Isthmian League – Division North
Venue: Lower Road
2021-22 Season: Match 17
Monday 30th August 2021 – 3pm KO
Hullbridge: Blue & White Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Witham: Yellow Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Yellow Socks
Resilent Witham win narrowly at Lower Road
Hullbridge Sports 0 – 1 Witham Town
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
with added photos by Neil Hunwicks [@ABridgeTooFar16]. Used with permission & thanks.
We had an added treat on this August Bank Holiday Monday with a rare trip into the Isthmian League via local club Hullbridge Sports, as they welcomed an early form side in Witham Town to Lower Road. The new-look Hullbridge side are still gelling it would seem as they’ve lost both League matches thus far, whilst Witham had won both of theirs. Darren Manning’s side elected to field ex-Witham stopper Luca Collins in goal, with a defence of full-backs Rhamar Garrett-Douglas and Callum Thompson with Jake Knight and Dexter Peter skippering the side & making his return after a long-term injury. The forward line was led by ex-Redbridge forward Tony Martin, with support from Lewis Francis and Joao Carlos. From the sidelines, the options included stalwart Matt Rose and recent additions in Charlie Cole, Michael Mignot and Nathan Scarborough. Witham had experienced goalkeeper Rob Budd between the posts, with Kye Jude and captain Billy Willis in central defence. Their forward line consisted of former ‘Bridge hero Luke Hornsley and Ben Search, with support from the flanks by Adam Cheniti and Amaree Robinson-Jones. On their bench were forwards Chinedu Osadebe and Chris Taylor and prospects Jordi Popple and Jamahi Godward.
In the early stages of this match, it was the visitors who first sent a warning of their intent as five minutes in, a cross in by forward Luke Hornsley was half-cleared by the ‘Bridge defence, but strike partner Ben Search fired in a fine strike but home custodian Luca Collins could gather well enough. The home side responded two minutes later as a set-piece was delivered into the danger area and centre-back Jake Knight’s header was somehow cleared off the goal-line in the nick of time.
Unsurprisingly, that provoked a reaction in Marc Benterman’s team and in a good forward move, winger Amaree Robinson-Jones found Hornsley before the latter fired narrowly wide of goal. Hullbridge were starting to find their rhythm, buoyed by midfielder Brad Russell’s creative passes and were well-denied on 16 minutes. From a Lewis Francis free-kick, central midfielder Lewis Watson rose highest and his header was saved well at point-blank range by Witham ‘keeper Rob Budd. The chances were starting to come for Hullbridge but they couldn’t find the finishing to really open up a commmanding lead. Joao Carlos and Francis were both unable to defeat Budd when well-placed soon afterward.
All the while, the visitors were showing they were more than decent on the counter-attack, with wingers Adam Cheniti and Robinson-Jones showing good pace and movement to test the home backline. Hornsley had a decent strike chalked off for off-side which denied Witham the lead on the half-hour, before the hosts lost Brad Russell to a hamstring injury seven minutes before half-time, with Charlie Cole replacing him. Home forward Tony Martin was showing good link-up play but they squandered another decent chance on the half-time whistle as from full-back Rhamar Garrett-Douglas’ set-piece, forward Charlie Cole could only head wide of the target.
Half-Time: Hullbridge 0 – 0 Witham
After the break, Witham did force a couple of set-pieces in the first ten minutes of the second period. On fifty-two minutes, more good work by Hornsley in the build-up found the advancing Adam Cheniti whose effort on goal was well-saved by Collins. The hosts’ struggles with finishing promising moves continued on the hour as Callum Thompson fizzed in another good cross from the left side though Cole unfortunately couldn’t connect with it as it sailed wide.
Hullbridge paid a hefty price for not taking the chances they had as Witham broke the deadlock on sixty-two minutes. Substitute Chinedu Osadebe had his initial shot blocked by a well-placed defender but the ball ran on to Cheniti and lashed a low strike past the dive of Collins into the right-side corner. Hullbridge pushed hard to find a equalizer, putting on substitutes Nathan Scarborough and Michael Mignot for Carlos and Francis. Midway into the half, Scarborough put in a teasing cross which found Mignot but his header lacked the power to beat Budd, who parried well.
Witham had an occasional chance at the other end moments later, but Cheniti was denied by Collins. Collins was in action again soon after to claw away a couple of in-swinging set-pieces as the visitors looked to make the points safe. Osadebe had a good strike chalked off by the assistant’s flag but Witham managed to withstand a barrage of crosses in the last few minutes, though a combination of determined defending and an unfortunate Mignot sending an effort narrowly wide meant that the howe crowd were frustrated.
Full-Time: Hullbridge Sports 0 – 1 Witham Town
To summarise briefly, it was a case of spurned chances for Hullbridge in what was a really encouraging performance for the home side. Witham had to be resilent as they were up against it at times but defensively they were commendable as a unit. Ultimately that was enough to claim the points, though they had two goals chalked off for off-side as well. All that’s left to add is that this really was a good occasion, with a fine crowd of over 250 in attendance.
For this match’s ‘stand-outs’ I’ll start with the visitors. Winger Adam Cheniti made a telling contribution, not just with his goal but was a threat from the left flank and contributed to his side’s forward moves well, while experienced goalkeeper Rob Budd made several decent saves and provided a reassuring presence for his team’s defenders, who had to concentrate well during the game. Fellow winger Amaree Robinson-Jones showed good trickery and energy down theright side for the visitors, backed up well by energetic right-back Kahlil Kirwan-Meade who also put in a very good display here. For Hullbridge, midfielder Lewis Watson shone, making intelligent runs from midfield and getting himself in good positions to score & could easily have had two goals today. Full-back Callum Thompson also was assured on the ball and contributed to his team’s moves well. I also thought centre-back Jake Knight and goalkeeper Luca Collins had good games as well.
I’d like to wish both teams a good rest of the season.
Hullbridge Sports | Manager: Darren Manning | Assistant: James Wakeling
Starting XI: 1 Luca Collins (GK), 2 Rhamar Garrett-Douglas, 14 Jake Knight, 5 Dexter Peter (Capt), 12 Callum Thompson, 6 Greg Frederick, 4 Brad Russell (9 Charlie Cole 37′), 8 Lewis Watson, 17 Lewis Francis (7 Michael Mignot 65′), 10 Tony Martin, 11 Joao Carlos (15 Nathan Scarborough 65′)
Booked: Thompson, Martin | Subs Not Used: Rose, Moss
Witham Town | Manager: Marc Benterman | Assistant: John Sussex
Starting XI: 1 Rob Budd (GK), 2 Kahlil Kirwan-Meade, 3 Jack Nolde, 4 Billy Willis (Capt), 5 Kye Jude, 6 Callum Matthews, 7 Amaree Robinson-Jones, 8 Ahmed Mohammed, 9 Luke Hornsley (12 Chinedu Osadebe 58′), 10 Ben Search (16 Jamahi Godward 53′), 11 Adam Cheniti (14 Jordi Popple 82′)
Goal-scorer: Adam Cheniti [62′]
Booked: Robinson-Jones, Search | Subs Not Used: Stanley, Taylor
Referee: Paul Stratton