Essex Senior League
Venue: Mile End Stadium
2018-19 Season – Match 65
Wednesday 3rd April 2019 – 7.45pm KO
Sporting Bengal: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Walthamstow: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Bengal hold off ‘Stow to obtain record-breaking win
Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
A ‘bonus’ midweek match saw me travel to Mile End to see Sporting Bengal face Walthamstow in what was Sporting’s final home match of the season. Bengal had come into this one in intermitten form at best, while ‘Stow have continued a superb winning run and were still looking to gain ground on the top-two of Hullbridge & Stansted. Bengal fielded Denzel Kobia in goal, with a strong midfield of Ashaan Siddik, Charles Gregory and Steven Carvell, who smashed two cracking free-kicks in their 4 – 3 home loss to Saffron Walden in their previous match. Tanvir Ahmed and teenagers Raul Gazi & Adil Haque were among the substitutes.
‘Stow also named a strong side, with a forward line of ESL Top-scorer Dwade James and Kieran Bishop, with exciting prospect Samrai Gebrai in support. Ollie Fortune and the returning Ryan Ramsay were among their bench. Both sides took a little while to ‘size each other up’ somewhat in the early stages of this contest though Walthamstow arguably had the better half-chances, with talisman Dwade James being denied a one-on-one oppurtunity with home stopper Denzel Kobia by the assistant referee’s flag. Kobia had to also be alert to tip over a Reece Conway free-kick which arrowed its way into the danger area.
Bengal did respond well as on 18 minutes, playmaker Ashaan Siddik found the ball 20-plus yards out and rifled a drive over the bar. Forward Jay Knight was also predictably causing issues for the well-drilled ‘Stow backline, peeling off to find space ahead of them and after a fine run by full-back Rokib Choudhury down the right, Walthamstow custodian James Bransgrove was ever-aware of the danger to smother the ball ahead of Knight. The Bengal forward also blasted over the bar moments later as ‘Stow uncharacteristically withdrew somewhat in terms of their attacking mindset. You could be forgiven for thinking they were very aware of how significant this match was for them.
It got worse for the visitors eight minutes before the break, as Knight again nipped in, beat his defender and placed his shot well, out of the reach of Bransgrove to break the deadlock.
Half-Time: Sporting Bengal 1 – 0 Walthamstow
I felt at the break that ‘Stow needed to raise their intensity, particularly going forward as although they carried a threat, they couldn’t quite find the final ball needed to pierce a quick Bengal backline. Indeed, it was the hosts who had the first opening after the interval as Knight cut inside well from the left before smashing a low drive from a narrow angle which Bransgrove did well to deny with his legs. To their credit, ‘Stow then had a decent spell and after James had headed wide from midfielder Nicky Symons’ free-kick, the Walthamstow striker spurned a decent chance, skewing a low strike wide of the far post with only Kobia to beat.
On the hour mark, Bransgrove had to make another double-save in a goal-mouth scramble as Bengal knew that they needed a second goal. As we entered the last twenty minutes of the match, an errant back pass by full-back Ross Pope nearly sold Bransgrove short and allowed Knight in though Bransgrove remained composed to gather. Minutes afterward, Bengal talisman Steven Carvell sent in a sweet through ball into the path of Knight though Bransgrove once again came out well to smother.
As the minutes ebbed away, Siddik made a superb lung-busting 50-yard run through the middle into the 18-yard box before Bransgrove gathered at his feet. Bengal did get their reward though in added-time as another telling pass by Carvell found Siddik who slotted home well and realistically end ‘Stow’s promotion hopes.
Full-time: Sporting Bengal Utd 2 – 0 Walthamstow
In terms of stand-out performances, for the hosts, Jay Knight showed his experience with Steven Carvell, Ashaan Siddik and Kamarl Duncan also making important contributions here. For Walthamstow, goalkeeper James Bransgrove did very well to limit the damage, given the one-on-one chances Bengal had. Dwade James and Semrai Gebrai also shone in the ‘Stow forward line.
Finally, it was great to see the reaction of the Bengal management staff & players post-match as they knew they had broken the club’s points record in the league for the second successive season. Credit has to go to boss Imrul Gazi and his team. You also have to say that Walthamstow’s long winning run has been superb and as the club’s Twitter feed mentioned prior to this match, they have had some season this term compared to last.
Sporting Bengal Utd | Manager: Imrul Gazi
Denzel Kobia (GK), Rokib Choudhury, Joshua Adeji, Corey Cameron, Kamarl Duncan (Capt), Moddu Jammeh, Charles Gregory, Ashaan Siddik, Steven Carvell, Jay Knight, Curtley McIntosh
Goal-scorers: Jay Knight [37′], Ashaan Siddik [90’+3]
Booked: McIntosh | Subs Not Used: R Gazi, Ahmed, Haque, Tandon
Walthamstow | Player-Manager: Ryan Maxwell
James Bransgrove (GK), Ross Pope (Jaffa Hussain 87′), Kyan Gulliver, Reece Conway (Capt), Craig Pope, Gus Douglas, Jack Folan, Nick Symons (Tage Kennedy 73′), Dwade James, Kieran Bishop (Ollie Fortune 79′), Semrai Gebrai
Booked: Conway | Subs Not Used: Maxwell, Ramsay
Referee: Gary Baker