Canvey Island fell to a 2-1 defeat away to AFC Sudbury in the BetVictor Isthmian League North on Saturday afternoon.
At a soaking wet King’s Marsh Stadium, the Gulls were outplayed for the vast majority of the match but came close to grabbing a share of the spoils late on.
Manager Mark Bentley made one change from the side that beat Chipstead in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Tuesday night, with Ade Osifuwa coming into the starting XI in place of Jason Hallett.
Dan Humphreys partnered Tobi Joseph in attack, with Michael Finneran, Matt Lock and Alex Stephenson playing as a back three.
The home side started by far the brighter of the two sides and had the ball in the net after only four minutes when experienced forward slotted underneath Lamar Johnson, although the goal was ruled out due to an offside.
Five minutes later a ball across the area from the right picked out Callum Harrison who was unmarked at the back post. Harrison shot first time from a tight angle, steering his shot high into the side netting.
Canvey mounted a rare attack on the quarter of an hour mark when Dan Humphreys picked the ball on the right, just outside the area. Humphreys played the ball across goal which narrowly evaded the run of Ryan Melaugh who had breached the Sudbury rearguard.
The hosts were soon back on the attack up the other end, nearly getting their rewards on 24 minutes when they played a short corner which the Canvey defence were unprepared for. The ball was delivered into the box and met with a flick on header which presented a chance for Sean Marks who was six yards out, but his subsequent headed effort went over the bar.
Marks’ strike partner Callum Harrison then tried his luck from 25 yards, hitting a low shot which skidded off the slippery surface but went wide of the far post.
The goal finally came on 35 minutes after Albert Levett had committed a foul 15 yards inside the Canvey half in a central position. The free kick was delivered into the box and saw Alex Stephenson inexplicably foul Sean Marks and leave referee Aaron Farmer with little choice but to award a penalty.
Lamar Johnson dived low to his right to try and save Tom Maycock’s spot kick, but the winger sent him the wrong way and slotted coolly into the bottom corner.
They came close to scoring a second with three minutes of the first half remaining when a long clearance was blasted forwards by the Sudbury defence. Sean Marks chased down Ade Osifuwa and managed to nod the ball down, playing it across for Reece Harris who had charged forwards in support. Harris struck a low shot which Lamar Johnson did well to keep out with his leg.
Harris had another opportunity in the 50th minute when he collected possession out on the right. The winger headed infield along the edge of the box, making his way past two Canvey players but hitting his low shot straight at Johnson who saved.
Up the other end, Albert Levett tested Paul Walker with a shot from 20 yards out in a central position. The keeper dived high to his right, getting two hands to the ball and pushing it around the post for a corner.
Mark Bentley shuffled his back, introducing three attack-minded players into the match in the form of Josh Hutchinson, Kane Gilbert and Jason Hallett.
Canvey keeper Lamar Johnson produced two fantastic saves in the 76th minute. First he managed to get a leg to Reece Harris’ ball across the face of goal, making contact moments before Sean Marks would have done sliding in.
Sudbury retained possession and clipped the ball back into the box which Marks headed down for Billy Holland who was unmarked six yards from goal. However, Johnson got across well and smothered the shot when a goal looked to be a formality.
The game should have been all over with ten minutes remaining with the hosts found themselves with a five-on-one attack on the break. However, the eventual shot from the left went wide of the upright when the ball probably should have been played to the right where three players were lurking.
Canvey had been second best for much of the match, but while the score was 1-0 they were always in the game.
This proved to be the case on 83 minutes when they drew level. Jason Hallett’s flick found Tobi Joseph, and he maintained possession to get himself into a crossing position on the left. His cross took a slight deflection and was brilliantly finished with a diving header by Kane Gilbert.
However, there was one last twist in the tale as the hosts secured the points with less than a minute of normal time remaining. A corner wasn’t cleared by the Canvey defence and the ball was forced home at close range by defender Joe Grimwood.
Photo: KJA Sports Images