Match Report: Hullbridge Sports 2 – 1 Stanway Rovers (Sat 27 Apr) [ESL 28.4.19]

Essex Senior League

Venue: Lower Road

Attendance: 419

2018-19 Season: Match 75

Saturday 27th April 2019 – 3pm KO

Hullbridge: Blue &White Striped Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks

Stanway:  Amber Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks

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Players pre-match, along with home mascots [Image: Scott W]

Hullbridge grab the win to secure their first ESL Title!!

Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14) with added photos by Neil Hunwicks [Twitter: @AbridgeTooFar16] & Hullbridge FC (@HullbridgeFC)

So this was it. The final day of the 2018-19 Essex Senior League campaign saw me return to Lower Road as part of a hefty crowd to see Hullbridge’s crunch match with Stanway Rovers, who have had an indifferent season. The equation was simple for Darren Manning’s team – win this match and Hullbridge’s first ESL title in nearly 30 years of being a member would be secure and with it, promotion to Bostik League North.

The anticipation for this one has risen in the last couple of weeks and the hosts fielded George Marsh between the sticks with George Whitby joining near ever-present Jamal Allen in central defence. The front three were Adebola Sotoyinbo, Joe Wright and Yemi Adelani with the likes of Nathan Scarborough and Luke Hornsley on an attack-minded substitutes’ bench. Stanway’s backline was comprised of full-backs Finn O’Reilly and skipper Tyler Kemp with Milo Grimes and Columbus Iyayi as centre-backs. Their forward line was led by target-man Mike Turner and the lively Amar Lewis.

To be fair to Rovers, they started the match well as they had an early sighter of goal though home custodian George Marsh was thankful to see sail wide. Forward Amar Lewis also presented a threat for Stanway, cutting inside from the left flank, reminding ‘Bridge that they needed to ‘stay on the front foot’ here. For the hosts, playmaker Matt Baxter certainly looked to set his team’s attacks going from deep, and on the quarter-hour, his ball fed full-back Courtney Homans whose telling cross was cut out well by Stanway skipper Tyler Kemp. Rovers ‘stopper Daniel Beeson was called into action moments later as after midfield engine Emmanuel Okunja scuffed his strike, forward Yemi Adelani struck the re-bound but to no avail.

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Action Still [Image: Scott W]
The hosts were gradually asserting themselves on-the-ball though Rovers made it difficult for them to pierce through their defence. Forward Joe Wright was giving Rovers a bit of a headache with his pace and trickery, peeling off the left though efforts from him and Baxter couldn’t bypass Beeson. With half-time approaching and the nerves steadily rising along with it, tricky forward Adebola Sotoyinbo made a surging run down the middle though his effort on goal lacked power as Beeson denied him and following-up, Adelani somehow struck over though his blushes were spared by the assistant’s raised flag. The lack of a final ball was affecting Hullbridge though after Rovers had scrambled the ball clear from not one but two goal-mouth scrambles, Okunja’s neat flick on the edge of the area found Adelani though he fizzed the ball wide of the far post.

Half-Time: Hullbridge 0 – 0 Stanway

As the second-half got underway, the home crowd thought they had cause to celebrate though centre-back George Whitby’s lashed strike was chalked off for off-side barely a minute after the re-start. Rovers were still in this contest as forward Mike Turner twice struck wide and only an important goal-line clearance by captain Matt Rose denied Stanway a goal that really would have added pressure on their hosts. Soon after that, news filtered though that rivals Stansted had fallen behind at Leyton Athletic so that added to the home crowd’s excitement. The Rovers side were starting to tire, though full-back Finn O’Reilly made a couple of lung-busting runs down the right channel, the second of which was well-marshalled by Sports centre-back Jamal Allen.

The deadlock was finally broken with 20 minutes remaining, much to the relief of the home fans. Sotoyinbo broke through the Rovers backline and coolly slotted low into the corner past Beeson whilst one-on-one, much to his side’s obvious delight. Beeson did well to deny Homans minutes later though he could do nothing about the hosts’ second goal. Substitute Luke Hornsley strike from a narrow angle was kept out by Beeson though on the edge of the box, Sotoyinbo’s crisp strike flew into the net to cue rapturous celebrations, both in the stands and on the field.

Stanway did half the arrears in added-time as from Scott Kemp’s good centre from the right, slack marking allowed substitute Jordan Blackman to nip in and slot home from close range. But in the grander scheme of things, with mere moments left before full-time, it was too little, too late.

Full-Time: Hullbridge  2 – 1  Stanway

Hullbridge WIN Essex Senior League Title & promotion to Bostik North.

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Trophy Presentation about to commence with players respecting each other in background [Image: Scott W]
As far as the match goes, it probably wasn’t Hullbridge’s stand-out performance this season, though these types of matches are seldom easy. It was a team showing today, though the front three of Sotoyinbo, Wright and Adelani all did well, even if the latter could have had two goals himself on other day. Centre-back Jamal Allen and playmaker Matt Baxter also had strong games, along with the influence of substitute Hornsley. For Stanway, their back four stood up well at times, with centre-back Columbus Iyayi making a number of important interceptions. Winger Scott Kemp and Amar Lewis also stood out in my view today.

So, the match was done and the celebrations could begin, first with the trophy presentation. Both of which you could say the players, management and off-field team really savoured. To be fair, why wouldn’t you? It’s been a hard season, which shows the depth and quality of the league at times, four teams got more than 75 points so that says a bit.

To close this report, I am happy to see Hullbridge progress into a new chapter into their history and you have to recall the turnaround that’s happened after the tough season last time out. Manager Darren Manning has driven this club to those said new heights in his first full season in management so he & his management team deserve plaudits for that.

In a way, it is sad that they leave the ESL as they are a credit to themselves, the league and Non-League football in general. I sincerely wish them well next season, and it’s been good to partly cover their journey over the last three years in the ESL & beyond.

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Management Duo Manning (R) & Wakeling (L) with the trophy [Image: Scott W]
Teams

Hullbridge Sports   | Manager: Darren Manning

George Marsh (GK), Courtney Homans, Matt Rose (Capt), Jamal Allen, George Whitby, Dan Okah, Emmanuel Okunja (Dan Okah 56’), Matt Baxter (Joe Skeels 86’), Adebola Sotoyinbo, Joe Wright (Nathan Scarborough 65’), Yemi Adelani (Luke Hornsley 57’)

Goal-scorers: Adebola Sotoyinbo [70’ & 87’]

Booked: Whitby   | Subs Not Used: Morrisey (GK), Monsheju

Stanway Rovers    | Manager: Danny Slatter

Daniel Beeson (GK), Finn O’Reilly, Tyler Kemp (Capt), Milo Grimes, Columbus Iyayi, Jett Hogan, Scott Kemp, Ruben Kennedy, Jack Puzey (Jordan Blackman 85’), Mike Turner (Niah Beecher 71’), Amar Lewis (Frank Tiffney 85’)

Goal-scorer: Jordan Blackman [90’+3]

Booked: Kennedy, S Kemp | Subs Not Used: None

Referee: Paul Newman

Preview: Essex Senior League (Final Day – Sat 27 Apr) [Fri 26.4.19]

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Archive: Title Rivals Stansted & Hullbridge face off back on March 30th

Written by Scott W   [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Hello and a warm welcome to the final preview piece this season, looking at the ten ties that take place on the last day of the Essex Senior League campaign. There are still a few issues to be ironed out, chiefly this – who will be crowned Champions?

Thank you to all the regular readers of this column this season. Enjoy.

Sat 27 April

———

Barkingside  v  Hoddesdon Town   | Cricklefield

‘Side entertain Hoddesdon at Cricklefield, just two weeks after their reserve side sent the Lilywhites out of the Peter Butcher Trophy. Alex Goldstone’s side have averted finishing bottom of the league after three wins in their last seven matches though lost out last time out at West Essex ten days ago. Hoddy were held by Tower Hamlets last weekend in the only ESL match then. This may be a ‘dead rubber’ though both sides will want to end the campaign well, I’ll go for a narrow home win.

Scott’s Prediction:  2 – 1

Clapton    v    Sporting Bengal Utd  | Old Spotted Dog |

Sporting Bengal travel to the Old Spotted Dog to face Clapton in what is Jonny Fowell’s final match in charge of the Tons. They won late at Takeley ten days ago to give them only their second win in their last seven matches. Sporting return to league action here after a break, with their last league outing being a loss at Southend Manor three weeks ago. A top-eight finish is assured for them already though they could go 7th with a win. I feel the hosts will want to give their manager a good send-off though and therefore am going for a home win.

Scott’s Prediction: 2 – 1

 

Hullbridge Sports  v  Stanway Rovers   | Lower Road  |

For Hullbridge… this is it. They entertain Stanway at Lower Road knowing that only a win would absolutely guarantee their first ESL championship and elevation to Bostik League Division North. Only one loss in their last eight shows they are up there form-wise though this may be a different type of ‘pressure’ they face here. Rovers are on the face of it limping their way toward the end of the campaign in terms of results with four losses in their last seven though did confirm Danny Slatter at their permanent boss last week.

You know what they say about ‘Football isn’t played on paper’ and the understandable nerves will persist right until kick-off you suspect for the hosts. Stanway did hold West Essex last weekend at home and do have some talent in their side though if I’m being candid, I’d be pretty surprised if ‘Bridge did not ‘finish the job’ here and crown off a stellar season.

I’ll be at this game and it could well be an emotional one.

Scott’s Prediction: 3 – 1

 

Leyton Athletic  v  Stansted   |Wadham Lodge Stadium |

Stansted travel to Wadham Lodge to face bottom side Leyton Athletic. The Airportmen know they have to win to have any chance of usurping Hullbridge and taking the title. Leyton have lost their last five league matches so it would seem they are good opposition to face here. Stansted will be buoyed by their GBT success though and five wins in their last seven league games shows their consistent streak, which they have maintained all season.

This could go one or two ways, if Messrs Pittuck & Benterman’s team start strongly then it could be a goal-fest though they could also be frustrated by their hosts. That said, you have to go away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 0 – 3

 

Saffron Walden Town  v  Woodford Town  | Catons Lane

Walden’s first season back in the Essex Senior concludes with this interesting battle with another attack-minded side in Woodford at Catons Lane. Five wins in their last seven for Jason Maher’s team gives them a shot at a top-three finish, if other results go in their favour. They held off a late comeback by Manor two weeks ago to win then and have amassed 105 league goals this season, comfortably the highest-scorers in the division. Woodford are the third-highest scorers themselves so this could be an entertaining affair. Have to go with a home win here though.

Scott’s Prediction: 3 – 2

 

Sawbridgeworth Town    v   Enfield  | Crofters  |

Sawbridgeworth end their campaign with this home match with Enfield at Crofters. John Watters’ side have had a very tough campaign are winless in their last 12 matches. They got a creditable draw at St Margaretsbury two weeks ago in their last match. Incredibly, eight of their ten wins this season have come at home though and need to win to try to avoid finishing in the bottom three. Enfield defeated Clapton in their last match two weeks ago. Matt Hanning’s team have won two of their last three matches and could still finish as high as 11th with a win here, subject to other results going their way. Going to plump for a narrow away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

 

Southend Manor   v   Walthamstow | Southchurch Park |

Manor entertain Walthamstow in their final match. Adam Peek’s side are on an upturn with five wins in their last seven though narrowly lost out at Saffron Walden two weeks ago. They will look to leap out of the bottom five with a win though ‘Stow are also in super nick with nine wins in their last ten matches and they know a win would cement a hard-earned third-place finish. ‘Stow deafeat St Margaretsbury in their last match three weeks ago though would still reckon they will ‘do the job here’.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 3

 

St Margaretsbury     v     Redbridge      | The Rec  |

‘Bury welcome Redbridge to the Rec after a spirited display in their loss to Stansted in the Gordon Brasted Trophy Final on Easter Monday. A win here would secure seventh place in what has still been a good campaign for them. The Motormen have struggled to claim wins recently having also been somewhat depleted and lost out at home to Stansted last time out. Will the hosts’ young side be able to snuff out the guile of finishers like Dan Gilchrist? That’s what interests me. Gut instinct says narrow away win.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 2

 

Takeley   v  Ilford   | Station Road |

Takeley see out their campaign at home to the Foxes at Station Road.Marc Das’ side lost out late on to Clapton ten days back though are still strong with ‘home comforts’ Their overall form has been mixed of late and their opponents here are stronger away from Cricklefield as well. Martin Haywood’s side have won four of their last six and know that another three points will secure a top-ten finish. Getting past the miserly Takeley defence is seldom an easy task though and I feel compelled to head for a home win.

Scott’s Prediction: 3 – 1

 

West Essex  v  Tower Hamlets    | Mayesbrook Park |

The Stags play their last league match at Mayesbrook before it joins the ‘3G revolution’ next term as they face Tower Hamlets. West defeated Barkingside last time out and a win here could see them sneak inside the top ten. They may have the Errington Cup Final on their minds but they will seek to continue a good run of only one loss in their last six matches. Hamlets held Hoddesdon last week and are also in good touch with two losses in their last six outings. Draw for me.

Scott’s Prediction: 1 – 1

That’s all from the Preview pieces this term. Look out for the Round-up on Sunday/Monday. Cheers for reading.