first half, with RACA in the ascendancy, yet another long ball saw the offside trap this time fairly broken, Martyn Hepple yet again one on one with Fish. He makes no mistake and strokes the ball home into the gaping net, for what can only be described as a deserved second for the hosts.
53′ Red Card – Nick Marley – Esh Winning – Violent Conduct
With frustrations building the normally calm and level headed big Esh striker had his leg held in the far corner alongside the linesman, with what looked like a soft kick out, but a kick out all the same, the referee took a dim view and sent Marley off. On first viewing it looked a deserved red from where I was stood.
There where murmurs from a few RACA fans that they always seem to play worse against 10 men, and so the prophecy came to pass. Esh starting to find their way into the game for the first time saw a lovely interchange between Stoker and Boakes, the latter playing a deft flick to Hewitson bursting into the box. Being forced to take the ball wide he flicks the ball over the advancing Houghton in the RACA goal, the nature of the flick meant that the ball did not carry enough power to take the ball over the line. Liam Barker getting across to preserve the RACA clean sheet clearing the ball inside the 6 yard box.
The Esh management bringing on Gavin Brown, Shaun Reay and Connor Halpin started to bare fruit as the dangerous attacking trio alongside Kai Hewitson started to dominate the play.
77′ Goal – Ryton & Crawcrook 2 – 1 (Hewitson) Esh Winning
A lovely weighted pass through to Hewitson from Gav Brown saw Hewitson dash forward, the defender left with little option but to bring him down on the edge of the D. Kai Hewitson picks himself up and strikes a low powerful effort to Houghtons right, the keeper not getting near the ball and getting Esh a foot back into the game.
The next 10 minutes saw 4 poor offside decisions from Mr Brampton, declaring Esh players offside when they where clearly on and one decision where the player was clearly offside he decides he was onside. A baffling and frustrating series of play for both sets of fans.
A major scare for Esh saw Hepple break forward the Esh backline who where engaged with trying to restore parity at the other end. Hepple whipping a lovely looking ball into Mason Stephenson a yard out who slots the ball in at the back post. The player instantly looking at the linesman who denied the goal to no complaints from RACA players.
84′ Goal – Ryton & Crawcrook 2 – 2 (Halpin) Esh Winning.
The second half substitution seeing Connor Halpin enter the fray proving key as a ball from Mark Fish was flicked on by Hewitson which led to a bouncing ball 25 yards out taken powerfully on the chest by Halpin, showing strength to enter the box and holding off his defender he caresses a beautifully executed left footed effort past the advancing Houghton and into the inside of the side netting clawing Esh back to an unlikely 2-2 draw.
The final few minutes saw yet more strange offside decisions from Mr Brampton, two passes forward to Hewitson deemed to be offside when he was quite clearly onside. The last such strange decision summed up a bad day at the office for Mr Brampton, Shaun Reay flicking the ball to his left to Hewitson, a yard behind his strike partner with a defender in front of Reay in any case. Hewitson takes the ball on and scuffs his shot into the grateful hands of Houghton only to look up and see Mr Brampton with his flag up for offside.
A day in which we did not deserve a point saw us show a passion and resolve to get back into a game against all odds. A true display of why we are looking comfortable in mid-table and not scrapping around at the foot of the table, despite playing poorly we found a way to get a result.
A quick word for RACA who likewise are moving away from the trouble at the bottom of the table and who look a much stronger opposition than recent years. It’s good to see both clubs looking up for a change and thank you for the superb hospitality as ever.
EWFC XI: Fish, Summerson (G. Brown 69′), Swift, Stoker (c), Mordue, Soulsby, R. Brown (Reay 50′), Allison, Marley (so), Hewitson (g), Boakes (Halpin 73′ (g))
Unused subs: Robinson, Kent
RACA XI: Houghton, O’Dowd, Dunn, Below, Barker, Anderson, Stephenson, Hodges, Hepple (2), Davis, Moody
Subs: Smith, Miley, Shaw, Mitchell, Hedley
Referee: D. McCarrick
Assistants: J. Brampton, D. Cameron
Match Reporter: Adam Wilding
All views expressed in this report are my own and are not necessarily reflective of the club.