Canvey Island’s long-awaited return to BetVictor Isthmian North action resulted in three points at Park Lane on Saturday, beating local rivals Basildon United 2-1.
Manager Mark Bentley made two changes from the side that beat Ashford Town (Middx) 5-0 in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Tuesday night. Goalkeeper Lamar Johnson returned from injury to replace Danny Confrey between the sticks, while Matt Lock came in place of Josh Hutchinson who dropped to the bench.
Canvey took the lead in the 10th minute after Albert Levett did well to retain possession coming in from the left. The midfielder beat a defender and made his way into the box, playing a precise ball across the face of goal to present Jason Hallett with a chance that he couldn’t miss from close range.
The visitors responded well to going behind, looking particularly dangerous down both wings.
On 15 minutes a cross-field ball from the left squirmed through the legs of Ade Osifuwa, finding its way through to Ayomikun Odukoya. The tall right winger held off the attentions of Osifuwa to burst into the box, but his subsequent shot went into the hoardings.
Soon afterwards Ernest Okoh came in off the left wing and saw his low shot saved by the legs of Lamar Johnson who was protecting his front post.
Tobi Joseph came close to adding a second for Canvey on 22 minutes when he got his head to a left wing cross from James White. Joseph flicked the ball across goal, missing the far post by a couple of yards.
Basildon levelled the scores five minutes later when a long ball forwards found the well-timed run of former-Canvey striker Adam Vyse. Lamar Johnson came off his line and looked to have done enough to force Vyse to lose possession, but the forward managed to regain it.
His shot from the left was at Michael Finneran who had retreated back onto the line, but in trying to make a clearance he inadvertently sliced the ball into the roof of the net.
Having equalised, the Bees then had chances to take the lead in the remainder of the first half.
On the half hour mark Ernest Okoh set off on yet another of his determined and dangerous runs from the left, beating Dan Humphreys and bearing down on goal. However, his shot from a tight angle was saved once again by Lamar Johnson at the near post at the expense of a corner.
Then, ten minutes later, Adam Vyse pulled the trigger 20 yards from goal on the left, shooting across goal and wide with his left foot.
Canvey regained their advantage on 54 minutes after Reece Hewitt had fouled Dan Humphreys five yards outside the penalty area, picking up a booking in the process.
James White and curled a superb free kick towards the top corner which was saved in equally impressive fashion by Clarke Bogard, turning the shot onto the crossbar. However, unfortunately for the keeper the ball bounced down off the underside of the bar, onto his back and over the line to go down as an own goal.
Danny Norton had a couple of opportunities for Basildon, with his first saved by Lamar Johnson on 61 minutes following a layoff from Adam Vyse.
Vyse nearly turned provider once again less than a minute later when his through ball sent Norton through on goal. However, Lamar Johnson was decisive and raced off his line to make a clearance. In doing so he sent Jason Hallett in behind the Basildon defence up the other end, but the assistant’s flag was raised for offside against the forward.
The Bees continued to exert pressure, with Ade Osifuwa producing a superbly timed sliding tackle to deny Adam Vyse a shot from close range.
Up the other end, Tobi Joseph gave Canvey a break from defending when he kept himself onside the latch onto a through ball down the left. Joseph cut inside Reece Hewitt and got his shot off from 12 yards, forcing Clarke Bogard into a good save diving to his right.
There were strong appeals from the travelling supporters that the ball had crossed the line on 82 minutes following Reece Hewitt’s free kick into a dangerous area from the right, although the assistant referee kept his flag firmly by his side as play was allowed to continue.
Basildon piled forward the closing stages and were virtually camped in the Canvey half. They had two golden chances to claim a share of the points, but on both occasions Lamar Johnson came to Canvey’s rescue with excellent saves.
On 87 minutes Kris Newby hit an excellent shot from the right which looked to be arrowing across goal and into the top corner. Johnson flung himself to his right and got his fingertips to the ball, sending it past the post for a corner.
Then, as the match ticked over into injury time, the ball was squeezed through to Adam Vyse who was onside on the edge of the six-yard box. It seemed as though the goal was an inevitability, but Johnson managed to keep the ball out on the line to ensure the Gulls picked up three points from their first league match in over a month.