Friday, December 8, 2023

Football: Miller down Dockers and keep promotion hopes alive

Ryman Div One North

Aveley 2 v 0 Tilbury

Report by Scott Hately
Courtesy of

AVELEY continued to chase down the other promotion contenders as they secured another vital three points against local rivals Tilbury at Mill Field

A goal against his former side for Lee Weemes and a break-away goal from Nathan Koranteng in the second half wrapped up the Millers’ fourth successive league win of a sporadic winter period.

But they were made to work hard for the victory and the clean sheet with Mitchell Gilbey guilty of missing a number of chances for the visitors.

Justin Gardner’s side were also indebted to their goalkeeper, Jack Giddens, who made two vitally important saves at key moments in the match to ensure he took home his first clean sheet since September 28th as a welcome birthday gift.

With the wet weather appearing to clear finally the Millers were looking to continue their forward momentum with three more points to extend their winning league run to four matches.

They were also looking to avenge the defeat they suffered at the hands of the Dockers earlier in the season thanks to a 90th minute penalty from former Miller, Danny Francis.

With this also being the first of potentially four matches in the space of eight days Justin Gardner would have hoped for an early goal to settle his side and they almost made the most perfect of starts when Petrit Elbi went clear inside the first two minutes.

The striker decided to take his effort early only to shin it towards goal, but James Marrable – returning to the side after a spell at Brentwood Town – was unable to hold the bouncing ball before seeing it cleared.

Tilbury were looking to bounce back from their 4-2 defeat on the road to Wroxham 48 hours earlier and had a golden chance of their own moments after Elbi’s effort when Piers Wixon beat the offside trap.

The Dockers number nine tried pulling the ball across goal for Mitchell Gilbey to tap home but the cut back was behind the midfielder allowing Aveley to scramble clear.

Tilbury were looking lively in the early stages and Gilbey tested Jack Giddens with a stinging drive as the Dockers began to exert some early pressure.

After surviving the early scares Gardner’s side were dealt a huge blow when their captain, Aryan Tajbakhsh, hobbled off with a serious back injury to be replaced by Lee Weemes to face his former club.

But the change in personnel didn’t seem to change the tide of the match as Gilbey again had a guilt-edged chance to open the scoring midway through the half.

Jay Leader played his goalkeeper into trouble with a short back-pass that Giddens and Francis Babalola both went in for. The ball bounced out to Gilbey on the edge of the area only for him to inexplicably blaze over with the goal gaping.

Gilbey came close again just minutes later getting on the end of a pull back by Sam Cutler only to see his goal-bound effort blocked by Leader.

Having weathered the early storm Aveley then had their best two chances of the half fall to their in-form man, Kyle Asante.

Firstly, after getting the ball into feet the striker dug the ball out from under him to be in perfect shooting position only to drag his effort harmlessly wide.

Then two minutes later Asante will know he should have done better when Nathan Koranteng skipped past his marker to deliver a low cross. All it required was a firm finish by Asante but his shot dribbled into the arms of Marrable as the scores somehow stayed level.

The second half started with Giddens’ palms being stung once again by a drive, this time from Harrison Tweddell, as both sides struggled to find that extra bit of quality to open up the scoring.

On a pitch that was cutting up more and more with every passing minute it was difficult to see where the quality was going to come from to produce a goal for either side.

But Tilbury came closest with the best bit of football of the half when Wixon again beat the offside flag down the right to play in a delightful low pass across the face of goal which Tweddell ran onto. His strike back across goal beat Giddens and the far post as we entered the final 20 minutes still goalless.

As both defensive units continued to remain solid it was looking like a mistake was the only way either side were going to score and Marrable was almost the provider as he spilled Elbi’s daisy cutter into the path of Weemes before clawing it away from the on-rushing striker.

In the end it was a mistake that finally help open the deadlock and it was a moment that Ryan Blackman would hope to forget.

After Elbi had carried the ball a long way he worked it out to Weemes on the right.

One he got the ball out from underneath him Weemes struck low across goal, with his strike beating Marrable and heading towards the bottom corner.

Blackman, who was in position to clear at the far post, got his feet tangled and could only help the ball on its way across the line for the opener.

It was a moment to remember for Weemes scoring his first goal for the Millers against the side who had released him earlier in the season as Gardner’s side headed towards another vital victory.

But the points were far from secure and much like Asante for the Millers, on another day Gilbey could have had a hatful and he had the best Dockers chance of the match after being slipped in down the right.

One on one with Giddens, Gilbey tried dinking the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper only for Giddens to get a paw to it.

Gilbey then picked the ball up on the by line and cut back inside to strike towards an unguarded net only for his effort to be blocked desperately on the line by Teddy Nesbitt.

From the resulting corner Joe Nightingill rose highest to head towards goal only for it to be cleared off the line by a defender on the post and the Dockers were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal as Gardner’s men went straight up the other end and scored a second which all but secured the win.

A neat one two between Koranteng and Matty Bakare on the half way line saw Koranteng in on goal.

Using his pace to beat the Tilbury back line Koranteng promptly rounding the Marrable to slot home with just under ten minutes remaining.

As the saying goes 2-0 is a dangerous score line and one goal back for the Dockers would have put them right back in the hunt, but Giddens pulled off a brilliant save with his right arm to keep hold of his clean sheet when Sam West found him unmarked six yards out after a goalmouth scramble.

Eventually time ran out on the Tilbury as Giddens went home with a clean sheet for his birthday and Gardner’s side recorded their fourth successive league win to keep in touch with the rest of the chasing pack.

Man of the match, Jack Giddens said after the match “In the first half it was a bit stop-start and we looked a bit lethargic, but second half we come out and obviously pushed on.

“Once we got the first goal and then once Nathan (Koranteng) got the second I think we saw it through pretty well in the end.

“Everyone threw their bodies on the line at the back and it’s just nice to keep a clean sheet.”

Justin Gardner echoed those sentiments saying “I thought first half was quite poor – it was like a friendly, but I thought second half more like us.

“We started to play, created chances and what I’m more pleased about is the clean sheet. We haven’t had one of those in a long while.”

Aveley: Jack Giddens, Adetayo Osifuwa, Sam Holloway, Jay Leader, Joseph Elull, Mathias Bakare, Aryan Tajbakhsh (Lee Weemes 15’), Nathan Koranteng (Brenden Cavalier 83’), Petrit Elbi, Kyle Asante (Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe 65’), Teddy Nesbitt


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