Saturday, March 2, 2024

Football: Millers tales of woe continue

Ryman Div One North

Aveley 1 v 2 Waltham Forest

By Scott Hately
Courtesy of

WALTHAM Forest caused a huge upset as the side bottom of the Ryman League North beat Aveley at Mill Field, and deservedly so.

Jack Giddens had saved a Richard Worrell penalty, but goals from L’Heureux Menga bang on half time and Oyetunji Oyewale less than a minute into the second half condemned Aveley to an embarrassing home defeat.

When these two sides met in the FA Cup in August Aveley put seven past a hapless Forest. It was a much changed side from that day and they were the better team as Aveley fell short of ideas.

The introduction of Junior Appiah brought immediate dividends as he reduced the deficit three minutes after coming on, but Aveley were unable to break down a dogged Forest defense as they held on for just their second win of the season.

The result and the performance as a whole from the Millers will no doubt have manager Justin Gardner and his players feeling the pressure as they have now only won two of their last nine games in all competitions.

That is in stark contrast to how they began the season, winning six out of seven, but going into this game against the league’s bottom side spirits were high, especially after a morale boosting win over Thurrock in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

In the cup game between these two sides Aveley hit the front foot early on and it was almost a similar story here when Jay Leader saw his goal-bound header brilliantly tipped over the bar by David Myers after just six minutes.

Myers was on the bench when Waltham Forest were last at Mill Field and he was one of only four players in the Waltham Forest squad who‘d survived that FA Cup mauling back in August.

One of the other three was Oyetunji Oyewale who was causing a nuisance amongst the Aveley back line with his pace, and he may feel he should have at least his the target early on, instead hitting the side netting.

But Aveley were falling short of ideas as they were unable to break down a resolute Waltham Forest defence, with Myers’ early save from Leader the only action the Forest ‘keeper was called into.

As the half wore on the frustration amongst the Aveley players and staff on the bench was beginning to show as the final ball went completely missing.

On the other side, the visitors were growing in confidence and with about five minutes left of the first half they were awarded the opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after Rashid Kamara had brought down Patrick Med Nalo in the area.

Goalkeeper Jack Giddens could be heard saying “that’s been coming” when the penalty was awarded, but the Aveley number one was equal to Richard Worrell’s spot-kick as he palmed it brilliantly away for a corner, diving to his right.

It was a huge let off for the Millers and after being let off the hook you expected the home side to kick it up a gear. But before the half was out, Forest got their goal through L’Heureux Menga.

A short corner was played out to Emmanuel Bella who whipped in a low cross towards the near post. Bradley Thomas dived in to try and clear but his attempt at a clearance only resulted in the ball popping up towards the far post where Menga ran in to head home right on half time.

Something had to change as the Millers had been lifeless for the vast majority of the first half. Gardner made two changes at the break brining on Aryan Tajbakhsh and Shane Oakley for Thomas and Kamara, and the Aveley boss sent his players back out early.

With the changes made and instructions given, what the Millers didn’t warrant for was a goal straight after the interval. So it would have been a dagger blow to Gardner’s side to concede again within a minute of the restart as Oyewale doubled Forest’s advantage.

After picking the ball up on the right hand touchline, Oyewale cut inside and tried playing a through ball to Menga but his pass was blocked by Brian Okwera and straight back into his path. After setting himself, Oyewale blasted the ball into the top corner with his second touch, giving Giddens no chance, and putting Forest on the verge of a shock win.

Aveley were left dumbstruck, but still had almost an entire half to salvage something from this game, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Junior Appiah just before the hour mark before Aveley got themselves back into the match.

Appiah was played in to the right of goal by Danny Hopkins and drilled his effort low and hard past Myers and into the bottom corner within three minutes of being brought on with his four goal in as many matches to reduce the arrears to one.

Gardner’s side were now back in the contest, but Forest – who had only won one league game prior to this afternoon – set themselves up to soak up pressure and try and counter attack as they looked to hold onto their lead.

Oakley, Petrit Elbi, Alan Mabuyaku and Appiah all had glorious chances to bring Aveley level.

After Leader had carried the ball a long way up field the centre half slipped in Oakley who rounded Myers, but the striker hesitated long enough to allow Rakatahr Hudson to make the saving tackle.

Elbi was unfortunate to see his curling effort from the edge of the area hit the foot of the post and go wide.

Mabuyaku found the ball at his feet after a corner had been scrambled away but his low drive was well saved by Myers who tipped the ball around the post.

And Appiah couldn’t find the finishing touch after Ross Wall had played the ball across goal towards the winger, with the ball going through his legs as he missed his strike completely.

In the final minutes Menga could have killed the game off but was thwarted by Giddens after being one on one with the goalkeeper off the back of a Myers long ball over the top.

And Myers almost gifted Aveley an equaliser after almost carrying the ball back into his own net after claiming a cross the goalkeeper backed up over his line but the referee and linesman adjudged that where his body was over the line the ball wasn’t as Forest held on.

“The only positive I would say is that we’ve got a game in two days’ time and we look to rectify today’s performance and result quite quickly” said new Millers head coach, Adam Flanagan.

When asked what himself and Gardner need to say to the players to pick them up after today’s defeat, Flanagan said “to be honest, do we really need to say a lot?

“Today should have really hurt the players and I think it will, and I think they will come in Monday having probably got some stick off their mates for losing to the team at the bottom of the league and they should naturally be hungry to want to turn the table and get a result.”

Aveley: Jack Giddens, Alan Mabuyaku, Teddy Nesbitt, Jay Leader, Bradley Thomas (c)(Aryan Tajbakhsh 46’), Danny Hopkins, Jason Twum (Junior Appiah 59’), Brian Okwera, Ross Wall, Petrit Elbi, Rashid Kamara (Shane Oakley 46’)


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