Chelmsford Men’s 1st XI 3 Harleston Magpies 4
East Prem A
The first weekend in February brought the 1s face to face with a tough double header of fixtures to try and drag themselves away from thoughts of relegation. Saturday saw Harleston Magpies make the return journey to Chelmer Park. Earlier in the season they gave the hosts a thrashing with a side mixing experience and youth and a strict half court press game plan.
Chelmsford started cagily in possession, turning the ball over to the Harleston forward line on halfway leaving them to counterattack on the isolated back 4. The initial move was kept out, but with Chelmsford now penned into their own half Magpies recycled the ball out down the Chelmsford right to fire a ball into an unmarked midfielder who fired a backhand snapshot in at the near-post for 1-0.
Shocked into action the Green Team got into their work and proceeded to dominate large phases of the half, moving the ball well around midfield to find forward runners in wide areas who were consistently drawing a number of fouls resulting in a few Harleston players spending some time on the naughty step alongside Tom Fanger after a rare wild challenge sent him to the sin bin too.
The main threat to the Magpies defence was Luke Mepham and he found himself on the ball twice in along the baseline into the circle only to be infringed while bearing down on the goal, however, with the penalty corner awarded the umpire seemed to find something to his disliking both times and much to Chelmsford’s dismay the decisions were reversed for a hit out.
With Chelmsford reeling from their own misfortune Harleston managed to catch the defense napping from a free hit in the Chelmsford left back area, with one pass eliminating two players the forward was then able to square the ball into the circle for a pair of forwards to deflect the ball agonisingly slowly into the far corner of the goal.
2-0 at half time was no reflection of the weight of play and Chelmsford showed this with aplomb right from the re-start. Compiling a patient move of no less than 30 passes and involving touches from 9 players they worked the ball around the pitch with composure eventually finding Ollie Lane free wide left in the circle to unfurl a devastating forehand drive to peg a goal back via the top of the backboard.
But just as they had been brilliant, the same defensive frailties appeared and two swift, sloppy goals were conceded to leave the boys with a mountain to climb to rescue any points from 4-1 down.
Undeterred, and with a squad of 15, fresh legs were forcing the Harleston half court press ever deeper. Sam Rayner and Elliot Seleska were now dictating play inside the Magpies half with ease until finally the pressure told when Chelmsford forced not one but two goals back through cute finishes applied from close range by Seleska and the evergreen Vas Veerapalan to set up a grandstand finish with the score teetering at 4-3.
Chelmsford battered the away circle for the remaining 12 minutes; Mepham firing a couple of viscous Tomahawks into the keepers chest and the returning Adam Carter and Rob Plummer finding space in the circle at will to release shots and crosses for the Harleston defenders to repel. Agonisingly the game was summed up with only a minute left as Adam Carter found himself in space only 10 yards out and fired a ferocious slap mere fractions over the crossbar.
Ipswich 4 Chelmsford Men’s 1st XI 3
East Prem A
Sunday saw Chelmsford Men’s 1s travel away to Ipswich. After a disappointing result against Magpies the day before, Chelmsford knew they had something to prove. Travelling with just 12, Chelmsford knew it was going to be a tough battle.
With some slick, high ball passing, Chelmsford took the lead after just 30 seconds, with Ollie Lane slapping the ball hard and low into the goal for his second of the weekend.
It wasn’t long though until some more sloppy man marking from Chelmsford saw the home team equalise from a short corner that was broken down and played in past the post man.
With some more silky passing and moving off of the ball, along came Chelmsford’s second, as the move started from the left back Snr Fox. However, this was cancelled out again through a quick free hot taken by Ipswich, which was fizzed into the ‘D’, with the forward running in ahead of the defender and deflecting it past the visitors.
With the scores tied at half time at 2-2 it was all to play for.
Ipswich were sharper out of the block, with some lacklustre defending and mistimed tackles meaning a short corner was conceded which was converted through a low drag flick to the keepers stick side. It wasn’t long until Ipswich went two ahead, with a number of diving tackles leaving a pass to the back post through to an unmarked attacker for a simple tap in.
Chelmsford’s third goal was something that dreams are made of, With veteran Vas picking the ball up between our 23 and half way line, launching a cross field, 50 yard aerial to the darting run of Luke Mepham, who picked the ball up on the move drove the ball into the ‘D’ from a tight angle finished in the opposite top corner of the goal.
The quality of the goal left just about everyone speechless except for the umpire pointing to the centre spot.