Essex Senior League
Venue: Brickfield Lane
Season 2020-21: Match 6
Date: Saturday 5 September 2020 – 3pm KO
Hadley: Red Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks
Woodford: Royal Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Hadley start the Essex Senior with resounding win over Woodford
Hadley 4 – 0 Woodford Town
Match Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
After a nearly six-month break, it was great to kick off the new Essex Senior season with a trip to Brickfield Lane, as Hadley welcomed Woodford Town. Hadley have kept the nucleus of last season’s squad, which had a large amount of experience and quality. Manager Anthony Clark named a strong side featuring a front three of Solomon Ofori, Jordan Edwards and Shaz Anwar in a supporting role. Evergreen skipper Paul Wright remained at the heart of the defence, alongside stalwarts Sam Edwards and Alfie Bartram in midfield and left-back respectively, with the likes of Cameron Ferguson, Emmanuel Hammond and Luke Jupp on the bench here.
Woodford seem to have undergone a squad overhaul but still had the known names of James Scammell between the sticks, and skipper Andrea Montovani and Samir Ali in midfield, with new number nine Rigert Rama leading the line here. Among their substitutes was last week’s FA Cup hero Luke Parrott, Frankie Litcheri and Richard Oluwatoyin.
The game began at a decent pace, with the Bricks clear in their goal to get into the ascendancy early. Hadley had a few early sighters on the target in the first fifteen minutes, with forward Solomon Ofori twice unable to get smart strikes on-target. Home centre-back Bradley Marriott also powerfully headed over the goal frame from a well-directed set-piece as we approached the quarter-hour. Woodford had one early half-chance though forward Rigert Rama was denied a clear strike at goal by the ever-stubborn home backline. Soon after that quarter-hour had passed, Town goalkeeper James Scammell did well to advance and deny Hadley midfielder Luke Alfano a clear-cut strike at goal.
As it turned out, Hadley were not to be denied the lead as on 25 minutes, a well-timed rapid run by Ofori down the right channel got the better of his marker before his centre found Alfano who made no mistake with the finish past Scammell. And before Woodford could re-focus, the hosts doubled their lead two minutes later as Solomon Ofori controlled a long ball forward well before sending a low strike past the over-worked Woodford stopper, into the net. Hadley were playing some really neat football at this point and a move involving attacking full-back Alfie Bartram and Ofori ended with forward Jordan Edwards heading over.
Woodford’s stand-out chance of the half came eight minutes before the interval, with good wing play by skipper Andrea Montovani down the right flank finding Rama though his superb drive was well-tipped over the crossbar by home custodian Luke Ward.
Half-Time: Hadley 2 – 0 Woodford Town
The hosts had a decent lead at the break, but you still had the feel the match wasn’t over just yet. Two minutes into the second half, a rare blemish by home ‘keeper Ward saw his attempted clearance cannon back off substitute Richard Oluwatoyin and sail narrowly wide of the left-side post. To be fair to Woodford, their energy was there in tracking back defensively in the first part of the half and the sheer pace of the game started to drop a little. Just when you thought the game was fizzling out, Hadley extended their lead just before the hour mark as again Solomon Ofori was well-picked out before lobbing Scammell well to make three-nil.
As we passed the midway point of the half, a fine lung-busting run by Woodford midfielder Oluwatoyin out of defence into the opposition half was well stopped by home midfielder Teddy Stacey. It was at this point of the match where Woodford had a bit more possession and with it, winger Dimitrios Eapsokostas was causing a problem or two down the left flank with his fleet-footed skill and pace. On 76 minutes, a rare Town corner found centre-back Empochantsif who made a well-judged leap but sent his header wide of goal.
It wasn’t until the last few minutes that Hadley added further gloss to the score-sheet as a defensive mishap allowed forward Jordan Edwards in on goal and he struck home past Scammell confidently to end a fine performance by the hosts. It would be remiss of me not to mention the Towners fans, who as ever sang and kept singing despite the result not going their way today.
Full-Time: Hadley 4 – 0 Woodford Town
Being earnest, Woodford were just not able to conjure up the performance level they showed in their FA Cup exploits in midweek. But take nothing away from another impressive showing at home by Hadley, echoing the fine start they made in their opening game of last season, thirteen months ago now (Isn’t it good to Non-League Football back!)
On this showing, you’d be a brave soul to predict against the Bricks getting at least a top-four finish in the Essex Senior this term, alongside the likes of Walthamstow, Hashtag Utd and Saffron Walden Town. So in terms of stand-out performers, although Woodford had a ‘tough day at the office’, mentions deserve to go to midfield craftsman Andrea Montovani, centre forward Rigert Rama, centre-back Evangelos Empochantsif and energetic full-back Shaye La Rose.
For Hadley, forward Solomon Ofori will be happy to notch twice here after a fine season last term on the goals front. Fellow forwards Shaz Anwar and Jordan Edwards also deserve a mention for testing the visiting back-line, Edwards himself getting on the score-sheet late on. Lastly, a mention has to go to goalkeeper Luke Ward who made two very good saves on a fairly quiet afternoon for him. Finally, I’d like to wish both clubs the very best for the season ahead.
Hadley | Manager: Anthony Clark | Assistant: Junior Matti
1 Luke Ward (GK), 2 Billy Baird, 3 Alfie Bartram, 4 Paul Wright (Capt), 5 Bradley Marriott, 6 Teddy Stacey, 7 Solomon Ofori (14 Cameron Ferguson 62’), 8 Luke Alfano (17 Edward Davis 80’), 9 Jordan Edwards, 10 Shaz Anwar, 11 Sam Edwards
Goal-scorers: Luke Alfano [25’], Solomon Ofori [27 & 58’], Jordan Edwards [88’]
Subs Not Used: Buraimoh, E Hammond
Woodford Town | Manager: Dee Safer | Assistant: Wayne St Louis
1 James Scammell (GK), 2 Harry Barrett, 3 Shaye La Rose, 4 David Ola (15 Zain Morfea 66’), 5 Evangelos Empochantsif, 6 Jack Newbury-Neale (16 Richard Oluwatoyin 46’), 7 Samir Ali, 8 Harry Markatis (18 Frankie Licheri 54’), 9 Rigert Rama, 13 Andrea Montovani (Capt), 11 Dimitrios Eapsokostas
Subs Not Used: Parrott, C St Louis
Referee: Zack Moules
Assistant Referees: Stephen Bainbridge & Peter Jago