Essex Senior League Ground Hop 2017/18 Review (Saturday 11th November)

Updated: November 12, 2017

This weekend saw the first ever Essex Senior League ground hop where fans could visit four games over a two day period.  The hop began on the Friday night and saw Barkingside host Clapton in front of a bumper crowd of 273 at Cricklefield Stadium in Seven Kings.

Clapton won that game 3-2 after Ryan Reed curled home a late winner as the hop got underway in style.

The next day saw me attend all three Saturday games and the journey began at Oakside,  home of Redbridge, as they hosted Burnham Ramblers:-

Saturday Game One (12pm)
Redbridge 3 Burnham Ramblers 1
A Brian Moses inspired Redbridge eventually saw off a spirited and committed Burnham Ramblers side to take the points at Oakside.

It didn’t take to long for the Motormen to hit their stride and in the eighth minute went in front as a great ball in by Courteney Homans found Moses in the area and the big man duly nodded a perfect header past Joshua Strizovic in the Ramblers goal.

The hosts carved out more openings although either found keeper Strizovic in the way or wasteful finishing preventing them from netting further goals, however the visitors weren’t being outplayed and did create two or three decent openings to warn the hosts that they were not out of this contest by any means.

And a minute before the break the visitors stunned their opponents by levelling things up as Bradley Morgan sent in a pinpoint cross right onto debutant Fraser Inns head and the striker sent the ball beyond Lewis Greene and into the bottom corner.

It meant that the teams went into the break all square and set up the second period perfectly.

Half Time Redbridge 1 Burnham Ramblers 1

The early exchanges of the second half saw the hosts attempting to grab the lead once again but found Strizovic and poor finishing again preventing them from doing so and Moses, obviously frustrated with this, said one to many things to the linesman and was booked.

However in the 63rd minute he was too turn that negatively into positive vibes when he got above everyone else to nod home a close range header and restore the home sides advantage in this one.

Burnham to their credit dug in and made it difficult for the hosts but were relying on Strizovic to keep them in it as the visitors keeper made several saves to keep Redbridge at bay.

But with five minutes remaining the hosts sealed the points when a superb through ball from Moses released substitute Jacob Dingli whose effort was snuffed out by Strizovic but the ball squirmed free and saw another substitute Tommie Turner slide home the loose ball.

Redbridge almost added more in the closing minutes but found Strizovic again in the way but the job was already done for the hosts as they picked up the win and see the hosts in third spot, just a point behind the leaders.

For Burnham it was another league defeat although they more then pushed their opponents today and at times had them worried but ultimately found the hosts just a bit to good in the end and defeat sees Ramblers slip to fourth bottom in the division.

Full Time Redbridge 3 Burnham Ramblers 1

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Right onto Game Two and a mad dash to The Matchday Centre in Walthamstow for a clash between strugglers Waltham Forest and mid table Woodford Town (2017):-

Saturday Game Two (2.30pm)
Waltham Forest 1 Woodford Town (2017) 3
An Ethan Kessel brace helped see Woodford Town to victory over Forest at The Matchday Centre in ground hop day’s afternoon kick off.

The hosts, who came into this one off the back of seven straight league defeats, took the game to their opponents early on and had some good chances to get an early advantage, but they failed to capatilise on this pressure.

Woodford themselves did have a couple of decent openings themselves, including one straight from kick off, but in the opening half hour they did have more defending to do and keep the hosts out.

But ten minutes from the break the visitors broke the deadlock as after the hosts failed to clear after some commotion inside their penalty box, Asher Modeste swung a boot at the loose ball and saw it find the corner of the net.

It meant the hosts went into the break behind in a half where they had started so well but gradually saw their performance tail off as the half went on and saw Woodford take advantage of this late on in the half.

Half Time Waltham Forest 0 Woodford Town (2017) 1

Forest knew they needed a fast start to this period however it started poorly as Woodford were the ones who made that quick start by doubling their advantage four minutes after the break when a total miskick from Modeste turned out to be a perfect pass to Kessel who fired first time into the bottom corner and give Forest a mountain to climb.

The hosts made changes and brought on Medina and Creasey in an attempt to get back into the contest and midway through the half the two substitutes combined to do just that, as Medina got to the byline and crossed for Creasey to rifle into the roof of the net from close range and give Forest a lifeline.

But that lifeline vanished just two minutes later when Woodford restored that two goal cushion when a loose ball in the hosts box fell to Kessel and the forward sent an effort goalwards and saw the ball squeeze through the keeper’s grasp and into the corner of the net.

The hosts saw a curling effort strike the post and also a late header go well off target, but the visitors looked fairly comfortable for the majority of the remainder of the contest and run out winners, which sees them occupy tenth spot.

For the hosts its an eighth straight defeat now and with other results going against them sees the Walthamstow club go bottom of the table.

Full Time Waltham Forest 1 Woodford Town (2017) 3

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So two down and one to go, and after another trip through the East Ends busy streets I arrived at Forest Gate and the historic Old Spotted Dog for the evening showing between Hackney Wick and Wadham Lodge.

These two were in the bottom four, Wick fourth bottom and Lodge bottom and with only two points between them it was an important game, here is how it panned out:-

Saturday Game Three (5.30pm)
Hackney Wick 1 Wadham Lodge 3
Dwade James netted twice as Lodge made it three wins in five after victory over Hackney Wick in the evening kick off at the Old Sports Dog.

The hosts began the contest well and looked to gain an early advantage against the leagues bottom side but were unable to find a way through.

However Lodge are much improved now under the stewardship of Marc Farrell and soon grew into the contest and midway through the half grabbed the lead when a deep cross to the back post found Mario Gnijaj who converted and give the visitors the advantage.

And it was an advantage they would double just eight minutes later when the referee adjudged that a foul had been committed just inside the box although it did look a bit harsh to me, anyway James stepped up and converted the spot kick and Wick had a mountain to climb.

Wick ended the half with a decent spell but they went into the break two goals behind and as things stood Lodge would be leapfrogging them out of the bottom four.

Half Time Hackney Wick 0 Wadham Lodge 2

Wick knew they needed the next goal to have any chance of getting something from the game but it was Lodge who had two brilliant chances to extend their lead but failed to do so.

The second period thereafter was fairly quiet as both teams battled in midfield as the game just drifted along and it remained this way until twelve minutes from time when from nowhere Wick pulled a goal back when sloppy play allowed Ibrahim Camara to poke home into the far corner and give Wickers a lifeline.

The hosts never really threatened an equaliser though and in fact it was Lodge who so nearly sealed the points but again failed to do just that.

That was until the 89th minute when they finally sealed the win when a cross into the six yard box saw the keeper spill trying to catch the ball and allowed James to thump home from a yard out and punish the mistake.

It meant that Lodge jumped up four places into fifth bottom and leap frog Wick who now find themselves third bottom.

Full Time Hackney Wick 1 Wadham Lodge 3

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So there ended the Essex Senior League’s first ever ground hop and with the four games yielding 17 goals it was certainly value for money.  Hopefully their will be plenty of feedback from people who attended these games and the logistics of it all, but for a first attempt it wasn’t to bad to be honest.

I most certainly had a good day, and although it left me exhausted, I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to many more ESL hops in the future!!!  Many thanks to Michelle Dorling for organising it all along with the league committee and also thanks to league chairman Robert Errington for driving me around all day and to and from home, its all very much appreciated!!!!

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