Essex Senior League
Venue: Lower Road
2018-19 Season – Match 40
Saturday 5th January 2019 – 3pm KO
Hullbridge Sports: Blue & White Striped Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Sawbridgeworth: Red and Black Hooped Shirts, Black Shorts, Red Socks
Report by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14) with Photos by Neil Hunwicks (Twitter: @ABridgeTooFar16) & Scott
2019 and the second half of the ESL season began in earnest for Hullbridge and Sawbridgeworth with what turned out to be a cracker at Lower Road. You’ve heard the phrase ‘Game of two halves’ a lot, this match was almost two matches in one. Hullbridge, looking to reduce the gap to leaders Stansted, had to make a late change as gooalkeeper Lorcan Morrissey (himself due to replace stand-out stopper George Marsh due to injury) suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up so in came Alfie Cross between the sticks. The ‘usual suspects’ of Luke Hornsley, Adebola Sotoyinbo and Nathan Scarborough made up a formidable front three for the hosts, with Matt Rose skippering the side and recent signing Courtney Homans at right-back.
Sawbridgeworth named promising goalkeeper James Askew in their starting XI, with Joe Wright and Ollie Fortune leading the line and Lewis Deamer captaining the side. Julien Lloyd was among those unavailable due to being banned. What interested me is would an improving Sawbo side pose Hullbridge problems after their Errington Cup exit last weekend to Hoddesdon. We soon got an answer…..
To be fair, the pitch was rather soft in places with added sand in both goal-mouths. Anyway, we had an enterprising start to this match as in the first minute, ‘Bridge midfield dynamo Emmanuel Okunja rifled an effort past James Askew’s left-side post. Mere minutes later, forward Nathan Scarborough unleashed a powerful drive which Askew had to parry away while skipper Matt Rose also scuffed a shot wide. Fellow forward Luke Hornsley was also ‘in the mood’ as after bypassing two Town defenders, he also fired wide.
The hosts could have been ahead though Sawbo also looked a threat on the counter-attack with winger Daryl Doolan and the front two of Wright and Fortune looking to stretch the home back-line. Indeed, the visitors struck first in this game as on 12 minutes, Doolan powered down the left flank and whipped in a peach of a cross which found forward Joe Wright and he fired home confidently.
John Watters’ side arguably had their best patch of the half just after the goal as just past the 20-minute mark, captain Lewis Deamer struck wide from a corner before minutes later, attempting to catch stand-in ‘keeper Alfie Cross off his goal-line, Wright sent a 40-yard lob wide of the ‘onion bag’. The tackles were starting to getting slightly crunchy as well at times, though Sawbridgeworth’s defence were frustrating the hosts to some degree and ‘keeper Askew also was commanding his area well and made decent saves as well.
On the half-hour, the hosts sensed they needed to find another gear and forward Adebola Sotoyinbo powered in an effort which Askew superbly tipped onto the woodwork. Two minutes later, Doolan had another half-chance, fizzing an effort over the bar.
On the cusp of half-time, the hosts got their leveller as from Rose’s cross, Sotoyinbo reacted first to grab a tap-in. It was the sort of game that could’ve been 2 – 2 at the break, it was that open though on chances alone, the hosts should have been level, even if the timing of the leveller felt like a ‘sucker-punch’ for the visitors.
Half-Time: Hullbridge 1 – 1 Sawbridgeworth
After the break, club stalwart Sam Taylor entered the action for the hosts, coming in at centre-back while Jamal Allen filled in the anchor midfield slot. Taylor immediately had an impact as he denied Wright a clear sight at goal for the visitors. With 54 minutes on the watch, Okunja composed himself in the area going round his marker though was again well-denied by the impressive Askew. The hosts were finding their rhythm by this stage as Sotoyinbo had a low shot cleared off the goal-line before Hornsley fired wide after being well-found by Scarborough.
What followed that was a devastating spell of five goals in 14 minutes, to which Sawbo simply had no answer. First, from Sam Taylor’s sweet corner, substitute Michael Salako’s neat header found the far corner of the net on 69 minutes. Only five minutes later, the hosts were two goals ahead as Scarborough was in the right place to poke home after Hornsley had been denied. Unfortunately for the tiring visitors, it didn’t end there as the hosts were right in the ascendancy.
With 14 minutes remaining, Hornsley was fouled in the area and Sotoyinbo stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and duly converted. The quick and tricky forward then got the goal of the game three minutes later with a superb 25-yard chip which sailed into the corner past a helpless Askew to also complete a fine hat-trick. Sawbo had a half-chance at the other end as after a lung-busting run, full-back Louis Monk blasted over the woodwork with nine minutes left. Soon after, the scoring was rounded off as from Scarborough’s cross, Salako powered home another header to secure a big win for Darren Manning’s side and quite a comeback.
Full-Time: Hullbridge 6 – 1 Sawbridgeworth
You had to feel somewhat sorry for the visitors as they didn’t deserve a hammering today, especially after their contribution to the game in the first-half. That being said, they faded quite heavily after the break – which boss Watters will be disappointed about. For Hullbridge though, their goal-power showed again and with that, they did no harm to their goal difference either. It’s not often you see goals pouring as they did here in the second-half and that ruthlessness will undoubtedly leave boss Manning and his coaching staff happy, as well as the home fans.
As ever, thank you to Hullbridge for their hospitality and also best wishes to Sawbo for the rest of their season.
Hullbridge Sports | Manager: Darren Manning
Alfie Cross (GK), Courtney Homans, Matt Rose (Capt), Jamal Allen, Perry Dunn, Joe Skeels (Sam Taylor 46′), Joe Pattison (Michael Salako 65′), Emmanuel Okunja, Adebola Sotoyinbo, Luke Hornsley (Jonus Fuadianitu 79′), Nathan Scarborough
Goal-scorers: Adebola Sotoyinbo [45′, 76′ & 79′], Michael Salako [69′ & 82′], Nathan Scarborough [74′]
Booked: Skeels | Subs Not Used: Tapley
Sawbridgeworth Town | Manager: John Watters
James Askew (GK), John Clarke, Louis Monk, Lewis Deamer (Capt), Jo Cunning, Tom Jelliman, Daryl Doolan (Taylor Williamson 84′),James Baughurst, Joe Wright, Ollie Fortune (Isaac Amoah 68′), Danny Palmer (George Froosham 77′)
Goal-scorer: Joe Wright [12′]
Booked: Wright, Fortune | Subs Not Used: Garrett