Canvey Island 1-0 Barking
Gilbey Rocket Seals Points
Canvey Island began the 2018/19 season with three points, winning 1-0 against Barking at The Frost Hire Stadium on Saturday.
Assistant manager Brad Wellmen handed competitive debuts to Harry Palmer in goal, Jake Jolliffe at left back, Jose Figura in midfield and Jordan Cox up front. The Barking side meanwhile included former-Canvey midfielder Jack Edwards.
Canvey got off to a terrible start as captain Steve Sheehan slid in and fouled the Barking skipper Abs Seymour inside the area after only 27 seconds. Striker Darrell Russell stepped up but struck a poor penalty straight down the middle which Harry Palmer dropped to the ground to save.
Having survived an early scare, the Gulls then took the lead in spectacular circumstances on 18 minutes when Martin Tuohy was fouled 35 yards from goal. The ball was laid off to Mitchell Gilbey who struck an unstoppable shot that nearly broke the net and left goalkeeper Emmanuel Olajide rooted to the spot.
Gilbey nearly scored another stunner nine minutes later when he hit a dipping shot from the edge of the area. This time however the keeper did get a touch, flinging himself skywards and managing to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
On 29 minutes when Jordan Cox sent over a cross from the right and found the head of Martin Tuohy, but his effort looped up and went over from eight yards.
The Gulls came even closer two minutes later when Mitchell Gilbey played the ball from the left wing back to the edge of the area for Frankie Merrifield to strike. He caught his low shot well but it clipped a defender on the way through and went behind for a corner.
Barking had the lion share of possession in the final 15 minutes of the first half and were putting the Canvey goal under plenty of pressure. The closest they came to scoring was on 37 minutes when winger Brendan Ocran cut in from the left past Jake Pitty and drilled a shot towards the bottom corner. However, Harry Palmer was alert to the danger, diving low to his right and turning the shot wide.
Leading 1-0 at the break, Canvey came close to scoring a second five minutes into the second half when Martin Tuohy ran onto a ball over the top. The forward couldn’t get the touch he needed to take it in his stride, and instead had to hold the ball up under pressure from experienced defender Joe Bruce. Tuohy managed to get a shot away from a tight angle but goalkeeper Emmanuel Olajide was well positioned to save.
The visitors kept applying pressure in the second half in search of an equaliser, with Harry Palmer being forced to save low down from Daniel Cheema’s 18-yard effort on the hour mark. He then produced an even better stop on 76 minutes, diving high to his right and getting two hands to Abs Seymour’s 30-yard free kick to turn it around the post.
On 85 minutes Barking substitute Joe Benjamin got to the touchline on the left and smashed a ball across the face of goal towards the head of Darrell Russell. The forward was brilliantly placed inside the six-yard box, but the pace of the cross meant that his effort went over the crossbar.
With the Blues pushing bodies forward, gaps were beginning to appear at the back for the Canvey attackers to exploit.
On 88 minutes a ball down the right wing released Mitchell Gilbey who got his head down and headed towards goal. Having skipped around Joe Bruce he pulled the trigger which the keeper did well to turn wide diving low to his left.
Substitute George Sykes had some good chances late on, but on each occasion he was unable to work the keeper with off-target efforts.
Photo: KJA Sports Images
Listen: Brad Wellmen Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts