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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Canvey Island 1
F. Merrifield (53)
Barking 1
B. Jones (25p)

Canvey Island and Barking played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at The Frost Hire Stadium in the Bostik North on Saturday.

The Gulls were below par in the first half but came back strongly in the second to earn a share of the spoils.

Manager Danny Heale made two changes from the side that beat Romford 2-0 a week earlier, bringing in Ryan Charles in place of Ryan Melaugh on the left wing and handing Nathan Fox a debut in central defence after Elliott Warren had failed a late fitness test.

The Barking squad meanwhile included three familiar faces, with striker Dan Gilchrist and left back Teddy Nesbitt in the start XI and forward Martin Tuohy on the bench.

It was the visitors who started the better of the two sides, putting the Canvey defence under early pressure and being spurred on by a healthy away following behind the goal.

On five minutes Dan Gilchrist saw a volley from the edge of the box go over Jack Giddens’ crossbar, and four minutes later Steve Sheehan had to be alert in order to prevent Abs Seymour’s low shot towards the bottom corner from hitting the target.

They took the lead on the 25th minute after a through ball had released forward Kiernan Hughes-Mason in behind the Canvey defence. Jack Giddens did well to come off his line and close down the striker’s angle for the shot, allowing time for Nathan Fox to come back and help out his goalkeeper. However, as Hughes-Mason attempted to resurrect the opportunity he cut inside, drawing the contact from Fox and going down to earn a penalty.

Jack Giddens guessed correctly and dived full stretch to his left, but he was unable to prevent Billy Jones’ spot kick from finding the bottom corner.

It took Canvey until the 34th minute to create a genuine chance to score themselves when the ball was chipped down the right wing for Mitchell Gilbey to run onto. Gilbey played the ball infield and found the feet of George Sykes, who with his back to goal turned his marker before firing a left-footed shot narrowly over from 12 yards.

Soon afterwards Ryan Charles drilled a superb low ball across the face of goal from the left which would have only needed the slightest touch to send it over the line, but fortunately for the visitors it went straight through and wide for a goal kick.

Trailing 1-0 at half time, Canvey started the second half looking much more dangerous in the attacking third of the pitch.

After some sustained pressure they got themselves back on level terms on 53 minutes when George Sykes took a quick thrown down the left wing for captain Sam Collins. His cross evaded both Mitchell Gilbey and Ryan Charles but did eventually find the feet of half time substitute Frankie Merrifield who had replaced Harry Norman.

Merrifield took a touch before pulling the trigger, crashing a shot towards the top corner which hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing over the line to equalise.

Barking responded well to being pegged back and nearly got themselves back on level terms immediately. A good run from the left by Adem Ramadan ended with him cutting the ball back for Billy Jones. His shot looked destined for the bottom corner but was brilliantly kept out by Jack Giddens who dived low to his left and turned the ball onto the base of the post.

They had another chance soon afterwards when Kiernan Hughes-Mason was played in behind the Gulls defence, but having gotten into the box he was thwarted by a well-timed tackle from Ashley Dumas.

Straight up the other end Sam Collins released George Sykes down the left. He drilled a dangerous ball across the face of goal towards Ryan Charles, but Barking right back Ricky Tarbard slid in with an inch perfect interception to put the ball over his own crossbar from inside the six yard box.

Sykes was involved again on 64 minutes collecting the ball deep inside his own half and running into opposition territory. The Barking rearguard stepped up and played both Mitchell Gilbey and Ryan Charles offside, so Sykes instead continued his run before pulling the trigger from 25 yards. Goalkeeper Emmanuel Olajide was equal to the effort however, diving low to his right and turning the shot behind for a corner.

He tested Olajide again eight minutes later, setting off on one of his trademark runs from the left wing which saw him cut inside Alfred Gbamie before firing low towards the bottom corner which the keeper got down well to keep out.

Sykes by this point was a constant threat to the Barking defence, and only an outstretched foot from Tiob Adeyemi prevented his shot across goal from the left from hitting the back of the net with 12 minutes to play.

The forward then went down inside the box in the 82nd minute under a challenge from Akwasi Marfo, although the appeals for the penalty were turned down. The contact was very similar to the incident which saw Nathan Fox penalised in the first half, but this time referee Tom Bishop declined to point to the spot.

With two minutes of normal time remaining, a long ball forwards saw Billy Jones get the better of Steve Sheehan and advance towards goal. Jones managed to get to the edge of the area where he was fouled by Frankie Merrifield, and having already been booked earlier in the half he was shown his second yellow card followed by a red. Abs Seymour’s subsequent free kick was blocked by the wall, validating Merrifield’s decision to take one for the team.

Four minutes of additional time were added on, but neither time could find a winner and the match ended with the fair result of a 1-1 draw.

Danny Heale Post-Match Interview