As perennial league companions to the M4s over the past few seasons Waltham Forest had become somewhat of a nemesis. The past 5 encounters had all resulted in losses or at best hard fought draws for Chelmsford – so after the frost extended Christmas break this was a tough comeback game, made slightly harder by the ridiculously early 10.00am pushback time.
Although the core of the regular squad were all available, 3 regulars were missing including a freshly injured Roy Gemill (a skiing thumb injury apparently). It was good to see Will Cooper once again; bringing both young legs and the squad up to 12 players.
Fast and furious from the outset, both sides worked their socks off looking to find an advantage and for the first 10 minutes it was Forest who were making the better progress (just) in attack but the M4s defensive line held strong and redistributed the ball quickly and accurately to the Chelmsford midfield and strikers. From one such move Tufty took full advantage by opening the scoreline for Chelmsford with a fantastic shot past the keeper on the right!
Keeping their heads as the game intensity continued to rise, Chelmsford kept calm and were generating more shots on goal and winning valuable short corners, one of which yielded a second goal for the M4s from the stick of Rob Dyer, 0 – 2 to Chelmsford.
The game was still far from one sided and from experience we knew that it was in such situations that Waltham Forest can be so dangerous, they had already come close with a couple of strong flicks and hits from short corners. But after a concerted attack on the Chelmsford goal, that saw shots cleared several times by the keeper, a ball was half stopped by the stick of a diving Darren into the path of an unmarked striker. Goal to Waltham Forrest.
The half ended 1 – 2 after Waltham missed the chance to even the score line when their drag flick shot was deemed to have not left the D.
Refreshed from their half time jelly baby fix and carrying the firm instruction to play smarter hockey the M4s were immediately on the attack again and the persistent efforts yielded another 2 goals; one from Rob Dyer (his second) and an exquisite strike from Will Cooper.
If their heads were down WF were not showing it and the pressure paid off when Kitch accidently stopped the ball with his leg on the goal line bringing an immediate penalty flick award, which the Forest striker calmly dispatched into the bottom corner of the Chelmsford goal, 2-4.
With legs on both sides starting to tire Chelmsford kept their subs rotating if an effort to keep up the pressure and not let WF back into the game. The pressure paid off when Tufty scored his second of the game taking the score to 2-5.
With the clock winding down Forrest were awarded a late short corner which they successfully converted into what was to become the final goal of a hectic game, ending 3 – 5 to an ecstatic Chelmsford!
A win for Chelmsford and losses for the 3 teams immediately below them in the league leaves the M4s still in 2nd place and now 7 points ahead of Maldon in third place.
Scorers: Adrian Tuff x 2, Rob Dyer x 2, Will Cooper
Cards: No cards for the M4s this week.
Next game: Sat 4th Feb; M4s host Old Southendians 4 on the sand based pitch, PB at 15.30