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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Romford 0
Canvey Island 2
M. Gilbey (64), G. Sykes (85)

A solid second half performance saw Canvey Island beat Romford 2-0 at Ship Lane in the Bostik North on Saturday.

With manager Danny Heale away, Canvey were overseen by assistant manager Brad Wellmen and newly-appointed coach Clint Easton. They made one change from the side that were beaten 3-0 by Soham Town Rangers last time out, bringing in Harry Norman to replace Frankie Merrifield who has suffered a hamstring injury. There was a place on the bench for new signing Nathan Fox along with another central defender in the shape of Jerrome Sobers following his return from injury.

The Romford lineup included former-Canvey reserve team defender Michael Finneran at centre back, with another ex-Gull in forward Nick Reynolds on the bench. New signing Luke Hornsley was handed a start up front, while intriguingly George Sykes’ brother Josh was on the Boro bench to bolster their attacking options.

The first half was an uneventful affair, with neither side managing to seriously extend the opposition goalkeeper.

On seven minutes a Harry Daly corner from the Romford left was under hit but allowed to bounce inside the area by the Canvey defence. The ball was heading in at the front post, but thankfully Jack Giddens was alert to the danger and managed to turn it behind for another corner.

Canvey’s first sight of goal came on the quarter of an hour mark when they were awarded a free kick on the left wing. George Craddock sent a good ball into the area which Steve Sheehan rose well to beat goalkeeper James May to the ball and steer a header a yard wide. However, had the ball gone in the goal would not have counted as the assistant referee’s flag was raised for offside against the defender.

On 23 minutes Mitchell Gilbey received possession 20 yards out with his back to goal. Gilbey turned well before hitting a decent shot which goalkeeper James May opted to parry away.

The hosts made Jack Giddens work twice in the 32nd minute. Firstly a ball over from deep on the left was met with a glancing header by Luke Hornsley, but he directed his effort straight at the on-loan Billericay keeper who made a routine save.

Romford regained possession almost immediately and worked the ball out to Jonathon Nzengo on the right wing. His cross into the area didn’t give any of his teammates a chance of getting on the end of it, but instead would have gone straight in if not for Giddens claiming it from underneath his crossbar.

Probably the best chance of the first half fell to the Gulls with five minutes until the break. Mitchell Gilbey crossed from the right wing towards George Sykes, but the ball only went as far as Michael Finneran at the front post. The defender only managed a half clearance as far as the edge of the area and found Ryan Melaugh running onto the ball in space. Melaugh placed a first time shot towards the bottom corner which would have gone in if not for an important block from Finneran.

After a less than entertaining first half, Canvey started the second period brightly and created two good chances in the opening exchanges.

Inside 30 seconds a ball in from the left wing found George Sykes, but after cutting outside a defender he got too much on his left-footed shot and blasted it high over the bar when well placed.

A minute later Sykes broke through the Romford rearguard onside down the right, although having gotten to the touchline and looked up none of his teammates had been able to get themselves into a good position inside the box.

Sykes held onto the ball and eventually passed to strike partner Mitchell Gilbey, although he was only able to bring it back out to where Sykes was still standing. Gilbey turned and squared for George Craddock lurking on the penalty spot, but after opting to take a touch his shot was then deflected behind for a corner.

Up the other end Romford nearly scored what would have been a slightly fortuitous goal when Harry Daly shot low from just outside the box. Daly’s shot deflected off two Canvey players and found the run of Luke Hornsley who had gambled and run through the Gulls defence, but he couldn’t get enough on the ball and could only help it on its way across goal and wide.

On the hour a cross from the left by Ryan Melaugh towards the back post found the head of Jake Pitty, although a defender made contact at the same time to force a corner and ensure Pitty’s wait for his first Canvey goal would continue. The subsequent corner was whipped in by Melaugh to the back post and forced James May to claw it out from underneath the crossbar.

The game had finally come to life and a minute later Boro midfielder Olakunle Giwa struck a curling shot from the edge of the area on the left towards the opposite top corner. Jack Giddens was rooted to the spot but would have been relieved to see Giwa’s shot miss the target by a matter of inches.

Canvey took the lead on 64 minutes when George Craddock played a perfectly weighted through ball for Mitchell Gilbey to run onto. Gilbey had held his run brilliantly and raced through on goal, rounding goalkeeper James May. He did have company from a Romford defender, but he tripped over his keeper and left Gilbey with a simple finish into an unguarded net for his 15th goal of the season.

Gilbey was involved again four minutes later when he and George Sykes put pressure on a James May clearance from inside his own penalty area. May scuffed his first effort which hit Gilbey, but the keeper was able to smash the ball out for a throw at the second attempt before a green shirt could capitalise on the loose ball.

The points were sealed in the 85th minute, but not before Ashley Dumas had won the ball with an important last gasp tackle to deny substitute Craig Jeakins a shot at goal after he had broken through the Gulls’ defence.

Canvey launched an immediate counter attack which saw the ball played out to George Sykes on the left wing. In typical Sykes fashion, he showed great skill to leave Michael Finneran on the floor, driving to the touchline and shooting from an almost impossible angle. Danny Cossington kept the shot out on the line, but Sykes continued his run and tucked away the loose ball for goal number 25 of the campaign.

It could have been more when Ryan Charles latched onto a through ball with a minute of normal time remaining, but his shot was saved by the legs of James May and went behind for a corner.

Brad Wellmen Post Match Interview with Simon Pitts