Football: Millermen sent home packing by Swifts

Ryman Division One North

Heybridge Swifts 3 v 1 Aveley

Report by Scott Hately

Courtesy of

JUSTIN Gardner felt his side were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point after falling to a 3-1 defeat to Heybridge at Scraley Road.

After a poor first half which lacked any real cutting edge, the second half started with a bang as Michael Cheek found acres of room behind the Aveley back line to open the scoring within 30 seconds of the restart.The Millers reacted well though to that set back and equalised through Junior Appiah, moments after Nathan Koranteng had hit woodwork.

But Aveley’s susceptibility from crosses was once again punished as Luke Callander scored from a corner with a free header and went on to put some gloss on the score line, lobbing Jack Giddens in the final minute.

The score line was arguably a harsh reflection of the match itself, especially when you consider the chances the Millers created before and after Appiah’s equaliser.

However it is another defeat for Gardner’s side who are now winless in four and have slipped to 11th in the table.

After becoming the first side to beat VCD this season, Heybridge were the league’s in-form side coming into this one.

And after coming from behind in such dramatic fashion in their last league game, confidence within the Aveley camp would have been high also at Scraley Road.

But despite both sides feeling in confident mood, they seemed to just cancel each other out in the opening 45 minutes, which went by without any clear chances of note.

It was past the half hour mark before either goalkeeper was tested, with Shane Oakley forcing Danny Sambridge to tip the striker’s low effort around the post.

And his opposite number, Jack Giddens, wasn’t really required until just before the break when he comfortably collected a speculative strike from Michael Cheek.

The hosts, despite a bright start, faded as the game went on and the Millers went into the half time interval looking arguably the better of the two sides.

With that in mind, what happened in the opening minute of the second period was Gardner’s worst nightmare as within 30 seconds of the resumption Heybridge took the lead through Cheek.

After a long ball forward from Sambridge had bounced between Aveley defenders and Heybridge attackers, the ball was eventually swept out to Cheek by Luke Callander.

Cheek, who appeared to be in acres of space, struck his half volley into the ground and into the bottom corner to give the home side an early second half advantage.

It was a disastrous start for the Millers but Gardner would have been pleased with his side’s reaction as they immediately went in search of an equaliser.

Nathan Koranteng tried making up for his dismissal last weekend against Cheshunt by scoring the equaliser, and he forced Sambridge into tipping his low drive onto the woodwork after creating space for himself on the left.

But it was Aveley’s go-to-guy who went one better than Koranteng and brought the Millers back on level terms as Junior Appiah struck to make it 1-1.

Picking up the ball inside his own half Aryan Tajbakhsh carried the ball forward, evading two challenges before slipping the ball to the feet or Appiah who drilled his shot into the bottom corner with his second touch to score his tenth goal of the season.

The equaliser was more than just rewards for Gardner’s side who had responded brilliantly to Cheek’s early set back and they almost completed the turnaround through Appiah once more.

Nesbitt played in Oakley who had gotten the wrong side of the Swifts back line down the left. The striker’s cut back found Appiah eight yards out but he was unable to keep his effort down when anything on target would have been a second for the winger.

The signs were encouraging for the visitors, but unless they could find that second goal Heybridge had more than enough in their locker to punish them.

Cheek looked to double his tally with around 20 minutes remaining, flashing a shot from the edge of the area just wide of Giddens’ left hand post.

And five minutes later Giddens was called upon to tip over a rasping drive from substitute Ben Newson to keep the scores level.

However, it didn’t stay level for long as from the resulting corner Heybridge retook the lead with Callander coasting in to get the vital touch and head the hosts in front.

Crosses appears to be Aveley’s Achilles-heel as of late, with five of the eight goals conceded in the Millers’ last three matches – including today’s – coming from crosses.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Gardner who struck a forlorn figure on the near touchline away from his bench after his side had more than matched their hosts for 70 plus minutes.

And the goal appeared to take the wind out of the sails of the Millers who, despite their best efforts, were unable to carve out a clear chance to grab a second equaliser.

Nesbitt came the closest and will wonder how different things would be if he was a little bit taller as he got underneath a cross from the left to head tamely into the hands of Sambridge.

And with seconds of normal time remaining Callander rubbed salt into the Millers’ wounds to round off the game with his second of the afternoon in delightful fashion.

The Swifts striker took down Sambridge’s long ball forward brilliantly off his chest and turned towards goal to see Jack Giddens off his line.

Showing the prowess of a striker at the very top of his game, Callander looped the ball perfectly over the stranded Giddens to record his nineteenth goal already this season to send the Millers home empty handed.

After the match, Gardner said “I don’t think the 3-1 score line reflects the game. We were definitely worthy of a draw and two individual errors have probably cost us.

“It’s hard for me to be upset, because I’ve always said to my players do the right thing, listen to me, work hard, play your football the right way and it’ll be a different result.

“Today I think it’s a harsh score line to lose 3-1 but I do feel it’s the same old problem where we’ve given away the same, similar sort of goals in the box and it’s quite clear to see we need a striker to score goals.

“Our top goal-scorer is our right winger and it shouldn’t be.”

Aveley: Jack Giddens, Ryan O’Rawe, Sam HollowayJay LeaderSuuaman BanguraIbrahim Manasary (Aryan Tajbakhsh 19’), Teddy Nesbitt (Aaron Gayle 75’), Brian OkweraShane Oakley(Ade Yusuff 64’), Nathan KorantengJunior Appiah (c)

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