Stunning away victory for The Seasiders


Felixstowe & Walton United produced a scintillating performance on the road to comprehensively defeat Hullbridge Sports in the Isthmian League North. The home side took the lead in the first half against the run of play but The Seasiders dominated the game and came from behind to gain a thoroughly deserved victory with Ollie Canfer, Stuart Ainsley and Josh Hitter (2) on the scoresheet.

Felixstowe went into the game with a lengthening injury/illness list which now includes Curtis Haynes-Brown, Joe Whight, Henry Barley, George Clarke, Lamell Howell, Callum Bennett, Leon Ottley-Gooch and Jordan Matthews, severely hampering the Managements options during this run of three consecutive away games in a week.  Young Dan Horton was named on the bench and Nathan Baker was in the match day squad, Ollie Canfer and Curtley Williams returned to the starting eleven whilst on loan Ipswich Town defender Harry Knock again took his place in defence.



The first thing to note from the first half in this report is that the ground was shrouded in fog, so to be perfectly honest it was near impossible to see the opposite end of the pitch so any action in the Seasiders final third is pure guesswork on my part! Luckily for me and the large travelling support, the majority of the action was in the Hullbridge goalmouth! Hullbridge did shoot two feet wide of the post in the third minute after the defence was wrong-footed but the next half hour was mainly one way traffic with Felixstowe creating opportunity after opportunity. Ollie Canfer was first to be denied on 8 minutes as his close range shot was cleared off the line and two more goalmouth scrambles inside the next 5 minutes resulted in similar panicked clearances from a startled defence, Canfer again denied, alongside Zak Brown. As is often the case in this league it seems, the home side then took the lead against the run of play on the half hour mark, Joao Carlos side footing home from ten yards from a corner and continuing his run of scoring against the Seasiders, mainly for his previous club, Grays Athletic. Despite the setback, Felixstowe’s heads did not drop and they continued to dominate the game, making good use of the acres of space they were allowed and playing a fast, attack minded passing game. Billy Holland headed just over the bar from a Stuart Ainsley free kick on 34 minutes and Zak Brown burst onto a through ball and curled a delightful shot from distance that was destined for the far corner until the goalkeeper somehow manged to turn it around the post. The Seasiders were deservedly level from the resultant corner on 39 minutes, Billy Holland heading the deep corner back across goal and Ollie Canfer was in the right place to force the ball over the line. Two minutes later and the away side were ahead, man of the match Stuart Ainsley breaking on the left, Canfer doing well to control the ball in the box and set up Josh Hitter who slammed the ball into the net to the delight of the travelling supporters. It was nearly a carbon copy goal just two minutes later, again Ainsley bombing down the wing and finding Canfer who stepped inside and set up Zak Brown who saw his shot well saved.



Any concerns that the fog may hamper the second half were allayed as the teams came out to a completely clear sky, Hullbridge were quick out of the blocks and were unlucky not to equalise on 46 minutes, a clearance fell to the forward on the edge of the box and his smart shot clipped the post and out to safety. From that minute on it was all Felixstowe, and with the fog having lifted it was a complete joy to witness what was probably the most impressive half of football seen for a long time following this club, composed and controlled defence, energetic midfield, fast attacking forwards and a redundant goalkeeper made for a fantastic performance and a constant threat to the home side that had scored an impressive goalless draw at much-fancied Aveley in their last outing. Stuart Ainsley was so close to wrapping up the one man goal of the season competition that he had already staked his claim to following his wonder strike at home to Dereham earlier this season, this time the ball fell to him 35 yards out from an angle and his incredible dipping shot was somehow tipped over the bar by Luca Collins in the Hullbridge goal who was showing his class time and time again. Canfer then saw his effort cleared after some great play from Noel Aitkens and Josh Hitter. A third goal was inevitable with this pressure and it was Ainsley who got the reward for his superb performance as he smashed home the ball from a Zak Brown cross on 56 minutes. Collins made his only error in the game shortly after as he dropped a corner in the six yard box but the defender saved them on this occasion with his clearance. Noel Aitkens then got away from a static defence to run through and fire in a shot that bounced in front of the goalkeeper who managed to keep the ball out. Josh Hitter saw his shot from the edge of the box blocked before Ollie Canfer spotted the keeper off his line and floated in an effort from 40 yards that just flew wide as the away supporters were already beginning to celebrate. Josh Hitter won a free kick in the D on 83 minutes after his mazy run, the referee deciding that the first contact had been outside of the area. With Ainsley and Holland also poised to take the free kick it seemed, it was Hitter himself who fooled everyone with a beautiful finish into the top left corner to completely wrong-foot Collins and the defensive wall who were expecting a shot to the space on the right of the goal. It really was a stunning goal and a second fully deserved reward for a player who was playing in spite of a chest issue, but who had run the home defence ragged all night. Felixstowe weren’t done and continued to create chances with Armani Schaar wending himself through 3 defenders inside the box on 85 minutes and seeing his shot cleared off the line. Callum Robinson who had been literally a spectator since the 46th minute rose to hold a corner as the clock ticked into injury time. Zak Brown who had been revelling in the space he was creating then had the last chance of the game and was visibly gutted to see his brilliant run and powerful shot cannon off the post. The players and management were rightly applauded off the pitch at the end after giving their all and producing a performance that had the supporters drooling, it was the perfect response after the team were so disappointed with themselves at Coggeshall last Saturday and to bounce back in that way, with the unbelievable injury issues the squad are experiencing is testament to the togetherness of the squad, the belief in the camp and the hard work on and off the pitch both by the players, the management and coaching team, topped off with the obvious quality and talent in this Felixstowe side.






Match report by Stuart Daynes

Photos by Tom Bradford



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