Eastern Counties League Division One
The Crops, Coggeshall
Match Rating: 3
After two long Saturdays heading to the north west, as enjoyable as they were, it came as something of a relief that I was able to enjoy a much more local and relaxing day out today. With a warm sunny summer’s day forecast, I wanted to visit a club that would be enjoyed at its best on such a day. A visit to mid Essex promised to fit the bill perfectly, with a country walk to enjoy before visiting a ground in a rural setting.
The Crops is located about a five minute walk westwards from Coggeshall town centre, and about a one and half hour, four and a half mile walk from Kelvedon train station, via some really pleasant country footpaths and avoiding the more direct roadside walk. Some attractive signage by the road outside the ground points visitors to a neat wooden turnstile block. Spectators enter the ground in one corner, with a path along the top of a grass bank, which was a popular place to watch the action from today, with more conventional seating provided in an old fashioned low all-seater stand set into it straddling the half way line. At the end of the path in the far corner, a small black wooden building houses the changing rooms, with a cream coloured building houses the old fashioned, cosy and small clubhouse. Immediately behind this end is flat standing area covered the corrugated iron, whilst behind the other goal there is just hard standing. There is just hard standing along most of the remaining length, apart from the area between the dugouts which is inaccessible to spectators. Floodlight pylons have been erected, with the actual lights to be fitted shortly. It’s clear that a lot of work has been carried out here so that it can host senior football, and it is really refreshing that there are no bland identikit stands or buildings here, and the perimeter fencing is wooden. The programme was the only blot on the club, just a four page publication with club history and team line-ups. My usual comment about such programmes applies here – it is understandable that there may be no-one at the club to produce a readable programme, but in that case it would be much fairer to charge a nominal charge, if any, for such a useless programme.
After a 27 year absence, Coggeshall Town were promoted back into Senior football after winning the Essex and Suffolk Border League last season. They have made a good start to life back in senior football, attracting a crowd of over a thousand for a pre-season friendly when Olly Murs guested for them against an Ipswich Town XI, and they have taken 4 points from their opening two games. Downham finished in 16th place in the 19 team Eastern Counties League Division One.
On a warm afternoon which clouded over frequently, it only took the home side three minutes to take the lead. Tom Monk raced down the right wing before crossing the ball into the box, and Nnamdi Nwachuku had plenty of time to take a touch before firing low past the keeper. Coggeshall were dominating the early stages of this game, and they were awarded a penalty when the keeper tripped the striker as he ran after a low diagonal ball forward. Just a yellow card for the keeper, who saved Jordan Palmer's spot kick low to his right, as well as the follow up shot, and a third goalbound shot was blocked. It seemed only a matter of time before Coggeshall would score again this, creating plenty of chances which went begging, and although Downham struggled to contain the home side, they did look quite dangerous in their rare forward forays.
Coggeshall continued to dominate the game after the break, but looked less threatening now as they were guilty of overplaying at times. But they finally did score their second on 76 minutes. After some lovely footwork on the by-line, the ball was passed back to Monk, who drove the ball low through the keeper. That really did seal the three points for Coggeshall, and Downham had their goalkeeper sent off for a second yellow card for protesting too aggressively following a foul on one of his team mates. With no specialist keeper on the bench, an outfield player had to go on, but he was hardly tested for the remainder of the game, although he did pull off one very good reaction save at his near post.
So, as comfortable and convincing 2-0 lead as there can be, as Coggeshall continue their good start to life back in senior football.