Ryman Div One North
Aveley 3 v 1 Erith and Belvedere
Report by Scott Hately courtesy of www.pitchero.com/aveley
A PATCHED-UP Aveley side were made to work hard for their 3-1 win at Mill Field against an already relegated Erith & Belvedere.
The Deres who currently sit bottom of the Ryman North table having lost all of their last 13 previous matches took a surprise lead when the Millers failed on three occasions to clear the ball before George Humber put the visitors in front.
But the lead wasn’t to last long as within eight minutes Lee Weemes’ flicked effort brought Aveley level before Kyle Asante put the home side in front six minutes into the second half.
Aveley were dealt a blow with over 20 minutes remaining when their goalkeeper, Kalin Artakiev, could not continue and with no substitute goalie on the bench, Paul Burnett was forced to go in goal.
However, Erith failed to test Burnett in the Aveley goal, not creating a single shot on target against the winger and the points were sealed late on when Anton Stephenson scored a delightful volley with the last kick of the game.
The win was a relief for Gardner who said he was embarrassed with his side’s performance on Tuesday night when they went down 4-1 to Maldon & Tiptree.
But defeat to the side rock bottom of the league and with just one win and two draws to their name in 2014 would have been a much bigger embarrassment.
Having been thoroughly disappointed with his side’s performance on Tuesday Gardner made four changes to his starting line-up and only named three substitutes.
The biggest surprise in the starting 11 was the inclusion of striker Aaron Gayle at centre half alongside Jay Leader.
He along with Siao Blackwood, Taylor Nathaniel and Charlie Stevenson all started for the Millers who made an inauspicious start to the match and almost went behind when Devante Roberts struck the crossbar from a free kick.
With the changes being made, players being played in unfamiliar positions and one or two who hadn’t played competitive football for months, the Millers were a little disjointed in the early stages of the match.
So it came as little surprise when Erith did manage to open the scoring with Aveley failing to clear their lines midway through the first half.
Marcus Cassius picked up the ball on the left before having his effort blocked by Gayle, but his block only fell to Nelson Senkatuka who struck the face of the crossbar.
His effort rebounded straight to George Humber who had time to watch the ball come down onto his foot before sending it back across goal and in off the far post to give Erith a surprise lead.
With Erith losing their last 13 games in a row another potential embarrassment was on the cards for Gardner and his side, but his team showed character to bring themselves back level quickly through Lee Weemes.
Eight minutes after behing Kyle Asante found Weemes on the edge of the area, with the striker flicking the ball past Ashley Bourne with the outside of his boot and into the bottom corner before running over to celebrate with his manager.
Gardner sent his side out early after the interval and with boss’ instructions on board Aveley took the lead for the first time in the match six minutes into the second half through Asante.
After an Erith set piece broke down, Asante and Paul Burnett linked well down the left allowing Burnett to slide a ball into the run of the Millers top goal scorer.
The ball was weighted perfectly into Asante’s path so the striker could hit his shot first time across the face of Bourne and in off the inside of the post to give Aveley the lead early in the second half.
With Gardner’s side on the verge of gaining their first win this April all they needed to secure it was a third to really kill the game off, and Asante was guilty of missing two glorious chances to extend the home side’s lead.
The first came to him after low cross from Adetayo Osifuwa went straight through the legs of Asante when any connection would have resulted in a goal.
And his second chance came when he expertly chested down Nathaniel’s cross from the left before lashing his half volley over the bar under pressure from Jordan Clark.
Having failed to take their chances and subsequently lose to Witham a fortnight ago you began to wonder if this was going to be the same story once again.
Erith though, who are bottom of the league, are no Witham, who are top, but the visitors were given a lifeline back in the match when Aveley had to replace their goalkeeper with 20 plus minutes left still to play and with no substitute goalkeeper on the bench.
Kalin Artakiev, whilst trying to beat Cassius to a long ball over the top, appeared to go down with a hamstring injury that will rule him out of the final two games of the season.
Despite playing on a few minutes more, Erith failed to get a strike on target against the injured goalkeeper before he was replaced in goal by Burnett.
But even after Burnett went in goal Erith failed to force a single shot on target with the Millers defending manfully, blocking everything that came their way.
And with time ticking on Gardner implored his players to go to the corners to see out time and record a long overdue victory, but his player/coach Anton Stephenson had other ideas.
Having come on for the final eight minutes of normal time Stephenson was given the ball on the edge of the area by Adeyinka Cole.
The forward teed the ball up with his first touch before lashing the ball across goal and in on the volley with almost the last kick of the game to seal the points for Aveley as they claimed their first win in seven matches.
Afterwards Gardner acknowledged that the victory wasn’t pretty, but that he was relieved to have won the game.
The Millers boss said afterwards “I thought it was a poor game. No surprise that team’s (Erith) relegated but I think if we have played against a decent team today we might have struggled.
“Saying that we’ve had people who haven’t played for a while, a striker playing centre half, a midfield player playing in goal for the last 25 minutes, but we’ve won.”
“We’ve probably only won because our quality shined in the end and the three goals we’ve scored were well taken but I’m just happy we’ve got a win.”
Aveley: Kalin Artakiev (Oyetunji Oyewale 70’), Adetayo Osifuwa, Taylor Nathaniel, Jay Leader, Aaron Gayle, Mathias Bakare, Kyle Asante, Siao Blackwood, Lee Weemes (Anton Stephenson 82’), Paul Burnett, Charlie Stevenson (Adeyinka Cole 46’)