Isthmian Premier Division Sat 23 April The Crucial Environmental Stadium
  • Pattenden (60')
Brightlingsea Regent

It was a case of “all change please” as Manager Adam Hinshelwood rotated his squad on a day of huge celebrations.

Joel Colbran made a welcome return from injury while Club Captain Darren Budd got a rare run out alongside Dean Cox, with Luke Robinson also returning to the starting lineup. The likes of Will Seager, Dajon Golding, Jesse Starkey and Callum Kealy had to settle for places on the bench.

After receiving another guard of honour before playing their final home game of the season, the Isthmian League Champions created the first serious chance of the afternoon ten minutes in. James Beresford knocked the ball inside to Reece Myles-Meekums who, in turn, helped it on to Ollie Pearce. His neat flick sent Robinson veering left and crossing low for Meeky to meet, only for the eventual Man of the Match to pick out the side netting.

Pearcey then came close himself by glancing a Cox corner past the back stick, followed shortly afterwards by a twenty-five yard free-kick flying a few short inches over the crossbar.

A terrific move that originated via Colbran’s interception on the edge of his own penalty area, soon turned into a pass that released Myles-Meekums down the middle of the park. Reece’s rapidity took him towards the opposite eighteen yard box, where he made it into the danger zone thanks to a one-two with Pearce, before stroking a calm finish across Brightlingsea goalkeeper Charlie Turner and neatly inside the far post. Unfortunately though, a party pooping assistant referee denied the nippy number seventeen by raising his flag for offside.

Almost half-an-hour into the contest and still with no goals to show for their efforts, Myles-Meekums received Beresford’s throw near the left wing corner flag; turning and beating Dom Locke before also saying “see you later” to Chris Gregan on the byline and Skipper Charlie Durling for good measure, with a ball inside to tee-up Robbo, who seemed certain to score but Turner, who had a fine match, had other ideas, diverting his attempt away off his left boot.

The netminder also frustrated Pearce with a fine one-handed tip over, as Ollie’s powerful header threatened to put the hosts in front.

That opening arose via Cox’s latest flag-kick and another set-piece came even closer, after Robinson had been fouled by Durling, with Budd’s dead ball delivery hitting the bar.

Buddy and Coxy combined well to allow Myles-Meekums to run at Regent’s rearguard once more and he came within a whisker of blasting home, when his shot went marginally above the target in first-half stoppage time.

Eventually, on the hour mark, Beresford’s deep crossfield rangefinder was inadvertently chested into the path of Pattenden by the unlucky Valter Da Rocha. Jasper making punishment swift and decisive; curling a delightful effort up and over Turner, just outside the area.

It might have been two when substitute Callum Kealy blocked Pearce’s piledriver with his derriere, after fellow replacement Alex Parsons had stolen a march on Durling to get to the ball first and find Ollie in the box. Although the rebound fell kindly for Robinson, he couldn’t capitalise, under pressure from Locke.

Starkey and Beresford paired up to ply Pearce with a further shooting opportunity that the top-scorer fired harmlessly wide at one end, succeeded by a decent chance at the other for Aaron Blair. Sub Luke Skinner rising above Colbran to nod into the route of the visitor’s nine.

Carlos Flood climbed off the bench to come close to getting his name on the scoresheet, though Parsons was quick to snuff out the danger, as the clock ticked ever closer to the end.

Less than sixty seconds further on and Beresford drove at Kane Gibert but could only flash across the face of goal and just out the other side for a goal-kick.

It wasn’t proving to be Pearce’s day, as Gilbert got himself in the way of shot one and Turner pulled-off another excellent close-range smother to frustrate the home team’s ten, second time around.

The inside of Harrison Male’s right-hand upright came to Red’s rescue during time added on, following Turner’s free-kick from a tiny tad inside his own half, causing problems. In the end, Zack Littlejohn laid the ball across to Flood to strike the woodwork from the edge of the ‘d’.

Fittingly however, the final word came from the title winners, as Pattenden embarked on a typical surge before slipping in Pearce who backheeled to Parsons and he was agonisingly close to rounding off a brilliant break by a whisker; almost scraping the paint off the far post.