Heybridge Swifts 2-1 Canvey Island
Gulls Edged Out By Dicks' Swifts
Canvey Island manager Mark Bentley suffered his first Bostik North defeat on Saturday, losing 2-1 away to Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.
Bentley made one change to the side that beat Romford 2-0 a week earlier, replacing Marlon Agyakwa with Ryan Melaugh who scored the second in that victory having come off the bench.
Martin Tuohy was not included in the squad due to suffering from illness, with his place being taken by 20-year-old central defender Sonny Coutts who joined before the match having recently left Southend United.
Former-Canvey left-back Julian Dicks was in the opposition dugout, and he handed a start to another ex-Gull in the shape of Harrison Chatting who made over 200 appearances in yellow between 2012-2017.
The match started in an open manner, with both sides creating several good chances in the early exchanges.
In the second minute a ball down the left wing from Jordan Brown saw Jordan Cox outpace Alieu Njie and play the ball in to the feet of Ryan Melaugh. The winger laid possession off for Sam Collins whose driven shot was heading for the top corner before deflecting off the back of defender Alieu Njie and going behind for a corner.
Harry Palmer was forced into action for the first time three minutes later when he dived to his right to push out Harrison Chatting’s low cross-cum-shot from the right flank.
On nine minutes Heybridge defender Alieu Njie was beaten for pace down the left wing by Jordan Cox once again, this time fouling the forward with a late sliding tackle and earning himself a yellow card. Ryan Melaugh swung the free kick in and found the head of Cox who was unmarked inside the area, but his free header from eight yards went over the bar.
Daniel Walker was proving to be lively up front for Heybridge and was involved in two near misses. On 13 minutes he saw a low shot towards the bottom corner turned behind by Harry Palmer diving low his left.
Then, on 26 minutes Walker charged down an attempted clearance by Palmer, with the loose ball falling to strike partner Matt Price on the right wing. Spotting Palmer in no man’s land Price attempted to lob the keeper, but his shot went over the bar.
Price made no mistake four minutes later when he gave his side the lead. Having collected a ball over the top ahead of Jordan Brown, Price drove in from the right before creating himself some space and curling an excellent left-footed shot across goal and into the top corner.
Canvey nearly equalised seven minutes later when the ball was played in from the right into the feet of Frankie Merrifield 20 yards from goal. Merrifield unleashed a stunning strike which goalkeeper Chris Haigh kept out with an equally impressive save, tipping the ball over to concede a corner.
Haigh was called into action twice more before the half was out, first clawing a left wing cross from Sam Collins out from underneath his crossbar and then saving Jack Simmons’ well struck shot from the edge of the box high above his head.
Canvey had played some very encouraging football after falling behind and would have gone into the second half confident of finding a way back into the contest.
However, any hopes of this were dealt a blow three minutes into the second half when the home side doubled their advantage.
Moments after Matt Price had seen a shot from a tight angle saved by Harry Palmer, a ball down the right released Harrison Chatting into the area and he finished confidently across goal against his former employers.
Frankie Merrifield saw a shot from distance go narrowly wide shortly after the restart, but this was the only respite from a barrage of Heybridge pressure.
Elliott Ronto, Harrison Chatting and Matt Price all forced Harry Palmer into saves in quick succession, with the one-touch passing that Canvey were playing at the end of the first half seemingly having abandoned them.
On 69 minutes a counter attack saw Daniel Walker break into the box and lay the ball off for Kreshnic Krasniqi who was to his right, but his shot was saved by Palmer at his front post.
The complexion of the match changed inside sixty seconds and went from Heybridge sealing the points to Canvey reducing the arrears.
On 72 minutes Matt Price found himself in an identical position to the one from where he scored in the first half except for on the opposite side of the area. Price curled a right-footed shot which struck the underside of the crossbar.
The Gulls broke and played the ball out to the right wing where Jake Jolliffe had made a positive attacking run. The right back cut outside a defender and struck a fine left-footed shot across goal and into the bottom corner.
Canvey had further chances to earn a point. On 76 minutes a cross from the left by substitute Josh Hutchinson was headed into the ground and towards goal by Frankie Merrifield, but Chris Haigh darted across to his right to save.
Their best chance however came six minutes later when Jordan Cox was played through one-on-one coming in from the right, but Chris Haigh did well to come off his line and smother the shot to force a corner.
The Gulls pushed hard for the remainder of the match including four minutes of additional time but were unable to find the all important second goal.