Seasiders grab vital three points after dominant performance


Felixstowe & Walton United made it three games unbeaten and condemned long-time league leaders Canvey Island to their third successive league defeat after a dominant performance and goals from Charlie Warren and Sam Ford.

Felixstowe made changes to the side that drew with Witham Town on Tuesday, Callum Bennett and Joe Whight missed out through illness, whilst Miles Powell and Rhys Henry dropped to the bench. Josh Hitter, Armani Schaar, Lamell Howell and Harry Knock were back in the starting eleven, with Curtley Williams also back from injury and started on the bench. Jordan Matthews, Zak Brown and Noel Aitkens remain on the side-lines.

Canvey had brought their vocal and passionate supporters with them in good numbers and they were creating a good atmosphere amidst the gloomy December afternoon, the crowd looking half decent considering the Covid issues, Christmas shopping, Weather, and a certain club up the road attracting 30,000 to their game with a bargain offer on tickets.

In his programme notes, Andy Crump had commented that the lads looked lethargic during Tuesdays Witham game, but any thoughts of that again being the case today were quickly dispelled with a promising opening period of play from the home side, clever passing and a willingness to tackle and spread the ball were evident from the off and Canvey were barely getting a sniff of the ball. Ollie Canfer was unlucky not to open the scoring on 4 minutes, the goalkeeper saving from his toe poke from 8 yards after some good build up play from Lamell Howell. Henry Barley was loving life, and the space he was lapping up on the right wing and his trademark run and cut inside on 7 minutes led to a foul on the edge of the box that Barley himself took, his free kick deflecting off the wall and out for a corner. From the corner the ball fell to Josh Hitter, he took a touch to dink it over a defender and made space to fire in a superb volley from 18 yards that the goalkeeper Bobby Mason did superbly to tip over the bar. On 12 minutes it was Barley again on fire, winning the ball on the half way line with a great tackle and sprinting towards goal and crossing for Canfer who saw his firm goal bound header again tipped over by a flying Mason in goal. Canvey were struggling to get any foothold in the game up to now but showed their potential danger on 16 minutes when they carved open the home defence with two great passes to set the forward free, with only Robinson to beat, he struck a sweet shot that thumped the foot of the left hand post and out to safety. Matthew Price spun and shot from the edge of the box shortly after but Robinson saved well and cleared the danger. Felixstowe were forced into a change on 25 minutes with Lamell Howell going off with an ankle injury, Sam Ford came on up front and Armani Schaar dropped back into the right back spot as Canvey also changed their system, seemingly switching to a diamond formation rather than the 4-4-2 that had been giving the Seasiders wingers plenty of space. The change didn’t stop Felixstowe scoring one of the best goals you will see at the Goldstar this season on 31 minutes! A seven pass build up involving most of the midfield and forwards and some superb movement from Henry Barley led to Ollie Canfer beating two men and putting in an inviting ball that Charlie Warren slid in to convert from close range. Armani Schaar was set through by Barley’s nonchalant back heel on 34 minutes, with the goalkeeper advancing quickly, Schaar fired a great effort towards the far post but the shot curled just wide. Charlie Warren came close on 36 minutes to getting his second, his powerful shot well saved after the lively Billy Holland and Ollie Canfer had set up the chance. A minute later and it Henry Barley again creating his own chances, cutting inside again and waiting for the opening to come, riding three tackles before threading his curling shot towards the far post where the goalkeeper met it at the last second to save. Felixstowe were rampant at this point and Canvey offering very little in response to the creative midfield, speedy wingers and forwards and superb tackling all over the pitch from the home side and on 40 minutes it was so nearly 2-0, the ball was spread out wide to Henry Barley in front of the home dugout, he set off like a rocket with the home crowd roaring him on, he let fly with a thunderbolt of a shot that was going straight for the far top corner, until yet again the goalkeeper pulled off a stunning save to just divert the ball enough to send it inches wide. As the clock ticked into first half stoppage time it was Canvey who nearly equalised, the ball coming in to the box to a forward who was about to pull the trigger from 12 yards until Stuart Ainsley stuck a foot in to poke the ball away.

The second half was always going to be a different affair to the first with the away side almost certain to up their game and Felixstowe looking to hold firm, whilst looking for another goal that may well have killed the game off. A series of stoppages for skirmishes, fouls and substitutes did nothing to help the away side as the clock ticked down. Canvey were clearly missing their star forward Kouassi as they struggled to create chances and the likelihood of them getting back in the game diminished even further on 56 minutes when substitute Odei Martin Sorondo was late for a tackle on Billy Holland right in front of the referee, who had had no hesitation in producing a second yellow, followed by the inevitable red card. Canfer set up Josh Hitter on the edge of the box on 57 minutes but his shot was blocked by a desperate defender. Price saw his looping shot fly over the bar on 65 minutes before Sam Ford found himself clear on the left and shot towards the bottom corner, the keeper clawing the effort away. Most of the play was now in the centre of the pitch with Canvey only finding rare opportunities to play the ball forward and the increasingly frustrated away bench making numerous substitutions in response. Felixstowe were staying firm but still looking like breaking every time they won the ball, Henry Barley was somehow kept off the scoresheet on 79 minutes, Sam Ford finding him in a great position in front of the goalkeeper, and Mason pulling off an unbelievable double save from Barleys two efforts from close range, but a minute later it was two nil, Sam Ford taking the ball down in the box from a corner, and in plenty of space he was able to pick his spot and send the ball over the stranded Mason who finally could do nothing to stop the killer second goal. Canvey created absolutely nothing in the final 10 minutes and it was Felixstowe who could and should have gone further ahead on 86 minutes when Ollie Canfer broke free and chipped the keeper from 30 yards, only to see a defender race back to clear the ball off the line.

Felixstowe Manager Stuart Boardley spoke to the media team after the game. “I thought we were relatively comfortable throughout that game, I suppose my criticism at half time after that really positive first half was that we weren’t further ahead, because if it wasn’t for their keeper, it could have been three, four, five, and I don’t really remember Robbo having any save to make in the first half. The biggest thing for me, and the most pleasing is the clean sheet, which we’ve been striving for over the last few weeks and haven’t quite got there, but today we defended manfully and were really good. We had an idea of how we wanted to play, how we thought we could nullify their threats and create ourselves going forward, they changed their system midway through the first half, I think simply because they couldn’t deal with us, which was great, they went to a system that is probably abnormal to them, with a diamond in midfield. But that only allowed us to get the ball wide more and although we didn’t change our system, we changed the way we played slightly to allow our wide men to get on the ball and to get our fullbacks getting forward, that was our plan throughout the first half and we did that really well. Second half we altered the system slightly to bring an experienced defender, Curtley Williams on and to see the game out and we did that well, kept the ball and scored that crucial goal from Sam that put us in full control of the game and gave us that buffer we needed”.

Boards went on to speak about Tuesday’s scheduled home game against Brentwood Town, with the visitor’s game at Sudbury being called off at the last minute today due to Covid issues. “I’m really struggling to understand it, I believe the directive from the league is that you literally had to have less than 13 players eligible to play, and you have to prove that they’ve had positive Covid tests, for me, I don’t understand how clubs at our level can ever have less than 13 players available and registered because you can register your U18’s and reserve teams, so for me, the league should make clubs register those so they can play the game, I don’t see why that shouldn’t be the case, there should be no reason to call off a game in my opinion at our level for those reasons.”





Match report by Stuart Daynes

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