Eastern Senior League South
Venue: Burroughs Park
2019 – 20 Season: Match 61
Saturday 7th March 2020 – 3pm KO
W Ensign: Red Shirts, Red Shorts, Red Socks
Lopes T: & Yellow & Green Shirts, Green Shorts, Green Socks
Lopes end Ensign’s record run with fine display at Burroughs Park
White Ensign 1 – 2 Lopes Tavares
Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)
The weekend’s Non-League match saw a change in the ‘billing’ as after a match elsewhere was shelved, it was a return trip to Burroughs Park to see this Eastern Senior League South top-of the-table clash between White Ensign and Lopes Tavares. The scene was set, a win for the hosts would make it 12 straight league triumphs whereas Lopes needed the points to reduce the gap to the leaders and stay in the promotion hunt. Ensign did have a stronger squad available here as centre-back Andy George returned to join skipper Jake McWee at the back. Cannor Barnby also came back into the side to partner Brett Munyard in attack, with Jason Reynolds-Blanche and Dominic Locke providing the support from the flanks. Dave Limber, Rhys Fatt and John Hilliard were among the options on the bench.
Lopes Tavares fielded a number of familiar names who previously played for Hackney Wick, with Simpson Mpalampa captaining the side, Alvaro Guerrero their technical playmaker and Simon Bamidele & Jeff Idemudia on the flanks. The line was led by experienced forward Tony Cookey and Joel Appiah, with Akin Akinola and tricky forward Richard Kone were among the replacements.
This encounter started slowly in the early minutes, though Lopes did start off the stronger with winger Simon Bamidele’s dangerous cross from the left evading everyone in the six-yard area after getting past Ensign right-back Charlie Buffin. The Navy Boys couldn’t quite find their passing game in the first throngs of the contest as both sides perhaps realised the importance of the three points. There wasn’t a huge amount of goal-mouth action in the first part of the half though as we approached the half-hour mark, a good through ball by home player-boss Brett Munyard found rapid winger Dominic Locke though the angle wasn’t favourable and he struck wide of visiting custodian Wilkinson Boateng’s far post. Moments later, Munyard was denied a one-on-one chance with the ‘keeper himself as Lopes defender Carlos Indjai closed out the chance as quickly as it had arisen.
Lopes powered forward on the counter-attack, and after winger Jeff Idemudia’s drive was deflected out for a corner, the delivery found forward Joel Appiah whose well-directed header was cleared away by the well-positioned Buffin on the goal-line. Right on the half-hour, Tony Cookey added to the chance count for the visitors as he powered a drive just over the goal frame. Minutes later, Ensign responded as from a Bradley Gates free-kick, centre-back Andy George’s header flew just wide of the ‘onion bag’. Connor Barnby also fired over the bar from another set-piece as the minutes ebbed away.
It was Lopes who got the crucial breakthrough three minutes before the break as a fine cross from the left by Bamidele found Cookey who superbly guided a header past Ensign ‘keeper Nick Wilson. On the balance of play, it was a lead Chris Davis’ side did deserve though you also felt there was more to come.
Half-Time: White Ensign 0 – 1 Lopes Tavares
After the break, it was the visitors who had the better opportunities in the first phase of the second half. Idemudia fired over the target after a surging run through the middle, before Appiah had a shot well-saved by Ensign stopper Wilson’s foot. On the hour, an initial error by Lopes goalkeeper Boateng gave a half-chance to George though his header was well tipped over by the recovering Lopes custodian. From that corner, substitute Dave Limber had a header saved before Munyard headed over seconds later. As we entered the final twenty minutes here, energetic winger Jason Reynolds-Blanche had a firm header well-clawed away by Boateng and Locke couldn’t make the most of a rare chance with only Boateng to bypass. The frustration from the home dug-out was audible and you couldn’t really blame them.
Lopes doubled their lead with thirteen minutes remaining as Ensign pushed forward, substitute Richard Kone powered forward on the counter and bypassed the covering McWee and slotted low past the exposed Wilson with aplomb into the far corner. Moments afterward, Kone danced his way past the tiring home backline again though this time Wilson did well to deny him a quick-fire second. Lopes Tavares sensed the chance was there to close the game out and Appiah sent a good centre in which the ever-watchful Wilson did well to palm away from the top corner though thanks to his efforts, Ensign did have a sniff of a point at the end.
Four minutes before the end of the ninety, Locke was felled in the penalty area and Luke Skinner blasted the resulting spot-kick in. That said, a slack throw-in from the hosts allowed Kone another chance at goal though again, custodian Wilson did well to deny him with his feet. What ensued after was a fraca after a bad tackle by Skinner saw him dismissed by referee Ryan Smith, once the situation had been calmed down. However, Idemudia and Indjai were also sent to the dressing rooms for Lopes for respective second bookings for their part in the resulting arguments. Ensign nearly had an unlikely hero deep into added time as from substitute John Hilliard’s deep free-kick, Wilson, up from the back headed towards goal though his opposite number Boateng was equal to it and gathered. Lopes held on after a tough end to the game but you have to applaud their forward play which involved invention, pace and power.
Full-Time : White Ensign 1 – 2 Lopes Tavares
It was the right result, although in fairness Lopes Tavares did have more of the chances and showed once again why they are right in amongst the challengers for promotion from this division come of the next month though at time of writing, they still have thirteen matches yet to play. Ensign were not at their peak, by their own admission though are still well-placed to secure an elevation to Step 5 whatever happens.
In terms of stand-out performances, for the hosts centre-back Andy George had to be on good form to repel some of the Lopes attacks, while goalkeeper Nick Wilson pulled off at least four good saves to keep his side in the contest. Jason Reynolds-Blanche & Connor Barnby arguably had the better of the forward line displays today though they could not bypass the visitors’ backline often enough. For Lopes, Joel Appiah was a big threat all match with his pace, unselfish passing and movement. Strike partner Tony Cookey took his goal very well and Simon Bamidele was another constant presence on the left flank and his crossing was really good at times.
Finally, I’d like to wish both teams the best for the rest of the campaign. Also, a thank you to Ensign for their welcome today.
White Ensign | Player-Manager: Brett Munyard | Assistant: Mark Healy
1 Nick Wilson (GK), 12 Charlie Buffin (14 John Hilliard 72’), 3 Thando Moyo (13 Dave Limber 52’), 5 Andy George, 8 Jake McWee (Capt), 6 Bradley Gates, 10 Luke Skinner, 7 Connor Barnby, 9 Jason Reynolds-Blanche (15 Rhys Fatt 82’), 20 Brett Munyard , 11 Dominic Locke
Goal-scorers: Luke Skinner [pen 86’]
Booked: Barnby | Sent Off: Skinner [90’ +2] | Subs Not Used: Maleary, Austin, Martin (GK)
Lopes Tavares | Manager: Chris Davis
1 Wilkinson Boateng (GK), 2 Carlos Indjai, 3 Louis Hiobi, 20 Khalifa Jabbie, 5 Simpson Mpalampa (Capt), 19 Simon Bamidele, 8 Alvaro Guerrero (14 Akin Akinola 88’), 11 Babs Sonupe (16 James Purdon 64’), 7 Jeff Idemudia, 9 Tony Cookey (17 Richard Kone 71’), 10 Joel Appiah
Goal-scorers: Tony Cookey [42’], Richard Kone [77’]
Booked: Mpalampa, Guerrero, Jabbie | Sent Off: Idemudia [two bookings], Indjai [two bookings] |
Subs Not Used: Jimali, Asaro
Referee: Ryan Smith
Assistant Referees: Martin Green & Daniel Keeble