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Match Report
Ryman Premier League - 2016/2017
AFC Sudbury 1
L. Callander (39)
Canvey Island 1
R. Blackman (61)

Canvey Island ended 2016 in positive fashion with a hard fought point away to AFC Sudbury on Saturday.

On a 3G pitch which slickened as rain started to fall in the second half, the Gulls battled back from a goal down to earn a draw in a game that saw nine yellow cards produced.

Manager Danny Heale handed debuts to new signings Jahmal Howlett-Mundle and Frankie Merrifield who replaced John Mbamarah in defence and the injured Mitchell Gilbey in midfield respectively.

The first half started slowly with very little happening in the opening 20 minutes. The home side had a couple of curling efforts from distance go wide, while Canvey’s best half chances saw Tambeson Eyong have a shot deflected wide for a corner and Callum Ibe nearly sliding in Harrison Chatting on the counter attack.

On 23 minutes and excellent cross from the right nearly provided striker Luke Callander with a tap in, but a superb block on the line by Tambeson Eyong saw him hook it out from underneath his own crossbar.

Canvey had a good opportunity on 35 minutes when they were awarded a corner after Callum Ibe had a shot deflected behind. Ashley Dumas delivered the ball left-footed to the near post which missed the head of George Sykes by inches, flashing across the goal with nobody able to apply a finishing touch.

The home side took the lead on 39 minutes when a cross from the left wing from Sam Bantick was met with an excellent header by Luke Callander who rose high to nod back across goal and into the top corner.

It was nearly 2-0 three minutes later when Callander and Bantick combined again. This time Callander played a low ball through the Canvey defence which Bantick collected onside, but his goalbound shot from just inside the area was well saved by Lewis Moore who had come off of his line to good effect.

They then a penalty shout three minutes later when Frankie Merrifield tripped Luke Callendar as he burst into the area from the left. The referee blew his whistle but only awarded a free kick, adjudging the contact was outside of the box.

Leading 1-0 at the break, AFC Sudbury came out of the traps well in the second half and created some good chances.

On 49 minutes a long ball forward was brought down well by Luke Callander, controlling the ball from over his shoulder before lobbing a shot narrowly off target from 18 yards.

Soon afterwards some good one touch passing inside the area presented Sam Bantick with an opportunity, but his effort from the right was saved into the chest of Lewis Moore.

Canvey equalised with their first shot on target in the 61st minute. George Sykes played a low ball into the area from the left with Ryan Blackman did brilliantly to take control of with an outstretched boot. Blackman looked up and sent goalkeeper Marcus Garnham the wrong way and coolly slotted into the bottom corner.

This goal changed the complexion of the match and Canvey were on the attack again three minutes later. Callum Ibe flicked on a Tambeson Eyong long throw from the right with his head, finding George Sykes on the edge of the area. Sykes was well placed but dragged his right-footed shot across goal and wide.

Up the other end winger Sam Bantick had another chance when he kept the ball in play on the left, turning his marker and shooting low across goal from a tight angle which went inches wide of the far post.

Canvey nearly took the lead with eleven minutes of normal time remaining in spectacular circumstances when Harrison Chatting launched a rocket of a shot from 35 yards. Marcus Garnham was off his line and back pedalled in vain to tip the shot over, with the ball crashing off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing out.

The Gulls could have won the game in the second of three additional minutes when Chatting played a through ball from the left for George Sykes. A defender got to the ball first but slipped at the vital moment, with Garnham doing brilliantly to smother Sykes’ shot which was destined for the back of the net.

Despite picking up a deserved point, Grays Athletic's 1-0 win away to Folkestone Invicta means that Canvey will end the year bottom of the Ryman Premier League.