MATCH REPORT AND GALLERY: FA Inter League Representative friendly. Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich League 1 - 3 ProKit Essex Olympian League
The Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich League representative side were made to pay for a lacklustre first-half display as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to the representative ProKit Essex Olympian League side last night.
Despite a rallying second-half performance, the SIL side, represented by a host of Senior League players from different clubs, left themselves too much to do after a poor first-half showing in which they succumbed to three counter-attacking goals.
Held at Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side Stanway Rovers, the SIL side started proceedings brightly however and should have had a penalty in the opening ten minutes when Capel Plough’s Lee Barrett danced his way into the area before seemingly being felled by an Essex defender.
However, referee Mr P.Kitson waved away the Suffolk side’s appeals, much to their frustration.
And moments later, Essex rubbed further salt in the Suffolk wounds with a swift opening goal that saw Olympian’s star man Gavin Cockman break with pace past an exposed SIL back-line before crossing for Luke Eatwell to convert.
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This goal came from a SIL corner and was to be the story of a sorry first period for manager Ian Watson’s side.
Mid-way through the half, and with the Essex side showing their appetite for goals, the SIL were punished on the break again as John Wightman slammed home at the second attempt after some further brilliant work from Cockman.
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Grundisburgh keeper Adam Wilson saved Wightman’s initial effort from point-blank range brilliantly but could do little with the follow-up as the Frenford Senior winger emphatically thumped home the rebound into the roof of the net from six yards.
Crane Sports striker Tye Webb came closest for the SIL side in the first half but his off-balance effort flew harmlessly wide in a frustrating first 45 minutes for Watson’s men.
The SIL failed to look after the ball in the opening period and when they surrendered possession, the industrious Olympians certainly made them pay.
Moments before the break, Wightman was celebrating his second goal on the break after Felixstowe’s Ross White lost possession in the middle of the park and Essex capitalised with a swift pass and move goal, with the dangerous winger adding a delicate final touch.
Three down at the interval, Watson acted and the introduction of Coplestonian duo Craig Milbourne and Matt Bristo seemed to kick-start the SIL’s fortunes as they fought back with a spirited display.
Striker Bristo particularly seemed to inject a bit of life into the Ipswich side as his height and nimble feet caused the previously unworked Essex side a few problems.
With stand-out players Barrett and James Hawkins moving into the centre of midfield, the SIL side managed to grab a foothold in the match with Bristo and Sam Taylor both seeing well-struck efforts parried to safety by Olympian ‘keeper Richard Insole.
After Hawkins’ deflected effort rolled off a post following a mazy run by right-back Stuart Bolderston, whose forward bursts were growing an increasing influence in the game, the same two players combined again as the SIL found a way back into the match.
Following a foul on Bolderston down the right, Hawkins delivered a textbook free-kick for onrushing Michael Crowfoot to powerfully head home and give the Suffolk side hope.
It was a case of too little too late for the SIL side though as their organised counterparts held out for the win in an Inter League Representative friendly enjoyed by all.
SIL squad: Wilson (Grundisburgh), Bolderston (Leiston St Margarets), Harvey (Ipswich Valley Rangers), Hammond (Ipswich Valley Rangers) (Payne, Wenhaston), Brownell (Westerfield) (Milbourne, Coplestonians), Barrett (Capel Plough), Hawkins (Haughley), White (Felixstowe Harpers) (Webster, Leiston St Margarets), J.Chenery (Wenhaston) (Crowfoot, Wickham Market), Webb (Cranes Sports) (Bristo, Coplestonians), and Taylor (Wickham Market).