Essex Senior League
Venue: Lower Road
2017-18 Season – Match 65
Tuesday 17th April 2018 – 7.45pm KO
Hullbridge: Blue & White Striped Shirts, Blue Shorts and Blue Socks
West Essex: Yellow & Black Shirts, Black Shorts, Yellow Socks
Scott W Reporting (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
With additional photos by Neil Hunwicks (Twitter: @ABridgeTooFar16) & Peter Dudley (Twitter: @ped1980)
On a nice spring evening at Lower Road, Hullbridge Sports welcomed a West Essex side that still had an outside chance of grabbing sixth place come season’s end. Hullbridge meanwhile could have done with one more success to absolutely confirm safety and they named the front two of Luke Hornsley and Adebola Sotoyinbo with Charllie Buffin and Matt Rose on the flanks. Matt Dicks and Jimmy Cox were among those unavailable for Darren Manning’s side so Conor Mead took the armband and reverted to a centre-back role alongside the recently returned Perry Dunn.
West Essex themselves named a strong side with the front-line of Isaac Marfo and talisman Michael Mignot with the creative likes of Brad Russell and Joe Lefley in support. Josh French and James Bromley were on the bench with Dan Christey and goalkeeper Jack Coker still unavailable. Club skipper Tom MacLeod did return to the starting XI.
The match started with the visitors pouring forward though forward Isaac Marfo and defender Tom MacLeod could not find their way past home goalkeeper Jamie Merralls. The hosts did have the odd foray forward in the early stages of the match though found the Stags defence in a stubborn mood. West Essex forward Michael Mignot stated his intent just past the 25 minute mark as his goal-bound header was blocked.
Arguably the best chance of the first half for Sports came moments later as a powerful drive by winger Charlie Buffin was well-tipped over by Stags custodian Dan Russell. The visitors responded just past the half-hour by taking the lead as the ever-dangerous Mignot slotted past Merralls calmly into the right corner of the net. Home forward Luke Hornsley did have sight of goal minutes later though his strike was straight at Russell who gratefully gathered.
Nine minutes before half-time, West doubled their lead as midfielder Joe Lefley cooly put Mignot in on goal and the forward finished well. The visitors had a couple chances to further extend their lead very soon after, with full-back Ben Leo’s fine left-wing cross just evading Marfo in the box. That said, the Stags were in no mood to be denied as a minute before the interval, Lefley’s sweet strike found the bottom corner. In all honesty, West’s movement and pace was very difficult for the home defence to handle thus far.
Half-Time: Hullbridge Sports 0 – 3 West Essex
As the second half began, Sports did threaten a comeback as moments after the inital whistle, a foul on Hornsley in the area by West centre-back Kofi Appiah was spotted and strike partner Adebola Sotoyinbo duly converted the resulting spot-kick. Sotoyinbo shot wide for the hosts only two minutes later though soon afterward, Mignot continued to give the home defence a tough evening’s work and snuck in to gather a ball from the left flank and stroked past Merralls, although a home defender may have got the final touch.
Just past the hour mark, Hullbridge pulled another goal back as a wind-assisted 40-yard free-kick from skipper Conor Mead found its way into the net past Russell and suddenly, the Stags defence looked a bit rocky as Hornsley and substitute Eamon Payne, playing as a makeshift forward, were proving a presence for the hosts’ front-line. Stags full-back Leo did msake a couple of good tackles as the hosts did threaten to eat further into West Essex’s lead for a short period.
However, the match was more than settled with eight minutes of normal time remaining, a corner from Lefley was powerfully headed home by substitute Josh French, to cap a throughly good night’s work for Kwame Kwateng’s side. The only downer for them was that midfielder Brad Russell limped off late on.
Full-Time: Hullbridge Sports 2 – 5 West Essex
Hullbridge boss Manning will know there is still ‘some work to do’ to ensure his side improves next season as they are practically safe now. They travel to Hackney Wick on Saturday, while West Essex host Wadham Lodge in one of the three designated matches suppporting ‘Kick It Out’ day on Saturday.
Hullbridge Sports | Manager: Darren Manning
Jamie Merralls (GK), Shawn Coe (Eamon Payne 46′), Sam Taylor, Perry Dunn, Conor Mead (Capt), Joe Pattison, Dan Okah, Charlie Buffin (Howard Wright 82′), Luke Hornsley, Adebola Sotoyinbo, Matt Rose
Goal-scorers: Adebola Sotoyinbo [pen 46′], Conor Mead [62′]
Booked: Dunn | Subs Not Used: Burrell, Poole
West Essex | Head Coach: Kwame Kwateng
Dan Russell (GK), Sanchez Hardy, Ben Leo, Tom McLeod (Capt), Nick Walk, Kofi Appiah, Bradley Russell, Joe Lefley, Greg Frederick (Musa Manneh 71′), Michael Mignot (Jonathan Tyrell 82′), Isaac Marfo (Josh French 64′)
Goal-scorers: Michael Mignot [31′, 36′ & 50′], Joe Lefley [44′], Josh French [82′]
Booked: Appiah, McLeod, Russell, Walk | Subs Not Used: Bromley
Referee: Michael Scott