Canvey Island extended their winning streak to three matches in all competitions with a 3-1 victory away to relegation-threatened Aveley. However, despite an excellent start, The Gulls made life tough for themselves in the second half, eventually securing the win with a late penalty.
The match started in the best possible fashion for John Batch’s side when they took the lead after only 3 minutes. Canvey were awarded a free kick on the right wing, which was taken by Alex Rhodes for a comfortable claim for Millers’ keeper Dave McCartney. However, he inexplicably dropped the ball at the feet of Danny Heale, who didn’t need a second invitation to slam the ball home from 6 yards.
The lead was doubled on 10 minutes, with Canvey totally in control of procedings. Jay Curran, playing on the right wing, found space and got to the byline, only for his attempted cross to be knocked behing for a corner by the home defender. Alex Rhodes whipped in the subsequent corner, and central defender John Easterford connected sweetly with his head to score on his first league start for the club.
Canvey were constantly on the attack and almost made it 3-0 soon after. Jay Curran’s low cross from the right was neatly flicked on by Danny Heale, but the ball just evaded the outstretched left boot of Jason Hallett. Alex Rhodes picked up the ball on the touchline, but his shot was directed into the side netting from a tight angle when a pass would have been the better option.
Aveley had their first chance on 20 minutes when Orlando Smith hit a sweet half volley with the outside of his right foot from distance. The ball was on it’s way into the top corner, only for James Russell to leap across his goal and tip the ball behind for a corner.
The first contentious decision of the match came on 26 minutes when Canvey should have been awarded a penalty. Matt Game delivered a low cross into the box and found Jason Hallett, 12 yards out with his back to goal. The Canvey striker muscled his way past the two Aveley defenders, only to be hauled down by Jamie McGuiness as he was about to shoot. However, neither the referee or his assistant made what seemed to be a fairly straight forward decision, and play resumed.
If the penalty was contentious, then the incident on 37 minutes can only be described as very highly questionnable indeed! Jason Hallett latched onto the ball and beat his man to go one on one with the Aveley keeper, only to be hauled down by the last defender. Had the foul been awarded then a red card would have inevitably followed, but once again neither of the officials made the call which everybody else in the ground seemed to see.
Aveley could have pulled one back before half time following a foul by Ashley Dumas which earned him a booking. David Knight struck the initial free kick straight into the arms of James Russell, but the ball clipped the arm of one of the Canvey defenders in the wall on the way through and was therefore moved forward 10 yards. The subsequent free kick was hit narrowly wide by Knight as Canvey saw out the half with a two goal advantage.
Chris Moore had picked up an injury in the first half and was replaced by Steve Ward at half time. Ward himself was struggling with a stomach muscle injury, but came on to partner the impressive John Easterford in the Canvey back line for the second half.
Canvey should have extended the lead on 48 minutes when some uncertain defending was very nearly punished. A free kick had been awarded for handball, with Matt Game clipping the ball in and finding the head of home defender Sean Francis. However, his header was only directed straight up in the air and to the feet of Danny Heale, who jinked the ball to his right before striking over the crossbar.
Despite this effort, there was a feeling that Canvey needed a third goal to make sure that the match was beyond Aveley’s reach. This was proven true on 54 minutes when Josh Llewellyn was left unmarked at the back post to direct a powerful header past James Russell and into the net. Jay Curran almost restored the two-goal cushion three minutes later, but his header from Alex Rhodes’ left wing cross narrowly over.
Spencer Harrison came on for Jamie McGuiness on 68 minutes, and moments after James Russell had to be alert to tip a free kick around the post. Up the other end on 72 minutes, Danny Heale got his head to a Canvey free kick but Dave McCartney was well position to claim the ball.
The points were very nearly secured on 86 minutes when Alex Rhodes got to the byline and sent across a pinpoint cross which Jay Curran steered towards the bottom corner from close range. However, McCartney was equal to the effort and dived low to his left to keep the ball out and get up in time to collect the ball.
From almost having the game put beyond their reach, Aveley almost equalised on 87 minutes when they broke through, only for a last ditch tackle from John Easterford to turn the ball behind for a corner.
The goal that Canvey so needed came in the 90th minute as Jason Hallett was once again hauled down when through on goal. This time the referee put his whistle to his mouth and pointed to the spot, sending Spencer Harrison off for his second yellow card in the 22 minutes he had played. Robbie King stepped up an scored his 7th goal of the season. Kevin Dobinson replaced Jason Hallett during the three additional minutes, and soon after the final whistle sounded to ensure the three points made their way back down the A13.
Aveley: Dave McCartney, Jamie McGuiness (Off 68), Andy Howell, Jason Mason, Tony Russell, Sean Francis, Orlando Smith, Danny Slatter (c), Josh Llewellyn (Off 78), David Knight, Luke Stanley (Off 73). Subs: Spencer Harrison (On 68), Nathan Ashton, Kurt Smith (On 78), Abs Thompson (On 73), Darren Quinton.
Canvey Island: James Russell, Andrew West, Ashley Dumas, Rob King, Chris Moore (Off 45), John Easterford, Jay Curran (Off 86), Matt Game, Jason Hallett (Off 92), Danny Heale, Alex Rhodes. Subs: Frank Everett, Hussein Isa (On 86), Kevin Dobinson (On 92), Steve Ward (On 45), Craig Davidson.
Report courtesy of Canvey Island FC