CANVEY GIVE ANOTHER
The worry that many of us had before today's game against in-form St Albans was; how do you follow a 7 - 0 win? (See last Tuesday's game against Heybridge) Nobody was really expecting more of the same and Canvey obviously knew that they needed to give the Saints a certain amount of respect. This was not going to be an easy game. Certainly, this was not going to be a walkover.
How wrong we were!
Although St Albans put up a much more spirited performance than Heybridge and had a good percentage of today's play, although they scored two goals and generally put together some very respectable moves, they were, nonetheless, outplayed. The game belonged to Canvey and even when they went down one-nil to an early goal, none of the visiting fans ever felt that the result was going to be in doubt.
The opening goal was a stonker and it took everybody (especially Ashley Harrison) by surprise. A beautiful long throw-in came from the left touch-line and landed almost directly onto the boot of No. 7 Gary Wraight. He hit the ball on the volley from the edge of the penalty area and the net bulged. St Albans were one-up and with only 1' 40" on the clock.
But Canvey were in no mood to be beaten. They wanted it and they were prepared to fight for it. The ease with which they were able to push the ball forward makes one wonder how the St Albans' sponsor, Queensway, could announce No 4 Ryan Moran as Man of the Match. Steve Tilson was finding loads of room up front and both Steve Parmenter and John Kennedy pushed the ball around with relative ease.
On 6 minutes JK put in a terrific header from a Chris Duffy cross but he was unlucky to see it hit the crossbar and bounce away to safety. He was doubly unlucky to receive an elbow in the face from No 3 Jon Rattle for his troubles.
But fans only had to wait another 3 minutes before Canvey pulled a goal back. It all started with a throw-in on the right and as it went to the bye-line, JK squeezed in and hooked a great cross to the far side of the goalmouth. The ball was nodded back into the middle and the bounce fell to Steve Tilson, just 10yds out, and he made no mistake with a great, unstoppable shot.
There was plenty of exciting football from both sides and St Albans always looked sharp on the break. Unfortunately for them, the Canvey defence was in tip-top form today and actual shots at goal were rather few and far between. Richard Wilmot, however, was finding life rather busy in the home goalmouth. Paul Cobb almost beat him after 17 minutes but his curling shot went just wide. Then, two minutes later, Cobby almost did it again, stretching every muscle in his body trying to reach a Steve Parmenter cross from the left. Unfortunately he couldn't make the final touch and the ball went away for a goal-kick.
But Wilmot was beaten after 32 minutes, even though the upright almost saved his blushes. Adam Miller found the ball at his feet just 15yds out from the goal line. He sent in a shot that was low and hard but it was going wide. John Kennedy managed to connect with the most subtle of back-heels and it was enough to guide the ball onto the inside face of the goalpost. The entire defence could only look on in helpless disbelief as it bobbled into the net. Although there was just a tiny air of fluke about the goal, the build-up was superb. The ball started in midfield where Duffy and Parmenter worked their magic to get it out to Tilson, lurking in space on the left. He looked up, saw Miller in space on the right and the cross was something special.
Gary Wraight, the scorer of the first goal for St Albans, always looked dangerous when he had the ball but it came as a shock for most spectators when, after 34 minutes, he was shown a red card by the referee Mr Paul Melin. Wraight did commit an innocuous foul and perhaps he did deliberately obstruct the resulting free-kick. One can only imagine that he then bad-mouthed because Mr Melin immediately blew his whistle, stopped the game and reached for his red, not his yellow, card.
Playing with 10 men for the rest of the game was always going to be a struggle for St Albans. Playing against Canvey in this sort of footballing mood proved to be a hill too steep to climb. The play probably went 60/40 in Canvey's favour in the first half and although Saints looked good on the break, their constructive play, i.e. intelligent build-up to get the ball into the danger area, was lacking. On 24 minutes Simon Martin made such a break and it looked dangerous as he closed in on Harrison for a one-on-one. But Ash was up to it and his save was good. Meanwhile, Canvey were putting together some extremely good flowing football and, as a consequence, Wilmot was far busier than Harrison. Perhaps Canvey weren't quite as sharp as they were lat Tuesday night and some of the distribution from midfield wasn't always 100%, but in fairness, the opposition was a lot better.
The second half started with Saints going straight into top gear. They were temporarily lifted and it looked, for a while at least, that they might get back into the game. But gradually Canvey got back into the driving seat and once again they started to play some exhibition football. It was hard to believe that before today's game Saints were just one place behind Canvey in the league table - the difference was that great.
Paul Cobb eventually got himself onto the scoresheet when substitute Lee Boylan sent over a good cross from the right. The ball seemed to bobble in the 6yd box and nobody could get to it to clear it. So Cobb stepped in and, almost by accident, connected and converted. 3 - 1 to Canvey.
Most of the significant play was created by Canvey and Parmenter, Miller and Tilson forced Wilmot to defend his goal on several occasions. But it was Tilson who beat the keeper with one of the best headers I have seen. Adam Miller (this boy just gets better and better) sent over a cross that Tilly climbed to, nodded down and Canvey had the game sewn up.
St Albans did get a second consolation goal and it was a quality affair. There was a momentary lapse in Canvey's midfield that allowed Darren Fenton to tee up a lob at Harrison's goal. The shot was intelligent, the goal was a good one. But it was not enough and when the final whistle eventually went (some four minutes late) all three points went, quite rightly, to Canvey Island.
Man of the match? St Albans gave it to Moran, but he must be embarrassed to accept it, in view of the performances of Tilson (nine out of ten) Miller (nine and a half out of ten) and Parmenter (ten out of ten).
Match Report by Merv
Canvey Island - Ashley
Harrison, John Kennedy, Chris
Duffy, Ben Chenery, Mick
Bodley, Peter Smith, Steve
Tilson, Mark Stimson, Paul
Cobb, Adam Miller, Steve
Parmenter. SUBS - Lee Boylan, Wayne
Vaughan, Steve Ward.
St Albans - Richard Wilmot, Richard Evans, Jon Rattle, Ryan Morgan, Derek Brown, Freddie Hyatt, Gary Wraight, Darren Fenton, Simon Martin, Youness Nabil, Rob Smith. Subs: Danny Honeyball, Mike Bignall, Christian Metcalf.
Weather Conditions: Fine, dry afternoon.
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