TUE 10 MAR - CANVEY ISLAND (HOME) - Isthmian League


 Late heartbreak for the Seasiders as injury time equaliser denies a third successive win


A 97th minute goal denied Felixstowe & Walton United all three points against Canvey Island in the BetVictor Isthmian League North on Tuesday night.

The Seasiders looked to have turned around a 2-0 half time deficit with goals from Callum Bennett (2) and Ollie Canfer, to lead 3-2 with just 3 minutes remaining, but Canvey struck deep into injury time to earn an unlikely point.

Felixstowe made two changes from the starting eleven that secured Saturday’s dramatic late win at Grays Athletic, Stuart Ainsley and Armani Schaar coming in for Henry Barley and George Clarke.

The match started with a high tempo, with both teams putting in plenty of effort to close down their opponents.

The first chance of the evening came on 13 minutes when Adam Hanson played the ball through for Armani Schaar to run onto for the hosts. Schaar made his way into the area before being held up, playing the ball back for Hanson to strike. He took a touch and got his shot off which Budd in the Canvey goal was able to beat away at his front post.

Three minutes later Gilbert tried his luck from 30 yards for the visitors, connecting with a sweetly-struck shot which didn’t go too far wide of the upright with the keeper diving full to his left.

Canvey were given a massive let off on 23 minutes when former-Canvey man Stuart Ainsley played the ball across the face of goal from the left. The pass was straight to forward Ollie Canfer who was unmarked on the edge of the six yard box, but he failed to make contact with the ball at the vital moment when any touch would have surely resulted in a goal.

Felixstowe did manage to hit the target three minutes later when a ball into the area from deep by Stuart Ainsley was brought under control by Armani Schaar. The striker managed to turn and get a shot off, although again the goalkeeper was equal to it after closing down the angle and saving low down.

The Gulls took the lead against the run of play on the half hour mark with a goal that left the home side incensed. The ball was poked through to Jason Hallett who converted from close range, although the Felixstowe rearguard were convinced that the forward was offside. However, the flag did not go up and Hallett’s goal was allowed to stand – his 22nd of the season.

The lead was doubled six minutes later after Jack Stevenson saw a dipping shot from 30 yards tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Jake Alley for a corner. Stevenson took the corner himself, swung the ball over which was met by the head of Michael Finneran who scored via the underside of the crossbar.

Felixstowe had a big chance to reduce the arrears on 42 minutes after Adam Hanson played the ball from the left into the feet of Canfer, he did well to cut inside James White and leave himself one-on-one, but after tucking the ball past Rob Budd, he could only watch as the shot struck the base of the post before being cleared.

The Seasiders came out of the traps quickly in the second half, with Callum Bennett seeing a long range effort saved inside sixty seconds. The loose ball fell kindly for Armani Schaar but he could only turn the follow up effort into the side netting.

The subsequent corner was played to the back post where it found the head of Schaar again, but he could only steer his stretching header wide of the target.

Felixstowe had dominated the opening period of the second half and got the goal that they had deserved on 58 minutes. A long ball forwards was brought under control inside the box, Canfer hit his shot over the bar. However, the assistant referee signalled to the referee that a foul had been committed, and after a brief consultation the man in black pointed to the spot.

Callum Bennett stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put his side back in the contest.

Canvey’s registered their first shot on goal of the second half three minutes later after Jason Hallett was fouled 25 yards from goal. James White managed to get his shot over the wall and back down again, but Jake Alley made a comfortable save.

The equaliser came on 69 minutes, Stuart Ainsley’s free kick into the box wasn’t dealt with and Oliver Canfer managed to tap home from close range having seen a point blank shot saved seconds earlier. The crowd were really sensing a win on the horizon now following Canfers ninth goal in twelve games.

The turnaround was complete with four minutes remaining with a goal that Canvey handed to them on a plate. With no pressure on the ball whatsoever, Callum Bennett was allowed to advance down the right wing and into the box, he turned inside a defender before firing past Budd diving to his left for his second goal of the night.

Referee Oliver Morris-Sanders added six additional minutes on at the end of the second half, but it was in the 7th of the eventual 9 extra minutes that Canvey drew level. A long ball forwards quickly found its way to the feet of Sam Bantick who drove home to stunned silence around the ground.

There could have been even more late drama when Jordan Matthews went down in the area under the challenge of Albert Levett. The referee put the whistle to his mouth, but instead of awarding a penalty he gave Canvey a free kick and booked Matthews for simulation.

The point moves Felixstowe closer towards the bunch of teams just above them, Hullbridge and Witham losing tonight. The home unbeaten run extends to three months and five matches and with an attractive looking home game against Histon to follow on Saturday.

Speaking after the game, Manager Stuart Boardley said. “If I’m brutally honest I don’t know what else you can do to win a game of football. We dominated all bar about ten minutes of the games when they had a spell around the half hour mark when they scored their first two goals, but we probably could have been two or three goals up at that point. It was unlike Ollie (Canfer) to miss a couple of opportunities, albeit very unlucky with the second one as it came off the inside of the post, Schaar, Hanson all with chances. I thought we played really well, I am really proud of the lads, they battled and despite going in two nil down the heads didn’t drop, they kept going and turned the second half into an even more dominant display, all except the final three or four minutes of the 55 minutes that the referee decided to allow.” He went on to say. “There is a real belief in the group, the lads are really disappointed in the changing room but look at the plus sides, we are 2-0 down against a Canvey side who are pushing for the playoffs, we draw 3-3 and we are unhappy with that, that’s a sign of where we have come from. It’s another point towards safety, another game on our unbeaten run and another game on our unbeaten home run that stretches back to early December, It is all credit to the players, they have turned it around.”



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