Essex Senior League
2018-19 Season: Match 63
Saturday 23rd March 2019 – 3pm KO
Venue: Hargrave Park
Stansted: Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Shorts
Hullbridge: Yellow Shirts, Yellow Shorts, Yellow Socks
Points are shared in this bruising top-two encounter at Hargrave Park
Report by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] with Photos by Neil Hunwicks [Twitter: @ABridgeTooFar16] and Scott
This weekend’s Essex Senior League jaunt took me back to Hargrave Park for an eagerly-anticipated clash between the top-two sides in the division as Stansted took on leaders Hullbridge. The hosts have been grinding a few wins out of late though knew that a win here could be crucial to their hopes of the title. Paul Pittuck & Marc Benterman’s team named a strong side with Charlie Turner retained between the sticks, with a back four of the returning Papa Asamoah, skipper Billy Coyne plus centre-backs Sam West and Joe Clark. Paul Clayton was just ahead of them with a front three of Callum Ibe, Jack Mitchell and the wily James Peagram. Ollie Bell, Carl Mullings and Jack West were all options on the bench.
Hullbridge tinkered with their starting XI with Daniel Okah replacing the injured Perry Dunn at centre-back, while Greg Frederick returned into their energetic midfield alongside Joe Skeels and Emmanuel Okunja with Yemi Adelani as their focal point in attack. Joe Wright and Adebola Sotoyinbo were on the bench, the latter having completed his recent suspension.
The match began in a slightly nervous way for the visitors as barely a minute in, Dan Okah’s challenge on home forward James Peagram was inches away from conceding a spot-kick. Skipper Billy Coyne stepped up to strike it though the ‘Bridge defence set the tone with a stubborn block. Bridge did respond and minutes later, pressed forward with a good run by right-back Courtney Homans ending with a good cross in though forward Nathan Scarborough’s header lacked the power to beat home ‘keeper Charlie Turner. This was a prelude to a good spell of pressure for the visiting side, as ten minutes in, a corner was floated in, and Turner did well to punch clear, he took a whack for his trouble.
At the other end, another Coyne set-piece was well-punched away by Sports custodian Lewis Greene. From the resulting corner, a super ball in from midfielder Charlie Barlow needed the intervention of centre-back Jamal Allen, still playing in a face mask to shield a broken nose. Even by the quarter-hour mark, the ‘Big match’ feel increased with an enlarged crowd only adding to the atmosphere around the ground. There was no shortage of tough, bullish challenges being made by both teams as they knew the importance of this match. Dead on the half-hour mark, Joe Skeels’ free-kick ended up falling to Allen in the area and his fizzing drive went through a crowed six-yard box and needed Turner to be alert to gather at the second attempt before the ball trickled over the line.
Darren Manning’s side were showing the more energy and industry in midfield by this point. Timo Monsheju dashed down the right flank though Coyne did well tracking-back to deny him a good crack at a telling cross into the six-yard area. As the first half came into its final few minutes, Greene rushed out to punch the ball away from home forward Callum Ibe though in doing so, momentarily lost his bearings and was adjudged to have handled outside the area. After consulting his assistant, the referee decided to give the unfortunate Greene his marching orders, much to his frustration. Coyne had another free-kick much akin to the one in the opening minute, and again, the visiting backline did a firm job of denying the home skipper. Fortunately for the visitors, they could bring on substitute ‘keeper George Marsh who replaced Monsheju.
Half-Time: Hullbridge 0 – 0 Stansted
At half-time, I reflected on this battle as being a side with experience and craft in Stansted against the energy and pace of Hullbridge. It was the visitors who started the second period well, though half-chances at best for Scarborough and fellow forward Yemi Adelani couldn’t seriously test Turner. Both defences continued to enjoy good afternoons, as there were a number good clearances to repel decent crosses into the respective penalty areas. For the hosts, Callum Ibe was his usual threatening self with his pace and energy, even though at times he was fairly isolated because of the Sports midfield cutting off his supply line as they won the majority of the battles in the middle of the park.
Stansted were also reduced to ten men just after the hour as full-back Papa Asamoah’s clumsy tackle led to a melee and ultimately an added reaction to an opposition player in that confrontation saw Asamoah dismissed for his actions. As we verged on the last 20 minutes of the game, home forward James Peagram’s well-hit strike from the edge of the area drew a good tip over the crossbar by Marsh. Hullbridge pressed again for a decisive goal from a set-piece that found willing runner Nathan Scarborough down the left channel, he in turn found substitute Joe Wright who lifted his effort just over the woodwork in the last few minutes.
Full-Time: Hullbridge 0 – 0 Stansted
Ultimately both sides drew ablank though the scoreline doesn’t entirely tell the story of a bruising encounter that contained more work-rate than chances for either side. The visitors will perhaps feel they got a ‘moral victory’ given they did perhaps edge this match. In terms of stand-out performances, for the hosts, Callum Ibe was a lively striker as ever, with bullish anchor midfielder Paul Clayton and full-back Billy Coyne also having good games today. For Hullbridge, centre-back Jamal Allen had another very good game, barely missing a header all match while Yemi Adelani was a threat as well with selfless running and stretching the home defence at times. Mainly there were two good teams on display here who were unwilling to ‘give an inch’ and thus, the ESL title race will continue into April.
My thanks to Stansted for their kind welcome as ever, and to the Webb family.
Stansted | Joint-Managers: Paul Pittuck & Marc Benterman
Charlie Turner (GK), Papa Asamoah, Billy Coyne (Capt), Sam West, Joe Clark (Carl Mullings 87′), Paul Clayton, Rob Norris, Charlie Barlow (James Turvey 84′) Callum Ibe, James Peagram, Jack Mitchell (Ollie Bell 69′)
Subs Not Used: Bennett, J West | Booked: Clark, Norris | Sent Off: Asamoah
Hullbridge Sports | Manager: Darren Manning
Lewis Greene (GK), Courtney Homans, Matt Rose (Capt), Jamal Allen, Daniel Okah, Joe Skeels, Emmanuel Okunja, Greg Frederick (Adebola Sotoyinbo 76′), Timo Monsheju (George Marsh (GK) 45′), Yemi Adelani (Joe Wright 79′), Nathan Scarborough
Subs Not Used: Baxter, McLeavy |
Booked: Okah, Monsheju, Scarborough, Adelani | Sent Off: Greene
Ref: Eugene Robinson