Canvey Island turned in an impressive performance to beat a strong Dagenham & Redbridge side 2-1 in a friendly at The Frost Hire Stadium on Tuesday night.
This was the sixth different club that ex-Canvey player Peter Taylor had brought to take on his old club as a manager, handing debuts to new midfield signings Liam Bellamy and Ben Nunn.
Canvey started brightly, with Jordan Cox warming the hands of former-Gulls goalkeeper Lewis Moore after only 13 seconds.
Cox was involved twice more in the opening stages, with Moore coming off his line to tackle the forward on the edge of the area on four minutes. He then got his head to a cross from the right wing by Jake Pitty but directed his effort over the crossbar.
The visitors took the lead on 10 minutes when Josh Hutchinson was dispossessed by Chike Kandi 25 yards from goal. Kandi headed towards goal, turning one way and then the other before finding the bottom corner.
They came close again four minutes later when Lamar Reynolds got the better of Jake Pitty on the left wing. Reynolds got his head down and burst into the box before flashing a left-footed shot across the face of goal and wide.
Harry Palmer pulled off his first save of the evening on 18 minutes when Reynolds was played in again, this time from a cross in from the right wing. Reynolds found the target on this occasion but Palmer denied him with a great save diving to his right.
Canvey were awarded a free kick three minutes later 20 yards from goal following a foul which Mitchell Gilbey stood over. Gilbey got the ball over the wall and towards the top corner but couldn’t get the required dip on the ball and sent it a couple of yards over.
The Daggers were soon back on the attack, with debutant Liam Bellamy having a low shot saved by Harry Palmer after Chike Kandi had laid the ball off to him on the edge of the box.
Dagenham had the ball in the net on the half hour mark when Lamar Reynolds pulled the trigger with a powerful shot which caught a wicked deflection leaving Harry Palmer rooted to the spot. The ball hit the base of the post, and although Jack Munns followed in to tap home the rebound, his goal was chalked off due to the offside flag being raised.
Canvey were putting their bodies on the line in defence to keep the deficit to one goal, with first Jordan Brown and then Jake Jolliffe stopping the ball from hitting the target with committed sliding blocks at the vital moment.
These defensive endeavours were rewarded two minutes before half time when the Gulls drew level. Jordan Cox did well to keep the ball from going out for a goal kick on the right, cutting it back for Josh Hutchinson 20 yards from goal. The winger struck a low left-footed shot through the legs of a defender and nestled into the bottom corner.
With the scores level at half time, it was Dagenham that created the first opportunity of the second half on 52 minutes. A cross-field ball from the left found Chike Kandi, but his well-struck shot from the corner of the box went across goal and inches wide of the upright.
Canvey took the lead three minutes later when a long-range shot hit a defender which fortuitously stopped the ball in behind the Daggers defence. Mitchell Gilbey had kept himself onside when the shot was taken and closed in on the loose ball to score past his former-teammate.
The Gulls then had a whole host of chances to extend their lead as they proceeded to pepper the Dagenham goal for the next quarter of an hour.
A minute after the goal Marlon Agyakwa chipped a shot over Lewis Moore from the left which was heading in, but Ben Nunn did brilliantly to run back and clear the ball off the line.
Soon afterwards Frankie Merrifield collected the ball inside the box and got to the touchline, drilling a low ball across goal which was just behind Jordan Cox who was poised to score a tap in from close range.
Canvey then created three fantastic chances inside as many minutes.
On 67 minutes some good football saw Frankie Merrifield float the ball down the left for our trialist forward to hold up before continuing it down the wing for Ryan Melaugh on the overlap. Melaugh sent a dangerous ball into the box which was slightly behind Martin Tuohy.
The trialist was involved again moments later when he crossed from the left. The ball was too high for Tuohy but instead was met by a diving header from Marlon Agyakwa who had ghosted into the box, but his effort went over for a goal kick.
The best of the three chances came on 69 minutes when Lewis Moore’s attempted clearance from outside his area struck Martin Tuohy. The forward couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet quick enough to shoot at an open goal, but instead took possession to the edge of the box before crossing to the back post. The trialist did well to get an outstretched leg to the cross but sent it narrowly over.
The visitors created some good opportunities of their own in the final ten minutes as they went in search of an equaliser. On 81 minutes Jack Munns played a free kick from the left to the back post and found Michael Agboola in behind the Canvey defence, but he steered his first time shot wide from close range.
Munns could have then snatched a draw at the death when he slid in to get on the end of Chike Kandi’s right wing cross, but he didn’t get enough contact on the ball and also sent his chance wide from inside the six yard box.
The final whistle sounded soon afterwards to seal a morale boosting win against strong opposition before they return to competitive action.
LISTEN: Danny Heale Post-Match Interview