Saturday, July 13, 2024

Football: Fantastic five for Millers as the entertainment kings roll on

By Scott Hateley


AVELEY produced a sumptuous display of attacking football to come away with a 5-0 win away to one of their promotion rivals, Potters Bar Town.

A hat-trick from Shane Oakley, wrapped up by a confident spot kick in the second half, along with goals from Petrit Elbi and Jay Leader capped off a dominating afternoon for the visitors in a game that prior to kick off had the makings of being a tight affair.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Aveley hit the front as early as the fourth minute through Oakley and never looked back, with manager Justin Gardner saying after the match that his man of the match was the team.

Speaking on Monday night after beating Needham Market, Justin Gardner said that he expected today’s game to be as tough a test as his Aveley players had faced so far this season, with only one point separating the sides in the league prior to kick off, as well as the hosts boasting the league’s second highest goal scorer in James Gershfield.

With that in mind, Gardner would have wanted his side to assert some authority on the game early on, and with just four minutes on the clock that’s exactly what the Millers did thanks to a neat finish from Shane Oakley.

Cole Penney was looking to bring the ball forward from the back for the home side before running in to Sheldon Sellears in the centre of the park, who did brilliantly to get his body in the way of the Potters Bar striker, before turning back towards goal with a neat piece of skill.

The turn opened up the space for Sellears to bring the ball forward himself before he played it into the path of Oakley who had peeled off to the right. Oakley stepped inside Fred Tandon before striking the ball towards goal with his left foot. Ed Thompson in the home team’s goal got a full palm on the ball, but was unable to prevent the strike nestling in the net to make it 1-0 to the away side.

It was the tenth time this season in all competitions that the Millers had scored inside the first quarter of an hour, and the early goal from Oakley allowed them to dictate the game that became very quiet, with neither Thompson nor Jack Giddens being called upon for the vast majority of the half.

It wasn’t until the 35th minute before Giddens had to make his first meaningful save, doing really well to hold onto a low Josh Urquhart free kick to keep the scores at 1-0, but it wasn’t long until the score-line did see a change as four minutes later Aveley doubled their lead with Oakley grabbing his second of the game.

Paul Burnett had received the ball wide on the left hand touch line. The Millers winger then played a devilish low cross, across the Potters Bar back line, which picked out Oakley at the far post who put the ball into the roof of the net on the slide to double the away side’s advantage as they went into the half time interval.

With a two goal deficit to make up and a vast improvement on the first half required, Potters Bar would have wanted to make a fast start to the second half to get themselves back into the game, and if it wasn’t for a fantastic save from Giddens that’s exactly what they would have got.

A free kick wide on the left from Urquhart was whipped into the centre where it found the head of Anton Agdomar. The big Potters Bar striker flicked the ball towards goal from about six yards out which looked for all the world to be hitting the back of the net before Giddens threw up a right hand to push the ball off the underside of the bar, with Aveley looking to strike a devastating blow on the counter attack.

After the ball had been cleared, a break down the left resulted in Petrit Elbi being onside and through on goal. The Aveley striker, in for the injured Jordan Cox, dragged his right footed effort wide of Thompson’s near post, with the goalkeeper already committing to the shot across goal.

It was a vital save from Giddens at one end, because at 2-1 the home side would have been right back in it and with the wind in their sails, but Elbi’s miss at the other end wasn’t to be rued for long as two minutes later Elbi got his goal and effectively killed the game off.

With Potters Bar deep inside the Aveley half trying once more to get a foothold in the game, the Millers counter attacked again down the left hand side. Burnett picked the ball up just inside the Potters Bar half, carrying it forward before whipping in another brilliant low cross that cut out the entire Potters Bar back line. Whereas his cross had found Oakley in the first half, it was Elbi this time on the end of the ball across the face of the goal, tapping in from close range to all but end the game after 59 minutes.

If the game wasn’t over then, it definitely was two minutes later as Aveley extended their lead to four, and Oakley completed his hat-trick with the away side being awarded a penalty for hand ball by Dan Johnson.

A cross from the right was played in deep towards the far post where Burnett was looking to head home from close range, but Johnson flung up an arm to prevent the ball getting to the Aveley winger. The referee, Martin Holmes, didn’t see the incident but linesman on the far side did. Oakley stepped up calmly to slot the ball into the bottom left hand corner, with Thompson going the other way with 61 minutes on the clock.

The three points were well and truly wrapped up, despite their still being a good half an hour of the game remaining, and despite being in a comfortable lead Aveley continued to push forward in the search for more goals.

Elbi had two chances to get his second of the game. The first he created all by himself, working hard to win the ball back inside the Potters Bar area before opening up his body to curl the ball over. A couple of minutes later and a free kick from Sellears from the left found Elbi inside the six yard box to tap in from close range, only for the strikers celebrations to be cut short by the linesman flagging for offside.

With the game over a long time ago, Aveley’s main aim was to shut up shop at the back and they weren’t too troubled in that department, with Gershfield coming closest to scoring when he flashed a shot towards goal from range that went just wide of the diving Giddens who had launched himself to his right.

As the teams approached the final ten minutes, the away side put the gloss on a convincing display when Jay Leader made it five in the 79th minute.

A corner from the left had been played short allowing Burnett to get a better angle for the cross. The Aveley winger then clipped a lovely little ball towards the centre of the area where he found Leader coming from right to left to get in front of his man. The Aveley defender stuck out a right boot to divert the ball goalwards and past the despairing Thompson to send Aveley towards their biggest league win of the season.

After the game, Justin Gardner said “the boys were different class today. As a team I thought they were faultless…definitely performance of the season.”

Hat-trick hero, Shane Oakley said about the performance that “Potters Bar are a good side, but we just outshone them today. From the starting eleven to the subs we were amazing.”

Speaking about his own personal performance, Oakley said that “we’ve got two quality strikers in Pet (Petrit Elbi) and Jordan (Jordan Cox), I finally get in the side after hard work and get myself a hat-trick. I’m over the moon.”

Gardner said of Oakley’s performance that “he was great today, and it was good to see him score because he hasn’t scored for the last couple of games and I was pleased for him to get off the mark. He’s just proven that he’s played less games than most people and he’s still our top goal scorer.”

Aveley: Jack Giddens, Marcus Rose (c), Alfred Kamara, Jay Leader, Ellis Sands, Danny Hopkins, Rashid Kamara, Sheldon Sellears (Teddy Nesbitt 75’), Shane Oakley (Junior Dadson 65’), Paul Burnett (Junior Appiah 65’), Petrit Elbi


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