Hough Goal Enough to Earn Tough Point
A point was enough to help ensure Gorleston achieved their pre-season objective of Premier Division survival.
Richard Daniels 200th game as Gorleston manager began with just one change to the side that had drawn at Whitton, which caused a major talking point amongst fans pre-kick off, with scorer from that game, Keegan Middleton, dropped to the bench and Nathan Russell given a start, with his side continuing with the wing back formation that had worked quite well in Suffolk.
On a hard, dusty pitch that could have done with some rain it was Clacton who created the first chance in the third minute when Kevin Coyle caught a shot well from twenty five yards which Liam Hembling had to turn around the post.
A nice run by Bradley Hough saw him create space for himself to curl in a low shot which just failed to swerve enough and went a foot wide before nice link up play between Joel Watts and Russell saw Watts hit a reverse pass back to Russell whose shot was straight to the keeper.
Chris Sandford tried his luck from distance with a shot which went wide before Clacton keeper Avenell kept his side level firstly pushing over a Hough shot and then, as half time approached, flinging himself to his right to palm away a close range Russell header from a free kick.
Lee Roots was forced off at half time with a groin strain, Scott Woodgate coming on, and Russell slotted in to the right wing back role.
It took the Greens time to settle into the half and Clacton were pushing the home side back with Aaron Condon weaving his way through just three minutes into the half but Hembling was down quickly to deny him.
Russell cut in and squared to Watts who didn't connect properly with his shot and the ball went through to the keeper before, at the other end, Dunkley then failed to get enough on a cross from the right when clear in front of goal.
The Green Army had been singing the name of Keegan Middleton since the opening minutes of the half and eventually got their wish in 72nd minute when he came on in place of Russell.
Within a minute his first touch in open play had created the opening goal when he picked up the ball on the right of midfield and slid an incisive pass between defenders for Hough to run onto and strike first time past the keeper into the net to put the Greens ahead.
This was Hough's 50th goal in a Gorleston shirt, on his 153rd appearance.
Two minutes before the end of normal time Clacton equalised, not without an element of controversy.
Condon dribbled square across the box, presumably whilst being impeded as the ref was waving play on. Condon used the advantage to get in a shot which was blocked and cleared away.
The ref then decided to pull the play back and award Clacton a free kick twenty five yards out. To make matters worse Woodgate, who had earlier received a cut to the head, went to the sideline to have some blood washed away and then wasn't allowed back into his defensive position to help with the blocking.
There were no quibbles about the quality of Kevin Coyle's free kick however which curled low into the bottom corner giving Hembling no chance.
Clacton pressed for the winner that they desperately needed for survival but Gorleston held on stoutly throughout seven minutes of injury time to gain their second draw in a row.
With Wivenhoe losing at Whitton the Greens transistion has achieved its first aim of staying in the Premier Division.
Match sponsor Derek Cooke awarded man of the match to Bradley Hough.
Gorleston: Liam Hembling, Kyle Howell (Mitch McKay 87), Liam Brown, Lee Roots (Scott Woodgate 46), Aaron Taylor, Adam Plumstead, Thomas Daniels, Chris Sandford (c), Joel Watts, Bradley Hough, Nathan Russell (Keegan Middleton 72)
Bookings: McKay 90; Daniels 90
Goal: Hough 73
FC Clacton: Luke Avenell, Lee Peacock, Billy Wales (Kalon Harms 77), Wayne Chapman, Steve Downes, Adam Daniels, Kyelan Marvell, Charlie Thompson, James Dunkley (Sean Hillier 60), Aaron Condon (c), Kevin Coyle
Bookings: Peacock 72
Goal: Coyle 88
Ref: Paul Burnham
|4||Other efforts on target||7
|2||Other efforts off target||4
|0||Other efforts against woodwork||0
|10||Free kicks for||8