Canvey Island produced an encouraging performance but still ended up empty handed on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Felixstowe & Walton United at The Frost Hire Stadium.
This was the best the Gulls had played in months, but a goal on the stroke of half time along with some wasteful finishing and committed Felixstowe defending meant that the result did not reflect their efforts.
Manager Mark Bentley made two changes from the side that beat Witham Town 1-0 a week earlier.
Jose Figura was a straight swap for Sam Dulieu in central midfield, while striker Adam Vyse was replaced by Ade Cole. Frankie Merrifield moved forwards to take Vyse’s place in attack, with Cole slotting in behind him.
Canvey started the match brightly and tested the keeper for the first time after only six minutes when Kane Gilbert cut in from the left. The winger shot from a tight angle which goalkeeper Jack Spurling saved with his left foot and diverted behind for a corner.
Ryan Melaugh’s first corner was put out for another, but his second did manage to find a yellow shirt with Frankie Merrifield rising high at the near post. However, despite getting a clean contact on the ball he drove his downward header wide.
Gilbert had a similar chance to his earlier one on nine minutes, heading infield from the left and shooting low. This time the keeper made the initial save but then had to react quickly to scoop a rebound off the line.
The visitors’ first sight of goal looked as though it would result in them taking the lead on 12 minutes when Jamal Wiggins found himself through on goal. Just as Wiggins was about to pull the trigger from 10 yards, Adetayo Osifuwa slid in with a tremendous last-ditch tackle to deny Wiggins and put the ball behind for a corner.
The Gulls were back down the other end five minutes later after some good work from Ade Cole on the right flank. Cole swung over a pinpoint cross to pick out Frankie Merrifield inside the box, but his volley lacked conviction and looped into the arms of the keeper.
Canvey proceeded to dominate the rest of the half, although failed to severely test Jack Spurling in the Felixstowe goal.
Kane Gilbert’s shot from distance on 23 minutes was swerving but was straight at the keeper, while on 42 minutes Sam Collins had Spurling back pedalling with a shot from just inside his own half when missed the top corner by a couple of yards.
Having put together their best 45 minutes of football for a long while, it was rather typical that Canvey would find themselves behind going into the half time break.
Ethan Clarke’s through ball from the left released striker Liam Hillyard, and after getting the better of Zack Littlejohn he fired past Harry Palmer with a powerful shot from 14 yards.
The lead was very nearly doubled inside two minutes of the restart when Felixstowe were awarded a free kick on the left, a few yards from the edge of the Canvey box. Callum Bennett’s ball into the area missed everyone and went across goal, striking the post before hitting a defender and going behind for a corner.
Having survived a scare, Canvey were soon back on top and were spending long periods in the opposition half. However, the lack of a recognised striker on the pitch cost them in the end as they lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.
On 61 minutes Jack Spurling’s attempted clearance was charged down by Frankie Merrifield on the left. He collected possession and headed infield, but his goalbound shot was blocked by a defender. The danger wasn’t over for Felixstowe, with Spurling diving low to his left to keep out Kane Gilbert’s strike from 25 yards.
Ade Cole shot from a similar distance eight minutes later, with Spurling once again getting down to prevent the ball from finding the bottom corner. This time the ball stayed in play and was presented for Frankie Merrifield to steer home, but the keeper did brilliantly to pick himself up and block the shot at point blank range.
Canvey were camped in the Felixstowe half for the rest of the match, but the visitors defending resolutely and Spurling wasn’t forced into any further action.
Photo: KJA Sports Images