Centre half Liam Thomas was The Motormen’s unlikely hero after he netted a hat-trick as Redbridge went five clear at the top of the Essex Senior League with victory over West Essex on Friday night at Oakside.
The hosts should of been in front in only the second minute as the ball dropped to Eljay Worrell bang in front of the visitors goal however he could only blast his effort wide, and just three minutes later the visitors took the lead when Joe Lefley got a second bite of the cherry to fire past Lewis Greene.
In the 19th minute Calvin Poku almost got onto a through ball for the hosts, but visitors keeper Dan Russell managed to come out and smother the ball, and three minutes later a lung busting run from Joshua Hutchinson saw him lay off a ball to Poku, but the forward could only fire a powerful effort over the visitors bar.
Midway through the half Fatos Zeqiri sliced an effort wide for the visitors as they continued to compete well with the league leaders, and on the half hour mark a Redbridge corner was headed wide by Thomas from six yards out.
Ten minutes before half time the ball broke to Worrell inside the West Essex box but he could onky drag his effort wide of the far post, and two minutes later the hosts saw Martin Tuohy send a deflected header at goal, but this was saved easily by Russell. It meant despite all the hosts attacking pressure they found themselves a goal behind at the break.
Half Time Redbridge 0 West Essex 1
The visitors had a decent chance to double their lead six minutes after the break as a ball into the box was headed wide by Tom Macleod, but just five minutes later Redbridge equalised when after second half substitute Brian Moses had seen a point blank effort saved by Russell, Thomas followed up to score by sending an effort through a crowded six yard box and into the net.
And just before the hour it was a quickfire double for centre half Thomas as he diverted a Worrell free kick into the goal and suddenly the hosts had the lead.
The visitors fired a loose ball well wide of target midway through the half but they had responded well after going behind although they failed to really test Greene in the hosts goal, and with seventeen minutes left a scramble in the visitors box eventually saw the ball deflect wide of goal, although a goal kick was given.
In the 77th minute a great ball into the box by another second half substitute Jacob Dingli saw Moses attack the visitors near post but see his deft flick fly across goal and away from danger, as the hosts remained just one goal to the good.
However with a minute of normal time remaining the hosts won a penalty when Dingli got clear and rounded keeper Russell who hacked him to the floor, resulting in the dismissal of the visitors keeper. And the ball was handed to centre half Thomas to give him the chance of completing a memorable hat-trick, and Thomas took the chance well and sparked wild scenes amongst the hosts.
In the 95th minute Lefley thumped a terrific effort against the Redbridge post with keeper Greene well beaten, but it was too little too late for West Essex who despite a gallant effort here fell to defeat against the league’s best team right now arguably.
A Peagram brace helped Ilford come from behind to beat Hullbridge Sports at Cricklefield.
Both sides had seen managerial amendments prior to this contest, Ilford merging Allan Fenn and Billy Cove into joint managers, and Darren Manning coming in to replace Rob Hodgson/Aaron Hunwicks as Hullbridge boss.
Ilford sat in ninth position after a slow start to their campaign, whilst Hullbridge were way down in 20th place with only Waltham Forest below them in the division after a season of struggle
The Foxes came into this one off the back of defeat to West Essex whilst Hullbridge defeated Wembley in the Vase to give them confidence ahead of this one.
The early exchanged saw an early chance for both sides, the visitors seeing hosts keeper Clark’s clearence falls to Cox outside the box but he could only blast his first time effort well wide, before the hosts saw an effort blocked on the line down the other end.
If truth be told though the opening twenty minutes were not a great spectacle and the next effort on goal didn’t arrive until midway through the half when the hosts fired an effort at goal from outside the box, but keeper Merrells got down well to save.
But just before the half hour mark the visitors grabbed the lead when an effort from Siemienczuk deflected past Clark and the visitors had the advantage.
With six minutes of the half remaining Sports got in down the left but for some reason Siemienczuk decided to cross instead of shoot at goal and the chance ended up being snuffed out.
And with three minutes of the half remaining Ilford equalised when a cross to the back post was headed back across goal for Peagram to apply a close range finish and send his side in level at the break.
Half Time Ilford 1 Hullbridge Sports 1
The Foxes had a great chance early on in the second period when Atutis sent a powerful free header over the bar, and a few minutes later Peagram sent in a dangerous cross towards the visitors far post but no one gambled on it and it drifted out for a goal kick.
Ten minutes into the half the visitors got in but saw Clark tip the effort wide, then from the corner the visitors sent a header from a angle onto the bar and over.
The next goal was always going to be crucial in such a tight contest and it was the home side who got their noses in front just past the hour mark when Atutis ghosted into the box to send a powerful header in off the bar and give the Foxes the lead.
The visitors looked for a response and in the 72nd minute saw them create a great chance as Buffin got in, but saw Clark save well however the ball squeezed out to the edge of the box but the follow up effort went over.
And with fifteen minutes remaining Ilford increased their lead when another ball into the box saw Peagram head home a third for the hosts and give his side a two goal cushion.
Sports almost got back into the contest late on when an Ilford pass back went past keeper Clark who had come out of goal, but the ball went wide of the post, and the hosts breathed a sigh of relief.
The remainder of the game saw the hosts see it out and pick up a welcome win to maintain ninth spot, whilst for Hullbridge they sit second bottom and with plenty of work to do.
Dwade James netted twice as Lodge made it three wins in five after victory over Hackney Wick in the evening kick off at the Old Sports Dog.
The hosts began the contest well and looked to gain an early advantage against the leagues bottom side but were unable to find a way through.
However Lodge are much improved now under the stewardship of Marc Farrell and soon grew into the contest and midway through the half grabbed the lead when a deep cross to the back post found Mario Gnijaj who converted and give the visitors the advantage.
And it was an advantage they would double just eight minutes later when the referee adjudged that a foul had been committed just inside the box although it did look a bit harsh to me, anyway James stepped up and converted the spot kick and Wick had a mountain to climb.
Wick ended the half with a decent spell but they went into the break two goals behind and as things stood Lodge would be leapfrogging them out of the bottom four.
Half Time Hackney Wick 0 Wadham Lodge 2
Wick knew they needed the next goal to have any chance of getting something from the game but it was Lodge who had two brilliant chances to extend their lead but failed to do so.
The second period thereafter was fairly quiet as both teams battled in midfield as the game just drifted along and it remained this way until twelve minutes from time when from nowhere Wick pulled a goal back when sloppy play allowed Ibrahim Camara to poke home into the far corner and give Wickers a lifeline.
The hosts never really threatened an equaliser though and in fact it was Lodge who so nearly sealed the points but again failed to do just that.
That was until the 89th minute when they finally sealed the win when a cross into the six yard box saw the keeper spill trying to catch the ball and allowed James to thump home from a yard out and punish the mistake.
It meant that Lodge jumped up four places into fifth bottom and leap frog Wick who now find themselves third bottom.
An Ethan Kessel brace helped see Woodford Town to victory over Forest at The Matchday Centre in ground hop day’s afternoon kick off.
The hosts, who came into this one off the back of seven straight league defeats, took the game to their opponents early on and had some good chances to get an early advantage, but they failed to capatilise on this pressure.
Woodford themselves did have a couple of decent openings themselves, including one straight from kick off, but in the opening half hour they did have more defending to do and keep the hosts out.
But ten minutes from the break the visitors broke the deadlock as after the hosts failed to clear after some commotion inside their penalty box, Asher Modeste swung a boot at the loose ball and saw it find the corner of the net.
It meant the hosts went into the break behind in a half where they had started so well but gradually saw their performance tail off as the half went on and saw Woodford take advantage of this late on in the half.
Half Time Waltham Forest 0 Woodford Town (2017) 1
Forest knew they needed a fast start to this period however it started poorly as Woodford were the ones who made that quick start by doubling their advantage four minutes after the break when a total miskick from Modeste turned out to be a perfect pass to Kessel who fired first time into the bottom corner and give Forest a mountain to climb.
The hosts made changes and brought on Medina and Creasey in an attempt to get back into the contest and midway through the half the two substitutes combined to do just that, as Medina got to the byline and crossed for Creasey to rifle into the roof of the net from close range and give Forest a lifeline.
But that lifeline vanished just two minutes later when Woodford restored that two goal cushion when a loose ball in the hosts box fell to Kessel and the forward sent an effort goalwards and saw the ball squeeze through the keeper’s grasp and into the corner of the net.
The hosts saw a curling effort strike the post and also a late header go well off target, but the visitors looked fairly comfortable for the majority of the remainder of the contest and run out winners, which sees them occupy tenth spot.
For the hosts its an eighth straight defeat now and with other results going against them sees the Walthamstow club go bottom of the table.
A Brian Moses inspired Redbridge eventually saw off a spirited and committed Burnham Ramblers side to take the points at Oakside.
It didn’t take to long for the Motormen to hit their stride and in the eighth minute went in front as a great ball in by Courteney Homans found Moses in the area and the big man duly nodded a perfect header past Joshua Strizovic in the Ramblers goal.
The hosts carved out more openings although either found keeper Strizovic in the way or wasteful finishing preventing them from netting further goals, however the visitors weren’t being outplayed and did create two or three decent openings to warn the hosts that they were not out of this contest by any means.
And a minute before the break the visitors stunned their opponents by levelling things up as Bradley Morgan sent in a pinpoint cross right onto debutant Fraser Inns head and the striker sent the ball beyond Lewis Greene and into the bottom corner.
It meant that the teams went into the break all square and set up the second period perfectly.
Half Time Redbridge 1 Burnham Ramblers 1
The early exchanges of the second half saw the hosts attempting to grab the lead once again but found Strizovic and poor finishing again preventing them from doing so and Moses, obviously frustrated with this, said one to many things to the linesman and was booked.
However in the 63rd minute he was too turn that negatively into positive vibes when he got above everyone else to nod home a close range header and restore the home sides advantage in this one.
Burnham to their credit dug in and made it difficult for the hosts but were relying on Strizovic to keep them in it as the visitors keeper made several saves to keep Redbridge at bay.
But with five minutes remaining the hosts sealed the points when a superb through ball from Moses released substitute Jacob Dingli whose effort was snuffed out by Strizovic but the ball squirmed free and saw another substitute Tommie Turner slide home the loose ball.
Redbridge almost added more in the closing minutes but found Strizovic again in the way but the job was already done for the hosts as they picked up the win and see the hosts in third spot, just a point behind the leaders.
For Burnham it was another league defeat although they more then pushed their opponents today and at times had them worried but ultimately found the hosts just a bit to good in the end and defeat sees Ramblers slip to fourth bottom in the division.
Despite a late fight back from Hullbridge Sports it was Great Wakering Rovers who took the points at Lower Road in the Essex Senior League derby.
The hosts were enduring one of their worst seasons for recent seasons, sitting third bottom, and were coming up against a team in Rovers who were in the mix at the top.
And the visitors were soon into their stride and created a great opportunity in the fourth minute as a loose ball dropped to Nash but he could only lift his effort over the bar.
And three minutes later they went close again when a Richmond free kick zipped off the wet surface and saw keeler Catling parry the ball out but Nash couldn’t convert the follow up as Sports survived again.
However on ten minutes it was third time lucky as a ball forward saw Taylor and Richmond contest it and full back Taylor tried to head back to Catling but instead saw Richmond run onto it and slot beyond Catling to give Rovers the lead.
Rovers continued to dominate and four minutes later saw a long ball release Richmond in on hosts goal but Catling come out to make a good save and then midway through the half Rovers went close again when Johnson whips a free kick across goal and just wide of the far post.
The hosts saw their first effort on goal come in the 25th minute when Dulieu struck an effort from outside the box which keeper Hawkins made a bit of a meal of but did manage to safely gather eventually.
And then just a minute later Rovers doubled their advantage when a great cross from the right saw Johnson ghost in totally unmarked to power home a close range header and give Rovers a even tighter grip on proceedings.
And in the 34th minute things went from bad to worse for the hosts when they gave Rovers a third when a routine back pass from centre half Poole bobbled over keeper Catlings foot and rolled into the net, it was a huge body blow and the visitors were three goals to the good.
A minute before the break Rovers almost had a fourth when sloppy defending saw Rovers pinch the ball before rolling in Johnson but his effort was deflected onto the post by a sliding Hodgson.
However the visitors were cruising as they went into the break and most feared for the hosts if Rovers got a couple early on in the second period.
Half Time Hullbridge Sports 0 Great Wakering Rovers 3
Rovers almost grabbed that early second half goal nine minutes into the half but saw Catling make a terrific stop to deny Johnson, but after that the game became more of a battle as chances dried up.
But then in the 72nd minute the hosts from nowhere grabbed a lifeline to perhaps reward them for their second half improvement when Buffin blasted home a loose ball inside the area after the visitors had fail to clear their lines.
The visitors knew a fourth would seal the win and with ten to go they so nearly found it when Johnson burst through, but his shot across goal went just wide of the far post.
And four minutes later a Rovers break saw them burst through but player manager Hodgson got back brilliantly to produce and goal saving sliding tackle to thwart them, tippifying his commitment to the cause.
And with three minutes to go it was very much game on when the hosts found a second goal when a long range effort deflected off Buffin and past Hawkins and suddenly the hosts had a sniff at an unlikely draw.
However the visitors kept their nerve and kept the hosts at bay and in the 96th minute almost added a fourth when substitute Bryan burst through but saw Catling make a good diving save, and the referee blew almost immediately afterwards and the visitors had taken another three points and moved into fourth spot in the ESL.
For Hullbridge it’s another defeat and they remain third bottom, however if they can cut out the errors and battle more like they did in the second period then they will no doubt pull themselves away from the dangerzone before too long.
Full Time Hullbridge Sports 2 Great Wakering Rovers 3