Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Football: Millers end barren run with last-gasp victory

Ryman Div One North

Waltham Abbey 1 v 2 Aveley

Aveley stemmed a run of three straight defeats in league and cup to steal all three points from Waltham Abbey with a 93rd minute winner.

Billy Holland’s goal right at the death, against his former side, gave the Millers a much needed and deserved three points, after a penalty a piece from James Peagram and Shane Oakley early on in the match had looked to have been enough to give both sides a point.

After conceding 13 goals in their previous three matches, Aveley reshuffled their back line, with Marcus Rose being pushed inside along with Ellis Sands at centre back, Alfie Kamara going back to right back and new signing, Billy Cahill, filling in at left back.

With all the changes the away side would have been looking to keep things tight early on at Capershotts, however, with less than a minute on the clock Aveley got off to a nightmare start when Alfie Kamara conceded a penalty.

Waltham’s Louis Bristow played a neat one two to get the wrong side of Alfie Kamara who then pulled the winger down, giving referee, Lee Forrester, no choice but to point to the spot. James Peagram stepped up to smash home to spot-kick and give the home side a very early lead.

Aveley, though, didn’t have to wait long to find themselves level as they were awarded a penalty of their own just five minutes after going behind.

Jordon Cox was played clear of the Waltham back-line, but his first touch allowed the ball to get slightly away from him which tempted the goalkeeper off his line. Cox and Charlie Mann appeared to have got to the ball at the same time, but Forrester adjudged the Aveley man to have got their first and awarded the Millers a spot kick as Cox went down under the challenge. Shane Oakley stepped up to send the ‘keeper the wrong way to score his seventh of the season and put the away side level after eight minutes.

After the fast start to the first half, the match failed to continue at the same pace with neither side creating many chances, but the awfully wet and windy conditions made for some crunching tackles flying in from both sides as the majority of the play remained in the centre of the park.

Oakley’s half volley attempt, just past the half hour mark, was arguably the closest that Aveley came to taking the lead, but his effort wasn’t troubling the Waltham ‘keeper who claimed the ball comfortably.

Waltham Abbey’s best chance game shortly after, when Loren Maxwell was played clear of the back line and onside, but the striker’s low effort was well saved by the feet of Ronnie Worster.

Goal-scorer Oakley was withdrawn late in the first half for Rashid Kamara, and the attacker almost had an instant impact just before the break.

A whipped cross from deep from Paul Burnett was attacked by Cox who couldn’t get ahead of Mann, who punched away. From the clearance, Kamara found himself free on the edge of the area, firing in a low shot that was saved well by Mann, diving to his right, moments before the referee blew for the break.

Aveley started the second half much the brighter, with Rashid Kamara giving the referee a decision to make as he was bundled to the ground inside the area early into the half, but Forrester waved away the protests and refused to give a third penalty.

The second half was being played at lightning speed, but with both sides giving the ball away to each other, chances were still in short supply. It was Aveley, though, who were looking to more dangerous of the two sides and the away side enjoyed a sustained period of possession during the second half without really creating any clear cut opportunities to take the lead.

Burnett had the Millers’ two best chances to score a potentially decisive third goal when the winger flashed a shot across the face of goal from the left, just short of the hour mark, and then failed to reproduce his free kick heroics from the Cheshunt game when his free kick from just outside the area failed to beat the wall before being cleared with 20 minutes left on the clock.

Aveley’s clearest opportunity to nick a confidence boosting three points came with just 10 minutes remaining through the tireless Cox. Burnett found himself in acres of space wide on the left, allowing him time to whip in a low cross towards to centre of goal. Cox was quickest to react and sneaked in front of his marker only to poke the ball wide from six yards.

Second half sub, Ayrton Coley, began causing the Millers back-line some problems when he came on, and late on he managed to pressure Sands into giving away a needless corner just sparked some late Waltham pressure.

The corner, whipped in viciously from the left had the Aveley alarm bells ringing in the six yard box, as Matt Attard rose highest to win the header, only to head over from a couple of yards with Worster rooted.

Sensing the chance to steal a victory the home side, with the bit between their teeth, went for the jugular and if it wasn’t for a last ditch challenge from Sands on Billy Jones near the end the away side may have come away with nothing, as the Millers defender’s tackle deflected the substitute’s effort wide.

A succession of corners followed, but the Aveley defense managed to stave away the danger and leave themselves staring at a draw and a potentially valuable point, but deep into added on time the away side went one better as Aveley stole all three points with virtually the last kick of the match.

Waltham defender Matt Bedford failed to clear a low cross field ball from the Aveley right. His clearance only managed to go straight back across goal towards Attard who, under pressure from Cox, was unable to get enough of his clearance also, sending the ball spinning up and towards the centre of goal where Billy Holland came charging in to stroke the ball in from eight yards and steal the points for the away side.

The goal came so late that there was hardly even time for the home side to restart the game with Aveley taking home a much needed win and three points that saw them rise to 6th in the table.

After the match, fitness coach, Gary Nisbet said that “the main thing today was to stop the goals going in, we’ve been leaking a lot of goals lately. We made a few adjustments tactically and with the personnel and the main goal today was to keep the goals out and hopefully scrap something at the other end.”

Match winner, Billy Holland said that the lads were “over the moon” with the three points and when asked about his winner against his former club and his muted celebrations he said “to be honest I was too tired to celebrate. I’ve been here (Waltham Abbey) many years, and I’ve got a lot of time for them, so it (not celebrating) was a bit both, bit of tiredness and bit of respect.”

Aveley: Ronnie Worster, Alfred Kamara, Billy Cahill, Ellis Sands, Marcus Rose (Luke Wilson 46′), Jay Leader, Jordan Cox, Billy Holland (c), Shane Oakley (Rashid Kamara 44′), Paul Burnett, Junior Dadson (Junior Appiah 76’)


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