Football: Cheshunt gaffers gaffe saves day for Millermen

Ryman Div One North

Aveley 3 v 3 Cheshunt

Courtesy of Scott Hately

PETRIT Elbi’s 94th minute equaliser capped off an astonishing game of football at Mill Field that had everything.

Aveley boss Justin Gardner described the 3-3 draw with Cheshunt as “like a victory” after he saw his side come from behind on three separate occasions to secure a point.

Though, Cheshunt player/manager, Omer Riza, will have some questions to answer as he cost his side a victory by committing the cardinal sin of goal-snatching.

From an offside position, Riza headed in already goal-bound effort from Josh Cooper that would have given the Ambers an unassailable 4-2 lead.

From the resulting free kick Aveley’s Aryan Tajbakhsh teed up Petrit Elbi to score the equaliser and spark wild celebrations from Gardner and his team.

The bewildering series of events that led to the Millers equaliser rounded off a remarkable game of football and all of which Aveley had to navigate with just 10 men for almost an hour after Nathan Koranteng saw red for a petulant kick out at David Greene.

That incident came after Ted Llewelyn had giving the visitors an early lead before Teddy Nesbitt scored his first goal for the club to equalise.

The huge Fola Onibuje restored Cheshunt’s lead before Jay Leader levelled matters, only for Onibuje to score again four minutes from time before Riza’s unforgivable error led to Elbi’s leveller.

Cheshunt also finished the match with 10 men when in the celebrations for Elbi’s goal Matthew Mitchell received his second yellow, but there was no time for any more action as the sides shared the points.

There will be concerns within the Millers camp about the manner in which Cheshunt scored their three goals, all coming from crosses into the box, but the continued fighting spirit from Gardner’s side is unquestionable.

The Millers have shown their never-say-die attitude on numerous occasions and were thrown into showing that quality once more early on as, within five minutes, Cheshunt took the lead.

After the poor defensive performance against Dereham last time out, Aveley would have hoped to have been more solid at the back at home.

But a free kick from the Cheshunt left was met by captain, Ted Llewelyn, whose stooping header diverted the ball past Jack Giddens for a nightmare start.

With the Millers still trying to find their feet, Milton Elenge left his, as he dived in two footed on Danny Hopkins on the half way line. Gardner was hopping mad on the side-lines and even more so when Elenge was only given a yellow when it should really have been a red.

That injustice appeared to spur Aveley on as they went in search of an equaliser which duly came just before the half hour mark through a surprise goal-scorer.

A quick one-two between Sam Holloway and Hopkins allowed Holloway to float in a cross. Cheshunt ‘keeper Ina Amaegbe could only get one hand on the ball, diverting it straight to Teddy Nesbitt to volley home the equaliser and score his first goal for the club.

The game then turned sour as we approached the interval as Nathan Koranteng – who was making his debut for the club – saw red for a petulant kick out at David Greene.

Greene had scythed down Koranteng and was going into the referee’s notebook, but Koranteng decided to take action into his own hands by kicking Greene as he ran back past, right in front of the referee, who had no choice but to send the winger off.

From that moment on Cheshunt appeared to employ a game-plan of theatrics to get decisions going their way, with some comical performances from some of their men, but the game remained level as we reached the break.

Despite the man disadvantage Aveley were coping comfortably with all that Cheshunt had to offer in the second period. But in Fola Onibuje they had a giant of a man to contend with and eventually his height proved vital as he put Cheshunt back in front.

Alan Mabuyaku didn’t stand much of a chance of beating the 6ft7 striker to a cross which Onibuje headed into the ground and into the bottom corner to give the Ambers the lead.

In Jay Leader, though, Aveley have their own giant to deploy and he brought the Millers back level within four minutes of Cheshunt’s second when he found himself free inside the Ambers six yard box to head in from a Holloway corner.

After playing for so long with 10 men Aveley showed tremendous fighting spirit to level things up, but were dealt a hammer-blow just four minutes from time when Onibuje scored an almost identical goal to his first.

Once more, a cross from the right saw Onibuje arch a header into the bottom corner, this time unchallenged, which looked like surely securing the three points for the visitors.

That was until the final minute when an astonishing series of events that are normally reserved for Christmas comedy football DVDs occurred, which led to Aveley snatching a point from the jaws of defeat.

With almost everyone forward, Holloway whipped in a free kick from the right which was cleared by the Cheshunt defence.

The long ball forward was headed up and into the air by Brian Okwera with Giddens also going for the ball leaving him in no-man’s-land. The header fell to substitute Josh Cooper who volleyed the ball towards the empty net.

But from an offside position Cheshunt’s player/manager, Omer Riza, headed the ball in from a yard which saw the assistant’s offside flag raised. Aveley pumped the ball forward immediately with the ball finding its way to Aryan Tajbakhsh.

The Millers second half substitute beat his marker to reach the by-line and pulled the ball back for Elbi who side footed the ball first time into the top corner to send the Aveley players and management wild as they secured the most unlikely of points.

Amongst all the celebrations Cheshunt’s Matthew Mitchell received his second yellow card of the day to compound the Amber’s misery but there was little time for any more drama as the points were shared.

After the dust had settled had a dramatic finale to the afternoon, Gardner said “I said to them, we got our arses spanked last week I just want you to give me some heart, some commitment, for the fans, for the supporters, for the club and for yourselves and you saw we got that.

“When it was 11v11 it was probably even. Maybe Cheshunt might have shaded it but I thought when we went down to 10 men we absolutely bossed the game.”

Speaking about the events that led to the equaliser, Gardner said “I thought, the guys lobbed it into the empty net, he’s just going to score a goal which would have been 4-2, game over.

“Then I see their striker, who happens to be their manager, running and tapped it in which I thought was crazy.

“Most linesmen wouldn’t have given it because they would have thought the goal was going in but the law is he’s offside.

“Obviously a silly decision on their part but was happy for us as we went up the other end and equalised.”

Aveley: Jack Giddens, Alan Mabuyaku (Aryan Tajbakhsh 87’), Sam Holloway, Jay Leader, Ryan O’Rawe, Danny Hopkins (Ibrahim Manasary 67’), Teddy Nesbitt (Ade Yusuff 78’), Brian Okwera, Petrit Elbi (c), Nathan Koranteng, Junior Appiah

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