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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Maldon & Tiptree 2
J. Ogedi-Uzokwe (51), R. Gondoh (60)
Canvey Island 2
S. Collins (17), M. Gilbey (80)

Canvey Island and Maldon & Tiptree played out an absorbing 2-2 draw at The Maldon Stadium on Saturday.

The two Bostik North promotion hopefuls provided great entertainment for the 101 who braved the chilly conditions, playing out a match that swung and forth before finishing level.

The home changing room included some familiar faces, with former-Canvey winger Paul Abrahams on the coaching staff having made 35 appearances for the Gulls during the 1999/00 season, scoring seven times. There was also a place in the starting XI for midfielder Harry Morgan who played on five occasions for us during the previous campaign.

Manager Danny Heale made three changes to the side that were beaten 3-0 by Potters Bar Town a week earlier. Elliott Warren came in at centre back in place of the suspended Steve Sheehan after he had accumulated five yellow cards. Heale also handed starts to James Walker and Sam Collins, with Harry Norman and Teddy Nesbitt dropping to the bench.

Maldon started the match in confident fashion and opened up the Canvey defence in the second minute. Ryan Gondoh got past Jake Pitty down the left and cut the ball back for striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, but the division's top scorer scuffed his shot across goal and a long way wide for a goal kick.

They then caught the Gulls on the counter attack after 12 minutes following a Canvey free kick, leaving Ogedi-Uzokwe and Gondoh two-on-two with Elliott Warren and Ashley Dumas. Ogedi-Uzokwe played a cross-field pass from the right which finds the run of Gondoh, but he fired over the bar with only Ashlee Jones to beat.

Three minutes later Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe had a shot blocked by Ashley Dumas inside the area, but the loose ball rebounded straight to Johnville Renee on the edge of the box. He took a touch before sidestepping George Craddock, although blasted his shot high over the crossbar.

Canvey took the lead against the run of play on 17 minutes when Sam Collins was tripped by Johnville Renee 30 yards from goal in a central position. Collins picked himself up and struck a tremendous free kick which beat Dominic Kurasik despite the Australian keeper getting a hand to the ball diving high to his right.

The home side came close to equalising six minutes before the break with a goal that would have been reminiscent of Wayne Rooney’s third against West Ham three days earlier.

A long ball forwards set Oluwole Akinsanya free in behind the Canvey defence, but Ashlee Jones did well to spot the danger and rush off his line and get to the ball first. However, Jones’ sliding clearance went infield and straight to Harvey Brown 10 yards inside the Canvey half, and he demonstrated great technique to shoot on target with a first time effort.

Jones was left stranded, but thankfully for the Gulls Jerrome Sobers had retreated and was able to use his height to head the ball away from inside the six yard box.

With the game heading towards half time, Maldon were given a golden opportunity to go into the break on level terms with the last action of the opening period. The assistant referee flagged to indicate that Ashlee Jones had carried the ball out of his area while attempting a fly kick.

Ryan Gondoh stood over the free kick right on the edge of the box, but his low left-footed free kick took the slightest deflection off of the wall and flew inches wide of the upright for a corner.

The Jammers equalised six minutes into the second half when a low ball was played into the box and found the feet of Oluwole Akinsanya with his back to goal. Akinsanya flicked the ball around the corner for strike partner Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, and he finished expertly with a low shot across goal and into the bottom corner to remarkably score his 21st league goal of the campaign.

Maldon then took the lead on the hour mark when Ryan Gondoh retained possession despite being tackled by Ashley Dumas. Gondoh advanced towards goal, but the Canvey defence got back well and managed to block the eventual shot. However, Dumas' eventual clearance was thumped straight into the back of Jerrome Sobers, and Gondoh capitalised on a slice of good fortune to finish low across goal from the right.

Danny Heale made a double change five minutes later, introducing Ryan Charles and Ryan Melaugh in place of James Walker and George Craddock.

Ryan Charles nearly made an immediate impact, driving to the touchline down the right before squaring across goal. However, Charles’ pass was just behind George Sykes and instead was collected by Ryan Melaugh on the opposite flank.

The ball was crossed back into the area from the left to the back post which Frankie Merrifield nodded down, but Mitchell Gilbey’s shot on the turn went narrowly wide from 12 yards.

On 69 minutes a long ball forwards found the run of Mitchell Gilbey and released the forward in behind the Maldon defence. Gilbey raced towards goal but was prevented from getting a shot off thanks a superb sliding tackle from Jammers’ captain Matt Lock. The tackle still sent the ball towards goal, but goalkeeper Dominic Kurasik did well to turn the ball behind for a corner.

The substitutions definitely helped to swing the momentum of the game, with Canvey starting to have meaningful possession inside the Maldon half for the first time in the match.

On 71 minutes a cross from the left found Ryan Charles at the back post who headed back across goal and found the run of George Sykes. However, Sykes’ first time shot was straight at the keeper who gathered it into his chest.

It was Maldon who were now playing on the counter attack, something they nearly did to good effect with 15 minutes remaining. Oluwole Akinsanya bore down on goal, but an exceptional last gasp tackle from Jerrome Sobers put the ball out for a corner.

Canvey made their pressure tell on 80 minutes when Sam Collins showed great vision to pick out the run of Mitchell Gilbey with a pass from deep. Gilbey burst into the box, keeping his composure before flicking a shot over Dominic Kurasik and into the far side of the net.

Back on level terms, the Gulls sensed that all three points were a possibility. On 85 minutes George Sykes broke away down the right and sent over a tempting ball for Mitchell Gilbey at the back post, but Joshua Pollard did well to stay with Gilbey and poke it behind for a corner.

The dead ball was crossed to the near post and headed into the ground and towards goal by Jerrome Sobers. The ball bounced up and was heading for the top corner but was kept out after Kurasik dived high to his right.

The danger wasn’t over and Canvey regained possession, but George Sykes’ volley from the edge of the area was brilliantly turned over the bar.

Having come close to winning the match, it looked as though Canvey might leave empty handed when Maldon were awarded a penalty in the 87th minute. Referee Aaron Farmer pointed to the spot after Ashlee Jones was adjudged to have brought down Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe. The assistant referee flagged for a corner to indicate that Jones had got the ball, but after a lengthy discussion the referee stuck with his decision and awarded the penalty.

Ogedi-Uzokwe placed the ball on the spot having scored all eight of his previous attempts in league action so far this season. However, after a stuttering run up he saw the ball kept out thanks to a tremendous save from Ashlee Jones diving full stretch to his right, keeping the ball out down by the post.

Canvey went straight up the other end and nearly scored themselves, with Ryan Charles shooting a yard over from the right having wriggled his way through the home defence.

The final action of the match saw the ball strike the arm of Maldon defender Joe Claridge inside his own penalty area. However, Claridge’s arm was tucked in tight to his body and the referee turned down the Canvey appeals.

Danny Heale Post-Match Interview