Witham Town 0-1 Canvey Island
By Club Admin
Gulls Snatch Victory From The Jaws of Defeat
A late penalty save from Harry Palmer and an even later goal from Zack Littlejohn earned Canvey Island a 1-0 win away to Witham Town in the Bostik North on Saturday.
Manager Mark Bentley made four changes from the side that were beaten 1-0 by Soham Town Rangers a week earlier.
Zack Littlejohn returned to the heart of the Canvey defence alongside Elliott Warren, with Adetayo Osifuwa also coming back in to the rear guard at right back.
Sam Collins dropped back from the left wing to left back, leaving a space for Ryan Melaugh to come into the side on the flank.
Captain James White was the other man to feature having missed out at Soham, partnering Sam Dulieu in central midfield who was in a more advanced role compared to recent weeks.
The opening period of the match was played at a pedestrian pace, with the first sight of goal that either side had taking until the 21st minute. Witham centre back Jack Kemsley found himself in an advanced position following a free kick and swivelled to shoot from 20 yards.
Harry Palmer was concerned and dived full to his left, but Kemsley’s shot went a couple of yards wide of the bottom corner.
Canvey should have taken the lead on the half hour mark when a poor clearance hit James White and fell perfectly for Adam Vyse. The forward advanced towards goal and flicked a shot over the keeper from the right, but his effort from close range drifted wide of the far post.
Five minutes later Kane Gilbert pulled the trigger having cut into the box from the right wing. However, Witham goalkeeper Luca Collins managed to push the powerful shot behind for a corner diving high to his left.
With the match goalless at half time, Canvey nearly took the lead five minutes into the restart when a Kane Gilbert corner found Zack Littlejohn at the back post. Littlejohn’s header back across goal was on target but headed off the line by Witham forward Jack Lelliot.
Soon afterwards a period of Canvey pressure in and around the Witham penalty area ended with Adam Vyse flicking the ball through for Frankie Merrifield. The midfielder shifted the ball onto his left foot but shot disappointingly wide from just inside the box.
The home side had a fairly convincing appeal for a penalty on 56 minutes when Adetayo Osifuwa appeared to miss the ball and kick an opponent inside the area. However, the referee was well placed and awarded a goal kick to Canvey, not deeming that a foul had been committed.
On 68 minutes Sam Dulieu nearly opened his account for the club when he hit a well struck shot from 30 yards. The ball was flying in before goalkeeper Luca Collins flung himself skywards to turn it over the bar with an equally impressive save.
Witham had their best chance of the match on 68 minutes when a good ball was flicked over the Canvey defence for striker Chinedu Vine to run onto. Vine got on the end of the pass and flicked a shot over the onrushing Harry Palmer, but fortunately for the Gulls the ball hit the crossbar before being cleared.
Mark Bentley introduced himself and Marlon Agyakwa in place of Adam Vyse and Kane Gilbert on 72 minutes, and six minutes the two substitutes combined to nearly make an immediate impact. Agyakwa’s cross from the right found Bentley at the back post, but his header from a tight angle went over the bar.
The two sides exchanged good headed chances soon afterwards, with Sam Dulieu nodding over from eight yards before Witham substitute Louie Hall sent Johnny Ashman’s cross over from further out.
There was time for some late drama when Johnny Ashman’s cross from the right struck the arm of a defender inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Ashman picked the ball up to take the penalty himself, but his well struck spot kick was brilliantly saved by Harry Palmer diving to his right.
Having survived a scare, Canvey went on the attack looking for victory. In the 91st minute James White hit a shot from 20 yards which he didn’t catch cleanly but still directed towards goal. The keeper was beaten but a tremendous header from Siju Odelusi prevented the ball from hitting the back of the net.
It looked as though that would be that, but there was to be a final twist in the tale when Kevin Coyle fouled Marlon Agyakwa on the right wing. Ryan Melaugh swung over an excellent free kick to the back post which Zack Littlejohn turned home with a diving header.
Seconds after the restart the referee blew his whistle to bring to an end a match which came to life in the closing stages.