Eastern Senior League – South Division
Venue: Park Lane
2021-22 Season: Match 49
Saturday 15th January 2022 – 3pm KO
Benfleet: Sky Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Sky Blue Socks
Buckhurst Hill: White Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Benfleet deny Buckhurst Hill in hard-fought match
Benfleet 1 – 1 Buckhurst Hill
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
This weekend’s match was a fascinating encounter at Park Lane which saw two of the current top four sides in the Eastern Senior League South clash as Benfleet welcomed promotion-chasing Buckhurst Hill. Both sides have had something of an extended break from action of late but with other sides in the top six having played more matches already, that might be in both teams’ favour come April. Benfleet named Daniel Smith as their goalkeeper, with a back four of Darnell Shakes, Joe Hunter & centre-backs MacKenzie Davidson and Sonny Hartman. Ben Foord led the forward line as ever, with support from Rob Lacey and skipper Aaron Russell. Options on the bench included forwards Billy Bonham-Dare and Mason Shave and centre-back Cameron Harris.
Buckhurst were keen to grab another win here to keep tabs on rivals Ipswich Wanderers and had regular custodian Daniel Blockley in goal, with Alfie Harris and Henry Day as centre-backs and Liam Foster & Edward Buchanan as the attack-minded full-backs. Captain Suleyman Zuhdu led their attack, with support from the Sollosi brothers (Sam & Nathan). Their substitutes included Brad Rowland, Sonny Shilling and Max Nicholson.
The match began with Buckhurst Hill having more possession and therefore having more impetus to break the deadlock. On seven minutes, after Josh Banfield had been involved in the build-up, full-back Liam Foster’s centre found forward Suleyman Zuhdu who retained the ball well just inside the Benfleet penalty area before firing a speculative overhead kick which home stopper Daniel Smith had to gather.
The visitors were showing their high work rate & energetic style of Football, which forced Benfleet to deal with several waves of forward moves from their opposition, although Buckhurst did not create a huge array of clear chances as they sought to regain their clinical finishing. Zuhdu sent in another powerful free-kick which Smith was equal to, before the half-hour though Buckhurst’s final ball was eluding them on occasion.
Benfleet were focused on keeping things tight and were grateful for several important defensive blocks by Sonny Hartman to keep things level, as well as the alertness of goalkeeper Daniel Smith. A minute before the interval, their miserly attitude defensively was rewarded as Hartman took advantage of a momentary lapse of concentration from the visitors to head home a set-piece at the near post and altogether change the tone of this match.. and the half-time team talks along with it.
Half-Time: Benfleet 1 – 0 Buckhurst Hill
Unsurprisingly, Buckhurst were fired up after the break to get themselves level and Zuhdu was in good form, piercing the home defence on 55 minutes, sprinting to the loose ball ahead of the onrushing Smith but with the ‘Fleet custodian off his goal-line, Zuhdu’s curling finish was headed away on the line by a well-positioned home defender. Rapid winger Nathan Sollosi also had a decent header well thwarted from a set-piece thanks to determined defending by Rob Polkinghorn’s side. At the other end, Benfleet were still decent on the counter, and forward Aaron Russell was unlucky to see a fine strike cannon back off the crossbar with visiting goalkeeper Blockley beaten.
It was becoming apparent that it may not be Buckhurst’s day when they were awarded a penalty, seconds after they had the ball in the net. Tyler Dolan stepped up to take it from twelve yards, but Smith was in no mood to concede, making a fine save. However, Mark Williams’ team did get a deserved goal on sixty-three minutes as from the right side of the 18-yard area, Nathan Sollosi fired home a superb low effort which found the bottom left corner, giving Smith no chance of preserving his clean sheet.
Again, Buckhurst pushed for a decisive goal in the latter stages, with full-back Foster firing wide from a narrow angle and Zuhdu was well-denied by Smith after once again evading the ‘Fleet backline and only had the goalkeeper to bypass. The last key moment of the match came in added time as with Benfleet admirably trying to stifle the rapid forward moves of the visitors, they conceded another spot-kick. Centre-back Henry Day took the responsibility of taking the penalty, but again Smith underlined his good perormance by making a good penalty save, for the second time in the match.
Soon after, the final whistle blew on a match that had a lot of intrigue and good attacking build-up play though not the goals that many may have thought.
Full-Time: Benfleet 1 – 1 Buckhurst Hill
To sum up this match, Buckhurst Hill had enough ball retention in the first half but couldn’t make the most of the chances they had. Benfleet’s goal just before half-time altered the complexion of the game and although the visitors scored a fine leveller, they were not their usual clinical selves in terms of their finishing. In fairness, both sides were lacking some rhythm, after an extended break from action recently though ‘Fleet will be the happier of the two sides, having got a point.
As ever, there were a number of good performances in this entertaining match. For Benfleet, stopper Daniel Smith had an excellent day, denying penalties from Tyler Dolan and then Henry Day in added-time, which added to fine saves to deny Buckhurst talisman Suleyman Zuhdu. Centre-back Sonny Hartman also shone, making several important defensive blocks as well as scoring his side’s goal with a near-post header. Aaron Russell also did well & was unfortunate to not score from a fine strike. Joe Hunter also showed good energy at left-back.
For Buckhurst, creative midfielder Josh Banfield made several fine passes & some good interceptions. Forward Nathan Sollosi scored a fine leveller & made a number of good runs while Suleyman Zuhdu showed good work rate and was only denied from getting on the score-sheet thanks to fine defending. Lastly, Louis Wynter had a good game as well getting in good positions and setting up good forward moves.
Best wishes to both sides for the remainder of the season.
Benfleet | Manager: Rob Polkinghorn |
Starting XI: 1 Daniel Smith (GK), 2 Darnell Shakes, 3 Joe Hunter, 5 MacKenzie Davidson, 6 Sonny Hartman, 4 Stephen Ellery, 8 Taylor Lawrence (14 Billy Bonham-Dare 66′), 7 Aaron Russell (Capt) (17 Sam Dulieu 83′), 9 Ben Foord (12 Mason Shave 70′), 10 Robert Lacey, 11 Henry Sims
Goal-scorer: Sonny Hartman [44′]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Harris, Scott
Buckhurst Hill | Manager: Mark Willams |
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Daniel Blockley (GK), 2 Liam Foster (18 Max Nicholson 77′), 3 Edward Buchanan (12 Keaton Moore 55′), 4 Alfie Harris, 15 Henry Day, 16 Louis Wynter, 8 Josh Banfield, 14 Tyler Dolan, 7 Sam Sollosi (21 Sonny Shilling 61′), 10 Suleyman Zuhdu (Capt), 11 Nathan Sollosi
Goal-scorer: Nathan Sollosi [63′]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Falola, Rowland
Referee: Steven Marr
Assistants: Michael Jarvis & Amy Purser