It was a sunny day at Burches Meadow but after seeing that the heavens had opened for two days before, both teams were grateful for some give under their feet after what had been a preseason played on turf that could be mistaken for concrete.
Tiptree Engaine started with the same outfit as last time, seeing no reason to change a winning side after their victory against Hatfield Peveral Reserves the week before. The only difference in the starting line-up being Steven Evans in at CB. Tiptree also had a bench of quality with Jamie Preece, Mat Gregory, James Reeve and Ben Reynolds who recently came back from travelling for the second time.
Heath went for a line-up teeming with experience, leaving many of their young players on the bench. From the off, Engaine looked to be the better side. Being much fitter from preseason, Engaine were very capable of mopping up any attempts coming through the middle, especially with Maile, Keliher and Anderson, who do not seem to stop running. This left the experienced Heath side very frustrated and there were a few minor scuttles in result. Unfortunately Steven Evans was on the receiving end of a late follow through from a tackle and had to make way for Preece off the bench, hopefully its nothing serious and we see him again next week.
Engaine were the first to score with Keliher’s free kick from 40 yards finding its way into the net. We think this was a cross but it was never confirmed. There was also a penalty shout for Engaine as Keliher was chopped down in the box after avoiding two challenges but the ref was not interested. A great chance was created from some great inter-play down the right between Bellamy, Preece and Keliher which ended in a cross to Miykael Martin which he volleyed just over the bar. Shortly before the break, Tom Preece started to shine. After sending Phil Mitchell back to the East-end with a great tackle, he found himself on the end of a cross and sent the ball home. This goal was rather controversially denied by the oppositions linesman but I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities for Tom in the coming season.
Heath came out the stronger side after the half, putting on pressure by adding more youth to their side in the form of two substitutions and it nearly came to fruition as they had their fair share of the ball. Engaine bound together and defended well leaving their keeper, Danny Lynn, to clean up the occasional hashed shot or wayward pass. Engaine sured up the middle and some tired legs by making some changes, thanks to Mat Gregory Managing things from the side. Tom Preece was given a rest for James Reeve, and Jamie Anderson made way for Reynolds.
It wasn’t long before Engaine struck again. Jack Balaam skipped round the right of the giant CB, who couldn’t even wear the same shirt of the rest of his team, and slotted the ball into the Net. 2:0! With both the teams struggling to keep ahold of the ball, anyone could have scored but an off the ball incident from a cross gave Engaine a penalty that the Skipper, Balaam, calmly stroked into the bottom left. 3:0!
Tiptree Engaine were well and truly on top now, the ball was pinned to the opponents half. A good chance for Kelliher was denied by Reynolds, who nicked the ball of him just as he was about to ping it top corner from 35 yards, Reynolds wanted to ‘Relax’ the play but I’m not sure Keliher got that memo. Final Whistle! The Game Ended 3:0 to Tiptree Engaine who were much the better side because of their preseason fitness. Its only going to get better for them as the team gels through the season and it will certainly be exciting to see how it pans out. COYE!
Match Report by James Handley.