Essex Senior League
Venue: Mayesbrook Park
2019 – 20 Season: Match 21
Saturday 7th September 2019 – 3pm KO
W Essex: Yellow & Black Striped Shirts, Black Shorts, Yellow Socks
Woodford: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
West edge a attacking, high-tempo battle back at Mayesbrook
West Essex 3 – 2 Woodford Town
Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
This weekend’s match took me back to Mayesbrook Park, to see West Essex’s first home match of the season, as they took on Woodford Town in the Essex Senior League. The hosts named a strong side, with a back four of Sanchez Hardy, left-back Ben Leo plus centre-backs Tom MacLeod and Josh French with Brad Russell in central midfield and a front three of Hakim Medfai, Michael Mignot and Symeon Taylor. Callum Bloss, Izzy Ogedi-Uzokwe and Greg Frederick were on the bench. Woodford have been hit by injuries of late after a busy fixture schedule though Alex Reed retained his place in goal, with Frankie Naidoo joining Josh Steele at centre-back. Temi Babalola and Vladut Sighiartau made up their front two, though they were restricted to three substitutes – Mohammed Al-Dani, Connor Leon & Redha Zekri were those options.
Some matches are quiet, ‘slow-burners’. Not so here, in more ways than one. Right from the first minute of this encounter, the ‘Woodford Cultras’ fan group started noisily chanting as they usually do – fair play. Unfortunately for them, it was West who got themselves ahead after just three minutes in as a telling pass by midfielder Brad Russell found forward Michael Mignot who broke free of the attentions of the visiting defence and the on-rushing goalkeeper Alex Reed before slotting home coolly. That lead was only five minutes old though before Town equalised as a well-taken strike by Town winger Samir Ali breezed past Stags custodian Jack Coker and high into the net.
During the next phase of a entertaining contest, it was the visitors who showed the intent with Ali the chief threat from the visiting side with his pace, crossing and trickery. Ali himself also headed wide just past the quarter-hour. Minutes later though, Town fell behind for the second time as a corner was angled in toward the near post and skipper Tom MacLeod powerfully headed home giving Reed no chance. Again though, the gutsy visitors levelled six minutes later as a dangerous cross from the left by midfielder Georges Kebi as skewed over the line by a West defender, and despite a sprawling dive, home stopper Jack Coker could not prevent it going over the line. Woodford attackers Vladut Sighiartau and Temi Balalola were also posing problems, with Sighiartau striking wide from an acute angle on the half-hour.
Nine minutes before the break, Mignot found space again before sending a well-struck curler towards goal though Reed did very well to tip it round the far post. Meanwhile at the other head, Town skipper Andrea Mantovani’s free-kick sailed wide before Reed denied Mignot with his feet with the forward poised for a tap-in.
Half-Time: West Essex 2 – 2 Woodford Town
Quite the entertaining half we had then and we weren’t lacking in chances after the break either. West came out strongly and Reed was called into action again to deny Mignot and another MacLeod header, which he tipped onto the crossbar. Woodford were conceding a few free-kicks in the early stages of this half though on the hour, Sighiartau’s lofted shot whistled just over the woodwork before Babalola was thwarted by a strong block by West right-back Sanchez Hardy. Another pinch point of this contest cropped up on 73 minutes as a great effort by Sighiartau cannoned off the woodwork though Coker did really well to deny Babalola’s rebound.
Moments after that, West substitute Izzy Ogedi-Uzokwe was testing the strength and resolve of the Town back-line as he headed over. It was a prelude though to what was the winning goal as a searching pass by creative midfielder Joe Lefley found Mignot who again snuck in on goal and with only Reed to bypass, struck low to give the hosts the lead for the third time. The hosts could have made the points safe in the last few minutes though substitute Callum Bloss’ drive was palmed away by Reed before Mignot fired over. As we entered added-time, Woodford replacement Reidha Zekri did well to find Babalola though he was again denied by Coker as the Stags held on to claim another valuable three points.
Full-Time: West Essex 3 – 2 Woodford Town
In summary, West did deserve the win though you have to give credit to Woodford, who showed all the exuberant attacking spirit you expect from them, despite suffering with a number of players missing today. The Stags were no doubt buoyed by their win in the FA Vase in midweek and the spine of the side stood out for me today. Mignot showed again the value of a finisher, while recent returnee Brad Russell stood out with a number of good passes to the front-men, plus the gutsy skipper MacLeod at centre-back gives it everything and took his goal well. Target-man Ogedi-Uzokwe made an impact after coming on too.
For Woodford, goalkeeper Alex Reed had a fine match, making a fair few important saves in this match. Dynamic midfielder Georges Kebi also put in a very hard-working performance with surging runs through the middle and good passing. Not forgetting the energetic display of winger Samir Ali who was arguably the biggest threat for the visitors, particularly in the first half, as shown by his well-taken goal.
Finally, I’d like to thank West for the welcome they gave as ever, and wish Mihael the very best in his recovery following the serious injury he sustained in the original FA Vase tie eight days ago.
West Essex | Manager: Kwame Kwateng
Jack Coker (GK), Sanchez Hardy, Ben Leo, Tom MacLeod (Capt), Josh French, Emanuel Wazola, Brad Russell, Joe Lefley (Callum Bloss 80’), Michael Mignot, Hakim Medfai (Izzy Ogedi-Uzokwe 68’), Symeon Taylor (Cameron Gray 68’)
Goal-scorers: Michael Mignot [3’ & 76’], Tom MacLeod [22’]
Booked: Lefley | Subs Not Used: Walk, Frederick
Woodford Town | Manager: Dee Safer
Alex Reed (GK), Morgan Seaman, Ellis Routledge, Chris John (Mohammad Al-Dani 55’), Frankie Naidoo, Josh Steele, Samir Ali, Georges Kebi, Temi Babalola, Vladut Sighiartau (Reidha Zekri 82’), Andrea Mantovani (Capt) (Connor Leon 74’)
Goal-scorers: Samir Ali [8’], OG [28’]
Booked: Leon | Subs Not Used: None
Referee: Endrit Malaveci