Essex Senior League
2018-19 Season – Match 59
Saturday 16th March 2019 – 3pm KO
Hoddesdon: White Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks
Stansted: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Stansted grind out a hard-fought win at Lowfield
Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
This weekend’s Essex Senior League match took me to Lowfield for the first time to see Hoddesdon battle leaders Stansted. Hoddesdon have had a very decent first season in the division, with their defence being one of the better ones in the league so the Airportmen knew they would be in for a tough game here. The Lilywhites made one change from last week’s narrow loss at Hullbridge, with Chris Webb coming in at right wing-back with Aiden Critchley on the other side and a front three of Cyrus Babaie, Joss Lillis and Blue Gallagher. Stansted retained Charlie Turner between the sticks and had wingers Jack Mitchell and Connor Hammond supporting forwards Callum Ibe and Ollie Bell, with Messrs Peagram, Mullings and Palmer all options on the bench.
In the early throngs of this contest, it was the hosts who had the better of the possession as the Airportmen lived up to their characteristics of defending stoutly. The first half-chance came on 13 minutes, with a free-kick found Hoddy centre-back Oliver Gnandi at the back-post though his header lacked the power to beat visiting stopper Charlie Turner, who gathered it compentently. At the other end, Stansted had a few forages forward though dangerous crosses were just out of reach of their intended targets. The windy conditions nearly had a telling hand in proceedings as a good ball in from winger Connor Hammond got caught up before cannoning off the Hoddesdon woodwork.
For the most part, it was the Lillywhites who had the better of the ball before the break, though clear-cut chances just were not there, due to combination of stubborn defending and that final ball for the hosts which wasn’t forthcoming. Even so, Paul Pittuck & Marc Benterman’s charges knew they needed to usher in an improvement after the break.
Half-Time: Hoddesdon 0 – 0 Stansted
Stansted did emerge after the break with renewed purpose, as they forced a few corners on-the-reel to give the Hoddy defence a headache. However, it was Simon Riddle’s side who arguably didn’t make the most of two decent chances. Five minutes into the half, forward Joss Lillis’ header forced Turner into action. Two minutes later, midfielder Scott Hayes bombed on and sent a tame effort wide of the far post with Turner committed. The deadlock was finally broken on 55 minutes as another Hammond corner arrowed into the six-yard line and after a goalmouth scramble, skipper Paul Clayton headed home to give Stansted the advantage.
Just after the hour, Stansted had a glimmer of that lead being doubled as centre-back Sam West’s dinked ball in found substitute Jordan Palmer who sent his header wide. As we entered the last 20 minutes, the hosts remained a threat as Lillis played in fellow forward Cyrus Babaie whose effort was well-parried by Turner. Stansted knew that they had to ‘stay on the front foot’ and minutes later, Ollie Bell’s 20-yard free-kick was well-denied by Hoddy goalkeeper Aaron Bull who was in no mood to concede again.
As the minutes slowly elapsed, Callum Ibe’s pace was stretching the home defence as on two occasions he beat the off-side trap though after good runs, he couldn’t get past Bull with two efforts on goal. In the end, the hosts didn’t quite had enough in terms of finishing to back up their decent ball rentention and defensive qualities as the Airportmen ground out another important three points.
Full-time: Hoddesdon 0 – 1 Stansted
As far as stand-out performances go today, although it was a solid team performance by Hoddesdon, forward Cyrus Babaie, ‘keeper Aaron Bull and centre-back Michael Elliott all had good games today I feel. For the Airportmen, centre-back Paul Clayton, winger Connor Hammond and and right-back Jamie Bennett stood out somewhat here as Stansted showed they can keep racking up the wins and with other results going for them, it sets up an exciting showdown with Hullbridge at the end of the month.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to Hoddesdon for their hospitality today and wish them well for the final month or so of the campaign.
Hoddesdon Town | Manager: Simon Riddle
Aaron Bull (GK), Chris Webb, Michael Elliott (Capt) (Mulik Rickman 76′), Jack Riddle, Oliver Gnandi, Sam Cross, Cyrus Babaie, Scott Hayes, Joss Lillis (Imani Matthews 85′), Blue Gallagher (Harrison Rockard 65′), Aiden Critchley
Booked: J Riddle, Elliott, Bull, Critchley | Subs Not Used: Ramthor, C Doherty
Stansted | Joint-Managers: Paul Pittuck & Marc Benterman
Charlie Turner (GK), Jamie Bennett, Joe Clark, Sam West, Paul Clayton, Rob Norris, Jack Mitchell (James Turvey 85′), Harvey Brown (Jordan Palmer 58′), Callum Ibe, Ollie Bell, Connor Hammond (James Peagram 70′)
Goal-scorer: Paul Clayton [55′]
Booked: Bell | Subs Not Used: Mullings, Buffin
Referee: Jide Ogunba