Canvey Island fell to a 3-1 defeat away to Coggeshall Town in the BetVictor Isthmian League North on Saturday.
The Gulls could have earned a share of the spoils with a late penalty, but the familiar sight of an Ashlee Jones save and a goal with the last kick off the match ensured Canvey left empty handed.
Manager Mark Bentley made one change from the side that beat Waltham Abbey in the Emirates FA Cup in midweek. With George Purcell suspended, Tobi Joseph pushed up front to partner Jason Hallett, with Dan Humphreys coming in to replace Joseph on the right wing.
Canvey got off to the best possible start, taking the lead with 15 seconds on the clock. The Gulls conceded possession from the kick off, with defender Ugo Udoji deciding to pass back to Ashlee Jones.
However, the pass was under hit and anticipated by Tobi Joseph who collected it before Jones, rounded the keeper and slotted home from the left.
It was nearly déjà vu in the 12th minute when right back Joshua Pollard played the ball back towards his own goal under pressure. Joseph sensed an opportunity once again, this time failing to get his toe to the ball by a matter of millimetres.
As unsure as Coggeshall looked in defence, they posed a constant threat up the other end of the pitch, looking to play passes in behind the Canvey rearguard.
Having been denied by the assistant referee’s flag on a couple of occasions they were able to get a shot off on 16 minutes when forward Michael Gyasi was played through on the right. His low shot across goal from a tight angle beat Lamar Johnson but narrowly missed the bottom corner.
Canvey had a shout for a penalty on 19 minutes when Tobi Joseph’s shot on the turn inside the area strike the hand of a defender. The referee turned down the appeals, which considering how close the player was to the shot and with his arms in with his body was probably the correct decision.
The home side equalised on 32 minutes after some good work down the left wing sent Ross Wall down the channel. He sent over a superb cross which Conor Hubble finished in equally impressive fashion, thumping the ball past Lamar Johnson with a powerful diving header.
The game settled down after the goal, with Coggeshall’s passing football in midfield causing Canvey problems, while the Gulls were causing plenty of problems of their own on the counter attack.
It was one of these counter attacks that nearly saw Canvey regain the lead on the stroke of half time. A good low ball in from the left by Jason Hallett went across the face of goal and found Dan Humphreys at the back post. His shot from the angle was palmed away by Ashlee Jones, agonisingly wide of Tobi Joseph who was lurking on the edge of the six yard box.
With the scores level at half time, both teams had chances to take the lead in the opening moments of the second half.
Jason Hallett flicked a brilliant header over the home defence inside two minutes of the restart, finding the run of Josh Hutchinson who was unopposed. Hutchinson decided to shoot first time, but on his weaker right foot he totally miscued his effort with only Ashlee Jones to beat.
Soon afterwards up the other end, Elliott Warren attempted to shepherd a ball back to Lamar Johnson that wasn’t really on. Chris Regis nipped in to steal possession and head into the area, but a good last-ditch block by Alex Stephenson deflected the shot over the bar.
The hosts had the ball in the net on 56 minutes when Conor Hubble’s cross from the left found Ross Wall in acres of space. Wall headed back across goal from the right and in, but the goal was chalked off due to the assistant referee’s flag being raised for offside.
Having nearly fallen behind, Canvey then nearly had a tremendous chance to take the lead three minutes later. A great ball from deep on the left by James White found Jason Hallett on the opposite side of the pitch. His first touch allowed him to cut inside the defender and leave him with only Ashlee Jones to beat from 12 yards.
Hallett swivelled and caught his shot well, smashing a powerful low shot towards goal. However, Jones produced an incredible save, keeping the ball out with his right foot and putting it behind for a corner.
Coggeshall took the lead with 20 minutes remaining with an attack down the right wing. The ball was worked down to the touchline and sent into the box for Ross Wall to head home from 12 yards.
Alex Stephenson picked up an injury to his left leg trying to break up the attack, being replaced by Kane Gilbert before the restart as Mark Bentley went for a more attacking dynamic.
The Seed Growers had chances to seal the points, but good saves by Lamar Johnson first from George Cocklin and then from Michael Gyasi kept the deficit to one.
Canvey had the perfect chance to get something from the game with five minutes remaining after Samrai Gebrai was fouled inside the box by another substitute, Tom Blackwell. Jason Hallett stepped up but saw his low spot kick saved by Ashlee Jones diving low to his left as he has done so many times for Canvey in the past.
Michael Gyasi had a chance to wrap things up for Coggeshall in the 89th minute after some good work down the right by Tom Blackwell, but his first time shot went the wrong side of the upright aiming for the bottom corner.
However, there was still time for Gyasi to get his name on the scoresheet, being released by Ayrton Coley in the seventh and final minute of stoppage time to round off a counter attack.