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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Bowers & Pitsea 2
D. Knight (3), T. Stokes (84p)
Canvey Island 1
R. Melaugh (79p)

Ten man Canvey Island fell to a 2-1 Boxing Day defeat away to Bowers & Pitsea at The Len Salmon Stadium in the Bostik North.

The Gulls conceded early and then played 70 minutes with a man fewer, drawing level late on before falling to defeat.

Manager Danny Heale named the same side that beat Cheshunt 7-1 three days earlier, while the Bowers squad included four former-Canvey players. John Easterford and David Knight were in the starting XI and Tony Stokes and Usman Adeniji were named on the bench.

The home side took the lead after only three minutes when the Canvey defence stepped up on David Knight in order to play him offside. However, in focussing on the forward they neglected to pay attention to Fahad Nyanja who ran onto through ball.

Nyanja bore down on goal one-on-one with Ashlee Jones, drawing the keeper out before squaring for Knight to score into an empty net against his former employers.

Having gone a goal down, Canvey started to get a foot hold in the match and see more of the ball. However, they always seemed vulnerable to the counter attack, and this proved to be the case on 21 minutes.

David Knight managed to latch onto a ball in behind Steve Sheehan, advancing into the area before being fouled by the Canvey defender. Referee David Harrison had no choice but to point to the spot and show Sheehan a straight red card.

Knight picked himself up to take the penalty, but his effort was kept out by Ashlee Jones diving full to his left.

Rather than make a substitution, manager Danny Heale opted to shuffle Ashley Dumas across to partner Jerrome Sobers in central defence and drop Ryan Charles to left back.

The red card didn’t seem to have a huge impact on the match, with Canvey still having slightly more in the way of possession but without working the goalkeeper.

David Knight caused more problems for the Canvey defence on 36 minutes, skipping the ball past Ryan Charles before fizzing a low ball across the face of goal. However, with players ready to apply the finish, Jerrome Sobers did very well to hook the ball over his own crossbar for a corner.

Having settled into their new formation, Canvey started to create some half chances of their own in the closing moments of the first half.

On 40 minutes George Sykes brought the ball down from out of the air on the edge of the box, laying it off for strike partner Mitchell Gilbey to strike. Gilbey hit a low shot from 20 yards which was finding the target before deflecting off of John Easterford and going behind for a corner.

Then, with the final action of the first half, Sam Collins sent a cross over from the left wing which George Sykes nodded wide at the back post.

Danny Heale did make a substitution at the break, bringing on central defender Elliott Warren in place of Mitchell Gilbey. The forward had collided with the perimeter fencing earlier in the match, so whether this was a tactical or enforced changed was unclear.

The hosts created a couple of good chances in the opening ten minutes of the second half.

On 50 minutes Ben Sartain collected possession inside the area following an attempted clearance from Jerrome Sobers. Sartain took a touch before pulling the trigger, but this extra touch allowed time for Jake Pitty to get across and put in a crucial block.

Five minutes later an excellent cross field ball from the left by Fahad Nyanja found Lewis Manor on the opposite flank. Manor prevented the ball from going behind, playing a low pass for David Knight who had run to the edge of the area from deep. Knight’s low shot across goal looked destined for the back of the net but was kept out thanks to a superb last ditch block by Jerrome Sobers.

Up the other end on 63 minutes, Ryan Charles won a flick on header out the left wing to find George Sykes, who in turn held up possession before sliding Charles through on goal. Charles drove into the area but his low shot was blocked by John Easterford.

Three minutes later Canvey were awarded a free kick just outside the box in a fairly central position after Jamie Salmon fouled Ryan Melaugh, picking up a yellow card for his trouble. Sam Collins stood over the ball but rather than shooting, instead he shifted it a couple of yards infield for Frankie Merrifield. The midfielder drilled a low shot through the wall which caught a deflection and went narrowly wide for a corner.

Canvey drew level with 11 minutes to play when Bowers captain Martyn Stokes brought down George Sykes inside the area. Ryan Melaugh stepped up and hammered home the penalty to score his third goal of the campaign.

The Gulls were only on level terms for five minutes when referee David Harrison awarded this third penalty of the afternoon. This time Ashley Dumas was adjudged to have brought down Johnny Ashman inside the area who seemed to go to ground fairly softly.

Former-Canvey man Tony Stokes stepped up having come on as a sub 12 minutes earlier and sent Ashlee Jones the wrong way to restore Bowers’ lead.