Maldon & Tiptree 1-2 Canvey Island
Hutchinson Brace Downs Jammers
Canvey Island defeated early pace-setters Maldon & Tiptree on Saturday, coming away from The Maldon Stadium with a 2-1 victory.
Visiting supporters were handed a surprise upon arrival with the site of George Sykes on the bench for the hosts having left the Gulls a fortnight earlier and been without a club since.
Canvey started the match brightly on the front foot, with Josh Hutchinson and Jordan Cox both forcing goalkeeper Ben McNamara into saves with shots from the edge of the box inside the opening five minutes.
The Gulls were forced into a change with 14 minutes on the clock when Jake Jolliffe injured himself carrying out a slide tackle inside the box. Jolliffe unfortunately had to leave the pitch on a stretcher and was replaced by George Allen.
Ben McNamara was called into action again on 19 minutes when Mitchell Gilbey took aim and pulled the trigger from 20 yards to the right of goal. The shot was struck well but the keeper was able to turn it behind for a corner diving low to his right.
Having not seen much of the ball in the opening quarter of the match, Maldon then had two good chances in as many minutes.
On 26 minutes a swift counter attack down the left wing saw the ball played across the area for Shane Cojocarel on the far side. The winger beat the tackle of Jordan Brown but saw his shot turned behind by Harry Palmer covering his near post.
Soon afterwards Palmer elected to come off his line to close down a shot from Decarrey Sheriff who was bursting into the area from the left. Had Sheriff managed to round the keeper then he would have had the goal at his mercy, but instead he took the shot on which Palmer was well-positioned to save.
Canvey took the lead on the half hour mark when Mitchell Gilbey backheeled the ball to Josh Hutchinson inside the area. Hutchinson’s shot was straight at McNamara but took a deflection at the vital moment which took the ball past the keeper and over the line.
Leading 1-0 at half time, the Gulls should have doubled their advantage a minute into the restart when Jake Pitty sent over a fantastic in-swinging cross from deep on the right wing. The cross found Jordan Cox on the edge of the six yard box in behind the Maldon defence, but he failed to get enough contact on his flick on header and Ben McNamara was able to make the save without having to move his feet.
George Sykes had come on at half time for the hosts and had his first shot after only five minutes of being on the pitch. Shane Cojocarel’s backheel found the striker inside the box, but he was forced to stretch to get his shot off and as a result allowed Harry Palmer to make a simple save.
Two minutes later a Maldon defender slipped inside his own penalty area trying to defend a right wing cross from Mitchell Gilbey. The ball landed at the feet of Jordan Cox, but he chose to take a touch rather than shoot first time which allowed Ben McNamara to close down his eventual effort. The ball remained live, but the keeper did well to pick himself up and steal possession from the feet of Marlon Agyakwa.
Sykes had another couple of good chances for the hosts as the half progressed.
First on 53 minutes a long ball over the top allowed the pacey Decarrey Sheriff the chance to run at goal. Harry Palmer punched clear just inside the area, but the ball went straight to Sykes 30 yards from goal. The forward took a shot and lobbed the ball back towards goal, but Palmer had managed to backpedal and save the effort.
Ten minutes later an excellent cross from the left from Matt Briggs found the head of Sykes who had ran across the face of goal, but his effort went a couple of yards over the crossbar.
Maldon equalised on 69 minutes when substitute Gabe Kellum played the ball back to goalkeeper Harry Palmer to clear. However, Decarrey Sheriff had spotted an opportunity and intercepted the pass, with Palmer’s attempted clearance instead kicking the forward.
Sheriff picked himself up to take the spot kick himself, and despite Palmer diving the right way he was unable to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net.
Two crucial moments inside sixty seconds saw the match swing from Canvey potentially going home empty handed to instead claiming all three points.
On 85 minutes it looked a formality that Callum Jones would score for the hosts when the ball squirmed its way through the Canvey defence. However, an incredible last ditch tackle from Jake Pitty put the ball behind for a corner.
The Gulls survived the corner and immediately broke, with Gabe Kellum releasing Josh Hutchinson down the right. Hutchinson got to the edge of the box before cutting inside and beating McNamara at his near post to find the bottom corner.
The Jammers pushed for an equaliser but Canvey worked hard to a man and were able to hold out for a battling victory.