Canvey Island put in an impressive performance to beat Basildon United 4-0 at The Frost Hire Stadium in the Bostik North on Saturday.
Manager Mark Bentley made five changes from the side that beat Mildenhall Two two days earlier.
Elliott Warren missed out through injury, with his place alongside Adetayo Osifuwa in central defence being taken by James White who was himself not fully fit.
Marlon Agyakwa and Josh Hutchinson replaced Ryan Melaugh and Kane Gilbert on the wings, while a debut was given to George Unwin at right back in place of Sam Dulieu.
Frankie Stone came in at left back, Sam Collins pushed forwards into centre midfield, Frankie Merrifield advanced into attack and Adam Vyse dropped to the bench.
The match started in an open fashion with both sides having good chances inside the opening exchanges.
In the second minute a tackle from George Unwin inadvertently played the ball into the path of Jeffrey Cobblah and sent him through on goal. The winger burst into the box but his low shot was kept out by Harry Palmer who had come off his line to close down the Basildon man.
Two minutes later up the other end Bees goalkeeper Dylan Skinner came to the edge of the box and attempted to punch clear ahead of Frankie Merrifield. Defender Robert Hodgson headed the ball ahead of Skinner, causing the keeper to collide with Merrifield and present an open goal to Josh Hutchinson who lobbed a shot narrowly over.
Canvey took the lead on 10 minutes when a through ball from deep was latched onto by Ade Cole. After racing away from the defence, Cole confidently picked out the bottom corner from 18 yards to open his account for the Gulls.
Marlon Agyakwa had a chance from a similar position six minutes later when the defence opened up down the middle and invited him to run the ball from the half way line to the edge of the area. This time however Dylan Skinner came off his line and snuffed out the shot at Agyakwa’s feet.
It was 2-0 on 24 minutes when Josh Hutchinson set off on a positive run down the left wing. Hutchinson got to the touchline before squaring across the face of goal and putting the ball on a plate for Frankie Merrifield to tap home from close range.
Both teams came close ten minutes before half time. Firstly Sam Collins fired inches with from 20 yards with his left foot after the ball had been rolled across the edge of the box to him. Immediately afterwards a mistake let Jeffrey Cobblah in on goal, but his low shot from the right was kept out by Harry Palmer.
Palmer denied Cobblah for a third time on the stroke of half time with a shot from a similar area, although couldn’t hold onto the ball. Striker Callum Taylor attempted to collect the loose ball but Palmer was able to grab it at the second attempt before Taylor could get a touch.
Mark Bentley was forced into a change at half time, with James White going off and being replaced by Adam Vyse who provided cover in the unfamiliar central defensive position.
Basildon striker Callum Taylor worked Harry Palmer on 56 minutes, collecting the ball 20 yards out with his back to goal. Taylor managed to turn and get his shot off, but his effort was straight at Harry Palmer who saved comfortably.
The points were secured on 65 minutes when Ade Cole slid the ball through to Frankie Merrifield and he bagged his second with a low finish across goal.
Canvey kept Dylan Skinner busy in the Basildon goal, with the keeper pushing an Ade Cole free kick wide on 75 minutes before saving a long-range effort a couple of minutes later. There were calls for a penalty as Frankie Merrifield closed down the latter of those shots, but the referee deemed that Skinner had gotten the ball.
Merrifield completed his hattrick and scored his seventh goal in three matches with five minutes remaining when he broke through the visiting defence once again, firing across goal from the right and inside the post.
Debutant George Unwin nearly marked his first start with a goal soon afterwards when he struck a free kick from 25 yards around the wall and off the base of the post. His twin brother Jack, who had come on as substitute earlier in the half, got to the rebound but fired over from close range.
The result saw the Gulls record back to back wins for the first time since January and wrap up a disappointing home season with a positive performance in the April sunshine.
Photo: KJA Sports Images