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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Canvey Island 3
M. Gilbey (20), G. Sykes (28), G. Sykes (90)
Heybridge Swifts 0

Canvey Island recorded an impressive 3-0 Bostik North victory against Heybridge Swifts at a bitterly cold Frost Hire Stadium on Tuesday night.

Strikers George Sykes and Mitchell Gilbey shared the goals, while the defence managed to keep a clean sheet and nullify the Swifts’ deadly attacking threat.

Manager Danny Heale made one change from the side that beat Ware 5-1 on Saturday, bringing in George Craddock in place of Ryan Charles in midfield. Jack Giddens continued in goal against the side who he had previously spent time on loan with earlier in the campaign.

The visiting line-up included former-Gull Harrison Chatting wearing the number seven shirt, while another ex-Canvey player in Harry Morgan was named on the bench.

The first chance of the evening fell to the visitors in the ninth minute when a ball down the right wing released Kreshnic Krasniqi. The forward timed his run to perfection and broke into the area, but both his first shot and then follow up attempt were superbly saved by Jack Giddens.

Canvey’s first sight of goal came on 17 minutes when they were awarded a corner which Mitchell Gilbey sent into the box. George Sykes managed to get a shot on target from close range but his effort was kept off the line by a defender. The ball rebounded to Frankie Merrifield but his goalbound follow up deflected off the back of a Swifts player and narrowly over for another corner.

The Gulls then took the lead three minutes later when a superb cross field ball by Sam Collins from the left picked out Frankie Merrifield on the opposite side of the pitch inside the penalty area. Merrifield connected with a perfect header back across goal which was heading in before Mitchell Gilbey made sure with a header of his own from inside the six yard box.

Steve Sheehan came close to extending his prolific recent record in front of goal on 25 minutes when Canvey were awarded a free kick out on the left. Mitchell Gilbey delivered a dangerous inswinging corner with plenty of pace which Sheehan got his head to at the front post, steering the ball inches wide of the upright.

It was 2-0 on 28 minutes after another perfecrtly weighted ball from Sam Collins released Mitchell Gilbey in behind Ricky Sappleton and into the area. Gilbey delivered a pinpoint cross from the right to pick out strike partner George Sykes who finished with a crisp first time volley past Danny Sambridge and into the bottom corner.

It was nearly 3-0 in the 35th minute when George Sykes set off on one of his trademark runs from the left wing. Sykes got his head down and drove in the area, squaring the ball across the face of goal but not being able to find a teammate.

The ball was cleared but only as far as George Craddock, and he in turn passed to fellow midfielder Frankie Merrifield who was advancing into the area. Merrifield turned inside his marker but saw his left-footed shot saved by the keeper.

The chances kept coming for Canvey, with Mitchell Gilbey having a shot from distance saved after catching a deflection before Frankie Merrifield hit the side netting after cutting in from the right.

However, the final opportunity of the first half could and probably should have seen Heybridge claw a goal back in injury time. A cross from the left wing to the far side of the area was headed back across goal and found left back Toby Stevenson all on his own inside the box.

The defender opted to take a touch and in doing so allowed Jack Giddens to get a touch, but he was unable to hold onto possession and the ball was reclaimed by Stevenson. He laid it off for Juan Luque but Jack Giddens recovered well and did enough to force the striker to blaze his shot a yard over the top corner of the unguarded goal.

The second half by contrast was a quieter affair, with Canvey looking to contain Heybridge and hit them on the counter attack. Swifts manager Jody Brown meanwhile made two changes in an attempt to find a way back into the contest, introducing Timothy Monsheju and new signing Matthew Price in place of Harrison Chatting and Ben Griffiths respectively.

Frankie Merrifield had a shot from 20 yards beaten away by Danny Sambridge on 50 minutes, while up the other end Jack Giddens prevented Juan Luque’s shot from a similar distance from finding the bottom corner.

On 56 minutes Mitchell Gilbey got in behind the Swifts defence on the right and shot across goal which beat the dive of Danny Sambridge but also the target by a narrow margin.

As the half wore on the visitors saw more possession in the attacking third which was to be expected, but the Gulls defenced marshalled by goalkeeper Jack Giddens looked solid.

Joe Gardner had a shot deflect wide from the edge of the area on 67 minutes, although the referee missed the contact off the Canvey boot and awarded a goal kick.

They had an even better chance in the 80th minute when a shot was flicked past Jack Giddens and was rolling in, but some excellent tracking back from winger Ryan Melaugh enabled him to clear the ball off the line.

The chances kept coming, with a long ball from deep on the right from Guillem Ramon to the back post just evading Matt Price on 84 minutes and Jake Giddens saving from Joe Gardner two minutes later.

However, after Heybridge had failed to make their pressure count, George Sykes put the game to bed in the first minute of stoppage time with his 24th goal of the season. Bursting into the box from the right, Sykes got the better of Lewis Dark and shot across goal and into the bottom corner to secure a well-deserved three points.

Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts