Essex Olympian League – Premier Division
Venue: Roding Lane (Stadium Pitch)
2020-21 Season: Match 28
Saturday 24th April 2021 – 2.30pm KO
Buckhurst Hill: Blue & Black Striped Shirts, Black Shorts, Red & Black Socks
Harold Wood: Sky Blue & White Shirts, Sky Blue Shorts, Sky Blue Socks
Buckhurst seal fifth consecutive League win at Roding Lane
Buckhurst Hill 5 – 0 Harold Wood Athletic
Match Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
The weekend’s Non-League adventure took me to Roding Lane for a first visit since the facilities have been upgraded (last summer). This Essex Olympian League Premier Division match saw Buckhurst Hill having to face a tricky test in Harold Wood Athletic, managed by ex-Barkingside boss Alex Goldstone. The hosts had to do without top goal-scorer Suleyman Zuhdu as well who was unavailable. Tyler Dolan led the forward line here, with the Sollosi brothers, Nathan & Sam being his chief support. Josh Banfield skippered the side, alongside Jack Griggs in central midfield. Harold Wood were also missing several players from their squad, which severely restricted their substitute options, but could still field rugged centre-back Matthew Donovan, alongside James Ishmail in central defence. Support from the flanks came from wingers Jack Sykes-Brown and Chris Denham, with skipper Rob Whitnell and Josh Steel in attack.
In great conditions for Sport, the match got going with both sides looking to wrestle the momentum and therefore it was a little bit of a cagey, slow-burn start. One thing was clear, Buckhurst left-sided pair Liam Foster and Nathan Sollosi were getting some joy over-loading on that side, finding space but in the early-going at least, the chances on goal did not arise. Indeed it was the visitors who tested the alertness levels of home custodian Daniel Blockley on seven minutes, as Blockley superbly tipped over a sweet curling free-kick from experienced forward Robert Whitnell which was heading for the top corner. You may not be surprised to read that Jill continued with their patient build-up play and kept faith with their attack-minded ethos. It nearly paid dividends with 17 minutes on the clock as another good weaving run by the tricky winger Sam Sollosi fed forward Tyler Dolan though his glimmer at goal ended sailing over the goal frame.
Visiting goalkeeper Steven Reynolds was in action again four minutes later as a good Hill attack ended with a curling strike from Foster which Reynolds did well to gather. At the other end, Wood’s forays forward were becoming a little less frequent by this stage, though a powerful free-kick by winger Jack Sykes-Brown was well gathered by Blockley. Moments after Dolan had a decent header denied by Reynolds, it would be the home side who broke the deadlock. Athletic could not clear their lines sharply enough and a fine strike from 25 yards by central midfielder Jack Cripps sailed in low into the corner past Reynolds for a fine opening goal. Hill finished the half strongly as well as five minutes before the break, a free-kick from twenty yards out was curled over the woodwork by Sam Sollosi but that was another warning for the visitors.
Unfortunately, Alex Goldstone’s were unable to see out the last few minutes of the half as on 42 minutes, winger Nathan Sollosi came into possession and fired a low drive which just evaded Reynolds and found the far corner. Two clinical strikes were the difference at the interval but in fairness, it was Mark Williams’ side who more than shaded both the possession stats and keenness to create opportunities.
Half-Time: Buckhurst Hill 2 – 0 Harold Wood Athletic
After the interval, Buckhurst continued with their passing game, out from defence with centre-back Henry Day particularly keen to set the tone and the pace of attacking moves. Another decent move involving captain Josh Banfield and Day ended up with Sam Sollosi not getting enough venom on his goal-bound effort which gave Reynolds ample chance to gather comfortably. Just after the fifty-minute mark, it was a four-minute spell which effectively ended the contest. Firstly on 51 minutes, a Buckhurst counter-attack saw Dolan in goal with only Reynolds to bypass and the forward calmly struck home with a low strike into the left-side corner to make his side three-nil up. Merely four minutes after that, Dolan was again presented with a clear run at goal and again he buried it with an opportunistic finish as the spirits of the visiting side were starting to ebb away.
To be fair to Harold Wood even though they did struggle to create enough chances to consistently test home ‘keeper Blockley, they did still venture forward. Midway through the half, a good effort from Sykes-Brown found Blockley ever-alert and showing good positional awareness to gather well. The hosts brought on a number of replacements in the latter stages, including full-back Brad Gayer and forwards Zachary Davidson & Fehinti Falola but it was fair to say the tempo of the game was slowing but Hill were still keen to improve their goal difference.
With four minutes left, Sam Sollosi found himself one-on-one with Reynolds but the stopper managed to fumble the ball wide for a corner. He wasn’t so fortunate moments later as Falola had to score from close range, but Reynolds denied his first effort but it was to no avail as Falola was able to turn in the rebound to seal a good afternoon’s work for the defending champions, who remain five points clear at the summit with above five weeks of the ‘mini-season’ remaining.
Full-Time: Buckhurst Hill 5 – 0 Harold Wood Athletic
In summary, Buckhurst were too strong and fluid in their attacking moves for Harold Wood to cope with, and the hosts have done that to many sides in the last few seasons. The lack of options off the bench also made it more awkward for Alex Goldstone’s side, who had to name both his assistants on the bench today. Before kick-off, you’d be tempted to think that without talisman Suleyman Zuhdu and with ‘guest’ forward Callum Ibe limping out of the warm-up with a groin niggle, it may not have been their day but before the hour was reached, Hill more or less sealed the game thanks to the sheer depth of their squad and their attacking ethos.
In terms of stand-out performances, Buckhurst may have another promising forward joining a long line of contemporaries in Tyler Dolan, who deserved his two goals and led the line well with both the Sollosi brothers in support. Nathan Sollosi in particular showed good awareness down the left channel and a good passing range. He also linked up well with wing-back Liam Foster, who also had a fine afternoon showing good energy levels, willingness to run in behind the opposition full-back and a good cross or two along with it. Centre-back Henry Day also marshalled the backline well and even drove forward on a few lung-busting runs forward in possession too.
For Harold Wood, winger Jack-Sykes-Brown showed the most impetus going forward and kept going pretty much all match and his runs and passing showed he could be one to watch. Centre-back Matthew Donovan was his usual miserly self in defence and broke up a few promising Hill attacks and kept his side going on-pitch too. Forward Robert Whitnell also merits a mention as despite not receiving the array of service he’d like, he still made a few good runs and battled on in his characteristic way to try and give his side a glimmer of hope but it wasn’t to be today.
If you’d like to view the week’s Olympian League round-up, you can do so here: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2021/04/25/s20-21-round-ups-essex-olympian-league-sat-24-april/
I’d also like to thank the hosts, in particular Buckhurst boss Mark Williams who is a great advocate of the Olympian League as well as supportive of the likes of myself & my Non-League media colleagues. If Buckhurst do get promoted in the summer, they will be missed, on-pitch & off it too.
Buckhurst Hill | Manager: Mark Williams
Starting XI: 1 Daniel Blockley (GK), 2 Alfie Harris, 3 Liam Foster, 4 Henry Day, 5 Max Nicholson, 6 Jack Griggs, 7 Sam Sollosi, 8 Joshua Banfield (Capt), 15 Louis Wynter, 10 Tyler Dolan, 11 Nathan Sollosi
Subs On: 12 Bradley Gayer [57’], 18 Daniel Whitehead [57’], 17 Zachary Davidson [67’], 16 Fehinti Falola [79’]
Goal-scorers: Jack Griggs [31’], Nathan Sollosi [42’], Tyler Dolan [51’ & 55’], Fehinti Falola [89’]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Ibe
Harold Wood Athletic | Manager: Alex Goldstone
Starting XI: 1 Steven Reynolds (GK), 2 Jacob Roberts, 3 Jack Baines, 4 James Ishmail, 5 Ben Dosad, 6 Matthew Donovan, 7 Jack Sykes-Brown, 8 Dan Johnson, 9 Robert Whitnell (Capt), 14 Josh Steel, 11 Chris Denham
Subs On: 15 Max Sheppard [23’]
Booked: None | Subs Not Used: Benson, S Williams
Referee: Kevin Nicholson
Assistant Referees: Keith Gold & Margarit Tsekov