The Under 13’s played their penultimate match of the season in a fixture switched to the Poors field due to water logging at the home of our opponents, Stanway Rovers. Needing to win both remaining matches with a goal difference of +13 to win the “A” league title on goal difference, Bergholt started with a very attacking formation. Unfortunately within the first minute Bergholt were a goal behind, a midfielder losing the ball too easily on our first attack: the Stanway Rovers player took the ball on and played a superb – if unchallenged – curling cross into the area for the striker to run onto and slot into the net. Within 5 minutes Bergholt were two behind. Again the ball was lost cheaply in midfield. The other striker got away from the defender, who failed to put a challenge in, and beat the goalkeeper at his near post: a catalogue of errors! Bergholt were failing to get into the game – the Stanway Rovers players looked far more like league title challengers and were first to every ball – and it was no surprise when another decisive break from midfield resulted in a Bergholt player desperately lunging at the ball in the area only to get the players’ legs first. A penalty resulted, which was slotted into the net for 3-0. A couple of minutes later a ball was played into the box which the Bergholt ‘keeper attempted to catch under pressure from 2 strikers, one of which bundled into him from behind. The keeper tried to grab the loose ball as the referee blew his whistle – for a penalty! He adjudged the 2 strikers not to be fouling the keeper, but the keeper to be pushing one of them to grab the ball, and duly booked him to make the second ever booking for a Bergholt U13 player – coincidently both by the same referee! Note this was the same referee as for the Heybridge semi-final a few weeks ago who did not give a foul for the same striker jumping at the Bergholt keeper and making no contact with the ball (resulting in a goal). Justice was done when, for the second time in a week, Connor Welfare in goal saved a penalty. Half time score; Bergholt Heath 0-3 Stanway Rovers.
After a half time roasting from the manager when he rightly pointed out that however poor the referee was (and he was bad!), the players had been equally at fault for their poor play, Bergholt started the second half looking far more lively. A couple of close calls with the ball going the wrong side of the post and just over the bar, and Bergholt were given a lifeline with the referee awarding another dubious penalty which was dispatched at the second attempt by Antonio Sabini after the referee correctly ruled that the keeper had moved at least a yard off his line before it was taken. Bergholt continued to push forward in what was a totally different performance to the first half, although there tended to be a lack of composure at times. However yet again the referee played a major part in the match when he failed to spot a two handed push in the back of a Bergholt defender who was sent sprawling for the striker to run through and put the ball in the net. The referee’s assistant confirmed that although he clearly saw the foul he had been instructed by the referee before the match that he was only allow to flag for throw ins and off-sides as the referee would call everything else (or not as the case may be). Another few minutes and again the referee got involved by awarding yet another penalty – his 4th of the match – this time to Bergholt for a push that nobody saw. Maybe he was making up for the Stanway player’s push for the goal? Again Antonio Sabini finished coolly from the spot. The referee booked yet another Bergholt player (Gianni Sabini) after the goal, supposedly for swearing at the Stanway goalkeeper when he wouldn’t give the ball back – that’s 3 bookings this season, and all by the same referee! As the match entered its final minutes the game was almost exclusively played in the Stanway half with possession dominated, although with so many players pouring forward the defence was stretched at times which lead to a few heroics at the back with Stanway trying to hit Bergholt on the break. Unfortunately try as they might, the hill was too big for Bergholt to climb and the final whistle became a relief – I suspect for the referee as much as anyone as he looked totally out of his depth and in the two games we have seen him this season he has been the worst referee we have ever had officiating one of our matches (as demonstrated by the two lowest referee marks ever given). Bergholt Heath will finish second in the “A” league this year behind Cornard Dynamos (who they did the double over!). Final result: Bergholt Heath 2 – 4 Stanway Rovers. Bergholt Heath ‘man of the match’: Jamie Bowden