Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Football: Bad day at office for the Millermen

Ryman Div One North

Needham Market 4 v 1 Aveley

By Scott Hately
Courtesy of www.pitchero.com/aveley

A FIRST half blitz from Needham Market was too much for Aveley to overcome as they fell to a 4-1 defeat on the road in Suffolk.

First half goals from Jemel Fox, and two in a minute from Sam Newsom and Bradley Barber in a remarkable opening quarter of an hour all but wrapped up the three points for the home side before the break.

Junior Dadson did manage to pull one back straight after Needham’s third, but it was to be one of only two clears chances the Millers created all game as their hosts dealt better in the windy conditions.

A second from Bradley Barber from a free kick right on half time was the final nail in the coffin for the Millers who would have hoped to have created so much more with the wind behind them in the second period.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Needham’s Louis Johnson was hardly troubled until the fifth minute of injury time when he was forced into a diving save by Dadson, with Andre Foster making a brilliant point blank save from Newson to ensure the score remained at four.

With three wins and a draw in their last four matches – all of which coming without a single goal being conceded – the weather enforced break came at just the wrong time for the Millers as they looked to make it four from five last weekend against Waltham Abbey.

Despite some games in the league being called off due to the continued wet weather, there were no doubts that today’s game with Needham Market was not going to go ahead, with Justin Gardner describing the pitch as “beautiful” prior to kick off.

In hindsight, Gardner may now be wishing the game had have been off, as the home side attacked the Millers early and often in the first half, and it appeared that the enforced break had left the away side a little ring-rusty.

With the wind behind them, it was always likely that the home side would have most of the play in the opening 45 minutes and it took them just five of those 45 to open the scoring, although it came with a large slice of luck on the side.

A cross from the right hand touchline appeared to have been headed clean over by the Needham striker, but the referee decided that it had taken a nick off Bradley Thomas and awarded the home side a surprise corner.

Almost expectedly, from the corner Jemel Fox headed the home side in front. Andre Foster came a long way off his line to try and claim the ball, but could only palm his clearance onto the head of Fox who headed towards the empty net. Despite Teddy Nesbitt being on the line, the Aveley left back could not prevent the ball from going in to make it 1-0.

After four matches in a row with no goals conceded it would have been a bitter blow for the away side to have conceded a goal, firstly from a corner that shouldn’t have been, but also from a defensive error from Foster.

But before the Millers could really digest what had happened they were struck with a double-sucker-punch, conceding two more goals inside a minute.

The first, and Needham’s second, came from a good advantage being played by the official after Billy Holland scythed down Matt Redgrave on the half way line.

With the home side still on the ball the referee saw no need to blow his whistle, resulting in a perfectly weighted pass being played into Sam Newson who was left one on one with Thomas.

It looked like Newson has spurned his chance after taking an age to get his shot away, but some neat footwork created enough space for Newson to stab the ball towards goal and past Foster to make it 2-0 after 14 minutes.

After going two goals down early on, it was imperative that Aveley settled the ship and got a foothold in the game, but less than a minute later and another defensive error saw them go a third goal behind, this time with Thomas being the offender.

Thomas, with the ball at his feet, had the simple task of playing the ball out from the back, but as he looked for Nesbitt on the left his pass went straight to Bradley Barber. The error was punished with immediate effect as Barber was allowed to run in on goal and send Foster the wrong way, calmly stroking the ball inside the near post.

3-0 down after just 15 minutes, you would have been forgiven to have thought this game was already over, but a remarkable period in the first half wasn’t over quite yet as Aveley went straight up the other end and got themselves a lifeline.

Good work from Sheldon Sellears on the right hand touchline allowed the winger to drag a cross across goal towards the danger area. The ball flicked off the toe of a Needham centre back, falling invitingly at the feet of Junior Dadson who tapped in from close range to reduce the deficit to two with 16 minutes played.

Aveley manager, Justin Gardner, would have been disappointed that his side did not kick on from that goal, with the home side continuing to look the most threatening especially with the wind behind them.

Kieran Leabon forced Foster into a fairly comfortable save after seeing the goalkeeper off his line, Leabon had a crack from 35 yards that was palmed away for a corner.

Dadson had a great chance to get the Millers right back into it as the half drew to a close after being played through over the top, but the Aveley winger dragged his shot harmlessly wide of the goalkeeper’s right hand post.

At 3-1, there was always an opportunity for Aveley to spring a surprise from 3-0 down, but as the clock crept into added on time that hope was extinguished as Needham restored their three goal lead.

After Jay Leader had committed a foul on the edge of the area, Barber struck a low free kick towards goal. The strike went through the wall and left Foster unsighted as he dived to his right in vain, not getting enough of a glove on the ball to prevent it from making it 4-1 to the hosts.

Despite a shocking first half display, with the wind behind them in the second period the Millers must have had some hope of forcing a comeback in the second half, but it wasn’t to be as the half flew by with hardly a chance for either side.

Dadson was possibly lucky to escape a red card, after being booked in the first half he went in late on Barber, but the referee deemed it not enough to send the Miller’s goals-corer off.

Billy Holland was also the centre of attention from the officials as he collided with Redgrave off the ball, but after discussions with his linesman the Aveley captain escaped punishment.

The Millers thought they should have had a penalty when Petrit Elbi got the wrong side of the Needham backline before being brought down by Louis Johnson. The referee deemed that Johnson had got some of the ball before bringing Elbi down, awarding just a corner.

Despite a number of set piece opportunities the closest Aveley came in normal time was from Thomas heading over midway through the half.

A fantastic point-blank save from Foster ensured the scores remained the same. Barber wriggled free down the left hand side before playing in a cross towards Newson, but from six yards out Newson’s side-foot volley could only find the frame of Foster diving to his left.

Newson had another chance late on to put the icing on the cake after being played clean through, but with just Foster to beat he dragged his shot wide, and with five minutes of added time played Dadson forced Johnson into a smart save low to his right which looked destined for the bottom corner, with the home side running out comfortable winners.

After the match, a dejected Justin Gardner said “we could be here all night talking about how poor it was, there was nothing we done right today. It was the worst performance of the season.”

Gardner continued, saying “there’s two ways I can do it; I can go and cane them and absolutely rip them apart or I can just put it down as a bad day at the office and hope that we’ll bounce back.”

Looking more positively, Gardner summed up his thoughts by saying “we’re in a tremendous position for a club of Aveley’s size. To be where we are we’re doing really well. I’m not going to dwell on it too much. If it became a couple of results like that then obviously it’s a major concern, but the good news if we have a game Monday where we can bounce back and get this result out of our system very quickly.”

Aveley: Andre Foster, Marcus Rose, Teddy Nesbitt, Jay Leader (Spencer Harrison 69’), Bradley Thomas, Jack Stevenson, Rashid Kamara (Danny Hopkins 46’), Billy Holland (c), Petrit Elbi, Junior Dadson, Sheldon Sellears (Paul Burnett 61’)


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