Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mountnessing 0 v 0 Galleywood

Saturday 21st May 2011
Essex Olympian League Premier Division
Brentwood Centre Arena, Brentwood
Admission and Programme: Nil
Attendance: 32 (head count)
Match Rating: 2

With an ever diminshing selection of fixtures to choose from, a choice of three in the Essex Olympian League Premier Division appealed most today. Two of the three games involved the top two teams at home, with the race so close between Kelvedon Hatch and Harold Wood Athletic that the title will probably be decided by goal difference. Rarely one to make the obvious choice, I chose the third game which was a dead rubber, but did have the attraction of visiting a senior ground, as opposed to minimal facilities to be found at Kelvedon Hatch and Harold Wood Athletic.

Mountnessing currently share Brentwood Town's home ground, the Brentwood Centre Arena, which is about a mile and a half or half hour walk from Brentwood rail station via the town centre. The ground is located out of town, adjacent to a sports centre. It also backs right onto the very busy A12 dual carriageway, the constant very loud traffic noise from which unfortunately detracts greatly from an otherwise pleasant place to watch football, although large trees at least block out the sight of the passing traffic.Facilities are, of course, far superior to what one usually encounters in the Essex Olympian League, although they seem rather basic for the Ryman League, in which Brentwood Town play. Along some of one length of the pitch is a small, neat and rather old-fashioned wooden all-seater stand, with the clubhouse located to the rear of the stand. There is a small, modern metallic stand behind one of the goals providing cover for a handful of terrace steps, with just hard standing around the rest of the pitch. The ground has a rather weathered, slightly unloved feel to it, but in fairness, this may be due to visiting at the end of a long season, a few weeks after Brentwood Town last played there - my impression may well have been different had I visited in the early months of a season. As is normal in this league, no programmes were produced and admission was free.

Mountnessing have shown a fair degree of ambition in the last couple of years, now playing at a senior ground which would enable promotion to a senior league and entering the FA Vase for the first time this season, with the club making all the right noises about progressing into senior football. Sadly, they seem to have forgotten they need to do the business on the field as well as off of it, as for most of this season they have been involved in a relegation battle, only pulling clear and ensuring safety in the last couple of weeks. With today being their last game of the season, they are guaranteed tenth place in the fourteen team league. It is clear to see what Mountnessing's problem has been this season - they have been the league's joint lowest goalscorers - along with today's visitors, Galleywood - with just 28 goals from 25 league games - and five of those goals came in one game just over a week ago. The season was also dead for Galleywood, they have already been relegated (barring a reprieve) and will finish second bottom. Back in October, Galleywood triumphed 2-1 in the previous league fixture between the two sides.

With nothing riding on the game and conditions being very warm and sunny, it was perhaps unsurprising that this was an uninspiring game played at a pedestrian pace between two poor teams. The first half was rather forgettable - even considering the intermediate level, it was quite shocking how simple passes were played straight to opposition players, and there was a sloppy, "really can't be bothered" feel to proceedings. The score was goalless at half time, which the visitors expressed delight with. The second half was certainly an improvement, and Mountnessing will wonder how on earth they didn't score at least once - I counted at least four gilt edged chances to score, the pick of which being a beautiful free kick from just outside the corner of the penalty area tipped onto the crossbar, and a shot from about 25 yards out that had the keeper scrambling back to his line to make the save. Galleywood also missed a fantastic chance midway through the second half, firing wide with only the keeper to beat, and in the closing minutes they did all the attacking without ever really looking likely to break down Mountnessing's defence, and so a goalless draw was how it ended. My usual disappointment at witnessing a goalless draw was put into perspective though when I learned that Harold Wood Athletic's game, the one I was most tempted to go to had I followed my head and given Mountnessing's game a wide berth, was cancelled with a home win awarded as Epping, their already relegated opponents, could not raise a team.

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