|Canvey Island 4|
|A. Rhodes (49), D. Heale (66), J. Rowe (73), A. Rhodes (74)|
|Newport Pagnell Town 1|
|R. Macdonald (56)|
The Gulls dominated from the start, but James Russell did well the stop an early threat in the opening moments. From then on Canvey played creative football that couldn’t quite develop into clear cut chances, whilst Newport didn’t offer much and resorted to the long ball from defence for their forwards to run on too, often being caught offside.
Late tackling was another factor Newport was guilty of and on 12 minutes Dean Buss was the first name noted in the Referee’s book.
On 18 minutes, after a succession of dangerously close corners for Canvey, Ashley Dumas’ long pass down the left swerved into the path of Jay Curran. Curran beat his man before squaring the ball to Jason Hallett unmarked in Newport’s penalty area, but Hallett fired his shot straight at ‘keeper Mark Osbourne, who also reacted well to collect the loose ball.
Matt Game was Canvey’s first booking on 24 minutes as he was judged to have made a push whilst challenging for the ball in midfield and this was followed up two minutes later as Sean McBride did the same for Newport. To round it off Jason Hallett was booked on 29 minutes for lunging into a tackle and he may even have seen red but for the grace of actually winning the ball.
Newport had the perfect opportunity to take the lead on 31 minutes when they were awarded a penalty for a push in the box; however Darren Lynch’s shot cannoned off the right post and bounced clear of danger.
The second half saw Canvey up the ante as Newport were already showing signs of flagging and fitness took hold of the game. James Rowe had a cross fizz across the face of goal with no-one able to make contact on 48 minutes, and then on 50 minutes Alex Rhodes got Canvey off the mark.
Rhodes had the ball at his feet twenty yards from goal and he let fly and terrific shot that was heavily deflected off of Dean Buss, wrong-footing Osbourne and landing in his bottom near-post corner.
Newport replied just before the hour when a defence splitting pass found its way through to Rob McDonald and he fired past James Russell from inside the penalty area.
Danny Heale replaced Jason Hallett for Canvey on 61 minutes and he made an instant impact on the game, giving Canvey some fresh legs up front.
Some brilliant passing play by Canvey saw Heale grab Canvey’s second on 66 minutes. Alex Rhodes collected Russell’s long throw and with Dumas overlapping down the left they worked it down the pitch before Dumas dragged the ball back to Heale who struck the ball sweetly into the far corner of the net.
Chris Moore prevented Newport equalising a second time on 70 minutes as his late heroics blocked an effort on the line with the ball going out for a corner.
Dean Buss rounded off a poor showing from himself by receiving his second yellow card on 72 minutes as he tripped Robbie King outside the ‘D’. King’s free-kick was deflected by the wall out for a corner.
Working their way down the right on 75 minutes, Jay Curran played the ball into Matt Game. Game’s effort from twenty yards was acrobatically tipped onto the post by Osbourne but James Rowe was on hand to rifle the rebound into the roof of the net.
Just a minute later and Matt Game laid off a lovely cross-field pass to the feet of Alex Rhodes who had beaten the offside trap before baring down on goal and smashing the ball past Osbourne at his near post. Canvey were clearly enjoying having the upper-hand and their confidence shone through in their style of play and passing using all the available width and breaking through Newport’s defence at every opportunity, putting them under pressure until they controlled the possession of the ball.
Matt Game was given a well earned break on 76 minutes to be replaced by Kevin Dobinson, again giving Canvey fresh legs and continuing their no-nonsense control of the midfield.
On 78 minutes Richard Armstrong became Newport’s latest booking and on 83 minutes he was also shown a straight red card for raising an elbow to Robbie King.
Before this Daniel Nti replaced Vinny Shrieves and on 85 minutes Canvey gave a late debut to youngster Jon Glowacki, replacing Frankie Everett and simultaneously Scott Mulkern replaced Jordan Spruce.
The game was clearly beyond the Swans now and time ran down with Canvey ensuring it was their hands on the prize money.