Gorleston 6 - 5 FC Clacton
|Seasiders edged out of eleven goal thriller!|
|By Martin Oswick.|
Two teams in the penultimate game of a long season. Both are safely in mid-table with nothing to play for. They’re usually pretty dull, flat affairs aren’t they? Not a bit of it! FC Clacton and Gorleston fought out a thrilling, open encounter at Emerald Park providing a feast of entertainment and goals galore as the home side prevailed 6-5 in a wonderfully entertaining rollercoaster ride of a game.
Gorleston fans may disagree but to this Clacton supporters eyes it really was rough justice on a Seasiders side ravaged through unavailability who just would not lie down, showing immense character to equalise three times, from 1-0 down, 3-1 down and 4-3 down and were 6-4 behind before giving Gorleston a real scare as they fought back again in the closing minutes.
To give an indication of how much of a scratch side Clacton had to field from the twelve players used they had six teenagers, including two sixteen year olds and a seventeen year old and the starting back four had a combined age of just 73! Even the manager was missing as Sean Hillier took charge in the place of the absent Andy Taylor.
When looking at the inexperienced Clacton line up even the most optimistic Clacton fan would have feared the worst and they fell behind in the eleventh minute when Gorleston attacked down the right and drilled a low cross which was turned into his own net by a stretching Matt Cripps sliding into clear the danger.
Clacton hit back six minutes later winning the first of two penalties in the game as a neat move put Aaron Condon in on the right who beat one man and then was brought down as he beat a second. Kevin Coyle slotted home the penalty to level the scores.
On twenty five minutes Gorleston went back ahead in somewhat fortunate fashion when a cross was touched back to Liam Harvey-Cooper who appeared to mis-time his swing at the ball, spinning the ball up into the air in a (from a Clacton perspective) horrible, spiralling arc over the despairing Ed Wootten to put the Greens back into the lead. They nearly went further ahead when Christy Finch curled a free kick into the side netting.
On thirty two minutes Clacton nearly equalised but instead, a minute later, found themselves further behind. A James Dunkley cross was headed out to the edge of the area where Condon hit a right footed effort which hit the crossbar and flew away to safety. From the resulting goal kick the ball was not dealt with and as it flicked across the Clacton defence Chris Sandford took full advantage rifling home an excellent shot from twenty yards.
Clacton looked to fight back before half time but were twice denied first when David Coyle’s effort from a Condon cut back was blocked and then when they broke in a 4 v 3 situation were thwarted by a great tackle from Thomas Daniels on Kevin Coyle as the Clacton captain shaped to shoot.
If anyone watching thought that the first half had been an eventful affair then they had yet to witness a second half which comprised of just the seven goals and a sending off! Immediately after the break Gary Williams had fired just wide for the home side before Elliott Pride in the Gorleston goal made the first of a couple of great saves clawing away a close range effort from Kevin Coyle when it seemed certain he would score.
The Seasiders did give themselves a way back into the game on fifty minutes when Aaron Condon’s right wing cross was glanced home by David Coyle and they were denied an equaliser nine minutes later as Condon popped up on the right again to cut in, beat two men and force a great stop from Pride to his right.
Just when you thought that the game would calm down at some stage both teams found another gear with an amazing passage of play that saw five goals in just eight minutes from the sixty-second minute. First Lee Peacock levelled the game at three all when he powered home a header from a left wing corner. Then Josh Armes put the home side in front when a corner wasn’t cleared and when the ball was played in the tall centre back was on hand to head home. Clacton equalised (again!) as Aaron Condon was put through to drive home to make it 4-4 and then Gorleston went straight up the other end and put in a left wing cross that saw Sandford unmarked to head home. It looked like they might have finally sealed the game as they scored a sixth in the sixty-ninth minute as sub Keegan Middleton broke down the right and pulled back for Finch to finish.
Of course, in this game there was no chance of a quiet ending. First Pride had to claw away a header from Dunkley and from the resulting corner Peacock headed just over. Gorleston missed the chance to make it seven when Daniels broke forward, set Finch away on the left and his cross was turned back by Harvey-Cooper to Williams who dragged his shot well wide.
The Greens were nearly made to regret that miss as Clacton fought back again, winning their second penalty in the 82nd minute. Matt Cripps brought the ball forward and passed to David Coyle with his back to goal twenty yards out. His first time back flick put Dunkley clean through when he was brought down by Adam Thurtle with the referee left with no option but to show the Gorleston man a red card. Kevin Coyle stepped up to smash home the penalty to make it 6-5.
Alas, dear reader, I am unable to bring you the one last twist in the tale that all Clacton fans (and surely all good hearted human beings) would have wished for. Had it been a film Clacton would have scored a last ditch equaliser, supporters and players of both sides would have embraced in mutual respect and admiration and someone would have discovered that sometimes it’s not the winning that counts, it’s the way you play the game (possibly whilst being reunited with the girl of his dreams/his long lost father). Unfortunately it wasn’t a film and the home side rather spoiled the fairytale ending as Gorleston’s ten men bravely clung on to their lead and register the victory in an extraordinary encounter.
This was a cracking advert for non-league, and in fact any standard of football. Granted some of the defending will be giving the managers nightmares all summer long but it was a treat for the spectators with both teams giving it a real good go and never knowing when to stop attacking. After the home game with Gorleston I said in my report that people who missed the game should feel thankful that they saved their money. If you missed this one I say you should feel very disappointed – you’ll do well to find better entertainment for a fiver!
|Player of the match:|
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|Player of the match:||Elliott Pride|
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