|Metropolitan Police 0|
|Canvey Island 4|
|S. Sheehan (27), H. Chatting (60), G. Sykes (67), R. Blackman (76)|
The Met had won their previous three matches, but for the first time in a while Canvey took their chances and kept a clean sheet to power to a win which must now be used as a springboard for the rest of the season.
Manager Danny Heale handed a second debut to forward Simon Thomas who partnered George Sykes in attack. George Allen also came into the side after recovering from injury to take his place in central defence alongside Steve Sheehan.
The home side featured former-Gulls defender Rob Bartley at centre back while recent loanee Alfred Mugabo took his place on the bench.
Canvey started the match brightly, having the lion share of possession and forcing several corners in the opening 15 minutes. Their best chance during this period came on 10 minutes when Simon Thomas flicked the ball through for George Sykes to run onto, but his shot across goal from a tight angle deflected off goalkeeper Brannon Daly and went inches wide.
They had another chance on 16 minutes when Ashley Dumas delivered a good cross from the left wing towards Simon Thomas. The forward tried to stab the ball towards goal from six yards but couldn’t quite make a connection at the vital moment.
As the half wore on the home side started to impose themselves in the attacking third. On 18 minutes a long throw from Luke Robertson caused havoc in the Canvey area, with Steve Sheehan on hand to make a goal saving block before the ball was hooked behind for a corner.
Diminuitive forward Roman Michael-Percil then had an opportunity when a low cross from the right found its way to him near the penalty spot, but his shot was straight into the chest of Gabby Adelowo when either side would have surely resulted in a goal.
Up the other end a good ball from Mitchell Gilbey down the right wing eluded experienced defender Steve Sutherland and looked to have released Simon Thomas, but goalkeeper Brannon Daly came off his line well and got to the ball just before the tall striker.
Canvey took the lead on 27 minutes when they were awarded a free kick on the corner of the penalty area on the left. Ashley Dumas delivered a perfect out swinging ball in behind the defence which was volleyed home by Steve Sheehan from close range.
The Gulls had another chance soon afterwards when Ryan Blackman sent a cross from the right to the edge of the area which Simon Thomas directed towards goal with a glancing header. Brannon Daly was rooted to the spot but fortunately for him Thomas’ header went agonisingly wide of the upright.
The rest of the half was fairly even with the ball spending long spells in the middle of the pitch without either team being able to find a killer ball to give their strikers a chance to add to the scoring.
Both sides had excellent chances in the opening stages of the second half. On 49 minutes an Ashley Dumas free kick from the right found Steve Sheehan once again, but this time the defender was only able to hook his shot across goal and a yard over the top corner.
The Met nearly equalised on 53 minutes when another dangerous long throw from Luke Robertson was headed down by Ola Sogbanmu. The ball fell perfectly for Mekhail McLaughlin who had only entered the match a minute earlier, but his effort was kept out on the line by Ashley Dumas.
Canvey doubled their advantage on the hour mark on the counter attack after having all eleven players in the area to defend a free kick. The ball was cleared to the half way line when Will Salmon was ready to pump it back into the danger area, but he slipped at the vital moment under pressure from Harrison Chatting. The winger capitalised on the error and set off on a clear run at goal before slotting past Brannon Daly with his left foot.
It was 3-0 seven minutes later thanks to a moment of brilliance from George Sykes. The forward collected possession out on the left wing, getting past Rob Bartley but being fouled in the process. Referee Matthew Lee played an excellent advantage which allowed Sykes to burst into the area, ghosting past another defender before steering a low shot past Brannon Daly at his near post.
The home side came close to pulling a goal back twice in as many minutes, both of which through Ola Sogbanmu. On 69 minutes a cross from the right found the head of the midfielder who nodded the ball into the ground before it was tipped over by Conor Gough.
The resulting corner was put out for a Met throw which was powered into the near post by Olli Robinson for Sogbanmu once more. This time he had two bites of the cherry, but both of his low shots were blocked thanks to some committed defending in numbers.
The victory was sealed on 76 minutes thanks to another effective counter attack. With the Met pushed up in search of a route back into the match, Canvey broke away three on two with Harrison Chatting through the middle, George Sykes to his left and Ryan Blackman to his right.
Chatting opted to play a through ball to release Blackman which pushed his skipper slightly wider than he would have liked. He managed to get a shot on target which lacked any real power but somehow beat Daly and nestled into the bottom corner, potentially as a result of a bobble in the muddy penalty area.
The Met had a late chance to grab a consolation goal when substitute striker Charlie Collins received possession inside the area, but Conor Gough was in no mood to lose his clean sheet and saved with his left foot.
The full time whistle sounded to ensure that Canvey recorded their biggest league win of the season and their first in their last seven outings in a make or break match.
Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts