Saturday, 21 May 2011

Rapture Postponed in Kelvedon Hatch

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 21 May 2011 at School Road
Kelvedon Hatch 2 Rayleigh Town 1
Essex Olympian League Premier Division (Step 7)
New venue #403 on the lifetime list and #97 for the season.  One of the friendliest too, it has to be said.
This match in one sentence
Kelvedon scored two early goals but in the end were hanging on rather desperately for a nervy win which may yet be enough to see them confirmed as league champions next week.
So what?
As things stand, Kelvedon Hatch have now completed their fixtures and have 60pts and a GD of +29.  Reigning champions Harold Wood Athletic beat runners-up Kelvedon Hatch last year by 2 pts.  They needed to beat Frenford Senior in their last game, and did so helped by a controversial penalty – I was there.  This season, Harold Wood now have one game left, 57pts and a goal difference of +24.  They will therefore need to win their last game by a six-goal margin to secure the title, and it is at home against … Frenford Senior.

There have, however, been some unsatisfactory elements to this league’s outcome this year.  Last week, White Ensign failed to fulfil their fixture against Kelvedon Hatch.  Today, while this match was in progress, Epping failed to fulfil theirs against Harold Wood.  The league has awarded the three points, but left the goals for column unchanged.  This is going to feel very unsatisfactory for one of these teams next weekend.  As things stand, I would say the odds favour Kelvedon Hatch - a six-goal margin over Frenford Senior next week would see the groundhoppers outnumbered by conspiracy theorists.
The drama unfolds
Kelvedon Hatch started calmly and gradually took hold of the game.  The first clip sets the scene.

There was no real surprise when the first goal came – the centre forward followed-up to be in the right place when the ball came back to him off the post.  1-0

The ping of ball on post ...

... and an effective follow-up by number 9
The second goal came from a set piece and has been captured on video.  2-0

With only 20 minutes gone, Kelvedon Hatch were cruising but Rayleigh really should have pulled one back before the half-hour mark.  My final clip is also from the first half.  Half-time 2-0

The second half was a different story.  Perhaps the news that Harold Wood would have a “winning 0-0” filtered through by carrier pigeon or something.  Rayleigh started to do better things with the ball and they were not in the mood to go quietly.  Kelvedon Hatch started to defend deeper – although to be fair their centre-backs were commanding in the air – and to rely on the breaks.  On the hour, the Kelvedon Hatch goalkeeper saved very well after an initial shot had hit the post and rebounded back into play.  The home team started to look nervy.

Rayleigh got a deserved goal after 84 minutes, when a low shot from the right corner of the box nestled in the left corner of the net.  There was nothing impressive about the prospective champions’ last few minutes, as they just took the ball into the corners and ran the clock down for the win.  Final score 2-1
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Kelvedon Hatch
Shelter from nuclear attack.  Honestly.  There is a big bunker, now wrongly called “The Secret Nuclear Bunker”, probably because, “The Once-Secret Nuclear Bunker” won’t fit on the signs.
A snippet from the programme
From “The Gaffer’s Corner” (Darren Hunt):

“Last Saturday was a huge disappointment to be supposedly playing against a club that runs three teams, to not to be able to muster 11 players is a disgrace and should be looked into.  To worsen the blow, to be given 3 points but a 0-0 scoreline is totally wrong in my opinion.”

(Written before a similar thing happened to rivals Harold Wood Athletic today.)
What Next?
I fear that this is the last meaningful fixture at a “new” venue for the 2010-11 season – if anyone knows of anything happening next weekend give it a mention here or on Twitter, and I’ll get there if I can.  Thanks for reading – it has been a real pleasure to watch the number of hits grow and a real privilege to have your attention.  I hope to keep you entertained with some occasional tangents during the summer months.  It’s an eclectic atmosphere round here.

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