Sunday, May 19, 2024

Football: Aveley topple Dockers as promotion drive continues

Ryman Div One North

Tilbury 1 v 3 Aveley

By Scott Hately

AVELEY exacted revenge on their local rivals, Tilbury, after coming from behind to record a deserved 3-1 victory at Chadfields.

Tilbury’s 2-1 win at Mill Field all the way back on the 1st of September 2012 is now just a distant memory thanks to goals from Jack Stevenson and two more for leading scorer, Jordan Cox, as Aveley took all three points.

After a hard-fought, but ultimately fruitless opening half, Tilbury took a very early lead inside two minutes of the second period after a misjudgment from Andre Foster resulted in Emiel Aiken firing in.

The Millers’ response from the setback had manager Justin Gardner purring as Jack Stevenson grabbed an equaliser just five minutes later before Jordan Cox made it two in two minutes for the away side to give them the lead.

Stevenson and Junior Appiah had golden opportunities to wrap up the points, but were unable to take them, before a late penalty won by Appiah and dispatched by Cox made the points safe.

Speaking after the Ware game on Saturday, Justin Gardner said that tonight’s crunch derby game was going to be about who wanted it more.

With the pitch at Chadfields not exactly catering to Aveley’s passing style of football, along with heavy wind and rain driving in from right to left, the conditions set the stage for a battle between the two local rivals.

The conditions even played a part in the coin toss, as the home side decided to shoot against the wind in the first half, but the Millers almost used the elements to their advantage early on, nearly taking the lead in freak circumstances when a corner from the right was curled in by Teddy Nesbitt.

The flight of the ball on the in-swinger deceived James Marrable, so he would have been relieved to have seen the defender on the line clear the danger as the ball arched towards goal, saving the Tilbury stopper from potential embarrassment.

With the wind behind them in the first half it was always likely that the away side were going to have the best of the opening exchanges and Rashid Kamara came close to breaking the deadlock in the 13th minute.

Quick interplay between Junior Dadson on the left and Kamara saw Kamara in a central position. The nippy central midfielder dipped a shoulder to create some space before seeing his daisy cutter effort wrong-foot Marrable but hit the outside of the post and go wide.

A couple of minutes later and it was Aveley who had the woodwork to thank for keeping the match level as Emiel Aiken was sent clean through.

With defenders desperately trying to get back at the Dockers striker, the number 11 struck a fierce effort against the face of the post, with the ball bouncing fortunately for Billy Holland to clear.

As expected, Aveley had the lions-share of the chances as the second half wore on.

Jordan Cox forced a good save from Marrable after being played in down the right, stinging the palms of the ‘keeper with a hard shot across goal and Nesbitt’s dead-ball delivery was a constant threat for the Dockers back line with Bradley Thomas heading narrowly heading over a Nesbitt corner.

The clearest chance of them all in the first period fell to the one man you want on the end of things right now, Cox.

A long ball out from the back from Jay Leader found the run of Paul Burnett down the right as he bolted down the wing. Burnett manufactured enough space to clip in a dangerous cross that was just begging to be put away. Cox was there to supply the finish, but the ball skimmed off the top of his head and wide as the sides went in level at the break.

After being unable to break the Dockers down in the first half, Gardner would have been expecting a bit of an onslaught from their hosts as they came out for the second half with the wind in their favour, and within two minutes of the restart Tilbury took the lead through Aiken.

Aaron Waters had space down the right to pick out a cross towards Aiken at the far post. Andre Foster came out to meet the cross but was beaten to it by the Dockers striker, whose first effort was came off Foster only for his save to deflect in off the legs of Aiken as the home side took an early second half lead.

It was far from the ideal start that Aveley would have wanted, but the response showed once again the character that these players possess as within eight minutes of going behind they were in front through two goals in two minutes.

The equaliser came after brilliant work by Burnett to win the ball back off Jimmy Cook, when the defender had ample time to clear the ball and Burnett had no right to win it.

After stealing the ball off the left back, Burnett’s low cross smashed into the centre found Jack Stevenson who couldn’t miss as he put in the equaliser from eight yards against his former club after 52 minutes.

Two minutes later and it was 2-1 to the Millers as Cox powered his way in between two Tilbury defenders, getting goal side and into a shooting position.

The Aveley front-man struck a powerful shot low and hard towards Marrable’s near post which squeezed under the body of goalkeeper and in for the quickest of turn-rounds.

After not being clinical enough in the opening 45 minutes, the Millers came out firing in the second half.

It appeared that the early goal from Aiken only added fuel to the fire as the away side held firm in no small part to a commanding performance from Jay Leader, as the visitors restricted Tilbury to long range efforts and half chances.

Connor Mead came to closest to levelling the match up and will feel unfortunate to see his long range effort from the right beat Foster, but not the woodwork, as the right back’s curler clipped the top of the crossbar and went over.

Despite the wind advantage the expected Tilbury onslaught never materialised and the Millers carved out two golden chances to wrap up the points.

Stevenson was first to try his luck at securing the points after a cute ball in between the centre halves from substitute Sheldon Sellears had him one on one with Marrable. The midfielder turned onto his favoured right foot before striking his effort towards goal but it was well saved by the sprawling goalkeeper.

If Stevenson’s chance was golden, then another second half sub, Junior Appiah, was presented with the chance to end all chances. With Tilbury screaming for a free-kick up the other end, the Millers countered and were three on two.

Cox slid in a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Appiah who cut across his man expertly to be one on one with Marrable, but the substitute’s dinked effort inexplicably went wide of the right hand post to the despair of the small pocket of Aveley fans camped behind the goal.

As the game edged towards a nervous end, tackles were flying in and tempers were flaring up from players and coaching staff alike, but where Stevenson and Appiah had missed opportunities to kill the game off, Tilbury handed their opposition only final chance, this time from the penalty spot.

With three minutes of normal time remaining, Appiah again was sent clear down the right but was too wide to attempt a strike on goal. The winger cut back onto his left foot before Waters slid in knowing if he didn’t win the ball it was a penalty. The Tilbury winger got nothing on the ball and gave the referee no choice but to give the spot kick.

Cox was brave enough to step up and made no mistake, smashing the spot kick high into the roof of the net for his 20th goal of the season to claim a vital three points for his team with his eighth goal in four games.

After the match a jubilant Justin Gardner said “for 90 minutes that was probably our best performance of the season, not a foot wrong.”

He continued by saying that “I thought we’ve grown up today. Showed a lot of maturity and like I said performance of the season. To come away to Tilbury who are definitely going to be in and around the playoffs, I’m proud of the boys.”

Man of the match, Jay Leader said “it was a quality performance. We knew coming here that the pitch wasn’t going to be great so it wasn’t going to be easy to play football. We dug in, done the hard work and got the three points.”

Aveley: Andre Foster, Marcus Rose, Teddy Nesbitt, Jay Leader, Bradley Thomas, Jack Stevenson, Rashid Kamara (Sheldon Sellears 74’), Billy Holland (c) (Petrit Elbi 84’), Jordan Cox, Paul Burnett, Junior Dadson (Junior Appiah 74’)


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